Category Archive: Italy: in the Parma Apenines

Castle and Countryside: in and around Bardi

January 12, 2020

The dates have been finalized for another painting holiday at the Casa Bezzia studio in the hamlet of Pietracervara, just outside Bardi in the Parma Apennines. Such a delightfully undiscovered part of Northern Italy!

It will be 13th to 20th May, see the events page of this website for more details.  Meanwhile I’m adding a few more photos of the time spent there last May and you can see more pictures of the wild flowers, Bardi and the surrounding countryside on previous blog posts by visiting the “Italy: in the Parma Appennines” blog category.










The B&B at Pietracervara




Wild Flowers in the Parma Appenines near Bardi

June 5, 2019

The Monkey Orchid: Orchis simia rare in the UK but more abundant in Italy

Two weeks ago I returned from tutoring a painting holiday at Casa Bezzia in the tiny hamlet of Pietracervara in the Parma Appenines.

In early May just across the road from the studio we found ourselves in an exquisite flower meadow with a backdrop of mountains.  From my previous visit in November I had no idea how colourful it would be in May.

Blue Gromwell: Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum

The bordering copses were spangled with bright blue Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum (Blue Gromwell) and wild strawberry flowers, and we found rocky crevices filled with cushions of pale magenta Saponaria ocymoides (Rock soapwort).

Rock Soapwort at Ponte Lecca

Rock Soapwort near Pietracervara

Rock Soapwort: Saponaria ocymoides

The following pictures show just some of the colourful plants we saw during our delightful stay. Do let me know if you find mistakes in the identification of the various species as my days as a Botany student are a little distant.

Sainfoin: Onobrychis viciifoliaoften cultivated for fodder

Lotus corniculatus and Trifolium dubium

Polygala amara near Pietracervara

Polygala amara

Believe this image and the one below are of the Lady Orchid: Orchis purpurea

All found in the meadow and grassland at Pietracervara

Trifolium pratense with it’s pearls of dew looking just as beautiful as the rarer plants!

Cerastium arvense

Salvia pratensis

So on the one rainy day we had wild flowers to paint!

Salvia verbanaca

A “clock” of Tragapogon pratensis larger than the Dandelion and known as Goat’s Beard


The goats beard is also called Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon as its flowers open early and close at midday.

Tragapogon pratensis fully open

More clocks in the meadow. or contact

Sylvia Bell at

Tel.  +39 052571370

Castle and Countryside: Painting in and around Bardi in the Parma Apennines

November 23, 2018

Rocks and rivers, mysterious deserted villages, a bustling market, old boys gossiping or putting the world to rights, the smell of porcini mushrooms, full bodied red wine, dairy herds and parmesan cheese, early mists unveiling patterns of hills and valleys, sun and mist together weaving their magic!

I’m already looking forward to returning to Casa Bezzia in the hamlet of Pietracervara just outside Bardi in the Parma Apennines.  This is where I shall be tutoring a painting holiday next May.  Except for one, the photos were taken last week when I was able to visit many of the locations where we plan to draw and paint.  Dates for the holiday are from Wednesday 8th May to Thursday 16th May 2019.  Details about accommodation, the studio and booking information can be found at or contact

Sylvia Bell at

Tel.  +39 052571370

Bardi is a small town high above Parma in delightful hill country.  The town is dominated by a medieval fortress on a rocky prominence overlooking the valley of the River Ceno.  Almost every hamlet has a church and many have derelict buildings alongside those being sympathetically restored, and even in November the fruits of persimmon trees hang on the branches like little orange lanterns.  This area has a feeling of mystery and of closely bound community perhaps born of its more recent and ancient history.

The studio at Casa Bezzia is well equipped with sketching easels and stools and drawing boards etc.  The medium will be watercolour, and drawing media, perhaps introducing texture with collage.  Other media can be accommodated and an information sheet for any materials and equipment you will need to bring will be circulated well before the holiday.  The plan is to meet at Bologna airport as early in the afternoon as possible on the 8th May so that we can all be transferred together to Casa Bezzia.

Having been to see for myself I wholeheartedly recommend the scenery and Sylvia’s hospitality.  So now I’m just counting the days!

If you have any questions about the teaching content or materials do contact me at E-mail:


Oaks at Raffi





The Ceno below Bardi


The Ceno at Ponte Lecca