Man about town. A brush with passion.

PANICALE, Umbria–To say Bruce likes to paint while he’s in Italy, is like saying The Pope has a bit of a religious background. Bruce has stayed at our place in Panicale before and I’ve always admired his painting of Panicale. But, I’ve never been there when he was there. It was fun to catch him in action. And easy, too. Here’s why: Panicale is small. And he’s out on the street, in one spot, painting until he’s satisfied he’s got it right. And that was true every day unless it was pouring buckets. And we knew when night had fallen, because he would actually come home then.
manabouttown Bruce Kidman painting up a storm in Panicale, Umbria, Italy
But lunch? Not so much. We’d be eating something fun, basking in the lunch-time, garden sun, plucking a fresh fig off the tree to nibble on while reflecting on the flowers close at hand or the lake in the distance, when I’d realize Bruce was MIA. “No problem” Kiki would say, with a dismissive wave of her hand “he’s painting.” She was right, he could not be lured away from his art. It didn’t matter if he was a few houses away, or on the other side of town, he made it clear, he’d much rather paint than eat. He’d pull a candy bar out of his pocket and keep on painting up a storm.

I so admire the passion. And the paintings that are the tangible results of that persistent passion. Complimenti, Bruce, complimenti, pure.

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

“It was a dark & stormy night”in Citta’ di Castello

citta di castello, umbria, italy, stormCITTA DI CASTELLO, Umbria– It was a dramatic kind of day and night. Of course I enhanced the photo “a bit” but omg, we had never been to this lovely city and we’d been wildly turned around on mountain roads getting here. Seemed easy enough. Next time. When the thunder and lightning started, we were just coming out of a Signorelli exhibit. We’d been wandering through that castello for a couple hours and were on the far, far side of town. “Umbrella? I thought YOU had the umbrella!” we both said in unison. Shoot. Must be in the car. ooOK. But, a tiny, further “degree of difficulty” as they say in Olympic diving, was this: We didn’t know which way to run.

No idea WHERE the car was. hilltop castle, citta di castello, umbria, italy, almost stormOr, maybe you could say we knew where the car was but we didn’t know where WE were-relative to it. We had to duck into a doorway (luckily, doorway to an aces gelateria) and show a lady there a photo I had taken of the city gates that we walked thru next to where we’d parked. THEN we could start to run. At least at that point we were running the right direction. Memory. Must remember to use it sometime.

Shown here, above, parking lot view looking back at city. And to the left, yet another castle (ho hum) we past outside of town on the way back. Had to pull off the road to soak it all in. Out in the middle of the wild woods south of the city. We’re planning a return trip to this town. Obviously, lots more castles to see near Citta’ di Castello.

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

Want to see more pictures of Italy? See our instagram gallery. It’s growing daily as we sort thru photos of our most recent trip.


artichokeoil370PANICALE & NEW ENGLAND¬–-It is interesting how things work out. In ways you never expect. James and Elizabeth from nearby NH wrote us here awhile ago and we went back and forth the way we do in email. As often happens when the subject is Italy, it seemed we had a lot in common and so naturally we were happy to find our spring trips overlapping. We found them in person at Aldo’s almost as soon as we rolled into town. Just one more reason to love life in a small Umbrian town.

Both James and Elizabeth artists and “Lets keep this party going. We’ll see you in Massachusetts! That show opening was yesterday. The gallery was mobbed, the work was breathtaking, and it was selling like hot cakes.

He did a master work once a week, for a year, blogging about it the whole time. And the carrot was: when the work was done, they would treat themselves to several well-deserved weeks in Panicale. When we were there, they were done with the art part, but going back to prepare for the show.

They had several friends there at the show who had been to Panicale and at a certain point some of us were standing in front of this painting shown here. We were admiring it and saying “Isn’t that Lake Trasimeno? And the view from Masolino’s balcony? We were all locked in that guessing game when Elizabeth said “I’m not sure about the view. But I do know the artichokes are from Panicale.” “We got them at Linda’s!” Linda’s Bottega Marconi is just steps from our house, her husband Bruno just fixed our rental Lancia, (scroll down one blog) and their daughter Diletta is coming to stay with us in a few weeks. Yes, we sure did know who she was talking about. And there were Linda’s artichokes immortalized forever in oil on canvas. Che piccolo mondo.
midge elizabeth italian painting in gallery
One of the great joys and unexpected surprises of doing what we do here, is the people we’ve met over the years. This weekend just proved the point once again.

See you in Italy!

Stew Vreeland

When in Rome for Easter

Rome DomeROME, ITALY – This is an armchair tour of the Vatican churches, inside and out. Amazing 360 degree photos. More than 360, 360 all directions. Want to look straight down at the paving beneath you, straight up at the dome above, left, right? Anywhere. What I always wonder was where was the camera? How does that work? I’ve seen the effect of course but never such a regal documentation of one subject. And I can’t imagine how they set it up the lighting so well over and over. I know, forget the technology and just enjoy. It is better than being there in person. You just see everything.

And plus, even though Palm Sunday and Easter are almost upon us, no lines! Divertivi molto.



Basilica Papale SAN PIETRO



Ferraris and Carabinieris. Like pb&j they just go together.

PANICALE–Umbria, Italy. Our friends the Lambarts of Colorado have been in Panicale many times and now they are there celebrating their daughter becoming a Di Maria. You can’t beat that for an Italian last name. They are having such a good time and have been so great to share their good times with us. Here they are in their own words and pictures. Their garden pictures stopped me in my tracks. Dear Plant Diary: June = Jasmine, Jasmine = June. Must remember that. Oh, if only the white bloomed jasmine shown here were Scratch and Sniff.

Here is a June peek into Panicale.

See you in Italy,

Stew and Midge Vreeland

Stew and Midge-

Must have been fun to put your mind on rewind and be at another N.U. graduation again! (our daughter Grayson graduating from Northwestern, outside Chicago, many years after we both did) … We expect full report on graduation, festivities and Colbert, when we see you at BC/NU game.
So, trying to keep up with Vreeland standards, and having fun as fast as we can….Arrived Friday night, and had wonderful dinner at Simone’s osteria, then Saturday morning cappucini at Aldos, who has asked Jeff about playing him in Briscola, then Ceremony to open the retired Caribinieri club in Panicale (Aldo says shifts around each year, this year for one year in Panicale)…Multi multi Caribinieri!

Then, last night had dinner at Logetta in Paciano, meeting new owner from Roma and his wife the cook, and then this morning walked to Paciano for express at little bar in center, ran into Margaret, then the Ferrari tour through Panicale, before finding GMB for awesome lunch (and dolci). Oh, ran into Andrea, (Masolino’s) who says Ferraris are “Italian Art, and Adriano, who Jeff used to play Briscola with, getting ready for rematch.

”Whew!….resting under your pergola again this afternoon, practicing our Briscola before having pizza from new Sicilian bakery/take-away shop outside Porta Perugina. Also , met Fernando (older gentleman who now lives here), and he is tutoring Jeff in Italian each day.
Attaching some photos of our adventures with Panicaleese

And some pics of garden, in mid-June. Still can’t get used to all the people who stop above on street to look over garden and ohh and ahh.