Archives for January 2017

A homage to Vincent from Maggie

Painting by Maggie Renner Hellmann, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Our lovely Californian painting tutor Maggie Renner Hellmann has just sent us some stunning paintings with a Van Gogh theme.  The oil above is called Café a la Van Gogh, while I don’t have to tell you the subject of the one below. HELLMANNSunflowerMorning (002)

And how about this Venetian scene, also an homage to the incomparable Vincent:HELLMANNVanGoghVenetian (002)

Maggie will be joining us next June for her week teaching in oils, acrylics, pastels and drawing mediums – you can choose your medium(s). There are more details below. You won’t have to paint like Van Gogh, but you will share his exhilaration of capturing the bright colours of the countryside. We already have 12 painters booked in to this course, but have room for one or two more.

Maggie calls her week-long course at The Watermill a Courageous Colo(u)r Workshop and she says: “In this plein air workshop we will paint in various spectacular Tuscan locations. Our emphasis will be on learning and practicing the core elements of successful paintings – Color, composition, focal point, light source, values, positive & negative shapes, volumes, edges, brushwork & perspective, as well as how to use contrasts to give excitement and drama to your paintings and much more! All levels of experience are welcome.”

Maggie Renner Hellmann is a contemporary California painter who paints with love, passion and energy. Her work is characterized by a unique blend of loose, energetic brushwork and strong compositions of exuberant color. She says: “I love the joy of color and the poetry of brushwork.”  This is Maggie’s Summer ReflectionsPainting by Maggie Renner Hellmann, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Maggie is also a knowledgeable and enthusiastic tutor. She’s been teaching for more than 15 years – and she loves it! Her years of experience in painting in many mediums have distilled her teaching to the core fundamentals that will help guide any painter toward success. She will encourage the beginner and challenge the more advanced.

Here’s some praise from some of her former students: What I liked best about the workshop was Maggie’s approachable manner and encouragement, her clear understanding about color and light, her experience in simplifying landscapes and the discipline of first studying the subject in values – and how to make poetry out of a simple landscape.”

“What I particularly like about your teaching is that you seem to be able to distil the learning into meaningful chunks that are understandable and then you demonstrate the concept and have us practice it. Your methodology is very effective. I really like getting your feedback. You give it in a very helpful and constructive way and always let us observe you painting.”

RENNER H&SPainting by Maggie Renner Hellmann, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.17-24 June Oils, acrylics, pastels and drawing mediums

with Maggie Renner Hellmann

To learn more about Maggie and her course at The Watermill, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

How to get back in the painting groove, by Nel Whatmore

Painting by Nel Whatmore, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

‘Nice to See You’. A blossoming of tulips by Nel

Our lovely pastel tutor Nel Whatmore knows how difficult it can sometimes be to get back into the painting groove has posted five (or six) to help you do so.

Nel will be with us for a special pastel week with her painting partner Rebecca de Mendonça this September. Details below. We already have nine painters and one non-painting partner booked into this course, for have room for only two or three more.

Here are Nel’s top five tips for getting down to more painting:

  1. Clean your studio…we all do that to avoid painting so you might as well get it over with.
  2. Get a large piece of paper and just enjoy making a mess and don’t tell yourself it has to be anything…it will just loosen you up and get rid of all that ” oh hell what shall I paint kinda vibe”
  3. Find some new music or audio or whatever floats your boat, just make sure it is new and inspiring. I was given several audio books and am currently itching to hear the next episode of my Jo Jo Moyes audio Foreign Fruits
  4. Put a time limit on what you produce so say do four little paintings in an hour. Or Four in an afternoon. It is truly amazing how much your work improves if you’re not so inhibited.
  5. If everything is truly daunting then start in black and white don’t get hung up about colour. Ease yourself in gently and look at tone first by doing the same subject in black and white and tones and then graduate to colour.
Painting by Nel Whatmore, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

The Garden of the Rose

 I said there were five tips, but it you, like Nel and me have a blog, there’s a sixth:

  1. Do not write your blog for too long when you should be painting !!!! I’m off to make a mess xxxx

Two talented and inspiring art tutors for the price of one – that’s the deal when we welcome Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça for a unique week-long course in Pastels in September. They’ll be with us from Saturday 23 September to Saturday 30 September 2017.

This course offers the unusual experience of having these two experienced pastel artists sharing the tuition, and combining their expertise and great enthusiasm for this versatile and exciting medium. As tutors they can help people to see that there are always different ways to do things, even when working with the same pastels.

