Rita Zaudke - Italian Travels

     Our travels take us to many unique and beautiful places throughout the world.  Italy has been our favorite, probably because of the family connection.  We seek out places off the beaten path ... places that are rich in color and subject matter that would make interesting paintings depicting the fine art of Italy. The following groups of photographs are a sampling of the places visited during the past ten years, starting with 2010. Come with us as we begin our historical journey in Merano, Italy.

Merano, Italy

2010 - Merano

Too beautiful for words, this was the view from our room in the city of Merano.  Not to be confused with Murano, which is one of the Venetian islands, Merano is well-known for its thermal waters. This scene could find its way to a painting sometime in the future.  We were hoping to spend more time in the city, but due to our tight schedule, a night in a small pensione outside of the city was all we had time for.  It was a quiet respite to enjoy the mountain view, the vineyards and orchards as we prepared for the next leg of our journey...Trieste.

Trieste, Italy

2010 - Trieste

For a moment, one might think this was a canal in Venice, but not so.   This is the "Canale Grande" located off the Adriatic port.  Trieste's major industries include the production of clothing, machinery, iron, steel and paint.  Several countries use Trieste's ports for imported goods.

Opicina, Italy

2010 - Opicina

Our next stop during this voyage was my hometown, Opicina.   Opicina is located in the hilly region above Trieste.  It takes approximately fifteen minutes by auto to reach Trieste.   Our trips to Italy are not complete without stopping in to have pizza with our wonderful Italian family.   No tiny pan pizza for this group!!

Matera, Italy

2009 - Matera

After seeing Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ," we knew we wanted to visit this archaic city where people still live in cave homes.   Until the early 1950's people were still without electricity and running water.  After Carlos Levi wrote the book, "Christ Stopped at Eboli," which exposed the primitive living conditions and hardships they were having, the Italian government renovated the city.  Running water and electricity were added and conditions improved immensely.   We had the unique experience of staying in a cave hotel.

Baia, Italy

2009 - Baia

Booking our lodging online takes us to some unique and unexpected places.   We had signed up for a hotel in Sorrento and when we arrived Baia was not only the name of the hotel, but also the city near Sorrento.   We ended up making day trips to and from Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano, all from this remote village.   Boats would pick up passengers from this small dock for a day trip.   It was a very delightful experience to be part of the hoopla by day, and peaceful waters by night.

2009 - Capri

As previously mentioned, a day trip to Capri was part of our intended travels.   There were many beautiful scenes photographed but this one represented them all, with the beautiful magenda flowers in contrast with the cerulean blue sky and sea. Capri is a small island off the coast of Sorrento.  This island is believed to have been populated during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age.  It has been a popular place to inspire writers and artists such as John Singer Sargent and Frank Hyde.  Currently, Capri is a major destination for tourists from Naples and Sorrento and makes for a great day trip.

Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy

2009 - Spanish Steps in Rome

The Spanish Steps, Scalinata della Trinita dei Monti, is the longest and widest staircase in Europe.  The construction of the 138 steps were sponsored by French diplomat, Etienne Gueffier during the 18th Century.  At the base, Piazza di Spagna where many tourists gather.  We were present during the 2009 soccer tournament and the area was flooded with devoted soccer fans singing their favorite team's song and wearing their colors.  It was a spectacular event to see the highly-charged unity from loyal supporters of the sport.

Ora, Italy

2008 - Ora

Our goal for the 2008 travels was to spend time in the Dolomite mountains where we searched for wildflowers.    Unfortunately, it was too early in the season to see fields and fields of wildflowers, and the continuous rainy season made it especially difficult to photograph the area.  But, as they say, the show must go on.  We went out everyday in spite of the rain and photographed areas that were beautiful in their own right.  This is a canyon in the area of Ora, Italy.

Cavalese, Italy

2008 - Cavalese

The city of Cavalese was especially striking with the colorful bright flowers in contrast to the pale, pastel buildings.  Driving through the Dolomite mountains in a rented car, stopping at every village to walk-about and observe the unique features each one had to offer, sampling the local foods and wines made for a very memorable experience. To view a painting of Cavalese go to:   Cavalese


Lake Garda, Italy

2008 - Lake Garda

This was not our first trip to Lake Garda.  Everytime we visit we come away with something new.  The mountains provide a stunning backdrop for the outdoor cafe situated on the waterfront.

