The Gallery: A Novel Idea

Way back in history, during my university days, I was lucky enough to spend some time living in Venice. I studied the History of Art for my degree and loved every minute of it. Sadly I don’t have much to do with the art world these days, other than the occasional trip to a museum or gallery, but I still have a passion for art and architecture and would love to get back into it in the future.

As students in Venice, we soaked up all that Renaissance Italy had to offer. My days were spent in galleries and churches, walking through ancient towns and seeing the sites. We visited Padua, Verona, Milan and in particular, we spent a couple of weeks on a study tour travelling around Florence and Siena. We stayed in youth hostels and eccentric hotels in the student quarters, ate delicious and authentic Italian food in restaurants well off the beaten track and walked our socks off. It was wonderful and I remember it like yesterday. 

On this trip, I read two beautiful (and very geographically appropriate!) books – ‘A Room with a View’ by EM Forster, and ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ by Frances Mayes. They are my favourites and so I’ve decided to use them for this week’s Gallery challenge over at Sticky Fingers, where the subject is to choose a photograph which represents a book.

‘A Room with a View’ was written in 1908 and is a romantic novel, set in the Edwardian era. Here’s a description from Amazon: “A brilliant social comedy about the English middle classes abroad and at home, A Room with A View is one of E.M. Forster’s most popular novels. The medieval beauty of Florence is the setting for the emotional awakening of Lucy Honeychurch, a young woman travelling abroad for the first time with her cousin Charlotte. On her return to England, in her relationships with her cousin, the unconventional Emersons and her supercilious fiance Cecil, Lucy is torn between lingering Victorian proprieties and the spontaneous promptings of her heart”.

The photo I’ve chosen is a view over the city, taken from the Forte di Belvedere.

Picture: Florence

The second photo was taken in Siena and looks out over the rooftops and beyond to the Tuscan hillside. It reminds me of the evocative writing in ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’. A description (again from Amazon) follows: “Frances Mayes – widely published poet, gourmet cook and travel writer – opens the door on a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. She finds faded frescoes beneath the whitewash in the dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles – and even a wayward scorpion under her pillow. And from her traditional kitchen and simple garden, she creates dozens of delicious seasonal recipes, all included in this book. In the vibrant local markets and neighbouring hill towns, the author explores the nuances of the Italian landscape, history and cuisine. Each adventure yields delightful surprises – the perfect panettone, an unforgettable wine, or painted Etruscan tombs. Doing for Tuscany what Peter Mayle did for Provence, Mayes writes about the tastes and pleasures of a foreign country with gusto and passion. A celebration of the extraordinary quality of life in Tuscany, “Under The Tuscan Sun” is a feast for all the senses”.

Picture: Siena

Writing this post, I’m also delighted to discover that Frances Mayes has her own blog, which you can visit here:

Sadly these photos were taken well before digital photography and I’ve had to scan them in, so neither really do justice to the beautiful scenery. I would absolutely love to go back there one day (husband please take note if you’re reading this!)

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11 Responses to The Gallery: A Novel Idea

  1. jfb57 says:

    Beautiful photos well scanned! A lovely post!

  2. monkeymummy says:

    What beautiful pictures and what a fantastic time you must have had!

    I felt that I would have to visit Venice sometime and now you have convinced me! Thanks x

  3. Red Ted Art says:

    You scanned these? well you did a great job! They look fabulous! And what a lovely post!


  4. BrittArnhild says:

    I found your blog through the comment you left at Frances Mayes’ site. What a lovele blog you have 🙂
    We share a love for Italy, Venice, Florence and books. You can read more about my loves in my blog. Follow the category links in the right hand side bar and you will be taken to Venezia, Firenze and a lot of other places 🙂

    • blissfulmum says:

      Hi Britt, will definitely take a look at your blog and glad we share an appreciation of Frances Mayes, I’m so happy to have found her site as I love the books and all things Italian!

  5. lovely photos – now i want to go to italy…

  6. JulieB says:

    I went to Tuscany as a gawky teenager with my parents and fell in love with the place (and the charming Italian lotharios, if I am completely honest!), and your post has reminded me that I’ve always wanted to go back.
    Just beautiful.

  7. Jackie says:

    Beautiful. This is the 3rd Room with a View gallery blog I’ve found, but why not, it’s such a brilliant book!

  8. whatdidyoudotodaymama says:

    What a great post. I want to go to Italy now too! Sounds like you had an amazing time studying there.

  9. Mummy Zen says:

    Reading this post reminded me of my time studying in Italy too. I was down on the Amalfi coast, which is also stunning. I’ve travelled a lot around Italy and like you describe, the galleries, churches and sites are amazing. Your photos are really beautiful and seem to fit perfectly with the books you chose.

  10. blissfulmum says:

    Thanks everyone. There were so many entries for A Room With A View at the Gallery this week – such a fantastic book and very interesting to see everyones’ different take on it!

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