Exhibit Photos from “Collective Environments”

On exhibit April 16-May 22, 2021 at Hygienic Art Gallery is “Collective Environments,” a curated show of 4 artists (Rachel Brask, Rebekah Church, Ron Bence, and Suzy Sholley). Collective Environments exists to reveal the wonders of the world outside of our digitally infested homes and discovering the treasures of nature and its experiences. These artists have been inspired by the current state of our Earth’s environment and have assembled to bring awareness to reusability, consumerism, industrialism and natures beautiful moments through found and natural materials, painting, and collage.

Opening Night was April 16, 2021, and here are some photos from the opening reception and of the Collective Environments exhibit. If you’d like to see the artwork in person, contact Hygienic Art to schedule an appointment, or drop by during their open gallery hours: Thursday-Saturday, 12-7pm, Sundays 1-4pm; call (860) 443-8001 or email Sara, director@hygienic.org

New Painting: Black and Purple Rainy Canvas

In April 2021, I decided I would resume my art practice. I hadn’t painted a thing since my father’s cancer diagnosis and experiencing the mourning of his eventual death. It had been a hard year. In April, I picked up my paintbrush again, almost reluctantly, but necessarily.

During his care, I didnt have any desire to paint, only to take care of him to the best of my ability and spend as much time with him as I could, as we could as a family. After his death, my grief snatched my paintbrush from me, and anytime I even so much as walked into my studio, I would be reminded of my father.

When I finally did start to paint again on my first painting, it was a little more difficult than I expected. Not just like learning to ride a bike again, where muscle memory takes over, but learning to ride a bike with square wheels – not going anywhere very fast, even if going through the motions. To loosen up, when I taught one of my adult art students, we did a collaborative painting exercise, in which we would each make paint marks on individual canvases, abstract, and then switch canvases after every 4 minutes and do it again. The quick mark making and timed sessions helped to break down some of my hesitancy to even work with paint again, and it filled my studio with the smells of active oil painting again. This helped.

Over several weeks in March 2021, I kept having a recurring image stuck in my mind, an idea for a painting for when I returned to painting. It was of a canvas transitioning from black at the top evenly to a cool purple at the bottom, in the rainy style, but with a burst of white at the bottom right quarter of the canvas. I couldn’t specify exactly at the time what the image was, but I feel like the darker colors may have been influenced some by the sadness and grief I had been experiencing vividly every day.

So, I chose four colors – ivory black, dioxazine purple, cobalt violet, and white. Keeping my palette simple and my concept simple, I dipped my brush to canvas, and placed thick daubs of paint throughout the canvas, and the image in my head vaguely emerged, final so I could confront it visually and face it. The colors surprised me by how collectively dark they were, as I’m usually a bright-and-saturated-happy colors kind of person. But I allowed my brush to move. I cannot say that there weren’t a few quiet tears that emerged as I painted, it’s just become normal now any time I take a step forwards again.

The emerging image eventually had the feel of a cloudy, almost haunting, cloudy full-moon night over some purple mountains. I didn’t hesitate to use big gobs of black paint, as I no longer will shy away from using straight out black paint, which I had intentionally avoided using in past painting years.

Once the canvas was covered, it was time for me to employ my signature “rain” paintbrush application and smearing of paint using stand oil, pressure and gravity. I dipped my brush in the stand oil, and proceeded to drag the brush from top to bottom, mixing and smearing downwards all the paint from top to bottom, removing much of the paint in the process, leaving a somewhat distorted vision of what was previously painted. It felt good to do this process again. And in a way symbolic. This whole year, and especially the last 6 months, had been looked forward to and planned with some level of great precision, and then the storms of Dad’s pancreatic cancer, just destroyed and distorted all that as my world fell.

I let the canvas continue to drip for a few hours, and I returned to it every couple of hours with a brush to blend in some of the drips, to help others drip further, and to edit out some drips, especially the ones that were encroaching on the white paint, in order to maintain the clarity and impact of that part of the painting. I really loved noticing some of the striations and nuances in the detail of the the mixing, dripping, paint when looked at at close range. After a couple days, the paint stopped dripping, and I was left with the finished painting.

