A Little Less Viking, A little More Roman

When I was younger I lived in England and would vacation in the Mediterranean.

I would be in search of Sun.  Sand.  And British bars, serving British food and cheap British booze.

  As with many self-professed ‘world travelers’  I ventured to distance places seeking out the familiar.

 Don’t get me wrong, I had a TON of fun.  You have no idea.

But if you would have told me (in the 80’s) that at some point I would go to Italy, and I would take photos of patina, I would have asked

‘Pray tell, what is this ‘Patina’ you speak of?

Viking frame text

Because when I was 18, I wanted nothing more than to let my  ‘inner Viking’ show itself.

I was more than willing to pillage the exotic (?) shores of Majorca.  And as a self-respecting Viking, I needed sunglasses to protect my delicate Nordic eyes from the scorching Spanish sun – even within the constraints of a British pub. (If I remember correctly, the other ‘Viking’ in the photo was the pub owner.  He didn’t mind the Spanish sun in his eyes).

Diane, keeping it ‘classy’ – even then.

Thirty four years after this magnificent photo was taken,   I found myself in Italy.  Taking photos of patina?

Wait, WHAT?

What happened to the little Viking Warrior in me?   Was I really too old to raid and pillage?  I guess, somewhere along the way,  I slowly evolved into an Italophile.  I took on the identity of a proud Roman.

Amo l’Italia

And I started taking pics like this.

patina 2 frame

I just could not get enough of this.  Look at those colors.  I could stare at it all day.

  The result of hundreds and hundreds of years: living and breathing the Italian elements.  Absolutely fantastic, and more beautiful because you know it’s fluid and it will only get better with age.  Like moi?

And then there’s this photo.   Look at the blue, and grey, and burnt umber.  Who needs cheap British booze, when you can see intoxicating sights like this?  Not I.

(The 18 year old me, would ask if that was a trick question?).

Patina frame


Even when we walked down a nondescript alley (stumbling upon the best pizza in town) this Fresco looked down on us.   Hidden away in full view.  The Madonna and Italian pizza: a match made in Heaven.

fresco frame

In Italy, there is no escaping art.  Whether it was naturally made by the elements or lovingly created by artisans.  It is just a magical place.    This fresco was inside the chapel, where my nephew was married.

Glorious sensory overload.

inside church frame

Even McDonalds.  Yes.  EVEN the Mickey D’s emblem seemed less-offensive to the eyes.


I could talk about the McDonalds in Italy.  About the Cappuccino Bar, with the REAL cups and saucers (I know, right). the slices of decadent Cheesecake, the  Tiramisu, THE CANNOLIS!!!  Edible art in the form of pastries.  Marvelous!


But I can’t.  It’s too soon.  Because I feel cheated by McDonalds.  I feel as though Italy is the favorite child, and the U.S?

Well, we get this.


But, I think this photo is my favorite – because it  signifies that beauty and art can be found in the most mundane of things.

While in Lake Como, we would walk to the lake and the girls would swim.  We found one area that was quite shallow and we spent an afternoon just hanging out there.  The girls started finding small pieces of pottery on the lake bottom.

Lake Como’s version of ‘Sea Glass’.

Sea glass with frame

It was incredible just seeing all of the different patterns and colors.  If we had stayed longer, I think we may have been able to piece together our own dinner service!

I actually brought these home (shhhh…tell no-one).  Stealing Italy, one piece at a time.

Now they live in my powder room.  Because they’re terracotta and porous, I sprayed lemon oil on them.

They smell divine.  Simple pleasures.

So I’m rather glad that my evolution took me from Viking warrior to a much gentler place; where I have a great appreciation of the simple artful pleasures that this crazy world shows us.

But – I would be remiss if I didn’t say that, on certain quiet days, I kinda miss those Viking Horns (shhh…tell no-one).

{insert catchy ending phrase here}

Diane aka Helga Woman Warrior The Paint Factory

viking helmet

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