Un Viaggio in Ciociaria

16 Apr

Hello Friends!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written, but during that time, we’ve visited our favorite place in Italy each year, and 2017 was our 6th edition of Discover Ciociaria!  Each year we’ve brought 6 artists with us, several of whom have returned year after year.  It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to connect with family, form new friendships, create new work inspired by the landscape, and learn some Italian along the way.  Especially rewarding has been seeing how much our guests have enjoyed discovering for themselves this hidden gem of Italy just a heartbeat away from Rome.  As a way of sharing my Italian adventures, and to share my experience there, I’ve created a little book of paintings (and a few “pensieri” ) of Ciociaria.  Come for a virtual “visit” with me by clicking the link:  A Voyage in Ciociaria



Discover Ciociaria IV: Fully booked, ready and waiting for October!

20 Apr

home page DC IV la polledraraWe’ve got a great group travelling with us in October!  A artist from the Sacramento Bee, a toy designer from Southern California, a gourmet chocolatier from Saugerties, NY, two artists/retired educators from Woodstock, NY and an Italophile landscape painter/printmaker from New York’s Catskill Mountains.  We’re keeping our group to this half dozen…good things happen in small packages!

Our home in Ciociaria will be the Agriturismo La Polledrara, which sits on a hill commanding incredible views of the surrounding countryside including the hilltop town of Paliano. We anticipate rolling out of bed, enjoying breakfast and getting to work on the lawn each morning when we aren’t visiting other local painting spots.G and N for testimonial page

Lucky guests who so desire can learn Italian in the afternoons from Giulio who’ll be conducting impromptu language lessons. We’re considering adding another workshop…an Italian language immersion experience for the future.

Stay tuned for updates as the time for our trip gets nearer, and we’ll try to keep you posted as our DC 2015 adventure unfolds.  Arriverderci!

Giulio & Nancy


11 Oct

ospitalita'Back in the states, home to Saugerties, back to reality, and as I reflect upon this year’s Italian adventure, and what made it so special, what comes to mind is the generosity and grace of the Italians who went out of their way to make our visit memorable.  The photo here, of our final supper at Hotel Belsito in Serrone, says it all…each of us, I think, felt a real kinship with our hosts, whether in our hotel, in restaurants, or on the streets of the village as we painted.

pina in vineyard

Pina Terenzi, Vini Giovanni Terenzi, Piglio

We felt as if we were in a movie set as we painted in the lovely vineyards of the Terenzi family in Piglio.  Our hostess, Pina Terenzi, not only opened her vineyard to us, but brought us wine to taste–and crystal wine glasses to taste it in–and said that we could return any time to paint.  Pina said that her vineyard was “la nostra casa”–our home!


Linda and Miriam, our young fans

I confess, on the Sunday morning that we chose the old town of Piglio as our destination, not much painting got done (at least by me!), thanks to a steady stream of curious and friendly Pigliese!  As we settled in to our painting spots, the air perfumed with the fragrance of tomato sauce percolating for Sunday pasta, passersby would stop for a friendly chat offering us drinks, or even volunteering to go to the store for us if we needed anything.  A young woman and her two daughters stayed with us for quite a while watching us paint, and in the tiny piazza nearby, boys kicked a soccer ball around.  We found a new friend in Maria Paola Sperati, who offered her “bagno” for a WC break, then graciously showed us her beautiful home and the incredible views of the countryside from her rooftop balcony.

View from the balcony, Maria Paola Sperati

View from the balcony, Maria Paola Sperati

The Sagra dell’Uva Cesanese was the setting for our last day in Italy.  The 40th edition this year, the Sagra is a celebration of the vendemmia…the grape harvest from which the famous local wine, Cesanese del Piglio, is made.  Thousands of people fill the tiny cobblestone streets of Piglio for the first weekend of October every year.  Dozens of food kiosks offer traditional treats like pasta, polenta, grilled meats, donuts! (nice big ones, fresh fried) and, naturally, as the wine flows, people dance and sing.

Chowing down at the Sagra dell'Uva

Chowing down at the Sagra dell’Uva

This year’s Italian adventure has come to a close, and we’re left with memories–and some pretty awesome paintings–of the land known as Ciociaria.  We’ll return for another visit, and plan to continue discovering more about this beautiful region, and also plan to follow other roads in Italy less traveled.  Stay tuned, but for now, arriverderci!



