Last week, after my two days in Verona, I headed south to Florence. I have not been to Florence since 2007 which was part of my first ever overseas sketching trip. So it was fun to revisit the city and not feel pressured to tick everything off a must-do list, because I did most of it in my previous two trips (my first visit was around 2012 before I was a sketcher).
I have been saying for years that I’m not a huge fan of Florence (what?? I hear you say). The main reason for this radical statement is the excessive number of tourists making it into a Renaissance theme-park with very few Italians.
Yes, there are a lot of amazing Renaissance masterpieces but I prefer cities with a broader historical range. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the dome of the Duomo and it does make Florence special, but as a town as a whole it’s not my favourite – I prefer Rome and Venice as they are more historically rich and then a lot of smaller towns such as Vicenza. It’s hard to express fully what I think about Florence without being totally misunderstood. Yes. I do like Florence, but I think it is a bit overrated. (I’m happy to be shot-down in the comments – ha!)
Anyway, let’s get going with the photos and sketches…
Amazingly my schedule aligned with that of James (Jim) and Patti Richards who are also travelling through Italy at the moment. So on arrival in the city, I headed straight to the Ponte Vecchio to meet up with them. We found a restaurant with a view of the bridge and started to sketch. I was talking too much to really concentrate on my sketch, so this is as far as I got.
Patti had discovered a hotel rooftop with a great view, so we headed there next. This time I sketched in paint-only (direct watercolour) as part of the 30×30 challenge. I was finished very quickly this time as it was the perfect subject matter for this approach ie. able to be done in almost one pass.
As I mentioned earlier I love this dome (and am a bit of a Brunelleschi fan-girl) – check out this early sketch of mine which explains why I love this dome so much.
It was so much fun hanging out with Jim and Patti – and surprisingly I think it was the first time Jim and I have sketched together! Thanks for a fun afternoon!
The next morning I wanted to do another dome sketch but the classic view of the Duomo and Baptistry was in shadow. Tip for next visit: most of the landmark buildings of Florence are better sketched in the afternoon.
I found this stone bench to sit on with a view of the rear of the dome – another direct watercolour sketch. The perfect way to start a sketching day in Florence.
I then met up with Katinka from Lucca – she invited me to teach a workshop in Lucca in 2016. BTW she has the most gorgeous Airbnb in the hills above Lucca – highly recommended.And oh! to follow on from my discussion about Florence… I think Lucca is a nicer city/town.
I got to the cafe early and so sketch the Loggia and Palazzo Vecchio – in ink only as it was all in the shade. We also both sketched our coffee and cornetto. It was so lovely to catch up with Katinka – thanks for making the journey into Florence to see me!
After lunch with Katinka I had 15 minutes rest before rushing out to another meetup – this time Karen Abend. Karen is the creator of the free Sketchbook Revival online event and it was lovely to meet in person.
We met at a hipster cafe – wow, there are locals in Florence! – and then we head to Santa Croce. The whole time we talked non-stop about Sketchbook Revival, creative process and online business.
It was such a great afternoon and so wonderful to chat with Karen like this.
Another important Renassiance architect is Alberti, so I went on a minor detour to sketch his Palazzo Rucellai. I was a bit too tired to do it justice and in hindsight it would have been better just to draw on bay accurately.
What a huge day and I ended up walking 22K steps!
And so ends my short trip to Florence! It was lots of fun and I gained a new appreciation for the place – the tourists were far worse than in 2007, but my interest in early Renassiance architecture has been increased.