I am driving up the narrow crumbling switch back road higher and higher until finally the village Benabbio comes into view. At first it seems strange that anyone could live here. It is so small, so very steep, and so far from the world I have known, yet it has such a unique charm. Silver, blue-green olive groves glisten in the sun, everywhere you look on the steep hills. Grape vines with thick trunks are hanging heavy in their ancient arbors that look like they were planted there centuries ago.
All of the buildings are built of stone, and the roofs are a colorful thick round tile, in shades of orange and blue and green. The roads are steep and narrow. Many are still cobblestone, not made for automobiles, but they carry them now, instead of the horses and carts that were used less than a century ago.
The Villa where we stay is a grand place. All of the rooms are decorated differently, but with a charm of their own. A soaking tub is something that I enjoy at home and I was amazed that our room in the Villa had one in the bedroom. Each of the rooms had a view of the valley or the olive groves and rooftops. Every morning there is a the mist that settles in the valley, and the stillness of those moments made me feel like time had stopped. The church bells rung loudly and echoed in the valley every hour, reminding me that time had not stopped.
Painting is something I love to do anywhere, especially when I travel to a new place. I always carry my painting supplies with me when I wander the world and encourage the artists who join me to do the same. The first oil painting I did on this trip to Bennabio, Italy was a demonstration for the artists who joined me. Several of them are accomplished painters in their own right and did many paintings of the area while we were there. Across from the Villa was an old chapel and I knew that I wanted to paint it as soon as I arrived. So I set up my oils and went to work. These are photos from that first day when all the guests were arriving at our Villa.
An elderly couple walked past me while I was working and I added them to my painting when night had fallen and I used my photos of them.
We are traveling to France next summer to explore the Lavender of Provence from the City of Van Gogh. Join us!