I was a bit surprised by just how dominant the application of the black paint ended up being. I removed some paint towards the bottom of the canvas that helps to show some more of the purple a bit better, but visible only in controlled lighting. In my original vision, the gradation from black to purple was much more even and gradual. I’m thinking of possibly painting this composition again, but this time use less-thick daubs of black paint on the top, and bring the purple mountain “horizon” line up more to halfway. I’m satisfied with how the white “light” kind of feels like a flicker, or a glow, picking up some of the purple around it. Reminds me of a match lit in a dark hallway, a light of hope even in darkness sort of thing.

It may not have turned out the way that I had anticipated or planned (isn’t it rare if anything ever actually does?), but I’m so glad that I’ve picked up the paintbrush again and got it moving again. Stay tuned for more upcoming paintings, now that I’ve started the momentum again of painting.

I’m also in need of suggestions for titles for this painting. Let me know if you have any ideas that strike you!

Interested in purchasing this painting? Click here for more info.

Juried “Light at the End of the Tunnel” art exhibit

Installation shot of art exhibit, “Art at the End of the Tunnel”

In mid-April 2021, I worked with HeARTspot Art Center & Gallery to make selections for their juried show, “Light at the End of the Tunnel.” This theme was not only perfectly timed and perfectly appropriate for a metaphorical light at the end of the covid-era tunnel, but for me it coincided with there finally being light at the end of a personal dark tunnel. I look forward to seeing all the art submissions come in, and was quite pleased with what I saw.

When I reviewed each artwork, I tried to soak in each piece, individually, allowing a means for finding the individual light in that specific painting, photograph, multimedia piece, or sculpture. Some were abstract, some were more representational, so we wanted to include a good mix of both expressions. Some were more literal expressions of lights and tunnels, others were more subtle, inviting interpretation. I examined the technical and the overall impressions each made on me, and juried in the accepted artworks. The pieces that I have selected for prizes will be announced at the opening reception.

The exhibit, Light at the End of the Tunnel, is now up on exhibition April 29-June 9, 2021, during gallery hours or by appointment. The in-person opening reception for the exhibit will be held May 27, 6-8pm. Contact HeARTspot if interested in making an appointment to see the exhibition: call 401-383-7577 or email: heartspotartcenter@gmail.com or visit www.heartspotart.com

Selected Artists include: Wendy Anctil, David Lee Black, Sara Breslin, Joanne DeLomba, Andrew Eckstrom, Janet Eckstrom, Bob Eggleton, Eran Fraenkel, Donna Gagnon, Ann-Marie Gillett, Chase Henebury, Melyssa Lentini, Krzysztof Mathews, Michael O’Donnell, Mary Penta, Pamela Rojas, Sheila Smith, Jill Whiffen. Artwork by the gallery operator, Jennifer Gilhooly Cahoon, and art by the juror, Rachel Brask, is also on display with the exhibit.

April 2021 Note from Artist Rachel Brask

On October 8, 2020, my most successful gallery exhibit came to a close. “Weathering The Storm” was the show where I set a personal record for most paintings sold in one exhibition! I was very excited, and so proud of how many people connected with my paintings.

On October 11, 2020 I learned that my father had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He stayed with us temporarily while seeking treatment at one of the top hospitals in Boston. I gave up everything, including my art practice, to just try to help with his care and morale the best I could. We tried to make the most new memories that we could, hopeful for a positive prognosis, but aware it could go in either direction, at any time.

In December 2020, shortly before Christmas, my father passed away, after a long two weeks in the hospital. I was fortunate to have been at his side as he took his last breath, along with my mother. My father had always been my light, my rock, my guiding star. He had always supported my artmaking and my dreams to be an artist. In the final days before he was about to pass, we even thought he’d be coming home, so we had cleared out my art studio, to prepare a first-floor room for him to recover in, but everything went downhill so fast.

