travel journals‎ > ‎

Italy, Salina and Cefalu

So this was the big trip for the big year.
It was off to Salina, one of the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily then on to the mainland town of Cefalu.

We stayed in the Hotel Santa Marina.  An absolutely fantastic breakfast and view across to the other islands awaited us every morning.

This was a view from the hotel roofgarden looking back towards the hills.  As usual I ignored the dramatic view across the bay to the sulphur topped volcano and went for the TV aerials.  This was all carried out using a 2B pencil on paper.

Next it was down onto the main street.  The Island is essentially two peaked extinct volcanoes.  The main town on the island and the main port was Santa Marina where we stayed.  Historically this was a one street town. The original street is narrow and leads up the hill and around the island from the port.  I seem to have taken a shine to my 2B this year after an affection with my 4B pencil last year.  The 4B got a look in here and there to get the darks dark.  This was a couple of dilapidated post boxes and a sales stand from the shop opposite.

I was really happy with this sketch.  It just seems to flow.  This is looking up the main street.

Still working with the 2B.  I walked a good bit of the way up the main street and looked back.  Most of the houses have these little metal balconies.  People were very friendly.  As I sat here sketching the adjacent boutique opened up.  Out popped the assistant 'would you like a coffee, we're all having one'.  Duly the Italian shot arrived.  It worked out the boutique belonged to our hotel, the Santa Marina.

The great thing about the island was it was small enough to feel remote but there were a few other smaller towns on it.  A good bus service connected them all.  We took the bus to the town of Pollara.  It was in this village that the film Il Postino was made and this small bay featured in the film.  I pulled out my pens for this picture with most drawn in a 0.1 and then filled out in a 0.3 and 0.5.

Waited for the bus having a cup of coffee (or was it a beer?).  Tried the 4B out.  I think at this stage it wasn't talking to me!

Back in Santa Marina and this is the route up from the harbour to the main street.

This is the original church in Santa Marina, and one of those volcanoes looming behind.  The volcano is now extinct and covered in lush vegetation.
I was told by a local that it was traditional that early in the formation of any town was the construction of the church and the building of the piazza in front.  This then became the focal point for the town.  By the way, if you like Pink Floyd the adjacent bar is the place for you.

Right up at the top of the town and this tree interested me.

One of the hotels in the town had sensibly retained this door.  The pencil is perfect for a subject like this.  Precise and heavy darks in the joints between the boards.

Still in Santa Marina this is one of the small and tall buildings that face the sea.  These all originally had little boathouses.  Using my pens again I drew the geometry of the dark grille using my 0.1 pen then filled out with the 0.5.

Back up to the top of the main street again. Sitting outside a hotel with glass of wine this building was opposite.  I used my architectural knowledge to rectify the view into an elevation with all executed in pen.

Having a coffee waiting for the bus to Rinella, another village on the island.

Rinella was a really pretty little village.  The boat calls here a few times a day.  It's uphill right from when you leave the beach so the street geometry is really interesting.  I started out to draw these boathouses cut into the rock face but then this guy in speedos presented himself.  All in pencil.

Last picture on Salina.  We walked over to Lingua for dinner.  This is the lighthouse at this corner of the Island.

So next across to mainland Sicily by hydrofoil and then a train down to Cefalu.


The Convent of Santa Maria di Porto Salvo. When I came across this on a street corner I knew it was just me.  The challenge then was the composition as the doorway really was interesting but I have deliberately cropped out most of it.  I sat for a couple of hours on this.  The sun gradually moved across the elevation while part of it was always in shadow. All executed in pencil.


Via Passafiume.  This was just around the corner from where we stayed.   Something about the washing on lines and cars that inhabit the scene.  Happy with this because it is suitably loose. 2B & 4B.

I sat in the shade at the cathedral to do this window which is at the base of one of the cathedral towers.  The cathedral is this amazing fusion of differing architectural styles.

This sketch was executed from a bench in the square at the front of the cathedral.  The challenge here was to get a sense of the seated people without actually drawing them in detail.

The building is the Chlesa di Santa Blaglo.  Another street corner.  The bicycles and scooter were the challenge here.  The answer in such situations is to squint a bit and focus on putting in the tones you see while kind of blanking out what you know about what you are looking at.

Met this woman while having lunch so I had to draw.  Tried to flog her the portrait but she was having none of it!

So had to go for a sketch of the classic view of Cefalu.  This looks across the small beach along what was the wall of the city abutting the sea.  This has since been extended vertically and punctuated with windows and other openings.  I started this by blocking in the main tonal areas.  These then became reference points for locating and putting in the detail.

Just liked this street.  Overlapping forms and not far to go for a coffee.

This is a part of the cathedral.  The sketch was a bit technical due to the asymmetry and the need to do a lot of measuring to keep everything in the right proportion.  The arches above the uppermost windows were fun(!).  Again I had to blank out what I knew and instead try to draw what I was looking at.

Chlesa della Badlola.  I have to say I fell in love with this elevation.  Its that old story of evolution and change.  The street here is very narrow so I hand to construct this elevation from a view at an oblique angle.  Unfortunately it also transpired that this was one of the few places you could just about park a van and do a quick errand so the view would appear and just as quickly disappear.  Needless to say (so I'll say it) I left the van in front of my face out of the sketch.

Back for another go at this classic view but from a slightly different viewpoint.  I took the same approach to mapping out the sketch as before but left the beach out this time.

This is typical of one of the little side alleys in the town.

To finish the trip to Cefalu I had to climb up the hill that overlooks the town to draw the remains of the Temple of Diana.

Got the pens out here.  This drawing for me was a homage to the craftsmanship of the original builders.  Those boulders that make up the walls are big while the joists are impressively small where not affected by weather over the millennia.

One of the doorways inside.

Oblique view

And my final view of the temple.

And that was it.  Holiday over!
If you're interested my visit to Sicily was used to create an article for the Architecture Journal 'Perspective'. You can read the article here.