Archives for April 2020

“What a sweet thing this perspective is.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Picture: Web Gallery of Art

Continuing our forays into Florentine art and architecture, during our enforced coronavirus incarceration, I invite you today, after our contemplation of the mind-bending cathedral floor and the cathedral clock where time runs backwards, to have a look at old Sir John Hawkwood, a famous 14th century condottiere, leader of a mercenary company in the service of the city, sitting on his horse on the North wall.

Sir John’s portrait is the work of Paolo Uccello and it demonstrates the artist’s obsession with perspective. The idea is to make the flat fresco appear like a three-dimensional sculpture. So the old warrior and his horse are shown in full-frontal perspective, while the plinth is drawn with foreshortening, to make it look correct to the viewer below.

He was a funny old bird, Uccello. For instance, he kept portraits of five prominent Florentines in his house, to remind him of their achievements: Manetti for mathematics, Brunelleschi for architecture, Giotto for painting, Donatello for sculpture and himself, for perspective and animal painting*. He was a pioneer in the use of linear perspective, invented (or re-discovered) by my hero Filippo Brunelleschi.

Uccello was so obsessed with perspective that it affected his married life. His wife said that he stayed up all night in his studio making intricate drawings and when she called for him to come to bed, he would cry out: “Oh what a sweet thing this perspective is!” Mrs Uccello’s further comments are not recorded!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Obsessed with perspective: Uccello’s detailed drawing of a chalice.

*We have named our Watermill bedrooms to remember the achievements of famous artists, too: Uccello, Brunelleschi and Donatello are commemorated here, along with, Botticelli, Bronzino, Fra Angelico, Gentileschi, Ghiberti, Ghirlandaio, Lippi and Vasari. We would love you to come and celebrate artistic genius on one of our creative courses. We’ll be ready for you as soon as you are able to come. A Watermill week will add a fresh perspective to your life!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Look at life from a fresh perspective: the Uccello bedroom.

The swifts are here: a sign of better times?

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

Yes, the rondoni, the swifts, are back in Florence, swooping and shrieking over our rooftops and gardens, harbingers, we hope, of better times ahead.

Actually, they’ve been here for some time, the vanguard arriving a couple weeks ago after their long journey from the south of Africa and the peloton following up some days later. We would have let you know earlier, and to prove our story we’ve been trying to take some pictures, but the creatures move so fast it’s difficult to catch them. The pair above were snapped in Fivizzano, the walled medieval town close to the Watermill, by our intrepid wildlife photographer, our gardener Flavio Terenzoni.

My own paltry efforts, taken yesterday from the front and rear balconies of our apartment in Florence, are shown below. The swifts were there, honestly, but the speed of them outpaced the slowness of my finger on the camera button. If you look very carefully you can just see two of them in front of the cloud in the top of the right-hand picture. It is not going to win the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award!

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

My excuse is that the swift has recently been confirmed, by the Journal of Avian Biology, no less, as the fastest bird recorded in level flight. It can reach 111.6 km/h (69.3 mph) flying horizontally, and even upwards. Other birds, like the peregrine falcon, can reach higher speeds (more than 300 km/h) in a dive, aided by gravity, but the swift is the speediest flying under its own power. And, show-offs that they are, they reach top speed during their mating rituals, known as ‘screaming parties’.

Of course, one swallow (or swift) doesn’t make a summer, but now they are here en masse we hope that they’re heralds of the end of these extraordinarily difficult times and the clouds that lour’d upon our houses will soon become glorious summer.

We are still hoping that we will be able to run some of our creative courses later in the year, but we are monitoring the situation closely and will keep everybody informed of what is going on.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, yoga holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Sunshine on the rose pergola: something to look forward to..

We do hope you will be able to plan ahead for when we are through this difficult time and you are ready for a relaxing and inspiring break away from it all. Please come and join us.

*Please rest assured that if travel restrictions in your own country or in Italy mean that the course cannot run on these dates, or that appropriate flights are not available, we will postpone your course to later in the year or even until 2021. You can find out all about our coronavirus strategy by clicking here.