The course will include some plein air painting, studio based work and also trips out. What Nel and Rebecca seek to offer is a new experience of using pastels outside and to introduce the joys of exploring how inspiring another country’s landscape and countryside can be. They say: As ever the atmosphere will be relaxed with one to one help, demonstrations and lots of lovely food! We seek to inspire you all to try something different and join us.”

Nel Whatmore loves colour and paints in a very expressive way as her focus is on light and getting emotion into a painting. She particularly adores painting flowers, landscapes and seascapes. She has been a regular exhibitor at Chelsea Flower Show for the past 10 years, where her stand has won multiple awards including a 5 star award in 2016. She has appeared on TV and celebrity collectors include Zoe Ball, Richard and Judy, Gary Neville and David Gower.

Rebecca de Mendonça’s teaching and painting is the result of a varied career in the arts that has taken her from a degree at Wimbledon College of Art in Theatre Design, and working on projects ranging from Harrods Food Hall and the Phantom of the Opera to exhibiting at The Pastel Society and being a well known demonstrator. She has been commissioned to paint dancers at English National Ballet, actors in West End Shows, and has had work accepted by the Society of Equine Artists and The Pastel Society.

Paintings by Nel and Rebecca, tutors at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

‘Freedom’ by Rebecca

Nel and Rebecca head shotPainting by Nel Whatmore, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.23-30 September Pastels

with Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça

To learn more about Nel and Rebecca and their course at The Watermill, please click  here.

 

Bring a lovely hat for Sue’s Summer painting course

Sue Ford, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy. When I saw this recent picture above of our charming Watermill painting tutor Sue Ford I thought ‘I know that hat!’ And when I looked thought some of the pictures taken on Sue’s last fun-filled course here at the Watermill, I knew I was right. Here’s Sue with some of her students in the Watermill walled garden.

Enjoying painting tuition in the Watermill's walled garden

Enjoying painting tuition in the Watermill’s walled garden

And here she is again – and that hat.

Sue Ford, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Why not join us for Sue’s sunny (you’ll need a hat, but if you forget, we’ll lend you one), inspiring painting course this Summer. We already have eight people booked in (one, a non-painting partner), so we have room for four or so more. We’d love you to join us.

Sue is returning to the Watermill in July for an inspiring week-long painting course in watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic. Sue says: “I just love creating pictures in any medium – and I love passing on what I’ve learned to other people and to help them release their creativity.” Sue will be with us from Saturday 15 July to Saturday 22 July 2017. More details below.

We have fond memories of Sue’s last visit. Here’s a quote from a guest: “I had a wonderful time. Everything was superb – the accommodation, the trips out and the food! Utterly wonderful. It was an experience that I will treasure. Sue Ford is an exceptional tutor with a lovely manner and treats all with respect and kindness.”

More of Sue's students enjoying painting in the private monastery we visit on Thursdays

More of Sue’s students enjoying painting in the private monastery we visit on Thursdays

Sue Ford was born in York, North Yorkshire and has experimented with almost every conceivable media in her career. She now a well recognised and admired professional artist and tutor.

Sue says: “Each student will be guided carefully throughout the day, from initial demonstration to getting started, followed by patient, professional tuition. I aim to help my students to create paintings which will give them the confidence in their abilities and help them to develop their own artistic vision.” Here’s Sue painting demonstration at another Watermill location, the castle and village of Verrucola.Sue Ford Watercolour demo of Castello Verrucola

New Sue Ford pic croppedSue Cinque Terre demo15-22 July Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

with Sue Ford

To learn more about Sue and her course at The Watermill, please click here.

Sue Ford's painting of the beach at Monterosso in the Cinque Terre

Sue Ford’s painting of the beach at Monterosso in the Cinque Terre

Due to a knitting cancellation, Botticelli beckons

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Sandro Botticelli: come knit with me

Due to a cancellation on Lisa Richardson’s knitting course this May, we now have one place left on her delightful knitting week with us this May. It it in our lovely Botticelli bedroom.

It’s one of our Superior double bedrooms, with a new en suite shower room. We’ve been overseeing the renovation on this lovely bedroom and I can tell you that the new tiling and bathroom fittings are going to be in place this week. This is a large, dual-aspect bedroom, with a balcony and views over the courtyard and gardens to the mountains beyond. The ‘Super Kingsize’ bed can be divided into large singles if required.

We now have 11 knitters booked into Lisa’s popular course plus two non-knitting partners, so one more knitter will make a nice round dozen, the perfect size for our creative groups.

Lisa Richardson’s name is instantly associated with the Rowan pattern house. In addition to her designer role there, she manages the pattern editing process and mentors newer members of the design team. She says, My biggest drive is to people create something that they will cherish for years to come.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Lisa is also an enthusiastic  tutor, winning much praise from her workshop participants. For her week-long course at the mill she has devised two specially designed projects for you to knit: one inspired by Italian lace work (see left, now available as a knitting or crochet project) and the other (below), a beautiful, colourful bag that fully justifies her label as ‘slip stitch queen’.The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Here’s a comment form one of our guests on Lisa’s week last year: “Just returned from an outstanding holiday in this most beautiful place. I have been looked after for a whole week and feel really spoilt. The whole experience has been such a wonderful treat. I was apprehensive as I have never travelled on my own before, but all fears were banished from the moment I arrived in the Mill. Bill and Lois are marvellous hosts and made all the group feel at home. Everyone had a lovely room. I had a room with outstanding views, and an en suite bathroom. The bed was really comfortable and huge. Everything is provided and nothing is too much trouble.  The food is delicious and prepared from home grown and local produce.

“Lisa Richardson, our knitting/crochet teacher is exceptional – generous with her knowledge, creative with her teaching and inspiring with her personality.
I’ve made some beautiful projects which I can complete at home, made some new friends, and I’ve seen and experienced the breathtaking Tuscan countryside. I think I need to go again!!”

Lisa Richardson head and shoulders6 May to 13 May 2017

Lisa Richardson Knitting and La Bella Vita

Please click here to learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill.

  *** Why not bring your non-knitting partner as well? There’s a generous £200 discount for him/her if they share a room with you  — and there’s plenty for them to do. Have a look at our Partner’s Activities suggestions by clicking here.

Botticelli beckons! Come and join us!

 

 

Come and warm up with Sarah this Summer

Painting by Sarah Spencer, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.I was just looking at the Facebook cover picture of our delightful oil painting tutor Sarah Spencer – and thinking Brrr! This is one of the stunning landscapes that Sarah has painted of the coast in North Kent, near Whitstable, where she lives. Stunning scene, but distinctly chilly.

Sarah, however, is equally at home in the warm and stunning scenery of Lunigiana, surrounding the Watermill and we are looking forward to welcoming her back for another inspiring oil painting week. Here are her painters last year in the sunny Watermill courtyard:The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Sarah is a passionate and inspiring tutor. She says: I am really looking forward again to sharing my passion and passing on what I’ve learned about oil and acrylic painting and about drawing.”  Her course is suitable for beginners as well as more experienced painters.

As well as landscapes, you may also want to try your hand at portraits or still lifes. Sarah is skilled in teaching those, too. Here’s her charming ‘small picture of a small person‘:

Painting by Sarah Spencer, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

We had a lovely time this year at the Watermill with Sarah. As one guest said: Thank you for taking such good care of us. The group was lovely and Sarah Spencer was very helpful with the tips on techniques.”

Award-winning English artist Sarah Spencer RAS, NEAC* is internationally known for her landscapes, portraits and still lifes. She has had no fewer than 10 solo exhibitions in London since graduating from the Royal Academy Schools. Her work has won national and international acclaim. (*Alumnus of the Royal Academy Schools, elected member of the New English Art Club and Federation of British Artists.) She also tutors painting courses and leads masterclasses for, among others, the UK Royal Academy and the University of the Creative Arts.

Sarah S H&S for tutor profilePainting bysarah Spencer, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.3-10 June 2017 Oils, acrylics and drawing mediums

with Sarah Spencer

To learn more about Sarah and her course at The Watermill, please click here.

Come and join us!

Looking forward to meeting you in the Watermill courtyard

Looking forward to meeting you in the Watermill courtyard

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Slow food – but swift service!

slow food italia logoOur Watermill gardener Flavio Terenzoni doesn’t like snails – in fact he is often in a state of war against them. But one snail he does like is the one in the logo above, the emblem of the Slow Food movement. The Watermill is a member of this grassroots organization, founded in Italy  in 1986 and since spread worldwide.The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Slow Food is simply an alternative to fast food, and the movement strives to preserve traditional and regional cooking, as well as encouraging sustainable  agriculture and the promotion of local small businesses, all of which are aims of The Watermill too. We try to use fresh, local ingredients, too, many of which are gown by Flavio, or in the vegetable garden of our cook, Mirella Musetti.

ITINERARY page Mirella in kitchen cropped

But slow food, doesn’t mean slow service: in fact, the Watermill also has a reputation for delicious home-cooked meals, served on time, with no waiting about between courses. And it’s the same in the little local restaurants we take you to, too: honest food, freshly made, delightfully served.Dinner at mill square

As one satisfied guest said last year: “I have been on at least 50 weeks of workshops in the last 12 years and I have to say that the last one with you was the best-ever in terms of the organisation and the lovely food and wine we had. The local restaurants were very memorable – the sort of places you wouldn’t go to on your own, full of character and a quality experience.”

