This past summer my husband and I treated ourselves to a night in the Tuscan town of Pienza. We had visited it a few times over the years, but had never stayed longer than an afternoon.
After a refreshing dip in our hotel swimming pool, we set out to reacquaint ourselves with the historical centre. This is one of my great travel joys: wandering with no timetable or agenda, popping in and out of shops on the main street, and getting turned around in the narrow maze of back streets. The colours. The smells – in Pienza, there’s a recurring waft of pecorino cheese! Discovering where locals congregate (hint: in summer, where the breeze is the strongest). Taking in the music and sounds coming from open windows. All of this sensory experience can be very intoxicating!
Then there’s the additional joy of coming across scenes that call out to me to be painted. As I’ve recently painted a number of Canadian corner stores, I may have been predisposed to noticing Tuscan shops on this trip, and I found a beauty in Pienza. It’s called L’Orto di Silvia on Via del Leone (in case you visit Pienza soon). The angled building sits at the melding of 2 streets, and is striking with its flower-filled balcony and enticing displays of seasonal fruit and vegetables. The store was extremely busy on this extremely hot day, in part selling refreshment to The Wilting, like ourselves.
With no desire to sketch in 39C, I took a photo for a later painting, and once back in cooler Canada, it was the first image I painted from my 2022 summer in Tuscany.
This image looks almost too Tuscan, doesn’t it – like it belongs on a calendar or was set up just for dreamy-eyed tourists like me (my husband’s initial theory). But I was recently assured by people who spend part of the year in an apartment in Pienza, that this corner shop has the best produce and grocery selection in town. And that they wouldn’t think of shopping anywhere else! It is a true neighbourhood corner store with a great reputation and offerings… that also happens to be beautiful.
Note: I received this shop information at a September art show from a group who let out shouts of delight upon recognizing their favourite shop in paint! Love when that happens!
(“Pienza Corner Store” – 2.5″ x 2.5″; ink and watercolour; comes in an 8″x8″ white mat; now available in shop)