In the immediate weeks after his passing, mingled with Christmas and New Year’s holidays, everything is just one big blur of grief, exhaustion, dealing with funerary logistics in the middle of a pandemic. My family returned to their homes, my own house now empty of the sounds I had gotten used to in all the chaos. I lived in a state of deep sadness for a couple weeks, weeks turned to months. I had heard about “grief brain” before, but this is the first time that I lived it firsthand, and lost track of time.

I tried to go in the studio a few times, to paint, but it was emotionally just too hard. I couldn’t even pick up a paintbrush without bursting into tears. My dad had used my studio as his own “little office” during the two months he was here, and after it just became a dump spot for other things in the house, so there was no room to paint, even if I had wanted to.

When the warmer temperatures of late February and mid March started blowing into New England, I finally started to peek out from my cozy grief cocoon, and started thinking about and setting goals in motion to start getting back to “normal,” or whatever that will look like. Progressively, I’ve felt a bit better each day, with time and self-care, and the love and outreach of friends and family.

I set a personal goal of getting my art studio back up and running by April 1, 2021. Today is that day. It is my goal to use this next month to reconnect with artmaking, showing in galleries, reconnecting with art students and teaching art classes again, picking up graphic design gigs, just doing the business of art all over again. I invite you to join me in this springtime of art, through sharing art social media posts, recommending my art to friends, dropping messages here and there, buying a painting or print, or booking an art class, or just to connect with what’s been going on in your own life.

The best thing I love about spring is the sprouting of new life through the colors of flower blossoms after the long, cold darkness of the death of winter. April showers bring May showers…so for me and my studio, I’ll be painting these April showers again soon.

Thank you for being a part of this journey.

Photos from Weathering The Storm Opening Reception

“Weathering the Storm” Rachel Brask art exhibit at Heartspot Gallery

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Rachel Brask will have a solo gallery show September-October 2020 at Heartspot Art Center & Gallery with an exhibit of oil paintings titled, “Weathering the Storm.” In this exhibit of paintings created before the pandemic, and some created during quarantine, Rachel’s artwork is reframed within the context of what does it mean to weather the storm

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Photos from Our Stop on The Looff on Tour 2020

In early August 2020 East Providence Arts Council held a city wide arts festival in an open studio (open air, open yard) format. Rachel Brask, Finding HippyNess, and Erik Giorgi all showed their artwork outside on the front yard fence to passers-by of the general public. As this even took place during the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing was maintained and artists and guests wore masks when interacting. 

Reporter Today: Paint Exhibit in Gallery 175

“Paint! Exhibit in Gallery 175, Reporter Today, February 27, 2020

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Full text of article:

Opening on March 8th is an exhibit featuring the work of three artists who explore the substance of paint to create highly expressive and visually luscious surfaces on their canvases. The show, titled, PAINT!, runs through May 1st, 2020.

Pawtucket based artist, Jim Bradley uses poured resins, inks, and pigments to achieve blends, swirls, and movement. By restricting his palette, he produces beautiful color harmonies through an intuitive process that captures the fluidity of the medium.

Rachel Brask of Warren also explores of the fluidity of paint by creating scintillating veils of thin color that cascade down her canvases in a series titled, Rainy Windows. References to a world beyond are hinted at beyond the rainbow of hues that shimmer on the surface.

On the other hand, exuberant textures dominate the paintings of Cumberland artist, Mary Casale. Inspired by the Abstract Expressionists, Casale applies thick paint in bold colors layer after layer, then scrapes and manipulates, directed by her aesthetic instinct. Her paintings convey powerful energies.

The public is invited to enjoy the artwork at Gallery 175, located at 175 Main Street in downtown Pawtucket in the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center. The gallery is open daily from 10am to 4pm. A reception for the artists will be held on March 8th from 2 to 3:30 pm.

 

 

 

Original Story: http://www.mybackyardnews.com/2020/02/29/gallery-175-pawtucket-rhode-island/

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Rachel Brask exhibiting at Gallery175 Paint! exhibit with Jim Bradley and Mary Casale

Paint!: Rachel Brask, Jim Bradley & Mary Casale
Gallery 175, Pawtucket RI

This exhibition explores how each artist uses paint for intriguing effects. Rachel Brask’s work incorporates transparent veils of color within a vertical format. Mary Casale works with lots of thick textures and patterns. Jim Bradley’s art conveys the fluidity of running paint.

