31 July 2011

Via di Paradosso is "el gorgo"!

After settling in and not being so confused by my trusty map, I found one of my favorite spots. Oddly enough, it was just around the corner from where I was living. Via di Paradosso was a longer street that elevated ever so slightly about the ancient stream bed below. It traced the edge of an olive oil bottling company, which then opened up into open fields and crowing roosters. Why I loved this street was because of the gentle distance it offered. Sometimes, I get a bit overwhelmed being IN and SURROUNDED by the city buildings. My rocky roadside wall provided just enough breathing room for me to take it all in.

That, and it was a less traveled road than most, which meant I barely got heckled by on-lookers. Me likey!!!

30 July 2011

Parco dei Monstri, Bormarzo Italy

The Lynch family was very kind to take me to some of the nearby towns. The first we visited was Bormazo, in the province of Viterbo, in northern Lazio, Italy. The Park of the Monsters (Parco dei Mostri in Italian-language), also named Garden of Bomarzo, is a Renaissance monumental complex located in Bomarzo.

Walking through the park was like going through an ancient amusement park. The gardens were created during the 16th century. They are composed of a wooded park, located at the bottom of a valley where the castle of Orsini was erected, and populated by sculptures and small buildings divided among of the natural vegetation. During the nineteenth century and deep into the twentieth the garden became overgrown and neglected, but in the 1970s a program of restoration was implemented by the Bettini family, and today the garden, which remains private property, is a major tourist attraction. The park of Bomarzo was intended not to please, but to astonish, and like many Mannerist works of art, its symbolism is arcane : examples are a large sculpture of one of Hannibal's war elephants, which mangles a Roman legionary, or the statue of Ceres lounging on the bare ground, with a vase of verdure perched on her head.

And this was my subject matter for that afternoon.
A fun surprise was a reclining woman with a dog. I thought it looked striking similar to me and Lily.
And last but not least, I loved the smaller town of Bagnaia. You need to drive through this quaint village on the wasy to Bormarzo, and I highly recommend taking a walk through the medieval section of town. My pronunciation of these Italian words has been atrocious... so if I refer to a town called "banana", I mean this place.

29 July 2011

Piazza San Pellegrino, Viterbo Italy

About one minute from where I was lodging, was the heart of the medieval district of Viterbo. The street are narrow, tall, and maze-like, but I loved that the inhabitants found an opportunity to plant bright flowers that radiated off the dark gray walls.

Here's a really fun link to 360˚ photo of the medieval streets.

27 July 2011

Piazza di San Lorenzo, Viterbo Italy

One of the first days in Viterbo, I set out for the cathedral of San Lorenzo. The cathedral was, according to legend, built on the site of an Etruscan temple of Hercules and although this can not be verified, Etruscan and Roman foundations can be seen on several of the buildings which make up the Piazza di San Lorenzo where the cathedral is situated. An early medieval parish church to Saint Lawrence had formerly occupied the area before construction began on the cathedral in the late twelfth century. Even as it was constructed, the town was already spreading northwards down the hill, leaving the plaza somewhat isolated on the highest edges of town, thus restricting its attraction to the townsfolk, a disadvantage which the local bishops for years attempted to reverse by granting the cathedral special religious privileges.

The cathedral was at the height of its significance during the middle and end of the thirteenth century, when it and the attached Palazzo dei Papi di Viterbo was the home of the papal throne following its flight from Rome and prior to its resettlement in Avignon. Two popes were buried in the duomo: the first was Pope Alexander IV, whose tomb was bizarrely demolished during sixteenth century renovations, and the location of his remains are now unknown = OOPS; Pope John XXI is more clearly marked despite several relocations, with a handsome tombstone originally laid over him following his death in 1277 (when his study's ceiling in the papal palace attached to the cathedral suddenly collapsed into the room below due to structural weaknesses as he slept).

It's a lovely, more quiet location in the city, and for the last two weeks of my stay, was home to an Opera festival. You could hear bellowing baritones and soaring sopranos over the Loggia's walls. A real treat.

23 July 2011

Mama Mia!

They do in fact... say Mama Mia in Italy. I was so excited.
I'm ending out the Journalistic Drawing program in a day or two, and could not be more amazed by such an energetic, dedicated bunch of students. I will certainly offer a link when their work is posted on the Drawing Viterbo blog, this coming fall. I am honored to have served beside Fred Lynch, recalling how great his words of wisdom were when I was his student.

So, I am eagerly awaiting the return to my studio/studiomates (and big scanner!) and hopefully be able show you some of the work I made in Italy. In the meantime... pictures of Rome! Saint Peter's is... you know what... words can't describe how amazing it is inside. These pictures don't even cut it.


I also found a super awesome art store down one of the crooked streets in Rome. I loved the pigments!

11 July 2011

A Good Day

Montefiascone, overlooking the city of Viterbo at sunset. Fred Lynch took a fun photo!

09 July 2011

Buono Baffi!

That line is about the only thing I can say without thinking in Italian. Yes, it's true, I answer questions with the line, "Nice mustache".

It's been one week since coming to Viterbo with the Montserrat College of Art, and I think I am finally understanding the streets and customs of this city. Surrounded by a medieval wall, I am living in an area where most of the ancient buildings are still being inhabited. While it is fairly hot by day, the mornings and evenings are amazingly temperate and ideal to sit by window and watch the city's inhabitants "passeggiatta", the tradition of strolling the streets before dinnertime. Typically I chose my lofty viewpoint instead of participating in this slow walk, since I am one of the only ones roaming the city during sieste (1pm to 4:30pm), therefore exhausting myself by 7pm. I've been drawing/sketching/painting everyday and cannot wait to get some of these scanned. It's wonderful to be in the constant act of creation and I am grateful to get back to observational drawing.

More later, but here's the first few pictures!