Below you will first find details of our rearranged inspiring painting courses, followed by information on our creative writing, knitting and Italian language weeks.

** By the way, the Watermill is renowned for its inspiring teaching, its beautiful setting, its delicious food and wine, and its warm and welcoming hospitality. We are also Cool and Green, even in the summer: all the bedrooms and public rooms have air conditioning, powered by our hidden array of photovoltaic panels, harnessing the sun’s energy to makes us self-sufficient in electricity generation. So you will enjoy Tuscan sun and a cool watermill!

Updated 29 April 2020

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

Our inspiring 2020 painting courses


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

Mark Warner
11 – 18 July 2020 – one or two places left
Colourful Acrylics, Drawing, Pen & Wash
To learn more about Mark and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Carl March
18 – 25 July 2020 – three or four places left
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page


Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four places left
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


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

Rebecca de Mendonça
5 – 12 September 2020 – two or three places left
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Maggie Renner Hellman
19–26 September 2020 – a few places left
Oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels
To learn about Maggie’s courses, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Mary Padgett
26 September – 3 October 2020  – one place left
Pastels en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course , please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Milind Mulick
3 – 10 October 2020 –  fully booked, waiting list open
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.



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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Our enriching 2020 writing courses

Jo Parfitt
11– 18 July 2020 – one or two places left
Write the stories of your life
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
8 – 15 August 2020 – two or three places left
Scriptwriting
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please visit their 2020 Profile Page.


Our enticing knitting holidays

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

Knitting Retreat
4 – 11 July 2020 – one or two places left
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about this retreat, please visit our 2020 Retreat Overview Page.


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

Renée Callahan
15 – 22 August 2020 – still a few places
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Renée and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Our elevating Italian course

Langues Service and Francesca La Sala
22 – 29 August 2020 – still a few places
Italian from the Italians
To learn more about Federica and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


We do hope that you will be able to join us, taking a well earned rest from the troubles of the world and enjoying our inspiring teaching, our beautiful setting, our delicious food and wine, and our warm and welcoming hospitality. And be Cool and Green.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Away from it all: the Watermill riverside

Telling the time Italian style: it goes backwards!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Picture: Antonio Quattrone

Continuing my musings on the art and architecture of Florence, in our enforced incarceration during the coronavirus lockdown, I’d like you to turn your head a little from contemplating the marvels of the Cathedral floor (click here to see my piece on this) and have a look at an extraordinary clock on the wall just inside the West doors.

It is still working after the best part of 600 years, but it doesn’t tell the time the way you and I know it. It shows ‘Italian time’ and it goes backwards!

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

The clock face, with pictures of the four evangelists, was painted by the Renaissance master Paolo Uccello in 1443 and the workings were made by Angelo di Niccoló, with later improvements, including a pendulum, by one Galileo Galilei).

There is only one hand, in the shape of a golden shooting star, and the time starts at XXIIII, the Roman 24, and goes backwards, anti-clockwise. The 24 doesn’t represent midnight, but rather sunset, when in the old days there was a curfew: the city gates were closed and no–one was supposed to be on the streets. The bells of the Duomo, timed by the clock, would ring at set intervals before the sun set.

That time, of course, varies throughout the year, so the clock has regularly to be adjusted, to ensure that the last of the daylight coincides with the Roman numeral XXIIII. Then the clock works its way backwards through the hours, arriving again at sunset 24 hours later.

Is it time for a coffee?

Okay, hold onto your hat and I will try to tell you how to tell the time on Uccello’s clockface. If the sun set at 6pm, then by 10am the next day, the hand will be on XXIIII minus XVI, that is, at VIII, showing there’s been 16 hours since sunset the previous night! You need to be a bit of an expert to tell the precise modern time from Uccello’s old clock!

It was in the 1580s that the French started to reorganise time into two 12-hour periods, starting at midnight (midnight to noon are the ‘morning hours’; noon to midnight the ‘evening hours’) but it took the Florentines decades to change to the new system. In the 1660s, however, Uccello’s 24-hour clock face was covered with a new one, showing just 12 hours.