So, come and join us and indulge in the gentle pleasures of Slow Food. Meanwhile Flavio can wage war on the rest of the snails!

panzanellaPS Come and learn the slow secret of Italian cooking on our first-ever Watermill cookery course, L’arte di mangiar bene, the art of eating well. For more delicious details, please click here.

100 castles, two natural parks – and, of course, a watermill beside the river!


Blog two natural parks 2We are so proud of the ambiance of the Watermill and its surrounding countryside and love sharing it with our creative courses guests.

If you’ve been, you’ll know that The Watermill at Posara is a complex of elegant and historic, carefully restored Tuscan buildings, surrounding a sunny courtyard with an adjoining vine verandah, rose pergola and sun-filled walled garden. More gardens lead to walks along the river and the sun-dappled millstream. The buildings are listed by the Italian government as of historic importance.Tom riverside photo Jun 13Set in a gentle valley, The Watermill stands beside the River Rosaro in the small village of Posara. Peaceful and secluded, yet part of the village, the mill is just a mile or so from the walled medieval town of Fivizzano with its cafés, restaurants and shops. This is the heart of Lunigiana, in the North-west of Tuscany, stunningly beautiful and truly unspoilt part of Italy.

Snow on the Apuan Alps

Snow on the Apuan Alps

The comune (administrative district) of Fivizzano which, as well as a hundred ancient castles within its boundaries, contains not one, but two environmentally protected areas: the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Appennines, the backbone of Italy, and the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps, home of the marble mountains of Carrara. Because of this protected status the air and the water are pure and unpolluted and the area abounds in wildlife.

The Appennines near the Watermill

The Appennines near the Watermill

Come and join us and savour La Bella Vita Italiana. This year’s course are filling fast, but we still have places on our unique painting, Italian language, knitting, yoga and cooking weeks. More about everything at http://watermill.net/.

As they say around here: Non vediamo l’ora di incontrarvi. We can’t wait to meet you!

Painters by the River Rosaro which flows beside the mill

Painters by the River Rosaro which flows beside the mill

Another speedy demonstration from Mark Warner

Blog Mark Visio 2 screen shotWe enjoyed Mark Warner’s high speed (time-lapse) video so much, he’s sent us another one. There’s a screen shot above and you can see the whole video by clicking on this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0By5N2pMQ3jDqeU9maGV4dWFkSFk/view?usp=sharing

The time-lapse video shows Mark painting on a West Wales beach and here’s a picture of the the completed sketch using acrylic and pastel on blue pastel paper.

Painting by Mark Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

We promise you that you won’t have to be half as speedy (or even one-thousandth as speedy!) if you join Mark’s sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring course here next July. And it will be sunnier!

You can be warm, peaceful and relaxed as Mark takes you to sketch and paint in the glorious Tuscan countryside surrounding the Watermill

Mark Warner is a specialist in acrylics/watercolours incorporating conte/pastel and his course here will run from Saturday 22 July to Saturday 29 July 2017.

This course is already attracting considerable interest, with eight places already already taken (room for three or four more), so why not join us for a new artistic experience? And also share Mark’s passion for painting outdoors?  Isn’t his ‘Cloud Migration from Stiperstones’, below, sensational?Painting by Mark Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Mark Warner is an artist and tutor who lives in Shropshire in England. He is not only a respected artist but also a highly professional tutor with many years of teaching experience. Mark is passionate about working outside, tutoring numerous day and residential plein air holidays. His sessions are very popular — and he leads by example, creating a relaxed and encouraging environment.  He says I adore using colour while interpreting the light, weather and a love for the materials. I work directly in the field (literally on many occasions!) from sketches created outside as well as notes/photographs taken on location.”

Sketching is at the heart of Mark’s work: This is important in the development of a piece and on many occasions, forming an integral part of the painting itself.” Mark works on coloured grounds, incorporating aspects of mark-making and directional brushstrokes within the work. He says: “I continue to draw inspiration from the landscape, although subject matter can be broad and at times very different.” Here’s Mark’s ‘Harbour Boat Sketch.’Harbour Boat Sketch (4)

Mark at easelPainting by Mark Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.22 to 29 July 2017 Mark Warner

Acrylics/watercolours incorporating conte/pastel.

To learn more about Mark and his course at The Watermill, please click here.

