Archives for November 2020

Another sighting of our Japanese nightingale

Here’s another fine picture of that beautifully coloured visitor to the Watermill walled garden. It’s what the Italians call an Usignolo del giappone, a Japanese nightingale. A bit of a misnomer really, because these birds are native to southern China and the Himalayas, although there’s been a small population in Japan since the 1980s. The species, technically Leiothrix lutea, was also introduced into Italy and there are major populations in Tuscany and Liguria.

I am told that the bird is normally quite secretive and difficult to see, but this guy found our persimmons irresistible. The golden orbs of the fruit and the bird’s plumage made a colourful subject for our gardener Flavio Terenzoni. The picture above is a still from Flavio’s short video, which you can see by clicking here.

So, as well as our inspiring teaching, our beautiful setting, our delicious food and wine, and our warm and welcoming hospitality, you will also enjoy communing with nature during your creative course at the Watermill.

We like to keep you up-to-date every weekend with the availability of our 2021 creative courses. They are booking fast: we have more than 215 bookings for next year out of a theoretical total of some 250/260. So why not beat the coronavirus blues and book your place and enjoy pleasant anticipation during the winter months? Below is the latest availability of all our creative courses for 2021.

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

Our inspiring painting weeks

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

Keiko Tanabe Places available

Saturday 17 April to Saturday 24 April 2021 

Watercolours 

To learn more about Keiko and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mary Padgett Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 1 May to Saturday 8 May 2021 

Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air

To learn more about Mary and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Carl March  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 15 May to Saturday 22 May 2021 

Drawing and watercolours en plein air

To learn more about Carl and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Grahame Booth  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 22 May to Saturday 29 May 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Grahame and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (1)  One or two places remaining

Saturday 5 June to Saturday 12 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (2)  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 12 June to Saturday 19 June 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Paul Talbot-Greaves Places available

Saturday 19 June to Saturday 26 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Paul and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Rebecca de Mendonça  Three or four places remaining

Saturday 26 June to Saturday 3 July 2021 

Pastels and mixed media

To learn more about Rebecca and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Vicki Norman  One or two places remaining

Saturday 3 July to Saturday 10 July 2021 

Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)

To learn more about Vicki and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sue Ford Places available

Saturday 10 July to Saturday 17 July 2021 

Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

To learn more about Sue and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Caroline Deeble Places available

Saturday 7 August to Saturday 14 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Caroline and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Randy Hale Places available

Saturday 21 August to Saturday 28 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Randy and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mike Willdridge  Recently opened, places available

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics.)

  To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Mike Willdridge One place available

Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Milind Mulick  Places available

Saturday 11 September to Saturday 18 September 2021 

‘Colourful Watercolours’

 To learn more about Milind and his week at the Watermill please click here.

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

Brienne Brown one or two places remaining

Saturday 18 September to Saturday 25 September 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Brienne and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

Charles Sluga  Places available

Saturday 25 September to Saturday 2 October 2021 

Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Charles and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Tim Wilmot One or two places remaining

Saturday 2 October to Saturday 9 October 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Tim and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Ali Hargreaves, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Ali Hargreaves Two places available

Saturday 9 October to Saturday 16 October 2021 

Watercolour and mixed media

To learn more about Ali and her week at the Watermill, please please click here.


Our elevating knitting weeks

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

Norah Gaughan Places available

24 April – 1 May 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Norah and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Louisa Harding Fully booked, waiting list open

29 May – 5 June 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Louisa and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Knitting retreat Three or flour places remaining

17-24 July 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about our knitting retreat week at the mill, please click here.


Our illuminating creative writing weeks

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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran Places available

8 -15 May 2021

Scriptwriting

To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please click here.

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

Jo Parfitt Two or three places remaining

14 -21 August 2021

Writing your life stories

To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please click here.


Our impassioned Italian week

Francesca La Sala Two or three places remaining

16-23 October 2021

A novel approach to learning Italian

To learn more about Francesca an her course at the mill, please click here.



Ready for the off

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

Good morning from virtual Italy! And a warm welcome to Pisa to the 120 people signed up for our unique, online, interactive ‘virtual’ Watermill painting week. We are looking forward to a fun time with an international group of painters.

Our group will be arriving this afternoon and we are going to be sketching and painting around this charming statue in the Piazza dei Miracoli, in which you will find the cathedral, the baptistery and the Leaning Tower.

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

It is probably now a little late to commit to joining our guests for the seven daily sessions, painting along with Mike Willdridge at the Watermill and beautiful locations in the local area. (But if you are keen to do so, please contact us personally at info@watermill.net and we’ll welcome you to the party.)

