First Days in Tuscany

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Tuesday September 16 ’14 

We met at breakfast after a good night’s sleep and ready for our journey to our farmhouse stay for the week.  Those who hadn’t sketched the Leeening Tower were keen to do so and we had the time.  Our pickup was midday.

Apart from two who were off to purchases train tickets for later, the rest of us hot footed along the path we now knew, back to the tower.  Good, still leaning. Hadn’t fallen over in the night.

While we sketched we could see people everywhere posing for photos, pretending to push the tower back up.  They all do it! There must be millions of photos like this. Hey people you look really silly!

Bags packed, checked out, and into the shuttle back to our pickup point.  Oh there they are. Our charming hosts for the week right on time.


We settle in for the scenic drive to our destination.  Everyone is shown to their rooms and we take the time to unpack, get sorted out and meet on the terrace for lunch.  It’s an absolutely gorgeous day, with an occasional sun shower, but we are not daunted.

Here we are in an amazing location surrounded by lush forest, a babbling brook below, sitting under a canopy and dining on tasty choices of cold cuts and delicious cheeses.  Everyone is in seventh heaven. The pool is glittering and we decide to do some sketching at the big table and enjoy the afternoon.

Aperitifs are served before dinner in one of the lounges and before long we’re all seated for dinner.  We talk excitedly about all sorts of stuff and laugh till we nearly fall off our chairs.  Whatever it was we thought it was hilarious.  But we ran out of energy fast. It’s been a big day and we need to recharge the batteries – our own and our technology.

Wednesday September 17 ’14.

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Most woke early we found later. A couple had been sketching during the night, using their memories and imagination. All part of their sketching journal/ journey.

At breakfast we helped ourselves to fresh fruits, toasted brown bread with yummy honey and jams. Freshly brewed coffee was essential to get us into the Studio for our warmup sketch.

There I’d set up an Italian fruit bowl and jug, pinched from the kitchen and added some oranges, lemons and grapes.

A lovely start and you can let your lines go freely now that you are so relaxed here in Tuscany.


Next we were off to Sommocolonia high on a hill top 10 minutes drive away.  So utterly silent.  So high above the valleys below.  Such gorgeous stone houses, little chapels and pathways winding ever higher.  We made our way to the bell tower at the top.

We read the memorial stones to the Soldiers who’d bravely defended this village against the Germans coming through in 1944.  They were a brigade of black soldiers who’d done an amazing job but no records were made of this incident, in which they were totally outnumbered but held the enemy off for a couple days. We believe there were few survivors to tell the tale.  Only recently was it discovered and now the plaque is there for all to remember.

Most of the villages through this area had extremely tough times around this period and it makes sketching here so much more than just a pretty village.  We were totally immersed in whatever view we chose, and for all, finding those soft distant smoky purples way across the valley was something new.


Back to the farmhouse for lunch and an afternoon sketching session round the table getting any help needed with bringing in more colour here, knocking it back, there, correcting perspective, and of course, keeping those whites.

Guess what, someone was having a birthday!! Someone who also had a birthday in Fiji last year. This is getting to be a habit!  Our hosts brought out champagne and an exquisite Italian cake called millefleuir, decorated with  ‘Happy Birthday Jacque’. Kind of cute spelled that way.  Singing and blowing of candles and swigs of champagne makes happy sketchers – and hosts.

Out to dinner we go.  Out on the balcony of Trattoria da Riccardo. Actually owned by Scottish people who’ve lived here for eons. We discover that there are huge numbers of Scots who’ve been here for many long years.

We are so enjoying the Italian cuisine we are dining on and again we settled in, turned up the happiness volume and had a darned good time.  There was just time to have a wander round a little of the old town of Barga across the road before our pickup whisked us home to end another glorious day.

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©ErinHillStudio Sept14

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