Opening Reception Sunday, May 8, 2-3:30pm at Gallery 175, located in Blackstone Valley Visitor Center, 175 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI. Free parking for gallery. Gallery 175 website

Exhibition runs May 7-April 30, 2020. Gallery hours open during Blackstone Valley Visitor Center Hours

Cashmere Bistro walls brightened by colorful art of Rachel Brask

The newest restaurant in Seekonk MA is excited to have large, colorful and bright paintings by Rachel Brask  to adorn its newly renovated walls for the opening two months of its new business.  See 7 large paintings from Rachel’s “Abstracted Rainy Moments” series while getting a drink or dinner in Seekonk’s newest bistro and tavern! Show closes March 30, 2020.

 

Cashmere Bistro & Tavern is located through the lobby at the Seekonk Ramada hotel, 213 Taunton Ave, Seekonk, MA, open daily 4-10pm.

Rachel Brask Offering 2020 Calendar – Vote & Preorder

Vote for your favorite 12 paintings of Rachel’s Rainy Days to be included in a 2020 Wall Calendar!
Voting is open until Sunday, October 13 at Midnight EST.

To Vote, choose any of the following methods:
1) Send an email to rachel@rachelbraskstudio.com with the numbers of your favorite Top 12 paintings
2) Comment on this post on Rachel Brask Studios LLC Facebook or Instagram pages with your top 12 favorites.
3) Share or re-gram the social media post to get 6 extra votes! (If there’s 1-2 paintings you really like, you can put extra votes on those paintings!)

Calendars are available now for pre-ordering! Limited quantities, so purchase your calendars soon! Preorder pricing ends October 21!

Rachel Brask in Seekonk Open Studios 2019

On October 5-6, 2019 the Seekonk Artist Network presents 20 artists at 8 convenient locations in Seekonk, MA, to open their studios and share their art with the public during Seekonk Open Studios! Rachel Brask will be located at 116 Read Street with live painting both Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm.

116 Read St :
Rachel Brask – Paintings & Live Paint Demos each day
Phil Gruppuso – Fine Woodworking
Tim McCarthy – Assemblage Art

60 Hope St :
Dianne Burns – Paintings, Drawings
Guest Artist, Stephanie Stroud – Fiber Art, Paintings

32 Read St :
Mark Holme – Wire Sculpture, Paintings
Lars Grant-West – Fantasy Illustration
Alex Dunwoodie – Paintings
Maria Holme – Creative Consulting

21 Tompson Dr :
Dawn Campbell – Pottery
Norm Bowlin – Paintings
Bill Clark – Photography, Calligraphy

11 Cleveland St :
Elaine Petrasky – Sea Glass Jewelry
Bryan Bzdula – Photography

104 Walker St :
Mary Jane Andreozzi – Wood Paintings, Fiber Art
Deborah Baldizar – Sculpture
Ann-Marie Gillett- Mixed Media

128 Walker St :
Sarah Jane Lapp – Cards, Puzzles, Paintings
Rick Lescault – Skyjelly, Live Music

128 West Ave :
Tony Lunghi – Fine Woodworking
Ken Moore – Paintings

Opening Reception Photos from La Pioggia dei Colori exhibition, Frosinone Italy

In June 2019 Rachel Brask had a solo exhibition of 50 paintings in at the Galeria Villa Comunale in Frosinone, Italy. She attended the opening reception along with her parents, who had traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to join her in support. The curator, Alfio Borghese, gave a brief introduction of her work, then Rachel Brask gave a brief talk about her artwork’s inspiration and process, all in beginner’s Italian, with the help of Google Translate. Here are a few photos from the exhibition’s opening reception.

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Italy Trip 2019: Days 8-9 Wednesday-Thursday

Today was our last full day in Italy, and my last half-day in Florence before we take the train back to Rome to stay at a hotel by the airport for an early flight out tomorrow morning. Late last night I had reserved online tickets to see the Ufizzi Gallery as soon as it opens at 8:15am this morning. I took a taxi by 7:30am and arrived at the Uffizzi shortly afterwards, and looked for the correctly numbered door for those with online tickets to show the email confirmation that I had.

