This morning I am traveling (all day) from Orlando, FL to Rome, Italy as I get ready to meet my Paper Paintings Italy Retreat students on Saturday at Agriturismo Il Colombaio in Montegabbione. This is my third year hosting this amazing art retreat with Strada Toscana and it just keeps getting better and better. Pamela Haack and I have tweaked the itinerary, improved the side trips, and expanded the art supplies; we have this retreat just near perfect for the art loving traveler!
I’ll be sharing stories and images here on the blog from the week. You can follow along for the duration of the trip, I’ll share what we are up to in the studio and what we see when we were out and about running around medieval hill towns (with sensible shoes). I’ve got the big camera, hoping for some great photos. Our days are packed with activity from 8:00am breakfast to 8:00pm dinner (and the Italians want to know why we would possibly want to eat dinner so early?) After dinner most everyone hits the hay from exhaustion, even thought the studio space is open all night. Yours Truly will be taking a couple of hours every evening to bring the highlights of the trip to those of you back home.
So, Bookmark it, dog-ear the page, do whatever you have to do… just stay tuned!
About a year ago I bought into CLEARme.com in order to jump to the front of the security line at the airport and let me tell you, it’s worth every penny. “Welcome back! we haven’t seen you in a while.” This is how I was greeted in the Clear line today. “I’ve been leaving out of the other terminal lately.” was my happy reply to the folks in the blue and white gingham shirts who guide me through security and put bins on the TSA conveyor belt for me.
On my radar for when I return from Italy is TSA PreCheck. If you combine CLEAR and PreCheck, you get to cut to the front of the line AND keep your shoes on and your laptop packed. This is FANTASTIC news for me and my impractical shoes. My Mary-janes with micro buckles, my lace up pointy toed platforms, my boots with the hook and eyes…. on behalf of John Fluevog Shoes, this is good and exciting news.
I must admit, I will miss the security dog. I get to bypass him too.
Docs OK – Good to Go
I’m not sure who’s idea it was to carpet the entire Orlando airport, but I’ll tell you rolling 100 pounds of luggage over carpet is a workout. Thank goodness Uber dropped me off right at the Delta curb and I only had to move minimally. I asked the Delta gate agent who was in charge of carpet. He smiled at me and said he didn’t know. I travel through a lot of airports and spinner wheel luggage just loves marble, tile, and solid surface floors.
Carpet, not so much.
Once I handed those bags over I was home free though, off to Starbucks with my back pack and my art tote bag.
Fuel for Flight
Normally I get classic oatmeal with my coffee at Starbucks but today I decided to totally eat bacon. I never eat bacon, but THIS is a special occasion. I figured that I should start things off on the right foot. This warm and toasty breakfast sandwich went down well with my Grande Flat White as I sat at the gate and waited for boarding zone 3.
How do I always get in ZONE 3 no matter how early I check in? It’s kind of like concert tickets, isn’t it? Someone has all the floor seats before they even go on sale– I’m sure it has something to do with platinum encrusted pork medallion status and Sky Miles credit cards.
Await at the Gate
Speaking of the right foot, I may have opted for practical shoes (for the time being) but I certainly did not pass on my signature style. This flouncy skirt was a gift from my dear friend and former Italy student, Nina. I sent her a pic and she said she wished she was joining me again this year. Please keep Nina’s mother Bunny in your thoughts, she’s having a rough time with her health lately.
Layover in Atlanta
Folks are gathering at gate E-6 for the flight to Rome now, over an hour in advance of boarding. I guess everyone is excited, just like me. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the installations of public art on my way to the gate from B terminal. I used to teach here in Atlanta annually with Binders Art Supply and I’ve always enjoyed and admired the art collection along the way.
I’d also like to give kudos to Atlanta Airport for their water bottle filling stations! I’m now all set with water for the long leg of this journey. When I travel, I always bring my BPA Free refillable water bottle. Saving the planet on a small scale.
This is the point where I need to grab a snack and get ready to find my seat on this 767-400 aircraft amongst the 250 people that it will carry across the ocean. My Someone Special just texted me to remind me to shut off my cellular data. I’ve got a good book to read over the next nine hours, and a handmade bookmark from my nephew Tyler. Cellular data off- check!
With any luck I might get just a little bit of sleep.
Arriving in Rome
I didn’t get much sleep on the flight, but my emotions have the best of me as I exit into the newly remodeled Rome Airport–it’s beautiful!! Totally different than the terminal I went through last summer. Customs was easy to navigate, I found my baggage on belt #6, and went to the meeting point to find my friend and partner in crime on this trip, Pamela! Here we are… united again.
Good friends are the gift that keeps on giving.
Heading Out to the Countryside
Pam and I threw my luggage in her little car, and headed out of Rome toward Fabro. This trip is off the beaten path, down the backroads and in the countryside of Italy. It’s a 2-hour drive but we talked about the trip and the students and what’s been going on since we were last together in Florida over the winter. Pam and her husband Luigi have moved into a 14th Century tower on the border of Tuscany and Umbria this year, new digs and a room just for me.
Since I didn’t get much sleep in my overnight flight (with all that learning about color theory I was engulfed in) I decided to take a nap shorty after lunch here in the Tower. Pam had set up my room with new sheets, and towels for my bathroom. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, Pam woke me up three hours later so I might have a chance at getting on a normal schedule.
The new Tower digs include access to a pool, a welcomed relief, as this summer has proven to be scorching hot. Note that all the grass is burned up and yellow? Italy is in a draught right now, in Rome they are shutting off the water every day to conserve. After my nap, Pam and I headed out for a dip in the pool and to discuss the upcoming week’s itinerary. We are both getting excited about the excursions, pasta making lesson, wine tasting, and the art-making at the Villa this week.
A quiet dinner at home in the Tower seemed like a good idea for this weary world traveler. Pam and Luigi are the most amazing hosts, I’m truly lucky to have them as friends and business partners! After toasting the day with Prosecco, cheese, olives, and bread, Pamela cooked up pasta, sautéed fresh shrimp and zucchini, picked basil from the garden and made fresh pesto, poured wine (of course) and out to the patio with the dishes we went. Just in time for sunset dining.
The Close to an Amazing Day
Winding down, enjoying a home-made meal and a spectacular view of the Italian countryside–it doesn’t get better than this! Tomorrow we will setup the studio space, hook up the computer to the projector, and unpack the art supplies. I can’t wait to meet my new students, and to welcome my returning students! It’s going to be an amazing week.
Stay tuned right here for all the gory details.
Join us Next June, 2018!
Next June we will be making the Italy Paper Paintings Retreat journey again from the 10th-16th. We have already sold six spots, and have eight spots remaining. Sign-up before October 1st and take advantage of a five-payment plan with Strada Toscana.
for being a part of my