The Colors of Italy

Piazza del Duomo, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Voghera, Italy

I’ve been back for a few weeks from a recent trip to Italy. While editing my photos, I noticed a recurring theme – the wonderful colors of the buildings. In fact, if I had to use one word to describe this trip, I’d say: colorful!

I adore the colors of Italy: the myriad shades of terra cotta and ochre (from pale pastel yellow to intense rich coral), the greens (from mint to olive). It’s as though the crumbling architecture is enhanced by the colors.

Colors of Italy, terra cotta. @PennySadler 2013

Ever wonder about those colors? Where they came from? And how is that today, even the newer buildings are painted in the same or similar colors? The answer is pretty simple – mineral oxides and plant pigments. I am not suggesting that exterior paint is still made from mineral oxides, but in Italy, the tradition of painting exteriors in earth based colors has remained.

Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

One night a friend took me for a drive in the wine country, the Oltrepo Pavese, and we pulled over so I could photograph this eye-popping coral house. Many modern homes and public buildings are painted in more vivid versions of the original mineral oxide-based colors. Even though it’s a bit surreal, I think it’s fantastic! Color makes me happy.

in the Oltrepo Pavese, Lombardia, Italia


These photos were taken in some of the small cities I visited, and in the countryside, in Lombardia, a region in northwest Italy. Most buildings also have balconies filled with flower pots, drawing your eyes upward and adding to the kaleidascope of colors.

Pavia, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Maybe those colors were inspired by gelato?

gelato in Italy, @PennySadler 2013

Pavia, Italia. Province of Lombardai, Italia @PennySadler 2013

If you like this story you may like:

Cathedral del Duomo, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Postcard From Voghera, Italy


Britz gelateria, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Hungry? Top Gelato Spots in Lombardia

All material copyright PennySadler 2013. All rights reserved.


Travel To Escape Reality

Beautiful doorway with flower pots in small town in Chianti, Tuscany @PennySadler 2013

Have you ever booked a last minute trip to a place that was several time zones away, where people don’t speak English, don’t use the same currency – and if you’re truly honest with yourself about the whole thing, you can’t afford it?

Have you ever spent a ridiculous amount of money just to get away from your life and all the things that go with it?

I’m considering doing just that. I need to get out of my own head. I need a break from the person I’ve become the past few months, feeling like a hamster on the wheel.

I’ve tried breathing, exercising, talking to friends, making gratitude lists, and it all works for a little while, but not long.

Tuscan country house, Chianti, Italy. @PennySadler 2013

“Must it be out of the country?” I ask myself. It would be easier to stay in the U.S. I wouldn’t have to change currency, deal with the long flights, the plane changes, the jet lag from crossing several times zones. I wouldn’t have to worry about roaming charges or keeping up with my passport, and I could speak English. But of course, my thoughts generally go to Italy.

But I can justify all of those inconveniences. In my mind, speaking a little Italian is a pleasure, and the worst thing about the euro is my dollars are worth less. I can call my cell phone provider and have roaming temporarily disconnected.

I don’t love the jet lag, but I know I’ll live, I’ve done it before.

Charming street in Trastevere, Rome, Italy. @PennySadler 2013

So I’m thinking maybe the way out of my funk, maybe the way I get “my groove back” is to go to Italy. I can visualize myself walking down some ancient cobblestone street, camera in hand, thousands of years of history all around me. I notice everything around me, sculptures by Bernini, 17th century buildings next to 12th century ruins. I notice people and try to guess where they might be from – are they tourists, like me, or locals? I eat a gelato and I don’t think about the calories or the fact that it’s dairy and I shouldn’t eat too much dairy. Dairy be damned! I’m in Italy! Without even being conscious of it, I begin to feel better – more attractive, more a part of the world. I’m living life, not going through the motions.

The parts of myself that stress me out begin to recede. Along the way I find the better parts, the Penny who is fun, and funny, and spontaneous, and curious, and who knows, it is insane to resist what is. And sometimes all it takes is a complete stranger who smiles and says, “Ciao Bella,” – or a cappuccino.
Italian style cappuccino @PennySadler 2103

All material copyright Penny Sadler 2013. All rights reserved.

The Best Way To See Art Deco Architecture in South Beach

The Starlite Hotel, Collins Ave., SB, Miami @PennySadler 2013

South Beach. Miami, Florida:
Quick, tell me – what do you think of? If you know nothing about the area at all, you probably think of the obvious: beaches, the ocean, palm trees, sunshine, and fruity drinks decorated with tiny paper umbrellas.

What you may not know is South Beach has the largest collection of art deco architecture in the world! And it’s the perfect place for it – it’s as if South Beach exists so that all of those wonderful art deco structures can have a home. South Beach is art deco, and art deco is South Beach.

What is art deco? The term art deco came from the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, held in Paris in 1925. It is a style that blends many design elements from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Geometry, vertical lines, curved lines, round porthole windows, and strong colors define the more modern art deco designs of South Beach.

@PennySadler 2013 art deco architecture miami

Ocean Drive, Miami

This neighborhood was built in the 1930’s and after World War II, was in decline. By the 1970’s many of the art deco hotels and buildings were seriously rundown and where scheduled for the wrecking ball. Luckily in 1976, Barbara Capitman founded the Design Preservation League to establish this area as an historic district. Today there are still buildings that are being renovated.

The design elements that define art deco are a perfect fit in this easy, breezy beach environment. Come to think of it, even the colors of the buildings remind you of those umbrella drinks.

art deco hotel with Mermaid sculpture South Beach Florida @PennySadler 2013

Mermaid sculpture

Each building is a work of art on its own, and the best way to see the Art Deco district is on foot. Begin at the south end of Ocean Drive at 5th Street and walk north. The beach will be on your right.

Walk up to Lincoln Rd., then head west over to Collins. From there, you can continue south to about 10th St. You’ll want to head back to Lincoln Rd. for one of the best outdoor shopping malls anywhere – and lots of options to gawk at all the beautiful people that seem to be everywhere.

Miami, South Beach, Florida

The Miami Design Preservation League has a guided tour which you can do solo or in a group. If you want to do the tour on your own, you can rent an iPod at the Art Deco Headquarters on Ocean Drive. The MDPL also offers guided tours that include other areas of Miami. All tours depart from the Art Deco Headquarters, 1001 Ocean Drive at 10th Street.

Waldorf Towers,South Beach Miami Florida @PennySadler 2013

Waldorf Towers

I did not take the tour, however, based on the research I did for this story, it seems that not every building is on the tour. Be sure to allow yourself time to really explore this neighborhood. After, or maybe even during your walk, you’ll want to take a break and sample some of the local cuisine, have a refreshing beverage, do some retail damage in the boutiques, and enjoy the luscious architecture.

If you love traveling to see great architecture and public spaces, you will love South Beach.

Park Central Hotel, Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami @PennySadler 2013

Park Central Hotel

The Breakwater Hotel @PennySadler 2013

The Breakwater Hotel, Ocean Drive

Art Deco shopping strip 9th st. and Collins Ave. @PennySadler 2013

9th and Collins Ave.

For a map of the area stop by
Art Deco Headquarters at 1001 Ocean Drive. There’s also a fun gift store there.

Postcard: Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona Rome Italy @PennySadler 2013

Piazza Navona, Rome

Since it’s beginning in the 1st century A.D., Piazza Navona has been a hot spot for culture and entertainment in the historic center of Rome. It is one of the prettiest piazzas in Rome, in part because of the fountains and the beautiful curved front and bell towers of the church of St. Agnes in Agony.

Like so many places in Rome, one place was built on top of another. Piazza Navona was originally the Stadium of Domitian, but was paved over in the 15th century and the Piazza Navona was created. You can now tour the remains of the stadium underground.

Once the place for chariot races and other competitive games, in the 15th century it was filled with water and naval battles and aquatic games were staged there. I find it interesting and maybe even coincidental that there are not one, but three fountains there – water is still an important feature of Piazza Navona.

The most famous fountain is Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers built in front of the church, St. Agnes in Agony. On one of my visits there with an Ask a Local guide, I was told that Bernini positioned the figure of a cowering Rio de la Plata in the fountain, as if fearing the facade of the church of Sant’Agnese designed by his rival Borromini, however the fountain was completed several years before Borromini began work on the church. Apparently this is a popular legend told by tour guides.

Piazza Navona is also a great people – watching spot – you can have your portrait sketched, watch jugglers, bubble blowers, and street musicians. It’s also a great place to drop a lot of euros, but you also get a ringside seat at one of the most entertaining shows on earth.

For information on tours to see the underground Stadium of Domitian

All material copyright PennySadler 2013

A 12th Century Oasis in Miami, Florida

Ancient Spanish Monastery Miami Florida ©pennysadler 2013


You may think that I’ve made a mistake when you read the title of this article. There’s nothing in the United States more than 200 years old, right?

