We are a group of eight women aged between 45 and 60ish who share a passion for art and a desire to experience travel, adventure and the flavours of Italy. The common thread between us all is Carolyn, art tutor to most of us, sister to one and friend to all. Carolyn is guiding us as we explore and expand our art through the colours, sights, tastes and sounds of Italy. How blessed we are!
We’ve been here at Casa Villa Talla for six days now. After two weeks of traveling together in France and Italy, with no more than three nights in one place at a time, Sally and I were grateful to finally arrive somewhere, unpack and settle in for a week. It was even a thrill to do some washing – hooray, clean clothes!
It is so beautiful here… We are nestled high up in the Italian Alps, just an hour away from France, you can almost touch the French mountains from the top of our hill. All around us are wild flowers and herbs, apricot and olive trees, roses and chrysanthemums. We have pretty Italian bedrooms with pure wool blankets, creaky old-fashioned beds, woven floor mats, carefully framed art and old fashioned chairs. Each bedroom is themed, ours is Thyme. Our verandah looks out to the west, over the mountains and towns. The views are stunning and you can see one of the local towns, Dolceacqua from here. Our hosts, Marina and Roger, are the loveliest gentle couple and they can’t do enough for us.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon and enjoyed our first home-cooked dinner here. Fresh beans from the garden, salad of the sweetest cherrie tomatoes I’ve ever tasted, bruschetta to die for and a dessert of gelato and sorbet. We slept well that night.
Monday we stayed at the Villa all day and got out the pastels for our first painting session. Everywhere you look there is something to admire and paint, pots of flowers, sculptures, pretty fences, views that go on forever, stone steps and climbing ivy on carefully built walls and gardens. It was a restful day of chatting, painting, relaxing and generally getting into the groove, catching up with those we already know and getting to know those that we don’t yet.
Every day we’ve enjoyed a home made breakfast of fresh bread, jams made from the fruits of the garden (fig, plum and berry), fresh fruit and pots of delicious tea.
This week we’ve visited three local villages and painted in the streets, had tourists take photos of us painting and admiring our work (one man even offered to buy my pastel… who knew THAT could ever happen)! We’ve painted Monet’s Bridge (amazing!), explored the cobbled streets and admired the old buildings and walkways – Italy is such a beautiful country. We’ve been chatting to locals and doing our best to understand the language, it’s amazing how quickly we’ve learnt a few phrases and the power of sign language and gestures. The Italians love us Aussies!
Today we were treated to a private tour of Villa Mariani at Bordighera. This is an old Villa where Monet stayed for about three months and painted some of his famous scenes in this area, and was the home of Pompeo Mariani, a famous Italian artist. We viewed his original art studio and toured his home, then we spent a couple of hours painting in the garden, just as Monet did! How privileged we are!
So far the tour has been amazing. Life-time friendships have been formed in a few short days and its been a joy to connect with other Iike-minded women and delight in the tastes and flavours of Italy through our art, life, and laughter. I don’t think I’ve laughed this much in years. The wifi here at the Villa is only accessible in the lounge, so we gather there in the afternoons and evenings (unless we’re out for dinner) and spend all our time emailing and on Facebook on iPhones and iPads – its so funny as we all post and tag each other online while chatting and laughing together in this cosy Italian lounge room – drinking tea or lemon cello (depending on the time of day), laughing, commenting on each other’s photos of the day and sharing. It’s great!
We have a little more than a week to go on the art tour and will move on to Cinque Terre in two days. Every day is a new day of new tastes, art, experiences, fun and adventures. What a blessed life and much gratitude to Carolyn for weaving the threads and making it a reality.