Friday, October 31, 2014

Volterra Italy at Night

Dear Art-loving friend,
In my previous post  I showed you a few small dragons in the charming town of Volterra, Italy.  On this eve of my favorite holiday, Halloween, I give you a few images of the night.  Unlike the vampire I often pretend to be, I am not trying to charm you into the darker side of life, but to enchant and share something of my world with you.  

Volterra is an ancient Etruscan town dating back to at least the 8th century BC.  One can see Roman and Florentine architecture here.  Volterra is now listed in the region of Pisa.  My friends Art and Virginia Wells and I had driven to Volterra by way of Pisa so that they could take in a few of those famous white marble Pisan sights [one is, after all, INCLINED to do so… can vampires make puns?].

I am including shots of the Roman amphitheater.  While I did not have time to go down into it during the day (not because I was asleep in my coffin, thank you very much), it looks as if there was a mighty view of the valleys surrounding the hilltop town.  What an amazing backdrop for any performance!  The giant human forms that are lit in strong white MAY be sculptures by the Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj.  Sadly, he joined the other realm recently in Paris.

Like many towns and cities in Tuscany, Volterra has a Medici fortress (this family really got around!).  Also, when most writers speak of the towns in Italy (Firenze too), most of the time we are actually referring to the OLD TOWN center… the part within the medieval wall, or her remains.  Outside of this border, homes are often NOT made out of stone and they look more like modern spaces. 

Allora, Happy Halloween… I am off to a bar to start off the evening, to meet a couple who invited me out.  The other day I was in Zecchi’s famous art supply store near the Duomo in Firenze and was talking to the owners Sandro and his son Leo, long-time friends of mine.  I was mistaken for an employee and for that, I am happy that my Italian speaking and knowledge of the shop can fool some people!  Still, it is a fun way to meet people. But now, I need to grab my cape and fly… I advice you to be careful of strangers… they may be more strange than you dare imagine.

If you are enjoying this blog, the writing and/or the images, it would help me continue if you could send a donation my way.  Just go to the blog online and there are PayPal links for making a donation.  Choose any amount you desire, even five bucks helps! 

Or further down the site on the right hand column, you will see a more indirect way to help:  Go shopping online via the search window under “Support This Blog Via Amazon”  Your author is an affiliate and clicking here first sends a donation with each purchase you make on a click-through. 

A third way you may help is to forward this blog to someone you think may appreciate it.  The more readers, the more comments online, and wallah… lovers of art and Italy unite.

Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm,


~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Volterra Italy and Dragons

Dear Art-loving friend,

One of my artists friends (and a collector, God love him!) and his wife moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico years ago… a famous town for gobs of art galleries.  When they came to visit me in Florence, Italy, they told me that they thought it would be a great place for an artist to live (Santa Fe), but they discovered that they soon became the most visited household ever, a hotel for all of their friends to see a cherished town.  So, we enjoyed a one-evening visit, but they decided that I probably did not want visitors for long in another famous art town that receives lots of artists.

However, there is a balance and I have a tendency to stay in my studio a LOT!  It is actually nice to have an excuse to get out and see/show something of Florence and sometimes other places in Italia.  For this, I am very grateful that stone carver Art Wells and his wife Virginia wrote to me and I not only got to show them something of my beloved Firenze, but I also tagged along with them to see Volterra, Italy.  I had no idea that this town is famous for alabaster and carving!  It is full of artists, including a wonderful glassartist Corinna Butler who made a necklace that Virginia now wears.

I am breaking up the Volterra images into three posts.  This one contains a few of my daytime images.  This first shot was taken as I walked around the area of the hostel in which I slept, Chiostro delle Monache.  The second image is the dining area for the hostel’s breakfast (included in your bed price).  While this place is located outside of the city walls and my friends and I got lost as they drove me out there around 11 p.m., as Art said the next morning when he came to pick me up, “Once you know where it is, it is very easy to find.”  Truly, there are not  so many roads in this area.  However, if you take the wrong fork in one, it may be a while before you can find a way back.  The people here were SO NICE!  Even the woman who played phone tag with me during my various postponements on arrival told me that she had upgraded me to a better room.  She even complimented me on my art.  She said that she saw my Web site in my e-mail signature and checked it out! 

I like how many dragons there are and easily spotted here in Volterra.  [Of course, Firenze has them too and I was delighted showing Art and Virginia around in the Renaissance City because I saw another one I had not noticed before.]

Not far from the Hotel San Lino where Virginia and Art stayed (with the lovely Denise at the reception desk!) is a church.  It has an open door, and that means an invitation to come in, right?  It is very simple inside, but I thought it was charming how the artwork behind the altar was a combination of sculpture with only a little bit of fresco (usually it seems the other way around). 

This next image may not belong to the interior I just showed you.  I actually took this one first, as we arrived into town, so, I think this is a location more central.  Still there are so many BUSY art-filled spaces in Italia that I find myself drawn to the beauty of the more simple arrangements so that the running hamster in my brain can take a break a bit.

Now, for today, I leave you with images of two more dragon sculptures.  The last image I found a bit funny.  I have been looking for a place to live in Italy.  I need to find a place in the semi-country for my mental state and love of trees AND my very strong desire to carve stone on a regular basis.  But I also enjoy my car-less life.  So, I need good Internet in my home, and access to public transportation, as well as a grocery store.   

Volterra not only has good tourist traffic (for selling my art) and has an active and professional art community, but it also has bus transport that takes you into the center of town (the old part).  The drawbacks for me are that it is located on the top of a low mountain with wide vistas.  This makes me think it gets VERY cold because it is so exposed to the air and winters could be tough. But also, as we walked around the town, pigeon poo could be seen all along the pathways.  It seemed more concentrated in this little town than in many others I visit.  I was a bit amused to see pigeon on a menu in Volterra.  Someone, at least, is trying to solve the problem! Ha.  

I would feel honored if you took a look at some of my stone carvings.  Each is one-of-a-kind:
Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm,
~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher