Drawing From The Masters

Sassi Italy Tours offers clients the opportunity to receive classical drawing instruction from Raphael Sassi, a well-regarded Master of Fine Arts, teacher, and Fellow of both the NYAA and NYFA with years of professional and travel experience.  We can offer customized arts experiences wherein you will take in the finest works of the High Renaissance masters and discover how the great cities of Italy themselves serve as a primary educational resource.

Contact Sassi Italy Tours for recommendations on arts supplies, museum and site information, and to discuss curriculum options.  Curriculum will include drawing from paintings, sculptures, and from drawing libraries found in the major museums. Drawing the iconic buildings, landscapes, and structures found in cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice will be encouraged as well.

Sassi Italy Tours not only offers culinary, site seeing, and cultural experiences, but ties them to arts education and a deeper understanding of why Italy was so important to the Renaissance and how that influences the modern world we live in today.  Click here to get your Drawing From The Masters experience started today!


About Sassi Italy Tours Instructors

Raphael Sassi was born in Pennsylvania and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. After building his portfolio to apply for college, he received a Maryland Artists Equity Distinguished Scholar Finalist Award in 1995 and subsequently enrolled at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Including a semester studying abroad in Italy at the Syracuse University in Florence, he graduated from MICA with a BFA in 1999. Eventually he moved to New York where he attended graduate school at The New York Academy of Art in TriBeCa on scholarship.  After receiving his MFA with honors in 2004, he was awarded the Walter Erlebacher Award for the study of Artistic Anatomy and one of the three distinguished NYAA year-long Post-Graduate Residency Fellowship Grants for 2005.

Raphael has exhibited numerous times in New York including two group shows in the Chelsea district, at The National Arts Club, The Salmagundi Club, The New York Academy of Art, and a solo exhibit in SoHo. He has also exhibited at The Baltimore Museum of Art with the Maryland Artists Equity Foundation. He has been published in Elle magazine, Fine Art Connoisseur, The New York Times, and Page Six of The New York Post.

After receiving a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship for Drawing in 2007 he began teaching Anatomical Drawing at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan in their undergraduate programs. He was then briefly interviewed in the NY1 Arts Report with Stephanie Simon, the UrbanEye video series of the Arts section of The New York Times with Melena Ryzik, and his work published in the Style section of The New York Times.

After leaving New York, he spent time working and tutoring adults and children across the country. Later, he returned to Maryland where he became an assistant at the Carla Massoni Gallery and taught drawing at both the Academy Art Museum and the undergraduate program of The Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

He now again resides in Colorado Springs where he continues his artistic endeavors.

Doug Sassi was born in New York City and knew from an early age that he wanted to be a professional artist.  He graduated with a BA in Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts Education and Art History from Pratt Institute in New York.   A working artist and professional ceramicist since the early 1960s, Doug spent thirty years as a teacher, primarily at the Severn School in Severna Park, MD, where he founded and lead the Severn School Italian Exchange from 1987 until his retirement in 2010.  In three decades he instructed thousands of students in sculpture, painting, and Renaissance art and offers a remarkable depth of understanding about Italy’s art treasures.


FAQ about Drawing From The Masters

How big a sketch-pad should I bring? An 8”x10” Strathmore sketch-pad (or your preffered brand of heavyweight premium drawing paper).

What Drawing Utensils should I have? The prime concern is to arrive at all museum destinations without anything that will spill or seem dirty.  No wet media (inks, watercolors) and no charcoal sticks, nothing that will break or make a lot of dust. You also want to try and anticipate as closely as you can the amount of materials you’ll bring to each drawing. Bring an assortment of pencils that you like to use, ranging from 2H up to 2B.  Bring charcoal pencils as well – medium and soft.  We encourage everyone drawing in museums for the first time to try ballpoint pens.  Parker makes a great basic writing pen that has quality ink for drawing.  The BIC “Click Stick” comes in an assortment of colors, which are great for drawing.  Also bring a small drawing board not too much larger than your 8×10 drawing pad.

How should I prepare?  Prior to the trip, informational sessions and workshops will be offered to make you comfortable with the techniques you’ll be learning.

How do I get to Italy?  Travelers are responsible for their own airfare and transit to the airport in the US.  Travelers are recommended to arrange air travel from western areas of the US to an east coast hub like EWR or BWI for international travel to Rome or Milan. You can travel with Sassi Italy Tours to our final destination in Italy if you travel from an east coast hub. In Italy, your shuttle to our first hotel is included in your trip fare.  If you’re not traveling from the US, contact us to make specific arrangements for your case.

