Tucked under an enormous rock outcrop on the North coast of Sicily, the small town of Cefalu is dominated by its impressive Norman cathedral.

The old town has a wonderful, busy character and it’s maze of streets and alleys are fun to explore.

The town wraps around some attractive, sheltered beaches and has a fleet of small wooden fishing boats providing fresh fish for the local restaurants.

We managed to find some great painting locations tucked into out-of-the-way alleys.

Up until 20 years ago, these old Roman wash tubs were still in use. An endless supply of clean, spring water flushes through them and out to sea. The luxury of electricity and white goods has relegated them to a tourist attraction.

Electric wiring in Cefalu is an incredibly confusing tangle of cables, strung haphazardly from building to building.

Little wonder the locals puzzle over electricity bills.

In the centre of town, the huge Norman cathedral is an impressive structure. Interior decoration is fairly schizophrenic,  having chopped and changed over the centuries according to religious preference, politics and fashion

Young people in Cefalu have the same crazy desire to push a vesper to the edge of suicidal self destruction as is found in most of Italy.

Parking under religious icons guarantees safety here too!

Our Hotel was perched above the bay on the opposite side of the rock to the town. This path led down to a terrace, swimming pool and small beach. It made a comfortable, shady spot to paint some old buildings and garden walls attached to the hotel.

We found this poor fellow sound asleep on a bench at a small beach resort out of Palermo. He was a bit confused when he woke up and found 20 people spread around him with easels and paint boxes.

Mondello waterfront – Sicily


After five days painting in Sorrento, we traveled back up the coast to Naples and flew to Sicily. Our first stop was Taormina, a town first settled by the Greeks then invaded by the Romans, the Arabs, Lord Rodger and the Normans and any other marauding horde that drifted across the salty waters of the Ionian Sea. Today the main invaders are tourists and traveling artists.

Our Hotel had fantastic view of the coast from its vantage point above the steep incline to the water.

The Hotel was typical of the stylish, post war, Italian opulence created to attract tourists and build local economys.  High ceilings, large panoramic windows, polished marble floors and beautiful antique furniture created just the atmosphere to make a group of traveling artists feel right at home.

A large shaded terrace, adjacent to the bar and looking over the sea made a great location for our critique sessions at the end of a hard day painting.

Unusual in Italy, the white sandy beaches of Taormina look more like those in the tropics than from a volcanic island.

Rich Volcanic soil and plentiful water from melting snow mean the gardens of Taormina are something else.

On a hill in the middle of town, the Greeks built this theatre. It faced the sea breeze so the actors voices would be carried into the crowd. The Romans, less than happy with the Greek architecture, decided to add the brick structure across the far end of the theatre. After the Romans were moved on, various other pillages removed bits and pieces of the structure for their own creative efforts.

This impressive structure in the Town Gardens was built in the late 1800’s from a mixture of  salvaged ruins and contemporary materials. Paid for by a British woman, Florence Trevelyan, who was encouraged to leave England due to an affair with the future King Edward. The building served no practical purpose other than to decorate the garden.

I wandered away from my painting of the garden structure to see how everyone else was going. The painting was quickly hijacked by this young girl. Her mother snapped a photo of her painting in the garden to send to the folks back home.

Hiding in the theatre alcoves.

Mt. Etna makes an impressive backdrop to the town. It is often cloaked in cloud, but on a clear, still day, steam can be seen rising from the volcano’s crater.

The old town of Taormina is made up of winding cobbled streets and narrow laneways. We arrived in a massive bus which the driver managed to maneuver through town to our hotel on roads a normal person wouldn’t attempt to ride a Vesper!

Red carpet for thin people.

Ornate church doorway on not so ornate church.

Ceremonial lemons outside a more ornate church.

Ice cream was introduced to Europe by the Sicilians. First brewed up on Mt Etna from a mixture of  Ice, fruit juice and sugar. The same recipe is followed today and is called Granite. The best Granite in Sicily comes from Saretto’s Bam Bar.

We were painting Saretto’s scooter and bar one afternoon and were all treated to a sample of his granite – what fantastic stuff! He showed us photos of numerous Hollywood icons enjoying his wares, and a quote from the New York Times stating his was the best granite in the world! You can’t argue with that.
The small square we sat in to paint, turned out to be the driveway to a lady’s house. We watched, amazed, as she somehow juggled a smart car into a dog kennel sized garage on a lane not much wider than the car. She was interested in our paintings and proud of her beautiful little corner of town. She later brought us down a bowl of cherries in ice to enjoy as we sat and painted. We found the local people in Taormina really friendly and extremely helpful.