Yesterday we revisited Pienza and painted from the 'parapetto' which overlooks the Val d'Orchia. Il Professore likes to call it the 'Val di SCORCHIA" because you will fry your butt off if you try to paint there anytime before 5 p.m., especially without full shade. Pienza is a quaint little renaissance city with a jewel-like piazza, apparently referenced as the most perfectly realized one (architecturally speaking) in Italy. It is bounded by four structures (a church, a palazzo, and two government buildings of some sort), which are all in different styles, and all archetypical renaissance designs. They are placed asymmetrically, in a pleasing disposition that may or may not follow some arcane mathematical postulates. Anyway, it is a charming place with a cute little box-like sense of proportion. A few years ago I painted a section of the piazza, with its ancient cistern.
The Val d'Orchia, as I have noted before, is a UNESCO world heritage site, a protected valley that functions agriculturally and is home also to splendid wine estates and 'agricultural tourismo' hostels, and small hillside villages. It is characterized by rolling hills in different states of cultivation, producing a quilt of different hues and tones of ocher, siennas (burnt and raw), grays, violets, and greens. Very subtle and variegated and difficult to paint. The photos are of my effort, which took about 3 hours, and I can see that the tones need adjustment (also that ripple in the canvas will be corrected when I re-stretch it!).
After painting, we drove to Lucignano, our first visit this summer to this favorite city of ours, which we first discovered four years ago when we got lost returning from Siena. We arrived at midnight (that time) and were delighted to find a pizza parlor still serving in the deserted stony street, and Paul proclaimed the pizza there to be 'the best in the world.' So, we make a yearly pilgrimage to this little restaurant. The pizza is a rectangular shape and very FLAT, i.e. not Neapolitan style, which I understand is thicker. I am not an expert on this, however.
The town, usually rather sleepy, was very busy, as it turned out they were having their 'outdoor food night' with many tables set up in the street, candles everywhere, and lots of people and some performance activity. There were, for example, attractive female actors on stilts, costumed in white with white powdered faces and white 17th-century wigs, doing some hypnotizing quadrille in the street for our viewing pleasure. And lots of ordinary Italians strolling about, seemingly well-adjusted and happy, and devoid of the acid of American angst and bitterness. I have read that (based on several indexes) Italy has the highest standard of living in Europe, despite its shaky economy. Low suicide rate, low infant mortality rate, less divorce, great longevity of life, better diet, etc., etc. Probably a person could add 7 years to their life by just moving here.