Cortona is the setting for Frances Mayes’ novel Under the Tuscan Sun, and a later film version. It was a highly popular novel and I think every woman’s dream to flee the daily grind of marriage, kids, work pressures or anything else that ails you and arrive in the charming Tuscan town of Cortona. Finding a derelict house and turning this into a bucolic masterpiece along with all the romance of the Tuscan countryside.
I was in Tuscany to discover another kind of masterpiece…a painting. Not one by Michelangelo or Leonardo but one by me. I was joining a painting group for a week of tutoring and plein air painting – that means you pack up your kit and find a view point in the countryside or town and sketch. Finding a suitable spot can be pretty daunting when you have a quintessential Italian scene around every corner.
With that handicap of sensory overload I resorted to nourishing myself with other Italian delights. Sitting in a bar and sipping on an aperol spritz or strolling along the street enjoying a wonderful gelato.
My fellow students were inspiring as they embraced the task admirably and turned out some excellent work. Our tutor was on the ball and encouraging everyone at every opportunity. His morning demonstrations were mind boggling as to how he captured the mood, light and aspect of the various scenes all with large one inch and 2 inch brushes. I have a new resolve now to return home and tackle painting landscapes with a new vigour.
You ask what else did we do apart from painting? Some sight seeing and of course eating. This week’s highlights have included….carpaccio (raw beef sliced paper thin with grated Parmesan cheese arugula and olive oil), handmade fettuccine with grated truffle, risotto with scampi, anchovies all sorts of ways, pizza with wafer-thin crust with fabulous toppings, fresh porcini mushrooms lightly battered and fried and the most wonderful veal limone. Of course it is obligatory to end the evening with a limoncello to aid digestion and sleep.
More culinary delights are on the horizon.