Whatever your creative pursuit, when the opportunity arises to be a part of the most inspiring environment, the most exhilarating atmosphere for your particular artistic discipline or genre, I think that you owe it to yourself and even the gifts that you've been blessed with to take it.
Drawing and painting in Italy is for me, a very different experience than creating my work or teaching in my native New York. Please do not misinterpret this... New York city arguably remains the single greatest modern and contemporary art scene in the world. I adore it's energy and unmatched cultural exchange. However, picking up that charcoal and putting it to paper while in Italy, specifically the region of Tuscany, well... that is very different. With that first intended visual description, you have instantly joined the ranks... and these are revered and exalted ranks... of those who decided to make a very human statement... the artistic statement at it's highest levels. I see art as being perhaps the best narrative on humanity. It is either the subject of the human condition (narrative, historical painting or portraiture) or it is simply the personal translation of what is around us... profound enough to the individual to be worthy of canvas and paper. This kind of statement, of course, can come in the form of writing, music, performance and fine art. Drawing and painting in Italy though, is very much like driving at the Indianapolis 500 or performing at Carnegie Hall... the act alone is certainly amazing and enjoyable enough, but the company that you keep is historically staggering.
The Renaissance was a period that started in the region of Tuscany and it represented the return to the Classical emphasis on humanity. The artwork produced during this period continues to be a benchmark of excellence and an inspiration for all who follow in the footsteps as painters, sculptors, designers and architects. If we put the history aside, if one is not as well versed in the stories and the periods, Italy still inspires those who draw and paint in ways that few other places on earth can. If you are in the right location (and there are many) a simple turn of the head can reveal public art, incredible structures, classic designs and natural beauty all coming together.
Some even see drawing and painting in Italy as something akin to climbing Mount Everest. The obvious major difference here is the physical toll and personal peril involved in that one time, personal accomplishment. My advice, unlike for that dangerous and rewarding travel to the peak of the mountain top, is to try and "climb" towards this creative summit as often as possible. Try to experience the feeling of creating where creativity was first appreciated the most. The quote from the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer sums up the unique appreciation for art during the Renaissance as he compares the status of the artist in his native Germany to Italy: "Here (Italy) I really am somebody, whereas at home I am just a hack." Times have certainly changed, but those brushstrokes somehow, still feel indescribably different when applied in my art studio in Lucca or looking out at that Tuscan landscape. The food and wine aren't bad either.