Archive for Melabee

Zoo Lights

Posted in Animals, Christmas, Holiday, Lights, Palm Tree, Washington DC, Winter with tags , , , , on December 16, 2011 by melabeemiller

Let’s take a break from Florence and go to the zoo for the holidays.  It’s a short trip to Washington DC and  The National Zoo where we can see a sparkling light show that is quite wonderful.  The zoo is free and the lights will be on until January 1st.

All my best wishes for the holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

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Florence, Italy!

Posted in Digital Image, Florence, Italy, Melabee M Miller, Summer, Travel with tags , , , on October 27, 2011 by melabeemiller

I’ve visited Florence numerous times and I wondered if I would tire of it and take the first train to, well….somewhere.  But no, there are always new things to do and familiar places to see again.

During my visit to Florence this summer, the first tour was to see the newly restored frescoes which depict The Legend of the True Cross on the walls and ceiling of the High Altar of the Church of Santa Croce. Scaffolding was in place while the finishing touches were made to the frescoes and this allowed visitors to tour the art. Without a special request or additional cost, an English speaking tour guide was there to translate just for us. Grazie!

We climbed the 110 scaffolding steps to the top. It was so exciting to literally be face-to-face with the life size figures in these incredible frescoes painted by Agnolo Gaddi – son of Taddeo Gaddi.  Italian restoration only allows the frescoes to be cleaned.  If paint or gold leaf is missing, it remains in that condition. Because of this, we saw some of the lines of the original drawing on the wall.  Amazing! No photos were allowed in this area, so we took out our journals and drew.

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To see even more photos of Florence, be sure to preview my book at blurb.com.

San Gimignano, Italy

Posted in Italy, Melabee, Melabee M Miller, Mountains, San Gimignano, Summer, Twin Towers, Wild Boar with tags , , , , , on September 9, 2011 by melabeemiller

We entered San Gimignano, a Medieval walled city famous for it’s towers, through the Porta San Giovanni.  The city was quite easy to navigate.  It was market day and there were aisles of vendor carts and umbrellas end to end covering two piazzas.  So many that we couldn’t see the cistern in the center of the Piazza of the Cistern or “Piazza della Cisterna“.

If you are interested in tasting wild boar or cinghiale”, this is the place.  Almost all the local stores have full size stuffed wild boar greeting you as you enter and numerous cured pieces of wild boar for sale.  We were told that wild boar roamed the countryside at night but we didn’t catch a glimpse of even one.

There are fourteen towers of varying heights remaining of  the original 72. My friend Elaine and I found Torre Salvucci”, the only tower open to the public on the day we visited.  We walked the 160 steps up the staircase which wound it’s way through ten floors.  Each floor had a different living space from a kitchen to bedrooms and sitting rooms and even a full bathroom. Yes, each floor was one room.  At the very top, the guide opened the rolling gate to reveal a terrace with a fabulous panoramic view.  Definitely worth the climb!

As an American who saw the Twin Towers being built  in New York in 1973, I couldn’t help but think of them during my visit to San Gimignano.  Our Twin Towers will always remain in our memories.

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Siena, Italy

Posted in Digital Image, Duomo, Italy, Melabee, Melabee M Miller, Photography, Siena, Siena, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2011 by melabeemiller

Our next excursion was to Siena, a very large city in comparison to my favorite town, Radda in Chianti.

Siena is well known for the Palio, a spectacular horse race that takes place in the center of the city twice a year.  But we were looking for a different Siena and found some unexpected things.  We were dropped off at San Domenico Basilica where, much to our surprise, we came upon the head and finger of St. Catherine of Siena ( 1347-1380  ).  No photos permitted in the church but, if you’d like, you can see her head here.

Next, we walked on Via Cittá and heard classical music.  Following the sound, we entered the courtyard of the Palazzo Chigi Saracini (This link shows a 180° view-don’t forget to look up.) which houses the Chigiana Musical Academy.   We sat on a bench and lost track of time while we listened to music, worked in our journal, photographed and watched people.

The most wonderful site was the crypt (cripta in Italian) which was re-discovered in 1999 under the Duomo (Cathedral).  I was disappointed because photography was not permitted in this space which was full of incredible frescoes and decorative patterns.  But I had an alternative to photography-my journal.  I made drawings of the areas I wanted to remember.  A whole new world has opened to me.  Now along with my camera, I travel with a notebook and pencil.

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Visiting Radda in Chianti, Italy

Posted in Colors, Detail, Digital Image, Italy, Italy, Melabee, Melabee M Miller, Mountains, Nature, Photography, Radda in Chianti, Summer, Sunlight, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2011 by melabeemiller

Our first day trip was to the lovely hilltop town of Radda in Chianti in the center of the Chianti region.  Our host explained how safe it was by relating this story: A previous workshop participant lost a camera somewhere in the town.  The next day it was returned by the Policia.  A local resident found the camera, recognized the photos of Borgo San Fedele and knew that it had to belong to a visitor staying there.  You can’t get much safer than that.

We found the perfect bench in a small park overlooking the countryside and painted the fabulous views.  The Church of San Niccolò is in the center of this circular town so we knew exactly where we were at all times. In the middle of the Chianti region, we found many black roosters (found on the seal of Chianti Classico wine) and the most delicious white wine made with the typical Vernacchia grape.

Of course we didn’t paint all the time.  We visited abiti e accessori, a store with home accessories in one room and, in the other, beautiful clothes made with hand painted fabrics made by the artist in the middle of the store.  Other stores featured the food of the region including pici pasta and a tasty olive oil, of course.  And, don’t forget a fabulous lunch.

The size and friendliness of Radda was just perfect for our first adventure.

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Watercolor Journaling Workshop in Italy

Posted in Daylight, Digital Image, Italy, Linden Trees, Summer, Sunlight, Trees, Vagliagli with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2011 by melabeemiller

Today’s post brings us to Borgo San Fedele, a restored ancient parish church, near the village of Vagliagli in the middle of the Chianti.  Vagliagli means “valley of the wild garlic”, which grows in the countryside.  The workshop classes took place in the restored church.

At Borgo San Fedele, I heard the crunch of small stones under our sneakers and saw terraced flower and herb gardens, a pond with water lilies and very tall cypress trees.  There was a distinctive scent of Linden Trees and the sound of deer barking.  (Yes, it turns out small Italian deer bark like dogs.) It was unlike any other place I have ever been.

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Italy……It was different this time

Posted in Artist/Writer, Daylight, Digital Image, Florence, Highways, Italy, Melabee, Melabee M Miller, Roads, Sharon Pitts, Summer, Sunlight, Travel, Trees with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2011 by melabeemiller

When I took a photography workshop in Italy years ago, it seemed familiar to me because I was photographing. Well, as familiar as photographing wheat at dawn in Tuscany can be.

I recently spent one week in Chianti attending a watercolor journaling workshop.  This time felt different.  I was learning new techniques and creating in new mediums. This process helped me to see my surroundings in new ways. I sat on benches and steps, leaned on walls and spent time looking, drawing and painting. I was recording it on paper right in front of me, but I couldn’t resist the urge to photograph. I’m not ready to share my drawings and paintings – yet.  In future posts, you will see where I’ve been and what I’ve seen.

The workshop was taught by Sharon Pitts , an accomplished watercolor artist who teaches at the Yard School of Art at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey.  It was facilitated by Il Chiostro at The Tuscan Renaissance Center in Borgo San Fedele in the heart of Chianti.  The location and countryside were stunning and my fellow workshop artists were such a pleasure to work with. I’m grateful to have had such an inspiring experience.

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