Sirmione, Italy

2008 - Sirmione


A year before going to Sirmione, we had stopped by the "River Festival Art and Book Fair" in Wichita, Kansas.  A local photographer had a picture similar to this on display.  I knew I had to paint this scene but I also knew I could not use someone else's photograph.  He told us this scene was in Sirmione, Italy.  We checked our maps before our 2008 trip and found that it was a peninsula on Lake Garda.  After searching Sirmione for three days, we found the spot, took the picture and when I returned to the US, painted the scene.  The painting of this scene can be found in the Northern Italy section along with its companion piece.  The structure to the left is a church, "Santa Maria Maggiore della Neve".    To view painting of Santa Maria Maggiore della Neve, go to:  Santa Maria Maggiore della Neve


Lake Orta, Italy

2007 - Lake Orta

The town of Orta was an amazing little village located on the waterfront north of Milan.  We knew once we had organized our thoughts, a painting of this area would add a lot to the fine art of Italy collection.  After exploring this area for a few days, we traveled from Milan by train to reach our next destination, Portofino.

Portofino, Italian Riviera, Italy

2007 - Portofino

We had always wanted to include Portofino as one of our destinations. 
Our Italian family had always discouraged going there because from their standpoint, it was so small and just a few buildings in the bay.  Nothing much to see.We pressed on and from our monastery in Corneglia, we used public transportation in the form of a train, a bus and finally a boat to arrive in Portofino.  It was breathtakingly beautiful, just as many other places in Italy.  We were not disappointed.It had a unique characteristic of colorful, distressed buildings surrounded by dark-green, hillsides. Restaurants and cafes line the walkways.This port was founded by the Romans and was named Portus Delphini, or Port of the Dolphin because of the large number of dolphins inhabiting the Tigullian Gulf.  Around five hundred people live in Portofino with tourism and fishing being the main industry. Visiting Portofino was a days journey well spent. From an artist's perspective, there was endless material for creating paintings for our fine art allery.    To view painting of Portofino go to:  Portofino I or Portofino II

Valk, d'Orca, Tusany, Italy

2007 - Val d'Orcia

Val d'Orcia is a region located in Tuscany which extends from Siena to Monte Amiata.  This was an iconic scene which we had been wanting to capture for many years.  In 2007 we rented a car and drove what seemed endless miles photographing the many vineyards, small towns and the beautiful cipressi trees.

Camogli, Italy, Monastero di San Prospero

2007 - Camogli

The monastery we stayed at in Camogli was quite a surprise when we discovered it was perched on a hillside and it took 362 steps to get to the top.  Yes, 362 steps which we climbed everyday.  Monastero di San Prospero was a convenient respite from day trips to the Cinque Terre region which we traveled to each day by train. 

Venice - St. Marks's Basilica, Italy

2005 - Venice

We try to stop by St. Mark's Basilica each time we visit Venice.  It is one of our favorite destinations.  

Alberobello, Italy

2005 - Alberobello

Alberobello, meaning "Pretty Tree," in a unique village where all the small houses are painted white and they all have cone-shaped grey roofs.  The Italian Historical Society has preserved its archaic architecture throughout Italy by   prohibiting any exterior renovation which changes the original design.  This includes all areas of Italy, including remote hill towns with many distressed-looking buildings.

Alberobello, Italy

2005 - Alberobello


Taormina, , Sicily, Italy

2005 - Taormina

Beautiful resort city high above the Ionian Sea in Sicily.  To view two different paintings of Tormina, go to:  Taormina or Taormina Entry

Suisi, near Bolzano, Italy

2004 - Suisi

Village in the mountains near the city of Bolzano.  To view a painting of Suisi, go to:  Suisi 

Greg's Pizza in Opicina, Italy

2005 - Opicina

Greg exclaims, "It's all mine."  Pizza is one of our all time favorites and so much different from what we purchase in the United States.  The more traditional pizza is not quite as spicy as we have been used to but comes with quite a variety of toppings.  Our favorite is one where the mozzarella cheese is made from water buffalo milk.

Verona, Italy - Juliet's Balcony

2005 - Verona

Juliet's Balcony from William Shakespear's play,"Romeo and Juliet."  A common tourist attraction where people leave love notes on the wall in hopes that it will bring them good luck.  To view a painting created of this scene, go to:  Juliet's Balcony

Madonna della Corona Church, Monte Baldo, Italy

2005 - Monte Baldo

Madonna della Corona church located in Monte Baldo.