I made my way to the door, where an attendant was performing triage on people trying to get in that line. Since I saw a sign for “online tickets” I naturally got in line until it was my turn. Apparently the online reservation is just a means of picking up prepaid physical tickets to gain entrance to the museum. When it was my turn, I showed the triage attendant the email that I had received last night immediately following purchase of my ticket reservation for the 8:15am timed entry. He looked at it and said something in Italian to the effect of that wasn’t the right email. I pulled up a second email receipt from the online booking, and this time he answered in English and said, “This is the wrong email, just a receipt. You need an email voucher download, you need to download the email voucher. Maybe you get wifi and download it and come back.”

Disheartened, and drawing very close to 8:15am, I rushed around the block to find a cafe that would have WiFi. I found a little hole in the wall and ordered a coffee while I tried to enter the 18-digit WiFi passcode from a piece of paper taped to the napkin dispenser. I scoured the two emails that I had received from my online booking, which while I thought it was the immediate Uffizzi Gallery booking agent, it was actually a thirdparty booking agent WeekendInItaly.com. I clicked on any possible clickable icon in the email, which brought me to their app, their social media pages, and anything else besides a downloadable PDF of this supposed voucher I needed. I refreshed my email dozens of times, thinking maybe there was some mysterious additional email that I needed that somehow didn’t arrive yet, after checking my spam and junk email filters. Still nothing.

By now it was drawing on 8:45am and I had clearly missed my window for the alleged timed entry that I thought I had reserved. Annoyed and frustrated, I gave up because there was nothing I could do. I even asked where the line was to buy regular tickets but that line was way, way longer than I had time for (because I had to return to the hotel by noon to check out of the hotel). Disappointed I started walking back to the hotel. As I was walking by I passed a place called “A Lovely Egg-sperience” which seemed like a breakfast joint. I entered and found a restaurant dedicated to the breakfast experience, so I found a table and settled in. Since my Uffizzi Gallery experience was hopelessly and unexpectedly scrapped, I might as well find some way to redeem the morning by having a nice breakfast. They had a little bit of everything, waffles, pancakes, eggs, toast, even a free-standing honeycomb for honey for tea or oatmeal. I was happy with my mimosa.

After breakfast, I made my way back to the hotel, taking in as much of Florence as I could before we left this charming city this afternoon. When I arrived in the lobby I found my father attempting to check into our flights using the lobby computer. He was getting frustrated because Alitalia/Delta wasn’t allowing us to check into our flights. I took over the keyboard and attempted to enter our separate confirmation numbers on the computer but it still wasn’t working. I tried entering our confirmation numbers using the Delta app on my phone, which redirected to Alitalia, and wha-bam! I was able to check in correctly, at least for my mother’s and my reservation.

I packed up the remaining bits of luggage, handed my postcards to the receptionist to mail them, and checked out of the hotel promptly by noon. The hotel allowed us to hold our luggage there while we went to a restaurant across the street for our last lunch in Florence. It was a cozy place with walls lines with a textured stone. We got simple foodstuffs like pizza and pasta, followed by us all toasting our last day in Florence with shots of limoncello. We recovered our luggage from the hotel and took a taxi to the Florence train station, where we waited an hour for our train to Rome. Again, all the trains within a few minutes’ departure of ours received their platform assignments first, and we had to wait until the last minute when our train’s number appeared on the platform.

The 1.5 hour train ride back to Rome was uneventful and relaxing as we watched the scenery pass by the windows or briefly napped. When we arrived to the Roma Termini we were the first ones in line for a taxi which took us to the airport hotel. While my mother settled into room, my dad and I went to the lounge’s happy hour to see what it was all about. We were poured a glass of wine and given some small hors d’oeuvres and debriefed our impressions of this trip. We returned to the hotel rooms and we all repacked our bags to comply with international airline regulations, and decided to order room service for our last night here. Room service took about a full hour and a half before it was delivered to our door. The food was good even if a little lukewarm. We all went to sleep early so we could get out the door the next morning at 5am.