Come and sketch (slowly!) with Mark — and savour the magic of Tuscany and The Watermill.Tom riverside photo Jun 13

The best art teacher is Mother Nature, says Watermill tutor Lea Nixon

Caroline Chapman Monte 2
English watercolourist Lea Nixon, who is joining us at The Watermill next June (details below), says improving your art is no easy feat. But he adds: “The best teacher you can have is Mother Nature herself.”

Aula view by Ciao Lunigiana

Lea says: “How many times have you seen a beautiful view, taken a photograph and then tried to paint it when you get back home. Have you been satisfied with your results? I have to admit that I find it very hard to successfully recreate many photos as  paintings. It can be very disheartening to say the least. 

“But can you imagine standing in front of the subject you’re about to paint living and breathing the scene so that you experience the mood and feel the glowing light, absorbed by your emotions as you paint. How amazing is that?”

Lunigiana panorama

You’ll find inspiration from Nature in abundance in the stunning scenery of Lunigiana surrounding the mill when we take you to hilltop villages, walled towns, castles, convents – all with stunning views – and in the mill gardens, the millstream and the riverside.

Macfie millstream reduced

Lea will be with us from Saturday 24 June to Saturday 1 July 2017. So why not join him for his sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring course. Judging by the comments from guests on his course last year, you’ll have a marvellous time. One said: “Lea was a wonderful tutor. He not only encouraged us to be productive but divided his attention equally with all his students, a hard task at times to achieve. I personally felt I came home with some worthwhile artwork but mainly came away with a wealth of new-found knowledge gleaned from watching and learning Lea’s painting style.”

Another said: “I have been on at least 50 weeks of workshops in the last 12 years and I have to say that the last one with you was the best ever in terms of the organisation and the lovely food and wine we had. The local restaurants were very memorable – the sort of places you wouldn’t go to on your own, full of character and a quality experience.”

To further whet your appetite here’s a demonstration painting Lea made during his last course here: a gentle study of the sun umbrella in  The Watermill courtyard:Painting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Lea Nixon is an exceptional watercolour painter from Wigan in the north-west of England for whom mood, character and atmosphere are particularly important. Lea specialises in watercolours, the magic of which excites him again and again. He has been a school teacher for the past 30 years in art and music, so creativity is in his blood – and he likes nothing more than to help others to achieve their artistic goals. Lea says: There are many different styles and ways to paint a picture and your own personal style defines you as an artist. I like to spot the originality in my students and work with them to develop their skills. It is fantastic fun.”

Lea’s course at The Watermill is for all levels of experience. He says: “We’ll learn about all the qualities to make a good watercolour and I’ll give you a procedure which will simplify the whole painting process. Watercolour is a captivating medium and there are so many ways to use it to make beautiful pictures.”

Lea Nixon head and shouldersPainting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.24 June- 1 July Watercolours

with Lea Nixon

To learn more about Lea and his course at The Watermill, please click here.

 

Keiko garden 2 Jess -reduced

 

Don’t worry about not finishing your painting, say Mark Warner

Painting by Mark Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Painting en plein air, says Watermill tutor Mark Warner, is all about producing your own direct and honest response to the landscape. He says: “It is about reacting to what is around you. The light conditions, composition and infusion of colour that you are greeted with.”

And he says, don’t be afraid change the composition to make the painting suit your work. Mark says: “It is ok to change a branch or move a path slightly or even leave out something from the composition. It is about making your painting work for you. You won’t be displaying the work next to the real scene.”

But above all, don’t rush to finish. Enjoy the moment and try to capture the emotions associated with the scene. Mark says: “The painting can be worked on again if you so wish back in the studio or even returning to the location on another day to continue. It can also be left as an important representation of the hours you spent capturing the scene before you.”

Come and capture the essence of the beautiful scenery around the Watermill as we go out to stunning locations to paint with Mark. And if you want to, you can finish your work in the wonderful Watermill studio, overlooking the river, the gardens and the mountains in the background.Jan studio view

Mark is passionate about working outside, tutoring numerous day and residential plein air holidays. His sessions are very popular — and he leads by example, creating a relaxed and encouraging environment.  He says I adore using colour while interpreting the light, weather and a love for the materials. I work directly in the field (literally on many occasions!) from sketches created outside as well as notes/photographs taken on location.”

Sketching is at the heart of Mark’s work: “This is important in the development of a piece and on many occasions, forming an integral part of the painting itself.” He adds: I continue to draw inspiration from the landscape, although subject matter can be broad and at times very different.”Painting by Mark Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Mark at easelPainting by Mark Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.22 to 29 July 2017 Mark Warner

Acrylics/watercolours incorporating conte/pastel.

To learn more about Mark and his course at The Watermill, please click here.

Come and join us  — and savour the magic of Tuscany and The Watermill.Lunigiana Bardellino