A couple of the guys in the group have been staying in an old monastery near to the studio we used for the figure workshop. We all had a brief look around when we dropped them off one day as its an unusual place full of character and interest in a setting of olive trees, goats and rambling gardens. This morning before finishing packing up for Rome some of us invited ourselves back to the monastery for a more thorough exploration and I took the opportunity for a photo shoot. The mood and light of the place were very inspiring and I hope to have taken some useful reference shots for future paintings. One of the amazing things about this whole area is that around every corner there is yet another visual feast, its almost beauty overload.
Far too soon we then had to say our final goodbye to Corciano and set off in a convoy to Rome. The weather has been very good to us the whole time we have been here and although it rained a bit today it cleared up as soon as we arrived. We have been a very lucky group of artists enjoying just the right amount of sunshine without it ever getting too hot for very long.
We arrived in our very modern hotel which was a bit of a culture shock after the almost stage set medieval fantasy we had come from (albeit with internet access) and so started the readjustment process back into the real world. After a couple of hours break some of us took ourselves off to the centre of Rome and headed straight for St Peters and the Vatican. It was by now late afternoon and a great time of day to go, not too crowded considering although there was a mass taking place. I wondered if the worshippers feel strange about the tourists swarming all over the place, or maybe they are worshipping tourists, either way I related it to when we painted in front of a crowd. St. Peters is pretty special and you really get a proper sense of the scale of the place that you dont froam the TV when you stand in it, it is the most enormous church. Michaelangelos Pieta is of course a major attraction and very beautiful although if you really want to get a good look at it you are better off looking at pictures on the Internet, it is so far back and behind bullet proof glass so it's pretty obscured. Jason, workshop organiser, artist and tour guide extraordinaire is a complete font of knowledge on all things Italian - he lived in Italy for a year to study and spent a lot of that time in Rome so knows it very well indeed. He showed us Raphael's studio which is just to the side of the Vatican and we were told if he craned his neck and looked out of the upstairs window he could wave to the Pope. Jason also seems to have personal experience of every gelateria in Italy, he should write a guidebook. Tonight we had the best Gelato in Italy after having enjoyed the best spaghetti. We saw the Pantheon before dinner and the Trevi fountain afterwards, the pace is still pretty brisk. The atmosphere around the fountain was really lively, lots of happy people really enjoying the sight of it, laughing and enjoying themselves, it has a real village feel to it. There is so much doom and gloom in the world it was really good to see and be a part of it for a while.
After a hair raising taxi trip back to the hotel there were a few more goodbyes as the group starts to disperse. Jason has a new group are arriving, they will be working with a different artist and as long as they all have good walking shoes and lots of enthusiasm they will have a ball. Our group came from very different walks of life, ages and nationalities but all gelled well and really seemed to enjoy all aspects of the trip. The art tuition and inspiration was everything I hoped it would be but the cultural exposure to Umbria and Tuscany was a bonus, much more than any of us had expected and has enriched our experience enormously. We are the Wu Group now and maybe we'll do it again next time Zhaoming comes to Italy.
Many thanks to Jason, and Zhaoming and also to our Italian hosts Dena and Gabrielle.
The Wu Group
David - A full time art student with a great future, the youngest of the group at least in years. Also known as mortal David to differentiate him from Mike's boy.
Jessica and Jeff - Champion Duomo tower climbers, Jeff knowlegeable about everything especially where to get Guinness in Italy and Jess the epitome of an American abroad, always cool and glamourous.
Arka and Jahnvee - Both stunning photographers as well as painters and great company and pursuers of the truffle. www.starved-artist.com
Steve - Spanish Steve from the Midlands. Super warm friendly artist and number one Zhaoming disciple. www.Focaleye.com
Martha - Gentle, unflappable Texan/Southern Belle from San Francisco, one of my roomies and a fellow appreciator of a good strong Enlish cuppa.
Julie - Mad as a box of frogs lady from Oz and my other roomie. Great fun with lots of inciteful stories to tell about her world travels.
Qiuzhen Wei - The fragrant Mrs Wu, a really lovely lady and very accomplished and hard working artist. It was an extra bonus getting to see her working.
I have about 1000 photos to plough through when I get home. These are not mine for the reasons mentioned earlier.