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The grand tour - Italy and France 2023

Behind the paintings

In June 2023, my husband and I set off on a grand tour through some of the most romantic places in the art world. We had five weeks of travelling through Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Venice, Nice and Paris. We set out to indulge all the art, culture and of course the food.

Before we left I had a very romanticised vision of sitting around in cafes with a limoncello spritz painting monuments and passes by. Whilst I ended up doing most of the painting back in our accommodation, I created a series of tiny painting of moments that I wanted to remember.

It's finally time to share these paintings with you, as I feel art only grows more beautiful once shared with others.

Rome - the enteral city

This was our first trip to Rome and I was blown away with its beauty and charm. Most mornings we got up early, enjoyed our espressos at the bar in the local café and crossed the Tiber River to start our day. It was a peaceful and calming way to start the day together before we joined the tourist crowds.

On my favourite day in Rome, we stumbled across a little arty area not too far from the Colosseum. There were boutique art galleries and ceramic shops which I just had to go into and I ended up bringing several pieces home with me.

I felt so inspired that day, and I recall correctly, we had gelato for breakfast.

1 - To walk in Rome

2 - Behind the grand doors

3 - My roman empire

Florence - the home of art

When in Florence I was obsessed with finding the perfect spot to see the skyline. The Duomo surrounded by red rooftops was a scene I just had to see for myself. On the hottest day of the entire trip, I trekked across to river, up the hill, passed the most enchanting jewelry stores, and cafes to a park with the most perfect views. I think I took about 100 photos and later that day I painted a series of Duomo landscapes to treasure.

The Ufizti gallery is another must see for any art lover, but it is also one of the busiest galleries in the world. We booked a semiprivate tour through the gallery at opening time to do our best to beat the rush (highly recommend this approach). We soaked in some of the most famous works in art history and listened to some quirky stories along the way. Once the tour was over, we sat on the rooftop terrace and enjoyed a coffee and biscotti just the two of us. I think this will grow into a core memory for me, one to be savored as we continue our lives together.

1 - To cross the river

2 - Ode to Florence

3 - Coffee and biscotti

Tuscany - the peaceful escape

Tuscany was a moment of respite for us. We had spent the last few weeks in Rome and Florence in peak tourist season. But in Tuscany we had a villa to ourselves along with some peace and quiet. I will never forget that the whole place smelt like almonds and the décor made it feel like a sanctuary – we didn't want to leave.

As we travelled around, I was determined to pick up some locally made souvenirs. One afternoon I found the most perfect pottery store which stocked handmade pieces from all around Tuscany. I spent over an hour in the shop, speaking with the owner and trying to make up my mind on what I should get. I ended up with a handmade coffee set, with two espresso cups and a biscotti tray. I treasure them and use them every chance I get.

1 - Tuscan windowsill

2 - The serenity

3 - The courtyard

4 - Pottery paradise in Tuscany

Venice - one artist to another

In Venice we stayed in a glorious Airbnb run by an art restorer who lived in Rome. I set myself up in the dining room to paint several times, but most images didn’t turn out. Oh well - it happens.

When in Venice our host arranged for us to tour a private art studio of a well renowned contemporary artist in Venice. She doesn’t normally conduct tours, but she was a friend of a friend of the host and my husband had told them about my love for art. The studio was nestled in a 15th century palace, and I have never been so in awe of someone in my life. She shared her approach to art with me and encouraged me to paint what I feel and to not worry about what other people think. She told me that some people will understand my art, some will not and that is ok.

After spending an hour with her I was determined to start sharing my art with the world in a more meaningful way and committed to setting up my website when I got home – which I did. I will forever be grateful for her wise words and for welcoming us into her precious space.  

*I am not naming the artist as she was an incredibly private person and I think she would prefer it this way.

Nice - unfinished business

I have been dreaming of spending a long afternoon on the day beds on the Cote d-Azur since our first wedding anniversary in 2019. Somehow, we spent a week in Nice that summer and never indulged in this iconic pastime. For me, it was unfinished business. We had to go back and I had to have this moment.

So we did, but the weather gods were not on our side! It was the windiest, most wildest weather of the entire trip. But I would not be deterred. We booked a day bed on the front row, ordered a coffee to start and stretched out. Umbrellas were flying around; day bed mattresses were flipping all over the place and I was just ignoring it all.

However, after about an hour and a daybed mattress to the head, I accepted defeat and we left the moody beachfront for galette in a cosy bistro we had found on our first day.

I think an afternoon on the day beds on the Cote d’Azur is still unfinished business for me, but I did get some beautiful photos and painted some nice paintings. Until next time!

1 - Grey skies over the Cote d'Azur part I

2 - Grey skies over the Cote d'Azur part II

3 - Galette of the day

Paris - the city of lights

Our last stop was Paris and it was my birthday. We celebrated with beautiful food and wine, visited the artists and Montmartre and did a little shopping on the Champs Elysee. The type of birthday that could have existed in an episode of Emily in Paris (in a good way).

1 - Petite Parisian breakfast

2 - The creperie

3 - Abstract Parisian flowers

4 - The statue

Now that I am looking back at the paintings that I created during that trip, I am incredibly grateful for the experiences I have had and inspired to see more of the world.

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