All Roads Lead to Rome: Sixth Stop, Two Italian Coasts (Aug. 26-Sept. 14, 2013)


Warning, this is a long one!

With a title that includes "Two Italian Coasts," you would imagine that I could share lots of images and paintings from both of them. Sadly, that is not true. All I can give you for Marina di Bibbona is a link to online images. I am going to tell you why, but first, you must make sure you have read the previous posts. If not, here are links to them:

Ireland, July 28-Aug. 7

Nantes, Aug. 7

Ile de Brehat, Aug. 8-13

Paris and Fontaine-Forches, Aug. 14-18

Avignon, Aug. 19-25

On August 25, I walked the 1 km to the bus stop at 5:00 a.m. The bus dropped me off at the TGV (train station) for a 7:15 departure. Next I changed trains in Lyon. Somewhere between there and Torino, the train conductor changed from speaking French to speaking Italian and announced, "Benvenuti in Italia." It's odd to say, but I felt like I was home. (And I could certainly understand more of the language than before when I was in France.) The train took me to Torino (Porta Susa station). From there I walked 2 km to Torino (Porta Nuova station). I got on a train to Livorno, where I changed trains to make my way to Cecina. In Cecina, I found a young man with an Italian cell phone to call the taxi for me. The taxi took me to Hotel Nina in Marina di Bibbona. Twelve hours and 211 euro in train fare, and I had finally arrived! As soon as I checked in, I headed to the Ligurian Sea for pizza on the beach.

After unpacking and falling into bed, I slept a good sleep. The sea air was fresh coming in my window, and the sound of the waves were mesmerizing. When I awoke the next morning, I sat up in bed and screamed to the top of my lungs. I had pinched a nerve under my right shoulder blade. I have a huge tolerance for pain, but I was literally crying, writhing in pain, back and forth and up and down and there was no position that would bring me any ease whatsoever. My entire right arm was hurting, fingers tingling, and neck stiff. After a handful of Advil and laying on a cold bottle of water from my refrigerator, I made my way down to the front desk. I know I looked awful, and I wanted to tell them that I am really a nice, friendly person, I just hurt like hell.

This part of the story could go on for hours if I tried to tell you everything I went through over the next few days. I made many trips to the pharmacy and to the doctor (1 km walk). The doctor gave me a shot in the behind for pain which he said was extremely strong. It did not phase it. I did get a nice big purple bruise though. So, I spent my 4 days here just being as still as I could, lying (yes... on the beach), and taking pain meds. I did not get to paint even one painting. There was no way to lift anything, and the pain was just as strong after the 4 days as it had been in the beginning. Forced rest was a hard pill to swallow. I wanted to paint.

On August 30, I was supposed to train to Rome to meet Mark. We would then head to Peschici on the opposite coast. There was no way I could make the journey. I was so disappointed. I had made it all this way, and could not make the last leg by myself. 

Mark's plane was rerouted to Munich, where Lufthansa lost his luggage. After his 23-hour trek from the U.S. through Paris and Munich, he landed in Rome, rented a car, and drove 4 hours to pick me up. Google maps says it only takes 2 hours, do not believe them! Immediately, we turned around and drove BACK to Rome and spent one night there. Just sitting up in the car for that long was horrible for the pain. But thank goodness my knight in shining armor had rescued me from another 7-hour train ride (with multiple changes).

The next morning we took the train from Rome to Peschici. Peschici was one of the places that Mark and I visited for two months in 2008 during our LONG Italy stay. It is remote with very few English speakers (which we wanted). White-washed with Greek influence, the historic center sits high above the sea. 

Here is how the day went:

2:50 pm we boarded our train to Foggia.

5:52 pm arrived in Foggia and transferred to a train to San Severo.

7:05 pm we boarded a train that travels trough the Gargano countryside to Peschici-Calanella. 

We transferred to a bus which drove the winding (like very curvy winding) coast line up the hill to Peschici.

We arrived in Peschici sometime after 8:00 pm.

On our walk to the centro storico (historic center) we stopped by our favorite frutta e verdura (fresh fruit and vegetable stand), macellaria (butcher), formaggeria (cheese shop) and picked up some pasta fresca fatta a mano (fresh pasta made by hand). While Mark made dinner, I walked to the mercato for birra (beer), and stopped at the panificio for pane (bread). YUM!!!!!

Taking the curvy bus ride we saw Peschici ahead.

The next week was spent trying to 'heal' me. I rested. Mark (Marco di Peschici) massaged my shoulders, shopped at the markets and fish sellers (which he loves to do), and prepared all of his favorite fish and seafood dishes for me.

Starting with fresh mozzarella di buffalata

Looking down from our 'home'.

Morning view from one of our 4 decks. (Painting demo of this in a later post.)

Marco toasts a beautiful day.

Peschici's main street

Because of it's position over the sea, you can watch the sun both rise and set.

The following week, Mark left Peschici on the 4:00 am bus, retracing his tracks to meet up with friends arriving in Rome.

Jim Richards

, Krista Straughn,

Jim Carson

, Sandie Yarbrough, and

Katerina Ring

all met Mark at the Roma Termini (main strain station) for their 'guided' tour to Peshici. 

As they were making their way on a bus,

Al Tofanelli


Carole Gray-Weihman


Ray Roberts, and Peggi Roberts

arrived. They had driven from Florence, and I had prepared a little snack to welcome them to paradise. Around 9:00 pm, Mark and the crew from Rome joined us as well.

Trinh and Lori

It was great fun sharing 'our town' with new folks. Artist

Trinh Dinh Day

and I had become friends when Mark and I were there before. Trihn is from Viet Nam, was raised in France, lives in Rome, and works during the summer months selling his work and painting in Peschici. It was great to introduce him to more artists from the states. 

By the middle of the week,

Roos Schuring

had joined us too.

Mark, Roos, Lori, and Sandie

With the help of Marco, we set up my painting gear and I painted for a few days. Still not feeling too much better, but at least painting helped take my mind off of it. There was still no feeling in my fingers or strength in my right hand. Painting was difficult, but I just had to do it.

Painting Arco Zaffarano (shown below). The alley where we lived.

James Richards finding his scene.

Carole does the same.

Katerina painting some 'whites.'

"Study of Whites, II" 8x10

Is Jim laughing at me, or with me?

"Arco Zaffarano," 10x8, private collection.

"Study of Whites," 10x8

About 1/3 of the way down the steps to the beach. The inspiration for the next painting.

"An Early Response," 8x10

One way down.

Peggi doing her thing.

"Adriatic Seaside," 8x10

Painting with Peggi as local children watch.

"Peschici Skyline," 8x10

View on the beach with Peschici up on the hill.

Lori and Peggi

We visited several other small towns while we were in Peshici, and the artists felt comfortable making their own plans and doing their own thing. One day several of us visited



Sandie, Lori, and Mark

One of our many wine-tastings shared.

Ray, Peggi, Carole, Jim R., Katerina, Krista, Jim C., Mark, Lori, Sandie, Al (not pictured, Roos).

Need I say more?

Final stop tomorrow. . . Rome.