Untours Cafe

Mary Ann Miller
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Mary Ann Miller's Friends

  • Linda Culver
  • Pam Cummings
  • Ann Cockerill
  • Debbie Peters
  • Doris M
  • Bob Young
  • jerrysandy
  • Pete and Maggie Haggart
  • Jean and Fred Agneta
  • Bill Kover

Mary Ann Miller's Destinations


Mary Ann Miller's Page

Profile Information

What is your favorite place in Europe so far?
Anywhere around the Mediterranean
Where would you most like to go next?
Venice or Spain
Tell us about one of your favorite places to stay on an Untour. Do you have a favorite host? Apartment? Village?
Ana Ginotti and her family in Tuscany South. We stayed on their estate in the apartment, Famiglia (?) . By the end of our 2 weeks, we had become real friends. I even wanted to send my son over to get to know her precious daughter, Luisa. I sent her my sketches of the area, and we corresponded for years.
Do you have any special interests or hobbies that you follow when you travel?
I paint. And eat. I go with fellow artists who are willing to sit outside at a cafe for an hour or so while I sketch and paint the local scenery. My entire "travel studio" fits into a compact bag, and I have completed a small sketchbook on each trip. These sketches have been made into T-shirts, notecards, tiles, and tiny books for our hosts. Now I am combining all these with recipes from the areas into one book I call TRAVELS WITH A BLUE VASE.
When you upload photos to Untours Cafe, you are also giving Untours permission to use the photos in their promotional material (with credit to you)
Just outside Pisa, as we were looking for the marble quarries of Cararra, I mistakenly drove into the entrance of a military installation. The gate guards, with guns drawn, emphatically told us to back up, leave! In my haste to comply, I accidentally hit the windshield wipers and WASHERS - and the guards' impeccably pressed uniforms were soaked! They were not amused. But once we were out of sight, we had a good laugh.
Which Untours have you already done?
Provence (twice), Tuscany (North and South), Paris and Greece.
What advice would you give others considering an Untour?
It is the ONLY way to go if you want to explore non-touristy places, do NOT want to sit on a bus to be taken to someone else's idea of fun, and you want to meet friendly, informative people, some of whom will become friends for life.
What is your favorite Untour? (so far)

Mary Ann Miller's Photos

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Mary Ann Miller's Blog


One of the best things about France or Austria is the pastries! The owner of this coffee shop was delighted to let me take pictures of these yummy confections. When I got home, I immediately painted this. It now hangs in the office of a well-known chef here in Jacksonville.…


Posted on December 4, 2012 at 8:31am

Tuilleries in Paris

One cloudy morning in Paris, my friend went to get her hair cut by Christoff at Chez Marianne. I chose to go sit in the Tuilleries Gardens and watch the children sail their boats. The sun came out, and I sat there blissfully sketching. When I returned home to the US, I was able to paint this full-size picture of that day. It now hangs in my kitchen, and every time I pass it,…


Posted on December 4, 2012 at 8:19am

Paris and Beyond

Posted on December 1, 2012 at 12:00pm

Untours' Tuscany and Provence


In Florence: A big city. The market here is wonderful. A note about markets: buy what you want when you see it

because you won't find it again. My favorite museum is the Accademia with Michelangelo's beautiful white marble David. I go there every time I am in Florence. Just BEHIND the Duomo is a tiny museum, the Opa or Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore with Michelangelo's "La Pieta di Michelangelo." This was meant for his tomb, and he gave his own… Continue

Posted on July 30, 2009 at 4:20pm — 2 Comments

Comment Wall (8 comments)

