An American Artist in Italy and Nine Levels of Heaven

Italian Berries and Daisy Solo
Italian Berries and Daisy Solo, 12X12, oil


I brought home more than olive oil and hand embroidered hand towels from my Le Marche, Italy workshop this year. I rather foolishly hopped on the scale this morning and discovered there was more of me! All is not lost, however. If I really want to embrace the European way, I should measure in kilos rather than pounds, and allora ~ I’ve just lost half my body weight by eating pasta, gelato, olive oil and cheese every day for 2 weeks! And herein lies the secret to the Mediterranean diet!

This morning, as I unpacked and settled back into life in Flower Mound Studio, I felt a measure of joy. There are more than a few reasons I can think of, for this, but I believe the key is in the simplest things we did together, my students and I. Each evening at the end of the day, in the village of Sant’Angelo in Vado, we would walk to Caffe del Corso and sit on stone steps under golden street lamps and a deep midnight blue sky, eating hand made sweets. The families were always out, fathers with their little girls walking hand in hand, mothers pushing strollers, young people around tables laughing with dogs lying happily at their feet, and everyone greeting one another. The owner of the Caffe, Francesco, had taught our gelato making class. Although his osteria was packed with people, he greeted us warmly, coming out from behind the counter and announcing to the entire restaurant that the American artists were here, and also (by the way) introducing us to a large table of American opera students who were in Sant’Angelo studying musica lirica Italiano.

Carlos and I had attended one of their performances the first night we arrived, and they remembered us with waves and hellos, and then broke into song. As Francesco scooped impossibly large mounds of chocolate and vanilla and fruit flavored gelato onto crispy cones, the opera students’ voices soared toward the star speckled sky, sharing, “I Believe I Can Fly.”

Including every unique experience is the goal when I bring my classes to Italy. Painting each day in a 1000 year old monastery on the Roman Road, visiting beautiful Cartoceto, and having dinner in a castle where Dante once lived seems a lot to pack into 7 days. But with all these, the simple moments of village life resonate the longest. As the opera students’ powerful voices embraced us, we bridged for a few seconds the distance between past and present, and arrived at a place and time where family and time together is still important. In a space famous for the presence of Dante, I am quite certain we were sensing nine levels of heaven all around us.

I Believe I Can Fly

There are miracles in life I must achieve
But first I know it starts inside of me

If I can see it, then I can be it
If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly

Copyright R. Kelly, MetroLyrics

PS – See all the sights of Italy in my new monthly online class, The Joyful Brush, in Petal Perks! Learn more here…


The heart of Sant’Angelo in Vado is at this Caffe!
Francesco shares his sweetest recipes in gelato making class!
So many choices, so little time!
Italy alumni 2017
Dinner at Castello della Pieve at sunset

More good things

Learn how to add magic to your acrylic paintings for free! Click here.

The Joyful Brush

The Joyful Brush is a monthly painting lessons membership, here's the scoop!

Nancy Medina

Nancy is a master signature artist and instructor with over 1800 online students from around the world. She has worked with Disney, served on the art faculty of the Dallas Arboretum, and teaches workshops in France, Italy and across the US. More about Nancy

Reader Interactions


  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful Italian trip Nancy, I could almost taste the gelato and the faces of your students were full of joy and satisfaction.

    • Cindy it was like childhood again, when all the tastes and colors were stronger!

  2. Nancy thank you for sharing your thoughts and special memories of Italy. I just love reading your bloggy and hearing about your trips and classes! You’re so kind and generous, and such a huge blessing! Hugs!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This