You may remember from a few months ago a series of posts about my time at the The Island: A Primitive Multiplayer Game Processing Workshop, run by Andreas Gysin.
All good things come to an end, and so did this trip through Italy. My last stop was in Liguria, on the Italian Riviera, to visit my friend Alice, who I met during a type design workshop two years ago. I stayed with her and her boyfriend, and they showed me around the region. We spent time at the beach in Deiva Marina, had an aperitivo in Sestri Levante, a dinner with friends in Monterosso (one of the five villages in Cinque Terre), and took a ferry to visit Portofino.
While the places are all very scenic, there didn’t seem to be a lot to do. But fortunately I was among friends, and had a blast anyway. The highlight of this part of the trip though has to be my last dinner, when I ate spaghetti with homemade pesto using local organic basil grown at her parents’ garden…
I’m not usually a pesto fan, but this was something else. Turns out basil leaves in Liguria are a little different than elsewhere in the world, and their pesto is softer than I was used to tasting. Indimenticabile.
And with that, and a final day in Milan, my trip came to a close. Looking forward to returning to Italy again in the future: I still have Rome and the south to discover!
My time in Umbria ended with a visit to Assisi. As the birthplace of St. Francis, patron saint of Italy, this small town is full of rich history. And churches. I spent easily two hours inside the Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi, admiring Giotto’s frescoes and the overall architecture of the place. To think that in 1997 an earthquake did major damage — restoration efforts certainly paid off.
I also had a great lunch at the Ristorante Pallotta. Right in the town center, and highly recommended.
One of the highlights of my trip through Italy was my stay at La Fratta Art House. Imagine 4 days in the Umbrian countryside, learning all about Raku ceramics, eating wonderful homemade Italian food, and visiting nearby small towns.
Arriving to La Fratta from Perugia was easy: just a quick train ride from Perugia Sant’Anna to Papiano, where Elisabetta and Luca Leandri were waiting for me at the station. From there we got in their car, and in a few minutes arrived to the B&B. A wonderful house, very spacious and filled with artwork made by Luca.
Since I spent almost four days with them, the first afternoon was devoted to the history of ceramics. Luca gave me a great overview of various movements, techniques, and highlights of this artform. I was starting from scratch, so found it very useful to learn what has been done in the past in various regions of the world. And the following three days were spent in the atelier, beginning with molding clay into vases and bowls, then using various materials and finishes to bring colour into the objects, and finally using the quilt to create final art pieces.
But while learning the craft from a master was very special, my overall stay was even more so thanks to how I was treated by Luca, Elisabetta, and even their young son Eugenio. It was as if I had been friends with them for a long time. They allowed me to share lunch and dinner time together, showed me around the Umbrian hill towns (visited tiny Monte Castello di Vibio and Todi), met their crazy friends, talked football, ate incredibly well (homemade Italian food for 4 days straight!), and even reconnected when I was back in Perugia to watch the Umbria Jazz festival together.
Left La Fratta with new artworks and friendships. I couldn’t have asked for more.
After the great time spent in Lugano and the game design workshop I attended there, it was back to Italy. Following a day in Milan, I continued south towards Perugia. I stayed in the capital of Umbria two days, before and after another workshop I took, this time learning ceramics.
Perugia is a very scenic city. Built up on a hilltop, it was historically hard to reach and thus maintains today not only medieval but even also Etruscan features and architecture.
Highlights for me, besides that porchetta panino (which was really a work of art) were the frescoes inside the Chiesa di Sant’Ercolano and the Basilica di San Pietro, the Arco Etrusco, the Rocca Paolina (a series of underground streets dating back to the Renaissance), the Palazzo della Penna (a contemporary art center), Perugino’s frescoes inside the Palazzo dei Priori, and the Cippus Perusinus and the rest of the Etruscan archeology exhibited at the Museo archeologico nazionale dell’Umbria.
My last day in Perugia was also the start of the renowned Umbria Jazz, an annual jazz festival in which the city gets transformed with free music concerts in parks, restaurants, and sidewalks. It was very cool seeing the city come alive that way before I headed to Assisi.
Finally Friday arrived, the last day of The Island: A Primitive Multiplayer Game Processing Workshop, run by Andreas Gysin. During the morning each of us contributed with final touches (I put some effort into the look of the terrain), and in the afternoon we played! How much fun is it to attend a workshop in which at the end, instead of an exam you get to play a game?
Thank you Andreas and Serena for organizing such a fun workshop!