Careful investigation in the 1960s, however, revealed Uccello’s original underneath the new-fangled clock face showing ‘French time’. Now the original is revealed, restored and once more displayed as it should be.

So, if sunset was at 8:20 pm last night and the hour-hand is now in the middle of III does that mean it’s half-past four? Answers on a postcard, please!

Later this week I’d like to return to Pietro Uccello and another of his masterworks on the wall of the Cathedral, and ask the question: Did the invention of perspective ruin his married life?

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

Enjoy painting sunny Tuscany in your own sitting room!

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

How do you fancy painting this sunlit Tuscan café scene in the company of a master watercolourist and inspiring tutor, but without leaving your own sitting room? That’s the enticing offer made by Watermill painting tutor Tim Wilmot.

Tim tells me: “On May 24th I’m doing another live and online painting workshop (two hours) this time based on Fivizzano [the delightful mediaeval town near the Watermill].  The subject is the little square at the top of the town where we all had some lovely ice creams.”  Tim adds: “Wherever you are, join me for this unique paint along.  This will not be a recording.  It is LIVE!”

The source photograph for your painting session is shown above. And here is Tim’s practice painting.

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

This online workshop is suitable for painters of all levels and Tim will go at a slow pace, describing what he’s doing and the techniques he is using. There will be plenty of time for questions. The workshop, in watercolour, is suitable for painters of any level. The cost of the workshop is $7 (US dollars), or about £5 (English pounds) or the equivalent in your own currency you can find out all about it by clicking here.

Tim’s paint-along sounds to me like a wonderful way of passing an engrossing two hours during our enforced coronavirus top-down.

And here’s an even better idea: why not join Tim on his Watermill teaching week this October and paint the real thing as well as enjoying the internationally renowned hospitality of the Watermill, delicious home-cooked Italian food, other stunning locations in the company of like-minded people?

Tim will be back with us for another of his inspiring watercolour courses, from Saturday 3 October to Saturday 10 October. We would love to welcome you here. Here’s one of his paintings of the riverside gardens at the Watermill.

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

Tim Wilmot is an artist from Bristol in the South-west of the UK, specialising in vibrant watercolours, using tone and light to bring out the best in the medium. Tim paints in a loose, impressionistic style.

As well as an exciting artist, Tim is also an inspiring teacher. He demonstrates regularly in England and, has more than 15,000 followers of his demonstrations on YouTube. He loves personal interaction with his students: “There are all sorts of reasons for coming on a painting holiday — it might be to improve your drawing skills, loosen up your style, learn how to incorporate figures in a landscape — and it’s my job to try to find what your personal objectives are and help you achieve them. Oh, and have fun with like-minded people on the way.”

Painting by Tim Wilmot, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A n evocative watercolour by Tim of the interior of one of the old mills.

Some comments from some of Tim’s previous students: “I’m quite impressed with how you transform a dull image into an impressionistic and beautiful study of light and shadow. You’re a great tutor!”  “I really like your loose style.” “Like most, I struggle with too much detail. This will help me to “loosen up”. “I can’t help being inspired by the careful and wonderfully measured strokes of a genius” 


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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  two or three places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.




Grandparents, cousins, aunts — everyone wants to join Mike’s international painting classes

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

Earlier this week we told you about how our  friend and Watermill painting tutor Mike Willdridge has been keeping his (teaching) hand in by running virtual art classes on Zoom for several of  his grandchildren living in Australia, Wales and England, aged between 10 and 4 years old. We showed you a picture of his five-year-old Welsh granddaughter, Evelyn, posing in front of some of her artwork.

That picture proved very popular on Facebook earlier in the week: more than 600 people pushed the Like button. Today is the turn of another granddaughter seven-year-old Joselyn from Australia, who is not just going to be a student, but also a tutor!

