Saturday, May 24, 2014

Italia in the Spring

Poppies by the roadside, snowy alps, walled old towns, cobbled streets, and special people.  My work took me for a month to northern Italy and southern France - happily I squeezed in some sketches:

Alle Grazir outside my Bergamo hotel, a kindly cafe owner unfolded a seat for me so I didn't have to lean against the wall
Noisy May Day workers protests in Bergamo - loud hailers, hammers and sickles, placards...
Ever present Carabinieri keeping a watchful eye
Porta San Alessandro, one gate through the walled old town of Bergamo Alta
Carabinieri in dress uniform, at a stall amongst the Vintage Car booths - part of a rally
Enthusiasts with Vintage Fiat 600
Bergamo Alta (High) old town seen in the distance from Bergamo Bassa (Low)
Former library in Bergamo old town, at the point the funicular emerged from the cobbles
Ape 50cc - the agricultural version made by Piaggio (of Vespa fame).  The Vespa (wasp) being invented after WWII to get from one end of a bombed out factory to the other.
A side trip to the UNESCO heritage villaggio of Crespi d'Adda, where around the early 1900s a wealthy benevolent industrialist built a cotton textile factory and more importantly built grand homes and gardens for all his workers.  He provided teachers, free education for the children, theatre, cemetery, wash house, even a free swimming pool.  This is the church built in the middle of the village.
The owners home
I attended a talk (all in Italian) about the enterprise.  Volunteers took tours through the streets, which are still inhabited, but maintained in their original state.
Via UrbanSketchers, I happily met my new friend Gabriele (Orlando) who kindly took me sketching around his home town of Milano.  Thanks Gabriele for taking time out for me.
Gabriele took me to the lesser known Piazza Mercanti where the rulers had once been.
Here is Gabriele's rendering of the scene including me sketching.  He impressed me with the speed of his work.  He was drawing on tissue paper from shoe boxes.
Gabriele hard at work - he'd cycled in
Another scene near Brera we both drew - see if you can match it in Gabriele's blog
The waiter wearing a maroon apron took our photo.
A door panel we walked past in Brera
Who said there was no such thing as a free lunch.  The LuBar saw me sketching and asked me to draw in their book.  They then plied me with their delicious Sicilian food and drinks.  These sort of experiences make travel sketching special.
Also made by Piaggio, but nearly 10x the power of the Ape

One of the touristy bits (not with Gabriele) Castello Sforzesco in Milano
Back to the Milano Stazione
My train carriage companion to Nice via Ventamiglia - he laughed when he saw it

A day wandering the streets of Grasse.  I befriended the couple at the Boulangerie stall at the Saturday morning market.  I was treated to free bread and pictures of her paintings.  Also treated to some pigeon poo on my shoulder as I leant against a tree.
Notre Dame du Puy - the church was well patronised throughout the day - lots of singing, white clothing, mitre hats and crooks.
Artifacts from Musee d'art d'historie in Grasse  (also home of the parfumeries)
More pieces, this time horse blinkers
Indeed a special month, spent with friendly people.


  1. You squeezed in more than just a few sketches Scott! Awesome post, makes perfect reading on a rainy Sunday morning in Auckland.

  2. Thanks Murray, it is neat that today we can contact and enjoy the company of sketchers from other geographies - it does really make for a small world.

    I guess in medieval times, poets and artists would eek out meals and a bed through their craft. Although I managed one meal and some bread, I think I would be starving still if I was in their shoes (if they had any). It would certainly be an incentive to do your best work.

  3. What a great post Scott!
    Feels good to see a bit of everything, small details and big scale sketches.

  4. Appreciate the feedback Mario, I certainly was spoilt for subject matter, and it was a pleasant time.

  5. Lovely drawings of Italy, you're so prolific! :)

  6. Excellent recordings of your trip!