Archives for March 2018

Why Italian hotels don’t have a Room 17 (or a 17th floor). Mere heptadecaphobia!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.Have you ever noticed that Italian hotels never have a 17th floor? (Yes, we know, most of them don’t go that high, but when they do, they don’t, if you see what we mean.)

Apparently, Italians dislike the number so much that in some tall hotels the floors go from 16 to 18. And you’ll be pushed to find a Room 17 in many hotels, too. You might call it heptadecaphobia!

The Italian airline Alitalia doesn’t have a row 17 in its planes.

And Friday 17th is the Italian equivalent our Friday 13th: Here’s a picture of sign on a shop door: Oggi Venerdi 17. Chiuso per scaramanzia. ‘Today is Friday 17. Closed for Good Luck.’

There seems to be a number of explanations. First, the number 1, written with that conspicuous continental tick, resembles a hanged man, while 7 looks like a gallows. Then, if you re-arrange 17’s Roman numerals you get VIXI, often engraved on gravestones and meaning ‘My life is over’. So, you’re tempting Death to pay you a visit. (Stick with VIVIT, ‘He’s alive’, which sounds like a fine acronym for living well in Italy.)

While 17 sends shivers down Italian spines, they rather like 13. It’s associated with the old pagan mother goddess Cybele and with lunar cycles and fertility: it will bring you life and prosperity. The Italians think that’s good news, even though 13 sat down to the Last Supper.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.

Ghirlandaio’s last supper in the Ognissanti refectory in Florence

Learn more about life in Italy on our Italian language course this Summer:

Language GiuliaWe’ve teamed up again with the prestigious Florence language school, Langues Services, and tutor Giulia Balestri to design a week in which people can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way ever. There will not only be formal lessons under the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but we’ll also be making trips and excursions to enjoy the natural beauty of Lunigiana, the area surrounding the mill, to explore its history and culture, to sample its traditional foods – and above all, to meet the people, speaking Italian, practising what you’ve learned.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.A couple of comments from last year’s language course: “We would like you to know how much we appreciated our stay with you at Posara. As hosts, you made us feel most welcome; and the combination of language lessons, food and excursions was excellently balanced. We were unaware of the Apuan mountain region – it is spectacularly beautiful. Altogether a unique and delightful experience. With fond memories of your lovely home and very personal hospitality.”

“What an amazing week. Thank you, Bill, Lois and your excellent team. Giulia was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip. Can’t wait to do it all again….”

We’ve 12 people booked in for the week, one a non-participating partner, so we have room for two or three more people. Come and join us!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.Giulia Balestri
30 June to 7 July 2018
Italian language week
To learn more about Giulia and her course at The Watermill, please click here.

Avoid alliteration (always) and shun clichés like the plague (they’re old hat!)

Here are some excellent, but firmly tongue-in-cheek writing tips, courtesy of famous New York Times columnist, the late William Safire. Some are his own, some came from other writers. All, while amusing, are also very true. As well as urging us to avoid alliteration and clichés, Safire also advised:

  • Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  • And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
  • Sentence fragments? Eliminate.
  • Prepositions are not words to end sentences with
  • If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  • Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
  • Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  • Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
  • If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.

Good stuff, and there’ll be plenty more sound, practical advice, too, from Jo Parfitt, during her Write your Life Stories weeks at the Watermill.

Jo’s first week with us, from 22-29 September, is now completely full, so ‘by popular demand’, we’ve opened a second course: Her new Write Your Life Stories week will run from Saturday 18 August to Saturday 25 August 2018.  Come and join us: you won’t regret it! As one student on Jo’s last course here said: “I can honestly say it’s been life changing for me and the setting could not have been more perfect.”

Jo’s creative writing courses are designed to help you produce your best work, to find your true writer’s ‘voice’ and to write authentically.  Jo Parfitt has published more than 30 books herself, has helped more than 100 authors get into print and more than 1,000 people to begin writing. She’s an inspiring, compassionate and encouraging teacher: her motto is ‘sharing what I know to help others to grow’. Jo says: “The course at the watermill will provide a safe haven in which to unlock your creativity, write from your heart and hone your writing craft. It will also help to remove blocks to your writing. Sessions at the mill will empower students to write in a compelling way that makes real experiences come to life.” 

Jo plus pic

Jo Parfitt
Write Your Life Stories

18 August to 25 August 2018 Still some places 

AND 22 to 29 September 2018 Course full 

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

Continuing Bill’s adventures with the Italian language: sopranos and mouthwash

Coloratura or collutorio?
We posted this story in the Watermill’s March newsletter (Click here for all our latest news), but thought it might amuse our Watermill blog audience as well.

Bill’s adventures with the Italian language continue: In the local pharmacy recently he startled the girl behind the counter by asking confidently for coloratura. After looking around vaguely, she asked him to repeat his request. “Vorrei un pò di coloratura,” Bill repeated. The assistant looked around again but could see no sign of a lyrical soprano singer. Bill mimed raising a glass to his lips and gargling. Recognition dawned: “Ah! Collutorio!” Yes, that’s the Italian for mouthwash.

You’ll make no such gaffes if you join us on our Italian language course this Summer!

Language GiuliaWe’ve teamed up again with the prestigious Florence language school, Langues Services, and tutor Giulia Balestri to design a week in which people can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way ever. There will not only be formal lessons under the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but we’ll also be making trips and excursions to enjoy the natural beauty of Lunigiana, the area surrounding the mill, to explore its history and culture, to sample its traditional foods – and above all, to meet the people, speaking Italian, practising what you’ve learned.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.A couple of comments from last year’s language course: “We would like you to know how much we appreciated our stay with you at Posara. As hosts, you made us feel most welcome; and the combination of language lessons, food and excursions was excellently balanced. We were unaware of the Apuan mountain region – it is spectacularly beautiful. Altogether a unique and delightful experience. With fond memories of your lovely home and very personal hospitality.”

“What an amazing week. Thank you, Bill, Lois and your excellent team. Giulia was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip. Can’t wait to do it all again….”

We’ve 12 people booked in for the week, one a non-participating partner, so we have room for two or three more people. Come and join us!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.Giulia Balestri
30 June to 7 July 2018 
Italian language week
To learn more about Giulia and her course at The Watermill, please click here.