Mike says: “My virtual art classes are really taking off. We’ve now been joined by grandparents, cousins and aunts, all keen to share some special time with their younger relations. Tomorrow’s class, in a fascinating twist to these sessions, is being run by my granddaughter in Australia – Joselyn, who is seven years old and is shown with her artwork prepared for her first teaching assignment – scraper board art.

“She even made a video of ‘how to make a scraper board’ for everyone to make their own preparations. My eldest granddaughter (aged 10) in England is planning on running a session on Sunday.

“After each session all the grandkids send me their work – so impressive – and so much fun.”

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

Mike will, all being well, be taking another of his watercolour painting courses at the Watermill this September. Why not join him and be inspired, too? We promise you that you’ll have as much fun as the grandchildren, to say nothing of aunts, cousins and the whole international Willdridge family. (Thanks to them all for sharing their fun with us.)

Mike’s course, in watercolours and drawing (and gouache and acrylics) will run from Saturday 29 August to Saturday 5 September. Details and link below. Why not give yourself something to look forward to and join Mike here? We think things will be back to normal by then, but don’t forget the Watermill’s coronavirus promise:

  • Rest assured that if travel restrictions in your own country or in Italy mean that the course cannot run on these dates, or that appropriate flights are not available, we will postpone your course until 2021.
  • If a workshop is cancelled, rather than just being postponed, we will refund any payment in full.
  • If a workshop is postponed and you cannot make the new dates for the tutor you have chosen, we will offer you alternative courses with others inspiring tutors.
Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A lovely watercolour by Mike Willdridge of the millstream bubbling under one of our gardner Flavio’s famous wooden bridges.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Mike-plus-river.jpg

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four places left
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Below is Mike’s beautiful demonstration painting of the nearby church at Pognana. Come and see for yourself. We would love to welcome you here.

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

Enjoy the spring sunshine at the Watermill – vicariously, just like Lois and Bill!

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

During Lois and Bill’s enforced incarceration in Florence (not such a bad sentence!), our manager Karsten Müller and our gardener Flavio Terenzoni are the only two people fully enjoying the Watermill as everything begins to burgeon in late spring.

But we can least savour them at second hand, thanks to these lovely pictures made by Flavio of the flora and fauna carrying on unperturbed by the human global crisis.

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

Bill has put together another those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows, using these and some other pictures from Flavio, so you too can enjoy the delights of Watermill. .

Nature at the Watermill are getting ready to welcome you…

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

Posted by The Watermill on Friday, 24 April 2020

And who knows, soon you may be able to join us, too. Meanwhile, nature, and Karsten and Flavio will make sure it is all is going to be perfect…

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

Time to look down (virtually) in Florence’s cathedral. A mind-bending experience

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

Continuing my musings, during our enforced coronavirus lockdown, on the artistic and architectural wonders in Florence, I would like to urge you today to look down, rather than up. Not because we are dispirited, but rather to introduce you to something you may have missed even if it is, literally, beneath your feet.

Every time we visit the Duomo, Florence’s Cathedral of Santa Maria Fiore, we want to look around us at the impressively colossal space created by those ancient architects, at the wonderful artefacts around the walls, and then up into the interior of the extraordinary dome created by my hero Filippo Brunelleschi. Work on the dome, incidentally, started 1420, 600 years ago. Its design and construction is one of the most impressive feats of architecture and engineering ever*.

But next time you visit, the moment that you come through the main door into the nave, look down at the floor. The 16th century pavimento, mainly the work of Baccio d’Agnolo and Francesco da Sangallo, is a remarkable achievement in its own right.

The first section of flooring, just inside the main portal is the most extraordinary of all. You will see that the multicoloured marble motifs in the octagonal pavement get smaller until they reach the central point, marked with a medallion inscribed the letters OPA, the ‘logo’ of the Opera del Duomo, the venerable institution in charge of the cathedral works. (Pictures above and below)

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

You can admire the precision of the stonework and the knowledge of mathematics that went into its construction, apparently inspired by the inlays in Turkish carpets, fashionable among the rich in 16th century Florence. But to enjoy the truly remarkable aspect of this floor, you need to fly with me, virtually, high into the nave. Beware of vertigo!

