On my way south, via what is today Autostrada A1, I absorbed the hills of Umbria, and they me. Eleven years later, 35 miles east of Bettolle on Monte Acuto, my painting teacher, Al Pounders, began painting their deep spaces. Al was schooled to paint the flattened spaces of 20th century art , but fell in love with the panoramas of 19th century landscapists . His landscapes merge the quilted patterns of flat abstractions with the ethereal Renaissance perspective we see in the backgrounds of paintings such as Da Vinci's Mona Lisa . Although my painting style is not earthy and aerial like Al's — I seem to prefer a multi-dimensional liquid world — it still maintains that mystical vision one generation of art worshippers pays forward to the next. If I should live as long as Al, I will still know only a fraction of what he knows about painting, and even less about European art. While I am writing this, Al is 81. When he was 70, he said that 80 would be a good age to die. Hope he has forgotten to die, but remembers everything else.


After a little more than 100 miles, my road, like most, led to Rome. Probably slept this night in a youth hostel, or a hostel for all ages. I was surprised by how close the toilet seats were. These Romans are very serious about intimacy. Sempre Vicino!