Drawing, Journaling, Scrapbooking….

If you follow any of the online travel forums you have probably noticed how many travelers are focused on something akin to “the grand tour.” Among Italian tourists (on the forums I am familar with) Rome, Florence and Venice, often with either the Cinque Terre or the Amalfi coast tacked on, seems to be the preferred itinerary for most first timers. All these places are usually fit into about ten days. Even many more experienced travelers race from one part of the country to another, spending a few days here and a few more there. You may have already guessed that the pace favored by the contributors to this blog is slower, staying in fewer locations for longer periods of time. Most of us feel that, although we may see a little less, we get to experience our surroundings in a more personal way, but as I reviewed my fellow STT members’ websites it seems as though most of us also build our programs around some featured theme or activity.

A collage of found objects created by Arts Sojourn participant, Bev Soasey

I was introduced to Italy and foreign travel in 1994 by a friend who took the slow approach, although it did not have a moniker associated with it at that time. I spent my first three weeks in Italy in only one Tuscan town, and although I made a few day trips into Florence, I don’t think I saw anything of Rome until my third Italian trip. I was introduced to Italy slowly, and perhaps that is why I have always taken that approach for granted, but I believe that some of my penchant for slowness comes from the fact that I have an activity that I am engaged in while I am there.  

I am an artist and have never traveled to Italy without my paints, although I do not have a quota for how much time I spend holding a paint brush. Like any tourist I have taken plenty of day trips and spent lots of time visiting churches and museums and just sitting in cafes and restaurants. I try not to have an agenda, but my art is the activity that necessitates slowness. It takes time to observe. I have had many fellow travelers accompany me to Italy since I started leading my Arts Sojourn travel groups in 1999. Some of them have kept a small informal sketchbook. Some have kept journals or scrapbooks. Some have been art photographer or avid hikers. The truth is, we have also had a good number of participants who simply have preferred not getting on and off a bus or train every day, or frequently packing and unpacking  a suitcase, but having an activity that you can call your own, whether it involves art, cooking, cycling – whatever, is a great way to facilitate a slow approach to travel.

A watercolor sketch by Arts sojourn Particpant, Bruce Barnes


Matthew Daub is a professional artist and university professor with works in major public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe. He has been leading plein air painting workshops in Italy since 1994. In 1999, Matthew and his wife Barbara formed Arts Sojourn as “a vacation for artists and their friends.” The program is designed to appeal to artists of all levels as well as non-artists who enjoy the company of creative people in a slow travel format.

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