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

Isn’t that an extraordinary? It just shows that being locked down can give you a new perspective on life!

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

Incidentally, I’m told that the image is often enjoyed by those on drugs, since it enhances a heightened spatial awareness. I have no personal knowledge of this, but I hope you enjoyed your trip today.

*Brunelleschi’s dome features a great deal in that intriguing detective story A Matter of Perspective! Please click here to learn more.

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

A breakfast pastel from a Watermill painting guest

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

Watermill guest Shirley Coles, who came on a painting holiday here last year, was inspired by our recent blog about Lunigiana honey, since it reminded her of breakfast time at the Watermill during our creative courses. She tells me: “Today I have just done a small pastel painting based on photo from the Watermill breakfast table last year… didn’t manage to include the honey though!”

It is still a lovely painting, even without the honey. Thank you for sharing it with us Shirley.

And if you would enjoy sharing the Watermill’s beautiful setting,  inspiring teaching, delicious food and wine and warm and welcoming hospitality, to say nothing of the conviviality of a week spent with like-minded fellow guests, we will be delighted if you could join us later in the year or next year. You can find out more details about everything by clicking here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Time for a convivial lunch

Only joking: Florence lockdown conditions eased. But rooftop tennis is true.

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

As you can see from the photograph above, phase 2 of our Florence lockdown has begun, with permission for certain activities. Please note that social distancing is still required. Only joking!

But this is true. Two young girl playing tennis across the roof tops in Liguria. Click here to see the video. I just love human ingenuity

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

At the Watermill we won’t be playing tennis across the courtyard rooftops, nor mountain-biking through the bamboozery, but when all this is over we are looking forward to welcoming our guests here again to enjoy our inspiring teaching, beautiful setting, delicious food and wine and warm and welcoming hospitality, to say nothing of the conviviality of a week spent with like-minded fellow guests. Non vedo l’ora, as Italians say, we can’t wait for the time!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy
Not a mountain bike or a tennis ball in sight!

These pictures are the bee’s knees – and so’s the honey!

These pictures are the bee’s knees – and so’s the honey!

Our gardener Flavio Terenzoni pops into the Watermill from time to time, just to ensure everything is okay. And when he does, he takes some pictures and sends them to Florence, where we are locked down. We’ve already shown you some pictures of the spring flowers, buds and blossoms, but Flavio has also been turning his camera on the bees, who are already busy gathering the nectar to make this year’s honey:

These pictures are the bee’s knees – and so’s the honey!

Here’s another one Flavio took some time back, amongst the vibrant colour of an artichoke flower

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

Over the years, our Watermill guests, too, have taken some marvellous pictures the bees at work. Here is one by Ron Ploeg;

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

And another, in a passion flower:

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

As you may know, honey from Lunigiana, the unspoiled part of Tuscany in which the Watermill is located, is the only one in Italy to have been given the coveted DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) designation. Other products so defined include Parma ham and Parmesan cheese and the balsamic vinegar of Modena.

Beekeepers here still keep to the centuries-old traditions to ensure the quality of the honey. The earliest records of honey-making go back to the early 16th Century (when the authorities realised they could tax the product!) and, amazingly, if you compare the locations of beehives on ancient maps with those on a modern one you can see that the hives today are in almost precisely the same areas as they were five centuries ago.

Two types of honey are made in Lunigiana: the lighter-coloured, delicately flavoured acacia honey and the darker, more strongly flavoured chestnut honey. We use both at the watermill, but we think the acacia is better with an amuse guele we serve with aperitivi on the vine verandah.

When we’re feeling posh we call it Foglie di indivia (cicoria) farcite con gorgonzola (dolce), noci e miele di Lunigiana (Denominazione di Origine Protetta). It is simple to prepare (taking only a little more time than actually saying the name) and is just individual crispy chicory leaves with sweet gorgonzola and walnuts, drizzled Lunigiana acacia honey. It’s the bee’s knees!