A Musical Welcome to Ciociaria

2 Oct

We spent our first morning (Saturday, Sept 28) painting at one of Italy’s national monuments, La Selva di Paliano…which, roughly translated, means, the wild place, or the natural place. La Selva is a bird refuge, with several small lakes.   After  a few hours taking in and translating the scenery on to our paper or canvas, the six painters were joined by the rest of our Discover Ciociaria colleagues and friends, as well as “amici” from the town of Paliano for a picnic with music.  Thanks to Simone Marucci, one of Paliano’s town councilmen, for arranging a “welcome to Ciociaria concert” by a group of musicians whose specialties are “salentina” music.  “Compari delle Cantine” of Paliano comprises a group of beautiful young Ciociare (Cho-CHAR-rey) determined to keep the traditions of Italian country music alive and well.

Here’s a slightly choppy video of the group performing for us.  Enjoy, Campari delle Cantine, from Paliano, Italy.

Oh, the places we’ll go

26 Sep
One of five lakes at La Selva, Paliano, a national park and bird sanctuary

One of five lakes at La Selva, Paliano, a national park and bird sanctuary

Two blog posts in one day…well, it’s a day worthy of two, at least!  We visited La Selva, a nature preserve and one of Italy’s National Parks, located a stone’s throw from the hilltop town of Paliano.  It’s one of several “incantevole” (enchanting) places we’ll paint during Discover Ciociaria II.  Thanks to Simone Marucci, one of the Town Council members of Paliano, for arranging the visit and also for our upcoming day of painting at La Selva.  Local artists as well as our group will be at La Selva for a day which will include a picnic and folk music!

Me & Simone Marucci at La Selva

Me & Simone Marucci at La Selva

Another fantastic opportunity to paint…right inside a vineyard (vigneto), where the grapes which become the famous Cesanese del Piglio vino rosso are grown, awaits our group.  We’ll be painting at the Terenzi vineyard, in Piglio, thanks to our gracious hosts, the Terenzi family. 

The grapes of the Azienda Agricola Terenzi...awaiting their fate...soon they'll become Cesanese del Piglio.

The grapes of the Azienda Agricola Terenzi…awaiting their fate…soon they’ll become Cesanese del Piglio.

Cesanese del Piglio, said to be the wine of kings, popes and Roman legions, has been grown in the valleys and along the slopes of the Ernici mountains for centuries.  The climate and calcium rich soil of Piglio is considered optimal for growing the grapes which eventually become the rich red and strong wine.  On October 6, our group will celebrate the harvest of the grapes at the Sagra dell’Uva Cesanese…a jolly frolic of wine, food and the occasional spontaneous breakout of accordion music!

Giulio Tirinelli and Pina Terenzi walking in the vineyard

Giulio Tirinelli and Pina Terenzi walking in the vineyard



Ready to welcome our guests

25 Sep

Arrived at Leonardo da Vinci airport yesterday, after a pleasant, long transatlantic flight on AerLingus. A pleasant surprise greeted us at JFK Terminal 5, as we made our way to Aer Lingus…from the I Love NY tourism people, a great banner featuring our very own Saugerties Lighthouse!

Banner at JFK...featuring the Saugerties, NY Lighthouse!

Banner at JFK…featuring the Saugerties, NY Lighthouse!

Woke up to clear skies and a quiet morning in Serrone, high in the mountains only 50 miles from Rome. The weather is fine, sunny and with a gentle breeze. 

View from La Casa di Tirinelli

Today Giulio and I checked out a few places to paint and we have found a beautiful place,  La Polledrara, agruturismo, just outside the city of Paliano.The view is perfect! 

A beautiful, typical landscape (il paesaggio) from Agriturismo La Polledrara

A beautiful, typical landscape (il paesaggio) from Agriturismo La Polledrara

So, we’re settled in, the challenge will be to try not to eat pasta every single day…not an easy task…it’s so good!  We’ve had it,  with Cesanese wine of course, two out of two days.  (or maybe, we’ll just take longer walks). 

Today, we’ll be visiting a vineyard of the Terenzi family, one of the premier producers of the Cesanese del Piglio wines. We have been invited to paint there during our visit.  Here’s a look at the harvest…la vendemmia dell’uva…soon to be transformed into wine!

The grapes

Looking forward to greeting the first of our 10 guests tomorrow morning, bright and early, at Leonardo da Vinci airport.  Stay tuned, and I’ll keep you updated on this year’s edition of Discover Ciociaria (DCII!)…we have lots of adventure and surprises in store!