Do I need a passport?  Yes!  Allow four weeks buffer to make sure your passport arrives in a timely fashion if you don’t have one already.  If you already have a passport, make sure you have at least three months before it expires.  For example, if you are traveling on this trip in March of 2015, make sure your passport is valid through August 2015.

Will my credit card work in Italy?  Yes, but advise the issuing bank that you’ll be traveling internationally so their fraud detection isn’t triggered by international purchases.  Ask the bank what your maximum ATM withdrawal is in case you plan on using it.  ATM machines are ubiquitous in Italy and you will be able to get cash if and when you need it, but you can use your debit card just about everywhere.

Can I use my cell phone in Italy?  Yes, you can— if it’s a GSM/GPRS (in this country that means AT&T) phone it will automatically work in Italy.  If you have a Verizon or another non-GSM phone service in the US, your carrier will typically offer you a loaner phone to use abroad.  You’ll want to inquire about an international data plan for when you’re in Italy.  Use WiFi in Italy whenever you can.   Radio Shack has inexpensive adapters that will allow you to plug in your 110v phone charger and other electronic devices into electrical sockets in Italy.

What should I wear?  Dress comfortably!  For visits to basilicas and churches you’ll be expected to have your shoulders covered and be dressed somewhat modestly (no short shorts and miniskirts allowed and collared shirts are encouraged for men).  Other than that, wear comfortable shoes— think form over fashion— and anticipate lots of walking on hard surfaces.  Being fashionable is great, but don’t do it at the expense of your feet.  Dark colored hiking boots make a great all around option— Italians will consider them acceptable for wearing to virtually any restaurant, and they’ll help you navigate the cobblestones and marble floors with minimal distress.

What if I have dietary restrictions?  Saying that Italy is a great place to eat is an extraordinary understatement, and most any dietary practice can be accommodated with a little advance preparation.  Consult us with your specific concerns.

Speaking of, what’s the food like over there?  Is it as good as I’ve heard?   Better in fact.  In our experience, people who claim to not like the food they found in Italy have generally eaten in “tourist traps.” Sassi Italy Tours likes to find the “real” Italy, where local ingredients rule and the old world preparations are found. Hint:  if it says “menu turistico” on the door, we avoid it.  Also we avoid regionally anachronistic food.  For example, people who report a bad food experience in Venice may have sampled a pizza. No kidding, the pizza isn’t very good in Venice, as Venice is where you find great seafood pastas and soups and plate of locally caught seafood. You’ll find good pizza in Florence, Rome, and Naples, but it will be good where it’s prepared with an eye toward local ingredients. Don’t expect the same pepperoni pizza your local delivery joint specializes in.  The way to find good food in Italy is finding out what the locals specialize in and asking where to find good expressions of the dishes the region you’re in is known for.  Sassi Italy Tours has 30 years’ experience guiding people to the best food in Italy, and we’ve the happy references to prove it.  Check out this plate of lobster spaghetti at one of our favorite osterie in Venezia.  Yeah, we know where to find the good stuff!

Should we do an overnight “red eye” flight?   Yes!  You’ll lose a good night’s sleep but you’ll arrive with a full day ahead of you in Italy.  The adrenaline from anticipating your time in Italy will power you through your first day.  Get a good night’s sleep in Italy your first night and you’ll be fine.

What happens when I get there?  Doug Sassi himself will collect you at your arrival airport in Italy and coordinate shuttles and car service to your first hotel.  Then the fun begins.

What are the hotels like?  We exclusively use boutique hotels that offer four-star quality and a warm authentic Italian feel. They’ll all have nice showers, fixtures, clean rooms, hair dryers, and comfortable beds.

What should my travel gear look like?  Pack light!  You won’t need as many clothes as you think.  Prioritize layers over a heavy coat. Roller suitcases are a must.  Bring a nice camera if you have one, but the camera in your iPhone or Android phone is almost always sufficient.  Keep your kit close to you in airports, train stations, and other public places.  You can buy art supplies easily in Italy so don’t overburden yourself packing too many and flying them over.

How much walking will we do?  Lots!  Before we travel you’ll definitely want to take long walks and hikes to get your feet, ankles, and legs ready for Italy, which is a walking culture across the board.  In Rome we’ll use some public transit, but in Florence and Venice you’ll walk almost everywhere.  The upshot—you can eat a ton of the best food you’ll ever have the whole time in Italy and still lose weight.

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Guided tours of Italy in a small, private setting

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