At 9:39am on August 25, 2007, Marilee Taussig said…
Hi, Mary Ann,

Glad you could make it! You should go to the New Stuff tab and read Marlene's blog on Ana Ginotti. And I would love to see you post a blog that describes your experience sitting and painting in a cafe. Do people talk to you? etc.
At 9:28am on September 7, 2007, Linda Paplinski said…
Hi Mary Ann,
I loved your story about pulling into the military installation. We had a similar experience last year. During our trip to Provence, we took a weekend to go to the Rivera. We had booked a hotel outside of St. Paul Vence and were having trouble finding it. Told it was off one of the roads near the roundabout with the firestation we still couldn't find it. We did find the firestation, though. It was located on top of a big hill and several fireman were standing outside. Thinking that if anyone knows where the hotel is, the fireman will, we drove up the hill. They all began to wave us away, but we persevered. When we reached the top they quickly came towards the car looking angry and speaking French, of course, which we didn't understand, but got the meaning. Finally, we made it clear we just wanted directions, they volunteered one of them who spoke a little English and he gave us directions. Each time we drove past the firestation after that we noticed that the gate at the top of the hill was down.
At 9:54pm on September 21, 2007, Pete and Maggie Haggart said…
Thanks for your comments on Monet's garden. It was not crowded when we were there and of course when one sits anywhere in the garden you can sense what Monet must have sensed and felt - it is really an inspirational place, but like you said - should be avoided during the tourist season.
At 11:45pm on October 22, 2007, Bob Young said…
Ciao & G'Doye Mary Ann from "Artybob," who loves your sketches from Nafplio! As we just returned today from a month in Australia & New Zealand (Tauck tours, not Untours), I haven't energy to write more than a quick note, inviting you to visit my Untours Cafe page, which shows some of my own travel sketches. I hope you like them, and will consent to being a new "friend" ! Cheers, Bob Young
At 9:12pm on January 6, 2008, Bob Young said…
Great to hear from you Mary Ann! Yes, I did two new sketches Down Under, and put them on my page as photos --- one of Melbourne, and one of Sydney Harbour. And yes, I did remove the other travel sketches, thinking that Cafe regulars might get sort of tired of seeing the same stuff. However, you can see the sketches along with all my other artwork --- mostly oil paintings -- on this website:


About Spain: we tour-toured Portugal and Spain last year with Odysseys Adventures --- they do a good job, and we're glad to have the "overview." If we ever returned it would be to Andalusia in the very same area where Untours has apartments --- we stayed two nights in Ronda, a lovely town, but there are numerous attractive hilltowns nearby, and all are within an hour or two's drive to the Med coast, so you can have the best of both worlds: small rural towns inland, and crowded beach towns. Also, Gibraltar is not far tho' we did not go that day because we were absolutely flattened with fatigue. We had taken a week-long tour of Portugal before we began the Odysseys tour, in Lisbon. The tour was really great, run by a Lisbon company, Portugal Online. Only 8 on a small Mercedes bus and an amazing, absolutely terrific guide, a young woman from Lisbon. I found it by Googling "Portugal tours," and they have an excellent website.
While we liked the Andalusia area and would be glad to return, we are "pulled" to other areas including Sicily and Budapest-Prague-Vienna. Maybe even Vietnam. And, at some point we will be going to northern Italy to be with two families (and so I can practice my Italian !).
Tough choices! Please keep me informed if / when you put up your own sketches. We're taking the Holland and Alsace Untours in April-May, and I'll probably be doing more . . . All the best and Happy New Year . . . Bob
At 9:51am on August 8, 2008, Lotta Rao said…
Hi Mary Ann! I love your paintings and I am so curious about your book! We just started a discussion in the new Book Forum, which might interest you. I'm hoping to get people involved and giving recommendations about what books they love to read when they travel or what books inspired them to travel in the first place. Since you're writing your own book I'm sure you have a lot of thoughts! We'd love to hear them.
At 9:50am on July 24, 2009, Debbie Peters said…
I am living and reliving these wonderful adventures through your sketches and journal writings. Can't wait for the book!
At 5:09pm on April 11, 2011, Jane said…

Dear Mary Ann,

We just received a copy from Untours of "Travels with a Blue Vase."  Jane and I love your work.  Are your paintings available for purchase, either as originals or as prints?  We would really enjoy having some of your paintings in our home.  They are so evocative of many of the Untours locations we have visited, and they are so pretty.

Phil King at pandjking@sbcglobal.net

Spring Lake, MI

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