Coffee on the terrace overlooking the valley; watching a big red and white striped egg of a hot air balloon slowly rise up from the green of the trees to the
brilliant blue of the early morning Italian sky; chatting with new friends . . . a person could get used to this. In fact, I think I am. Send more clothes and all of my earrings. On second thought, forget the clothes and earrings; transfer more dough to my checking account.
For a first day, this one got off to a pretty darned nice start. After a kitchen counter, browsing breakfast, the group, fifteen in all, piled into two vans and we were off! Gianmarco drove the van in which I found myself and Fabio, not he of long, flowing blond hair fame, but lovely all the same, was in charge of the other. Stops in Montechiello, Bagno Vignoni and Pienza were the morning’s excursion. We wandered, sketched, shopped and gelatoed (if that isn’t a verb it’s only because those who decide such things haven’t spent enough time in Italy). I determinedly put pencil to paper in Bagno Vignoni to try to regain some perspective. I was only partially successful, which will surprise no one who knows me well. I did a quick sketch in Pienza, as well as a photograph, that I want to try to paint today. I am inspired . . . and, you know what they say, “if you can’t be inspirational, you should at least try to be inspired.”
Back to the villa for a late lunch and our first lesson. Okay, it’s the hairy end of the brush that goes down. Good. The amazing Raphael paintbrushes that Heather and Judy gave me for a birthday gift elicited exclamations of approval. I have to say, I felt like a big fraud. Like the person who has the gourmet kitchen with the big Aga sitting in pride of place and has every possible fabulous, professional grade appliance, pot and pan, etc., but who doesn’t even know how to turn on the stove. Well, by the end of this week, I am resolved to know how to turn on that stove and cook a perfect soufflé, figuratively speaking.