Well, Thanks to expat Ana O’Reilly, who I met for the first time about a week before my trip to Ft.Lauderdale, I learned of The Cloisters of the Ancient Spanish Monastery located in north Miami (not far from Ft.Lauderdale). Now that’s what I call synchronicity. If not for Ana, I’m sure I would missed the Spanish Monastery and that would have been a real pity. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.

Spanish Monastery in Miami Florida ©pennysadler 2013

The Cloisters of St. Bernard de Clairvaux

What I loved about the monastery was the simple beauty of the old stones, the shape of the corridors, the arched windows, and the peaked ceilings, and the altars with real candles because even though I’m not religious, I enjoy the ritual of lighting a candle and saying a prayer or meditating.

Shrine of Our Lady ©pennysadler 2013

Shrine of Our Lady

Coat of Arms of St. Bernard

Coat of Arms

Here is a short history of the Monastery in my own words:
The Ancient Spanish Monastery has a rather long and chaotic history. Built in Spain in the Province of Segovia about 1133, it was later named in honor of St. Bernard de Clairvaux, a Cistercian Monk. In 1925, the Cloisters and the out buildings were purchased by American millionaire and publisher, William Randolph Hearst. Every brick was packed into a numbered crate – (11,000 crates!) and shipped to the United States. However, when they arrived in the U.S. there was an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease, every box was inspected, and the hay which had been used to cushion the stones was burned. When the bricks were put back in their boxes, no care was given to see that it was the box which it had been shipped in.

The entire lot sat in a warehouse until the death of William Randoph Hearst. After his death the monastery was purchased by William Edgemon and Raymond Moss at the cost of 1.5 million dollars to become a tourist attraction.

Ancient Spanish monastery miami florida ©pennysadle2013

detail of stone wall

Imagine putting all of this back together, into what you see today! Incredible!

I highly recommend a visit to the Monastery if you are in the Miami area. Where else can you see a 12th century structure in the United States? If you love history or architecture, it’s not to be missed. It’s a miracle that it exists here at all. If you’re a bit tired of the crowds, this is a perfect escape.

Ancient spanish Monastery miami Florida ©

St. John’s Garden

The wishing well at the Ancient Spanish monastery in Miami, Fl. ©pennysadler2013

wishing well

©penny sadler 2013 doorway at the Cloisters of St. Bernard de Clairvaux

beautiful carved arch over a doorway.

Today the Monastery and Chapel are an active Episcopal church. Services are held in English and Spanish on Sundays. It is often used for events like weddings and photo shoots.

If you read the website, don’t miss this page which shows period photographs documenting the reconstruction.

Touring hours are Monday through Saturday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Sunday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

All materials ©pennysadler 2013

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Makeup Artist

Sorry I have not been posting much lately. I was in Florida last weekend, and leading up to my departure I was insanely busy. The pace has really picked up for me these past two weeks. Between working as a makeup artist (day player) on the television series, Dallas, plus working on the promos for TNT Drama, I’ve had very little spare time. What free time there was, I spent working with my designer on the new logo and header for Adventures of a Carry-on.

Last Wednesday I was working on Dallas, and we were filming outside at an electrical power station, on a lake, about five stories up in the air. I’m not sure what the exact temperature was, but the windchill made it feel like 20 degrees farenhiet – and most people think working on a television show is glamorous. With gale force winds whipping my hair around my face, my eyes watering, my nose running, and wearing a hard hat, I did not feel one little bit glamorous.

power plant

So imagine this, I’m carrying my working makeup kit, plus two “set kits” for the actors, wearing a hard hat, that keeps falling forward over my eyes, I’m standing on this platform, and I’m trying to keep my stuff from blowing away. I’m covering two of the key actors on the show, my set bag feels like it weighs twenty pounds, and my fingers are numb. There’s no place to go to get out of the wind either. Miami here I come!

my on “set” makeup kit

I just got back from Florida on Tuesday night – a very short trip to the Miami/Ft.Lauderdale area, and I’m furiously editing and organizing photos for the blog. Here’s a sample of what I’ll be posting next week. I fell in love with the colors of South Beach. If you love architecture, art deco, or anything South Beach, do check back, as I’m sure to have it posted soon.

The Colony Hotel, South Beach ©pennysadler 2013  Miami,

By the way, the new header for the blog is up now and I love it! The logo and final makeover should be complete by the end of February. I also want to say thank you to all of you who follow and support my blog. It’s been pretty cool reading your comments and watching the blog grow.

All materials ©pennysadler 2012-2013. All rights reserved.