One of the biggest joys of writing for my blog is meeting others who love to share their stories and experiences in Italy. It provides me with a unique perspective that is truly a joy to read and enlarges my world of knowledge. I am always delighted to hear from my readers and continue to learn so much from them.
Recently, I received a comment from an English gentleman named Kerry Harris. He mentioned how much he enjoyed his visit to Alberobello, Puglia, to see and sketch the Trulli houses. He offered to email me some of his sketches, and as you probably guessed, I jumped at the chance to see them. He did send them, and I am so amazed at the way he has captured the essence and appeal of Italy. Ken is quite an artist. I knew I had to write a post about Kerry and his beautiful pen and wash sketches.
Kerry wrote, “I am in my eightieth year and my wife Tricia and I have been traveling to many parts of Italy for a number of years. I carry my sketchbook with me whenever we travel and use it as a sort of sketchbook/journal.”
Kerry’s passion is architecture, be it Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance or Palladian. This last May he and Tricia were in Tuscany and Liguria. They revisited Florence, Pisa, and Lucca, but also took in Portofino, La Spezia, Portovenere and the Cinque Terre, all of which had been on his bucket list for some time.
He recalls with fondness his first trip to Italy in 2002. “We stayed in Bardolino on Lake Garda in Hotel Catullus named after the Roman poet. We were on an Opera tour to Verona to see Aida, Nabucco, and Carmen, all performed in the Roman Amphitheatre. It was a magical and memorable experience.”
On this first trip, he also discovered Gabriele D’Annunzio, “the soldier/poet and hero of the Austro/Italian war, and a very colorful character. He is buried at Vittoriale, his estate in Gardone Riviera on Lake Garda. His exploits are well worth researching and his estate well worth visiting.”
Ken and Tricia have returned to Italy many times, and their collection of stories about each place continues to grow, along with Kerry’s sketches.
“I have sketches of most of the towns and regions we’ve visited, and I enjoy writing up the events on our travels – it’s great to look back on old sketchbooks and my vast collection of photographs.”
Besides the architecture, what compels Kerry to return to Italy so often? What does he love about Italy?
“I’m drawn back to Italy for a number of reasons – its history, its culture, the language, the art, the music and the food and wine, but, I suppose most of all the romance of the country.” Who can disagree with that?
One of his favorite memories from his trips to Italy include the discovery of Palazzo Adriano, a village in the Sicilian mountains…. “where the film ‘Cinema Paradiso’ was filmed. Whilst there we found a large church with the name Skanderbeg carved over the entrance. He was the 15th C ruler and hero of Albania. We puzzled over his links to this small village in the Sicilian hills and found that his armies were instrumental in helping the Italians to defeat both the Angevins and the Ottomans. In recognition, he was granted large tracts of land and castles in Apulia and although he returned to Albania, many of his men settled in Italy and Sicily and built this church in his honor. Coming across historic events like these by chance make travel all the more fascinating and worthwhile.”
“Other regions of Italy we have visited include Rome, Amalfi coast, Le Marche, Basilicata, Umbria, Sicily and, of course, Venice, probably my favorite place to go with my sketchbook.”
“France used to be our favorite country to visit, but when we discovered Italy there was no contest. Whether it’s the history, the culture, the language, the art, the music and the food and wine, it has it all.”
Although Kerry’s sketches have been largely unpublished, he has thought about the possibility of putting together a book in the future. I, for one, sure hope so.
Thank you, Kerry, for sharing your wonderful sketches and impressions of Italy with us. Your passion for Bella Italia is lovingly expressed through your detailed artwork and writings. It’s evident that the soul and spirit of this country have captured your heart. I hope it remains forever so.
I hope you have enjoyed Kerry’s sketches as much as I have. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I know Kerry would love to hear from you, too.
You can see more of Kerry’s sketches, drawings, and paintings on his Flickr site – kerrypics4u.