 

 

 

ADDENDUM: Day 9 Thursday (Return Travel to USA)

Early at 5am we took the shuttle to the airport across the street, checked in our luggage to the gate agent and went to wait in the lounge for our flight. The Rome Fiumencio-DaVinci (FCO) airport is very large, and it took us almost a full hour just to walk to the proper wing to find the lounge nearest to our gate. The gates at this airport were unlike I had seen before, as nobody can enter the walled-off area until it is boarding time, then take an escalator down to another level then walk onto the jetway. When it was our turn we boarded.

Our long flight from Rome to NYC JFK airport was about 9 hours, but it was during the regular daytime so I found it hard to sleep this time around. I watched a few movies, one of which starred Chris Hemsworth as a whaling captain. I ran out of interesting movies so I eventually resorted to playing chess against the computer. I took a few brief naps, and we were served lunch at the beginning of the flight and dinner at the end, with a few snacks and glasses of Aperol spritzer and wine in between.

In JFK my flight to Boston departed about an hour earlier than theirs to Buffalo, so I only had about a 2-hour window to get to the proper gate out, including customs and baggage claim. We all waited for our luggage to come out of the chute before going into customs and the main terminal. Our luggage was among the last to come out, about 45 minutes later. Since my connecting flight departed earlier, I said goodbye to my parents and jetted my way towards the customs line with my two bags.

Since I used the “Mobile Passport” app to answer customs questions, I went right through the Mobile Passport line (much quicker and shorter line) and pretty much ran all the way down the terminal’s corridor until I got to my gate way on the other side of the airport, which involved again going outside of the terminals to get back to Terminal 1, except this time it was during the day.  I made it to the right wing, so I ducked into the lounge for just a quick bite to eat for about 15 minutes and then ran again to my gate and caught the plane in time to depart to Boston. When I arrived at Boston Logan airport I knew I was home immediately at the sign of the Dunkin. I was picked up at the airport an hour later and was glad to arrive home and be in bed by 9pm EST. This has been truly a wonderful and exciting trip to Italy, but there’s still no replacement for my own bed. Now to fight off 6-hour jet lag over the next few days and return to life as usual.

 

Italy Trip 2019: Day 7 Tuesday

After yesterday’s initial trip into Tuscany, we wanted to see a bit more of the beautiful countryside in our short time here rather than taking a train up to Venice for a daytrip. After breakfast we arranged to meet up with a driver who would take us on a half-day trip to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, and then to Livorno, to see the Mediterranean Sea and to see a part of the city called “Little Venice,” since we wouldn’t end up seeing the real thing.

First we had the same driver as we’ve had the last couple days, a guy in his 40s-50s named Dmitri who spoke some English and always tried to change up our itinerary. This morning we left at 9:30am and he recommended that instead of seeing Livorno that we should go see Lucca, and have lunch at some restaurant in Pisa. With him there was another driver, a woman named Tania, who recommended a little seafood restaurant along the sea cliffs and rocks just outside Livorno. Feeling doormatted by Dmitri, I spoke up in Italian to the female driver about how we wanted to go to Pisa first and maybe a light coffee, but that we wanted to see the Mediterranean Sea and have lunch along the coast in Livorno with a beautiful seaside vista. He eventually backed down and said that we’d go to Pisa then Livorno, not Lucca. Tania would be our driver once we were outside the city, since he had an appointment. Once Tania took over the car, it took a few tries to get the transmission to get into gear, even though it was automatic transmission.

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No there’s not doing construction on the Leaning Tower of Pisa (this time), that’s just a crane hanging out in front of the tower on another building

An hour later we arrived at Pisa, a cute little town that became more and more touristy the closer we got to the center of town. Eventually Tania pulled over the car to a place where we could see the top of the tower from behind a few buildings and trees. My parents and got out of the car and walked to the tower plaza and took photos every few steps to get a new and different vantage point for talking both selfies and video. We did of course try to take the obligatory photo pretending to hold up the leaning end of the tower. A photo one of my parents took of me trying to hold up the leaning tower just looks like I’m trying to do a weird dance, but the one I took of my father “holding up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa looks a bit more convincing.

