Tasting Tuscany and Sketching too

My Eat Paint Cook Tour of Tusany has begun and we are off to a great start! We began our tour by visiting a small nearby town called Castellina in Chianti.  It’s a cute walled city and has quite a few picturesque corners, and shopping. There’s a great pizza place right on the Main Street where you can eat outside and yummy gelato (a real plus in my book!) I wasn’t able to take my group here last time, so it was a real treat to go back after being away for a couple of years.  Every year, the trip is slightly different due to logistics and weather.  As group leader, I get to plan our locations, so I always make an effort to cull the best experiences from past years, and work them into our week.

Our first full day included a trip to Castellina in Chianti.  It was partly sunny and often overcast, but we made up for it with some tasty treats on the street…and yes, the food is as delicious as it looks! Our home base of San Fedele serves primarily organic locally produced food without  butter.  Our chef is almost a radical in this realm…he only uses olive oil as his fat and no butter. For a girl who enjoys butter, what’s most surprising is I don’t even miss it!

Pizza on the street in Castellina.

Today in town I managed a quick sketch before it rained.  Painting on location is also referred to as “plein air”.  It can be a challenge, but I always maintain that if you really want to SEE something, DRAW it.  I promise that if you do, you will never forget it.  While drawing the sketch below, the cyclists returned and took their bikes away. That’s why it’s always a great idea to take a photo immediately when you begin a sketch.  Taking another picture when something changes can be helpful too.  There were no shadows when I drew it, but I took this shot later in the day when the sun began to shine. I hope to add the shadows and the people to my sketch soon.  I’ve saved some light areas that should allow for them to be inserted easily.

Castellina Corner

Castellina Corner

From my sketchbook- Castellina in Chianti

From my sketchbook- Castellina in Chianti.  I took a few liberties with proportions and would still like to develop more shadows and add some people, but I had lunch waiting for me!  We artists must keep our priorities in order after all…


  When we returned home from our outing, our chef Andrea Anichini was in the midst of preparations for dinner.  Helping in the kitchen and Cooking classes are part of the fun here at San Fedele.  Organic locally grown foods are the staple, and we eat and enjoy the best meals together.  And of course, every Italian chef needs an appropriate apron! (the best 5 Euros I ever spent 😉

Paul channels his inner Michaelangelo for some artistry in the kitchen!

Not to be outdone…Bobbi gifts Dave with his own personalized apron. What good is having an artist in the family if not to make life more decorative?! lol

Speaking of artistry…Look at these beautiful starters!  
Here is the plate up close…and this is only the first course!  Without all the sulfites that are used to preserve wine in the bottle, we’ve all found we can enjoy much more wine without the usual consequences…that makes for some fun evenings!
 Bobbi and Dave are here celebrating their romantic anniversary.  We had first class entertainment on Sunday night.  In honor of a family birthday, the lovely family which owns  San Fedele gifted us with a party and some entertainment.  It was such a fun filled night!  A talented singer from Florence serenaded us all evening, and dancing and singing accompanied each course. Bobbi and Dave tore up the dance floor.  =)

Barb and Rya are grandmother and granddaughter…here making memories for a lifetime. <3

Vickie and Krista enjoying the "magic wine" they serve here. We all agree that the local preservative free wines allow all of us to drink a bit more and still feel great the next day...Magic!

Vickie and Krista enjoying the “magic wine” along with the rest of us. We all agree that the local preservative free wines allow all of us to drink a bit more and still feel great the next day…Magic!

Helen, Debra, and Rick enjoying the pasta course.

Helen, Debra, and Rick enjoying the pasta course.

My group this year is fantastic and it’s such a pleasure to show them my favorite spots in the area surrounding our home base.  I can tell you it’s even better the second and third time you visit here, so if you have been here in years past, keep that in mind!  If you’re thinking about joining me for the first time, there is not a prerequisite to be an artist, or a chef, but you must plan on bringing a positive attitude and a willing spirit. That is essential to group chemistry, and makes everyone’s experience a good one.

I have many more adventures to share with you, and you can join us by following this blog. The new posts can come right to your inbox by typing in your email into the box where it says “subscribe to this blog”on the side of this page. Better yet, you can join me next year for what will be another opportunity to make your own memories of Tuscany.  The brochure is available now following this link:

Eat, Paint, Cook Tour of Tuscany 2016 Brochure

You can register today by following the links in the brochure. Early registration is best, because space is limited.

As always, I am hoping this year’s trip will be an opportunity to Share Love, Spread Light, and DO ART!  It’s part of everything I try to do…Stay Tuned and Stay in Touch <3

Author Rebecca Zdybel

Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor - Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art! Rebecca Z Artist (Rebecca Zdybel) is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She blogs and teaches locally and internationally. Sign up for her blog, classes, workshops, art travel tours, or see her work at RebeccaZArtist.com.

More posts by Rebecca Zdybel

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Ginny says:

    We really miss not being there to share this week with you and Paul. I’m so excited for all the newbies!??????❤️

    • Hi Ginny~ we’ve been missing you as well! Nicosio and Michael send their regards. Everyone here tells me what nice groups I’ve been able to attract, and how much they appreciated all of you last year. Maybe we can make it happen again someday…I can honestly say it just gets better and better. See u soon ❤️

  • Barb Means says:

    What a wonderful remembrance!!! I got home at midnight and the next day got this perfect blog of our time together. Hope you don’t mind that I forwarded it to family & friends so they could see what a great time I had with you in Tuscany. If God’s willing and “the creek don’t rise”, I’ll try to be there next year—several days early.

    • Hi Barbara, How nice to hear from you and be reminded of what fun we had together in Tuscany. You provided me with such a great example of the incredible gifts that grandparents can give their grandchildren. First of all: the gift of time. In this day and age time is our most valuable commodity in life. Second of all: the gift of experiences. Young people often don’t have the means for experiences like travel. Your granddaughter really enjoyed being with you on this trip. I know that it will forever create an association in her mind of adventure and love when she thinks of you. I will always remember your great example, and look forward to traveling with again. Your example shows all of us a great way to engage with grandchildren in a life changing way. Looking forward to next year already!!!! Thanks for writing ❤️

Leave a Reply