Venice, Italy

2003 - Venice

 To view a paintings of Venice, go to:   Venezia Mezzogiorno or 
 Due Gondolieri

Monastery in Florence, Italy

2003 - Monastery

Civita di Bagnoregio, Ancient Hilltown, Italy

2003 - Civita di Bagnoregio

 To view a painting of Civita di Bagnoregio, go to:  Civita di Bagnoregio


Rita and Mario, Opicina, Italy

2002 - Opicina

Two days before departing for Italy, Rita Zaudke had an Italian party at her home.  There was so much excitement that she didn't feel herself slip off the back deck.  Result:  A broken foot.  That did not stop the journey.  With camera in one hand and crutches in the other, the attitude was, "The show must go on."  She and Godfather Mario search for the Abandoned RR Station.

Abandoned Railroad Station, Trieste, Italy

2002 - Abandoned Railroad Station

The abandoned RR station had been discovered during her journey in 1998.  At that time is was a jewel in the forest surrounded by roses and beautiful shrubs.  The main occupants were a family of goats living within the building.  Occasionally the goats would stick their heads from the barrier to pose for pictures. 

To view a paintings of this area, go to:  Abandoned RR Station I  or
Abandoned RR Station II

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

2002 - Riomaggiore

One of the Cinque Terre villages in Northwest Italy.  To view paintings of this area, go to:  Riomaggiore or  Riomaggiore Harbor


Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

2002 - Vernazza Doorway

Strolling through the city of Vernazza (Cinque Terre) we stumbled on this beautiful little dress shop.  A painting was in work.  The dresses were replaced with flowers and plants but otherwise the scene retained its spectacular appeal. 

To view a painting of this scene, go to:  Vernazza Door Flowers

Venice Laundry, Italy

2002 - Venice

 No explanation is needed for this scene.  To see the completed painting, go to:  Venezia

Trieste, Italy

1998 - Trieste

Ponte Vechio Bridge, Italy

1998 - Ponte Vecchio

The "Old Bridge."  To view a painting of Ponte Vecchio, go to:               Ponte Vecchio

Opicina, Italy

1992 - Opicina

The house where Rita Zaudke was born in Opicina.  Mother, father and brother pose in front of the house.

St. Mark's Basilica

1992 - Venice

St Mark's Basilica - To see a painting of St. Mark's Basilica, go to:
St. Mark's Basilica


Castello di Miramare

 1992 - Trieste 


Castello di Miramare.  To view a painting of Castello di Miramare, go to:    Castello di Miramare

Assisi, Italy

1992 - Assisi

 To see the finished painting, go to:  Assisi

Opicina, Italy

1963 - Opicina

 Rita as a teenager in Opicina

Opicina, Italy

1963 Opicina

The view from Aunt Dolores' window in Opicina.

Sapada, Italy

1963 - Sapada

Nona Anna takes young Rita on a bus trip to Sapada, a small city in the mountains north of Trieste.

Sapada, Italy

1963 - Sapada

Opicina, Italy

1952 - Opicina

  Mom and Dad, Rita and little sister.

Italian Circus

1944 - La Spezia

Life was very difficult in Italy right after the Great Depression.  Rita's mother decided there must be something better than what she was doing in Trieste.  She ran away from home, to Rome, and joined the circus.  She was trained for two weeks before being allowed to perform and eventually became a famous trapeze artist throughout Italy.

Trieste, Italy, Rita's Father

1943 - Trieste

A young man in the military, from America, would soon meet the love of his life.  Little did he know he would meet her while she was on vacation from her vocation as a trapeze artist.  They would be united through marriage and settle in America.

Rome, Italy, Circul performance

1940 - The Lasagna Circus

The Lasagna Circus is where Rita's mother began to work after running away from home in Trieste.  She was very happy with the excitement of performing and with the fame it brought but vowed to leave the circus if she ever married.  She was very concerned about raising children in the circus and after she met her husband, an American soldier who was stationed in Trieste, she left the circus.  He never saw her perform nor did he want her to return.  Rita and her sister Jacomina was born in Italy and they lived there for several years before settling in America.  She became a housewife and the children enjoyed the combination of a dual-cultural household.