We walked around but it was so very, very hot and humid that we decided to take some time and get a coffee or cappuccino nearby under one of the tented patios. My parents ordered Cokes and I got a cappuccino and we all shared a light lemon cream cake. Even though we were in the shade and drinking cold drinks (except me being stupid by drinking hot espresso), it was still uncommonly and unbearably hot. By around the time we finished our beverages it was about time to go and meet our driver, and then on to the seaside lunch spot in Livorno, followed by exploring the city central plaza, the Terrazza Moscana.

Livorno is about a half-hour drive by car until we were close to the restaurant where we had a 1:30pm lunch reservation. We drove around a little bit until we finally found the restaurant, which was right along the side of a cliff looking out onto the Mediterranean Sea. The color of the water right next to the rocks was the most perfect shade of turquoise-into-blue that I’ve seen in the natural world. The rest of the sea, from the distance, looked a bit blue-er, a sparkling blue from our vantage point. There were even people camps on the rocky ledges and others who were swimming.

The restaurant had a good selection of fish, but their fish wasn’t what I was there for (because seafood doesn’t really agree with me): I was there for the views . I ordered a white wine and a crostini as an appetizer and they got something small pasta as a meal instead of as a first course, or “primo piatto.” They brought out the pasta and the crostini at the same time as their meals, so I thought that this was my meal by accident. I traded some of my fish to dad and he gave me some of his pasta. Then they brought out my actual meal of the beef I had ordered, but I didn’t need it anymore, and then the waitress looked as confused as we did when she brought it out. I suppose that something got lost in translation, as the waitress did not seem to speak English and my Italian wasn’t proficient enough to mitigate the confused order. While we were eating lunch we were getting bitten often by the insects and it was still very hot, so as soon as we finished eating and paid the bill, we opted to return directly to the hotel in Florence instead of going to downtown Livorno as originally planned. I will just have to try to check out Livorno on my own the next chance I can return to Italy. It was nice to at least be able to see the sea!

After we got back to the hotel, my parents and I walked around Florence for a couple hours, and then we all went to the restaurant on the lower level just to get some afternoon coffee and shared dessert, and then the two of them turned in early for the night. Before we left Florence, there was one last friend’s recommendation for a restaurant that we wanted to see for skyroof dining with supposedly beautiful views of Florence.

So I made reservations for just myself at this local rooftop restaurant by the name of Sesto on Arno an hour later at 830pm. Between now and then I washed some laundry and took a short nap. After getting all ready, I called a taxi and arrived on time for my reservation, took the elevator to the 6th floor and was immediately drawn in by the views of the hills, the River Arno, and the city nearby. During dinner, the sunset started its transition, so I got up several times to walk to the rail to take better photos than I could take from my table on the interior of the restaurant, excusing myself as waitstaff kept rushing by me with plates and drinks.

The views of the sunset were definitely worth the trip up to the top. The food was also quite good. They brought a starter of a glass of Prosecco to go with the varied breads and olive oil, followed by a small flat cylinder of something gelatinous that I’m still not entirely sure what it was, but I think the intent was to be a palate cleanser for the next course. The gelatin-thing wasn’t gross, just curious. The main course was a plate of several spinach and ricotta balls with a drizzle of light wine sauce, they were very tasty. For dessert I was brought a plate with what appeared to be a large chocolate globe and several smaller lighter-brown spheres.

When I used the spoon to crack the large chocolate globe it turned out to be a chocolate-and-hazelnuts mousse, with the small spheres being a coffee mascarpone mousse. It was quite delicious! To accompany dessert I had a small hot chocolate, since I had not yet had the amazingly delicious version of Italian hot chocolate yet this trip, and I was not disappointed. When the waiter brought my bill, it was accompanied by an adorable little tray of petit fours! I tried just a small bit of each, paid my bill, and left the restaurant to return to my hotel, where I completed my evening of “treat yoself” with a bubble bath and a good night’s sleep.