Impressions of Italy: The Crowds!

There was much to love on our travels through Italy this summer. But there was this one bit that, to put it mildly, I did not like. The crowds. And yes, the irony of complaining about crowds of tourists when I was on the totally beaten path, at the height of high season, as a tourist myself? That hasn’t escaped me.

Still, The Crowds! Sometimes the throngs of tourists were more than I could handle. And I gave up on a sketch. This barely-begun sketch of an obelisk just by the Pantheon in Rome? Abandoned. And those crowds I started capturing aren’t even half the people that were squeezed into that space.

Here are sketches made while being jostled by the crowd to view The Birth of Venus and David.

I’m glad I sketch because there’s no way I could handle being in crowds like these if I didn’t. Inside the Pantheon, sitting on the floor.


At Piazza della Sigonoria in Florence amidst a zillion sculptures and tourists.


And outside the Duomo, where tour guides are smart enough to use a variety of flags on poles so they don’t lose their tour group.


In time I figured a plan: I’d get out at 6am to stroll and sketch around the city before it got busy. Those early morning sketch sessions gave me access to a really different view of the city.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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20 Responses to Impressions of Italy: The Crowds!

  1. keviv says:

    The way you record impressions is really impressive. The push and pull of being in a crowd are perfectly experienced by the viewer of your sketches. Excellent like always.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rene Wojcik says:

    Suitable, this is the primary reason I travel on the off season. June, July, August and holidays are the worst times, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rhodadraws says:

    You captured the crowds AND the iconic art beautifully! Your sketch of people surrounding “Birth of Venus” at the Uffizi reminds me of my visit to the Prado in Madrid, where I was behind a crowd looking at Velasquez’ “Las Meninas”. That was years before I began sketching.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was just in Tuscany last week and the crowds in Florence were sometimes a bit off putting but mostly weren’t too bad. I still preferred Siena and other towns and cities in the region overall. We met up with my brother in law and his wife visiting from the States and they went on to Rome and I imagine the crowds were much worse there. I really like how you captured the experience for better or for worse.


  5. Soni says:

    Well, you gave grace & dignity with your beautiful rendition of David rising above it all. Fantastic job in all these sketches & your description gave me an inside tour.
    You created gems out of chaos.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Michael says:

    Lovely sketches, Suhita. I was wondering how you cope with your kids while you’re sketching. Do they not just run off everywhere? That’s my experience of mine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael, my kids are now 9 and 11, so they don’t wander off and get lost so easily. Sometimes they sketch with me. ( I always have atleast 3 sketchbooks in my bag when we travel together). But most often, when we travel together on vacation I will either 1) get up very early in the morning and go sketch before anyone else wakes up or 2) the kids are with my husband, and they’re all quite used to random 20-40 minute stops when I decide to sketch 🙂 But really, my best advice is : learn to sketch very fast, it increases your chances of sketching around your kids and give them a book and colors, all kids love it!


  7. miatagrrl says:

    I had the same feelings of irony (complaining about all the tourists while I am one! ) and frustration in London! Getting up early is a great idea. The experience kind of turned me off to big cities or summer travel or both!


    Liked by 1 person

  8. If it’s any consolation, I remember visiting the Sistine Chapel in 1968. They packed us into it like sardines, with literally no manoeuvring space at all. In those days the mass tourists were predominantly Japanese and of course they all had loads of heavy cameras etc. no snapping away from your mobile back then. On cue from the flag bearing tour guides, we all crooked our heads and looked up. Despite the heat and claustrophobia, it was still a magnificent site. But the point I want to make really is just that not much has changed. Almost 300 years later, The Grand Tour still attracts most of us, especially in those balmy summer months . . .


  9. Hahl. Love your crowd drawings. That’s totally the only thing do do hey? At least you get some practice drawing crowds:) I had that same feeling though when we arrived in Venice. OMG why didn’t someone tell me STAY AWAY that time of year! I guess it goes under live-and-learn 🙂


    • Marc, I can’t say I wasn’t warned… but between it being the kids summer break and it dovetailing nicely into the symposium, we went anyways. Next time: 1) quieter time, more off-the-beaten-path places to visit! But I agree, my reaction often was “Oh my God!”


  10. elena says:

    Love the selfie sticks poking out of your crowds. A sign of our times…

    Liked by 1 person

    • David says:

      You have captured the true feel of Italy,just as I remember,hustle and bustle,noise full of life.better then a photo,or laboured painting,


  11. PaulTsed says:

    Really nice sketches, I like them! 🙂 I’m not bad at drawing, but I wish I could paint like you.
    Just curious, can I ask you how much time does it usually take for you to create a sketch?


    • Time taken to draw? It depends, the slowest of these is probably the one of the Rialto, just under an hour. And the quickest, the gesturer-drawing of the boats in brush pen is under 10 minutes. I choose how quick or slow to work sometimes depending on the subject but more often on the time I have…


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