Off to Italy again…a presto!

2 May
Italian landscape

An idyllic scene of Lazio…una panoramica idilliaca

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about Italy, but it’s a new year, and new adventures are in store as we get ready to attend our first Italian family wedding!  My business partner…and second-cousin-once-removed Giulio Tirinelli is marrying the girl of his dreams, Cinzia di Fazio, on May 18. We’re going to the wedding…La Nozze…in Serrone, and my father, John Osenni is coming with us!  It’s his first trip to Italy, and only his second trip to Europe, at 85 years young.  We’ll visit Piglio, only 5 kilometers from Serrone, where my grandmother Annunziata Grilli grew up, and where many of the descendants of Annuniziata’s sister Francesca–Zia Francesca to my father– still live.  He’ll meet lots of family members, and we’re betting that he’ll remember his mother’s language…literally his mother tongue, after a few days among the cousins.

The image here will be the backdrop of the “tableau di matrimonio”–an Italian wedding tradition, where cards showing the seating arrangement of “la nozze” will be placed.  I’ll keep you posted on the festivities, the food, of course, and on my father’s adventures in his mother’s hometown…stay tuned!

Now is the time!

9 Jan

Here’s a recently finished oil painting on paper, based on photos and sketches from last summer’s Discover Ciociaria.  The location for this painting was at the vineyards, in Piglio, owned and operated by Andrea Martini, whose family has been producing Cesanese del Piglio, Ciociaria’s renowned wine, for many years.  Andrea hosted our painting group last summer, and graciously provided use of his cantina for our picnic lunch and treated us to some of his fine wine.

Vineyards, Piglio 72dpi  The Martini Vineyard will be one of our painting places during Discover Ciociaria II, September 27 – October 7.

Our workshop this year will take place during the Sagra dell’uva Cesanese, the annual celebration of the grape harvest in Piglio.  It’s a jolly time, featuring food, music, ample opportunities to taste the various varieties of the robust Cesanese wine of Piglio, and thousands of happy Italians. It’s not unusual to see a spontaneous eruption into song and dance, accompanied by accordion (fisarmonica) music! Did you know that the finest accordions in the world are made in Italy?  It is said that Cesanese was the wine of Roman Legions, kings and popes!    It is difficult to find outside of Italy, since it is produced in small batches, on family farms.

Now is the time to sign up to join us for Discover Ciociaria II!  Our group will be small, no more than 10 guests, to ensure a quality experience for each.  Find all the details about our trip on http://www.halfmoonartstudio.com

Vineyards at Piglio, oil painting by Carol Slutsky-Tenerowicz

Vineyards at Piglio, oil painting by Carol Slutsky-Tenerowicz

Here’s another view of the same location, created by Carol Slutsky-Tenerowicz during last year’s workshop.  Nice work, Carol!

We’re ready! Discover Ciociaria II is set!

17 Oct

We’re ready! Discover Ciociaria II is set!.

We’re ready! Discover Ciociaria II is set!

17 Oct

Painting of Trevi nel Lazio village scene, by Carol Slutsky-Tenerowicz, from Discover Ciociaria I, July 2012.

Plans are finalized for our second Italian adventure in the beautiful land known as Ciociaria.  As “ourcarolinafamily” writes about their Italian family in their blog, “Lurking within this undisturbed territory is, of course, the real Italy. People from all over the peninsula lay claim to living in the real Italy, but they are wrong. The real Italy lies here, in the Comino Valley, north of Naples, south of Rome, high in the mountains, surrounded by the Apennine peaks.”  Our own guests last year felt as though they became part of an extended Italian family.  Mady, one of our workshop participants wrote, “Thanks for a wonderful workshop experience.  Ciociaria is a beautiful region filled with amazing scenery, food, wine and people.   You and Giulio made us feel part of your “family.”  This was a magical experience that I shall never forget.”

Come join us and see for yourself the magic of central-southern Italy.  Only a stones throw from The Eternal City, step back in time, drink the same wine favored by Popes and Roman legions, still produced on small family farms, and rarely enjoyed outside of Italy!  We’ll be in town for the celebration of the grape harvest in Piglio, during the Sagra dell’uva Cesanese.

Visit our website to learn the details of Discover Ciociaria II.  Our adventure begins on Sept. 27 and ends on Oct. 7, 2013.   http://www.halfmoonartstudio.com