Umbria: a “plain air” painter’s heaven

We are very happy to host a new guest post&interview to our friend Caridad Barragan.
Caridad is a professional painter originally from Southern California, now living and working in Umbria.

Caridad, tell us where are you from and why you “dropped” in Umbria
I’m originally from Anaheim in Southern California, which is where Disneyland is. Like the majority of Americans, my parents are immigrants. My father is from Mexico City and my mother is from Havana. I’ve been living in Italy since 1991. Initially I was living in Veneto, but after 15 years in that cold, damp and foggy Italian province I needed a change of scenery. A dear sculpture friend of mine from Los Angeles was visiting me in the summer of 2005 and invited me down to Porchiano del Monte, a small medieval hamlet perched on a hill overlooking the Tiber Valley. It was love at first sight: the endless views unto the Tuscan and Lazio hills, the peace and tranquillity of the landscape and people living there. And don’t get me talking about the food and wine!So basically after my daughter had finished her elementary school we packed our things into a nice big van and made the trip south.

Tell us more about your work. What’s it like being a professional painter in Umbria?

Umbria is a creative person’s dream! I have friends that are writers, journalists, singers and musicians that have all chosen to live here year round or for some months at a time. There’s a genuineness to the people, landscape and even the air that you breathe that sets the region apart. I often say to my foreign friends that I live in a place that doesn’t exist anymore. It seems as if time has stopped. It’s a place where people actually have the time for the simple and essential things such as cultivating the veggie patch, producing ones own wine & extra virgin olive oil or simply chatting with your neighbor. And ohhh, the landscape! When the weather warms up, Umbria is a plein air painter’s heaven. The light itself is so particular as are the colors of the ever-changing seasons.
Is there anything you found particularly challenging in your profession here? 
“Vineyards” by C.Barragan
Once I decided to move down here from the north, I immediately realized that job opportunities would be a challenge. I knew internet was going to play a fundamental role in creating my livelihood. After having settled down, I decided to begin selling my still life & Umbrian landscape paintings online through Etsy. It has been a learning experience and professional challenge but I find it fascinating to be living in such a tiny town and selling my Umbrian wares in countries such as Japan, Australia & the US.  
Do you have any advice for tourists who want to visit Umbria?  
copyright C.Barragan

Umbria is so rich in history, art, architecture, culinary traditions and natural beauty. It’s got something for everybody. It’s not very well known to the masses which means they’ll be able to take it in slowly and thoroughly. I advise to spend at least 10 days in the region. Why not make Todi your homebase? It’s conveniently located smack in the middle of the region and close to the major cities like Orvieto, Perugia, Assisi and Montefalco but also surrounded by small charming hamlets that come to life during various local summer festivals. 

If you had to paint your last painting on Umbria, what would you choose?



copyright C.Barragan

What a question!I think I would paint a late summer sunset from the walls of Porchiano del Monte. It’s an absolutely breathtaking view and each sunset has its own beauty. The elderly in town always gravitate toward the walls when the sun starts going down. I personally prefer to take a nice fresh Grechetto and sip it as I watch this daily miracle pass. You’ve got to come and see it for yourself. Better yet, let me take you!

What are your future plans here?


Well besides organizing my cool Travel Sketchbook Workshops in Todi where we can have fun sketching and discovering corners and niches of the town, this year I’m launching an innovative service in Italy: Live Event Painting for luxury destination weddings and celebrations. I’m really looking forward to capturing the magic and feel of a wedding celebration on canvas right before the public’s eyes. 2016 is going to be awesome!


You can reach Caridad Barragan also on:





Posted in GUEST POSTS.