Travels in Italy- Part 2

While you may have heard of or traveled to Italy’s famed Cinque Terre— five colorful villages built into the steep hillsides on the Ligurian coast— you may have missed the lesser known sixth village of Porto Venere. Less crowded than the other villages, Porto Venere is charming and beautiful, with brightly painted villas, narrow streets, and steep stone staircases leading to sweeping views of churches, Roman walls, a castle, and the sea. I logged 13 miles climbing up and down over my two-day stay and bought a lemon to ward off a few apparent cold symptoms. Then I boarded a train for Florence and was ready to fly home.

That’s when a positive result on the required-to-fly Covid test at a local pharmacy threw a wrench in my plans. The following sketches and photos are from my brief stay in Porto Venere and the anxiety-ridden week that followed in an Airbnb in Florence. I allowed myself forays for food and visits to two gardens– as such, there are no grand sketches from that venerable city. After my Airbnb ran out, and not knowing when I would test negative, I booked four non-refundable nights at a boutique hotel outside the city. In the end, I tested negative and spent just one night there, thereby making my sketch of figs a rather expensive undertaking. I am thankful to be home.

41 Comments on “Travels in Italy- Part 2

  1. These are all so wonderful. Thank you! And hope you are now well!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Really beautiful sketches and photos! So sorry to hear of your positive COVID test. My brother and his wife are also quarantined in London, same story. We live in such unpredictable times but your art is one of the best stabilizing reassurances we followers have. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Your experience is the one I always worry about when teaching. Thanks for sharing all of this Jean.
    Glad you are better, and home! Your glowing sketches convey none of the anxiety I’m sure you felt during all of this.

    • Small workshops present good opportunities for spreading Covid and by the time someone has symptoms, it’s probably too late. There’s not much you can do beyond the typical precautions and I think it helps to know that getting stuck is a possibility so that you can consider a Plan B in advance. Glad your recent sketching workshops were successful. It’s been fun to see the things your group focused on.

  4. Thank you for the gorgeous watercolors and SO glad you made it through the significant covid scare, and on to home!!

  5. I hope you’ve made a complete recovery. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work.

  6. Good morning Jean from Tara, Ontario, Canada. My daughter and I travelled to Cinque Terre a few years ago. We sketched, painted and noshed the days away. Enjoyed a day in Porto Venere. Swam and foraged underwater for old sea glass. I can just imagine how unnerving it must have been for you to test positive with all the domino effects you endured Jean! Very glad to hear you’re well and have returned home. I love your art and posts 💕. Take good care and enjoy a lovely summer. Hugs, Christina MacLean

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Thanks for writing Christina. I wasn’t prepared to swim, but I bet that was a fantastic experience. I saw several divers while there, but it was too early for the beaches to be open. I imagine they are quite crowded in summer! I’ll enjoy the quieter swimming holes in upstate NY. Best regards, Jean

  7. I love your room with a view! I also love the vibrancy of the colors. They must have been stunning in person. Great capture of the seagull in the second photo! Thank you for sharing your trip. I’m glad you’re home now, safe and sound.

  8. I really loved all of your sketches and I loved the figs. Your colors are always so bright and beautiful it makes me want to get on a plane in spite of the negative possibility of Covid. It is lovely that you share your adventure with painting and photos-they are wonderful.
    Glad you made it home safely !

    • Lots of people of traveling safely and enjoying being out again. It’s just sort of the luck of the draw on getting Covid. I’m grateful to have had this trip, in spite of the set back. It was really wonderful to be out in the wider world again.

  9. One of the foibles of traveling in the past year or so, but I’m glad you made the most of the local scenery! Too bad about the cost… But it’s always wonderful to just get home!

    • I didn’t want to be stuck without a place to stay on a weekend or have to move to another location, so it was a gamble I was willing to take. “It’s just money.” (Well… that’s mostly what I tell myself.)

  10. Oh no. I am so sorry to hear that, Jean. What a damper for your holiday. The sketches – and photos – are beautiful. So many beautiful places to explore. I hope you are feeling OK.

  11. So glad you are home! I just returned from Ireland and UK. We took the COVID test that you do in front of a live feed. Happily our group tested negative. It was days of angst and anticipation prior to testing. I am sorry you had to endure that after such a special time. Hope to see you soon!🙏🌹

    • Hi Karen- Glad you made it home and enjoyed your travels! It’s just the luck of the draw with exposure at this point. It’s good to be back and I’m eager to start sketching in my garden and along the roadside again. See you!

  12. Stunning photos, delightful drawings. Thankful to hear that you are fully recovered. I wonder if there is trip insurance that covers this plight. Might be so expensive that it’s less cost effective than paying for figs out of pocket.

    • Some travel insurance has an exception clause about covid. At least I had flight insurance that helped with the changed flights and my mental health was worth the expensive figs.

  13. Your photos bring back such good memories but so sorry you had to spend your time in Florence with Co-vid! You made the best of it though, with your beautiful drawings. We always love seeing them.

    • Thanks Audrey. I’m glad you have enjoyed travels in Italy. It’s a beautiful place with so much history and beauty to experience. I’m glad I was able to go!

  14. Hello,

    I have been receiving your updates for more than a year now and each one is received with excitement and a smile. I’ve attended several of your online classes and I feel as though the combination of your training and my time with a pen and pad that I’m getting better. Thank you very much for what you do.

    Your experience with travel during Covid was certainly upsetting and frustrating and I am sorry it was not the trip you had envisioned. I’m sure you were happy to be going home and even in Italy, an unexpected delay and increased cost tarnished your experience. I would like to join you in 2023 if you have any travel art classes.

    I assume your actual teaching experience in Italy was a good one and I am looking forward to a review in an upcoming update. But for now, take the time you need to rest, reflect and get back to your everyday life. I’ll be on your nature journaling zoom in a few days so hope to see you rested and recovered.

    All the Best,

    Claudia O’Connell Cheshire, Ct.


    • Hi Claudia- Thanks for your lovely note. I’m glad your sketching is coming along and enjoyable! I’m looking forward to Friday’s INJW session! The workshop in Italy was really wonderful! You can read a brief summary on my “Travels in Italy– Part 1” post. The setting was quite spectacular and I really enjoyed my time with a wonderful group of painters. I am tentatively looking at fall 2023 for another trip and I hope by then the Covid flight restrictions are no longer needed. I love being immersed in a place for a week of concentrated sketching and exploration…it’s a special treat! Thanks again for being in touch! — Jean

    • Thanks — I’m fine and my symptoms were mild (maybe because I’m vaxxed and double boosted). The extra time gave me a chance to finish up some sketches and paint some things that caught my eye. Glad you liked these pages.

  15. 13 miles! No doubt you had the virus then and didn’t know it. But thankfully its past. These sketches certainly came to you beautifully. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Covid included.

  16. Whew, so glad you are home and well again. The unexpected ‘adventure within the adventure’ is never what we expect….(but it can sure make some interesting stories later!!). So relieved you’re back home again!!

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