Getting Paid to Live the Italian Dream

I stood in the window of my apartment in Lucca, Italy, concentrating on painting the scene below. The narrow street was filled with the usual locals who were doing their daily marketing and stopping briefly in a centuries-old church to light a candle. As I tried to capture this slice of life on canvas, I looked out to see a pair of tourists aiming their camera at me—the artist in the window above. Once the shutter clicked, they smiled and waved and I waved back. But my own smile was followed by warm satisfaction that I was living a dream: spending several months in Italy so as to really experience the culture and become part of the fabric of local life.