Europe 2020V: Florence and San Gimignano

July 1, 2020 | Leave your thoughts

After four weeks based in the Veneto region of Italy  (as part of my Virtual trip) it was time to head south. As mentioned in my previous article, this part of the trip is not what I had planned to do, and so to make life easy for myself, I decided to head straight to Florence.

I had plenty of my own photos to work off so I didn’t need to use much time exploring Google street view.

I intended to explore Florence itself and also a number of nearby towns in Tuscany, but as it turned out, I had a busy week of work and only ‘visited’ San Gimignano.

I do like Florence (and I absolutely love the dome of the Duomo) but it doesn’t make my top three Italian cities. (I explained why in an article in 2018 when I visited it last!) I was really  looking forward to sketching it without having to deal with the excessive crowds but I was surprisingly a touch uninspired by my photos. On occasions I kept scrolling through my collection searching for something that I felt like sketching.

After so much time exploring the late Renaissance work of Palladio, I found the early Renaissance architecture of Florence very flat (and of course looking at photos didn’t help – it would have been fine in real life).

When I draw building portraits I’m super interested in the design of the facade – the use of the classical orders and the manipulation of the wall surfaces. This is why I had so much fun during my Baroque facade day earlier in this virtual trip! Palladio’s work, although much more restrained than Baroque architecture, is sublime in its use of the orders and proportions. So even though I love the simplicity of the work of Brunelleschi and Alberti etc in Florence, I just didn’t feel like sketching them at the time. But of course I still did!

But for the record, I LOVED sketching Brunelleschi’s dome! Of course… that goes without saying.

I found the interesting streets, towers and textures of San Gimignano much more inspiring! In 2007 during my first ever sketching trip to Europe I only had one hour in ‘San Gim’ (crazy limitation due to a tour group I was part of) and I remember being very intentional about getting one sketch done. Hey, maybe I’ll share that sketch with you. Keep scrolling to see it!

This time it was fun to do a few sketches of street views, and also record the gelato I bought back in 2007 as I rushed back to the bus.

Anyway, despite my lack of super motivation, I still had fun and produced a nice little collection of sketches. Here they all are:


Well despite not feeling super motivated I’ve ended up with a nice little collection of sketches, haven’t I?

As for those early sketches – check them out here!


Leave a Reply