Perhaps, instead you’d like to join our next online session, with the exciting American watercolourist Randy Hale, whose Whistle Stop railway siding is just waiting for you to paint it.

You can find out all about Randy’s session, which takes place on Thursday 10 December, by clicking here. We’d love you to join us!

Meanwhile, we will keep you posted of progress at Posara on our ‘virtual week’. Have a good weekend – and happy painting!

Why our Italian roast pork is all Greek to me

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

Our friend Freya Middleton, who runs the best tour agency in Florence (see http://www.freyasflorence.com/), recently published a blog about the wonderful Tuscan roast pork called arista, a classic Italian dish we serve at the Watermill.

It reminded me of my own research into the history of this tasty dish, particularly in the pages of Pellegrino Artusi’s famous classical Italian cookbook, L’arte di mangiar bene. Why call it arista?.  It would seem to make more sense to call for this arrosto (roast) or even arrostito (roasted).

But Pellegrino says: “During the [Church] Council of 1430, convened in Florence to resolve some difference between the Roman and Greek churches, this dish, known by another name at the time, was served up to the bishops and their entourage. When they found it was to their liking they began to cry ‘arista, arista’ (good, good).”

Actually, if the Byzantine bishops were speaking Greek, they would have said aristos, which means excellent or optimal, from which we get aristocracy, ‘the rule of the best.’  No matter, the Italians, thinking the Greeks were describing the dish, heard it as arista and continue to call it so to this day.  There are those who question this story and say the Florentines called the dish arista well before the ecumenical council, but I like Pellegrino’s story better.

We use tender pork loin to produce this dish every week for our creative courses. Come and try it for yourself. We think you’ll find it aristos.

Incidentally, we are thinking of producing a series of online videos presenting some of the Watermill’s favourite recipes. Is this something in which you would be interested? If so, please let us know, by commenting this blog. Thank you.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A montage of mouthwatering Watermill dishes. Picture: Pam Smart
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

An exotic visitor enjoys our golden fruits. Surround yourself with nature on a Watermill creative course

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

You may recollect that a couple of weeks ago we told you about the harvest of our cacchi, persimmons, golden orbs of delicious fruit. Lois picked 100 or so of them, which we’ve enjoyed for breakfast and given to our friends here in Florence, to brighten their locked-down days.

We are not the only ones to savour the cacchi: numerous birds have enjoyed the high-grown fruits beyond our picking reach, most commonly sparrows and black caps. But our most exotic visitor has been a usignolo giapponese, a Japanese nightingale, seen above. Our gardener, Flavio Terenzoni, captured his/her visit (you see how good my ornithological knowledges!) on a short video, which you can watch by clicking here.

As we have no doubt mentioned before, The Watermill is surrounded by two environmentally protected areas: The National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, the backbone of Italy, and the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps, home of the marble mountains of Carrara. The air and the water are pure and unpolluted, and the area abounds in wildlife. With his night-vision camera, Flavio has recently videoed a large stag, porcupines and a fox going about their nocturnal activities, which were the subject of previous blogs.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A swallowtail butterfly at the Watermill, photograph: Lara Breckon

As well as this mammalian wildlife (there are badgers and wild boar, too) we have a plethora of birds, which make the springtime dawn chorus quite noisy, and many species of butterflies and bees. I particularly like the swallowtail butterflies and am intrigued by the hummingbird moths, which can actually fly backwards.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A hummingbird moth in the Watermill courtyard. Picture: Ron Ploeg

As for the Japanese nightingale, I must confess I know little about it, so if anyone’s got any information, please tell us more.

So, as well as our inspiring teaching, our beautiful setting, our delicious food and wine, and our warm and welcoming hospitality, you will also enjoy communing with nature during your creative course at the Watermill.

Our 2021 courses are booking fast: we have more than 215 bookings for next year out of a theoretical total of some 250/260. So why not beat the coronavirus blues and book your place and enjoy pleasant anticipation during the winter months? Below is the latest availability of all our creative courses for 2021.

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

Our inspiring painting weeks

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

Keiko Tanabe Places available

Saturday 17 April to Saturday 24 April 2021 

Watercolours 

To learn more about Keiko and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mary Padgett Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 1 May to Saturday 8 May 2021 

Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air

To learn more about Mary and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Carl March  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 15 May to Saturday 22 May 2021 

Drawing and watercolours en plein air

To learn more about Carl and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Grahame Booth  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 22 May to Saturday 29 May 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Grahame and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (1)  One or two places remaining

Saturday 5 June to Saturday 12 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (2)  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 12 June to Saturday 19 June 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Paul Talbot-Greaves Places available

Saturday 19 June to Saturday 26 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Paul and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Rebecca de Mendonça  Three or four places remaining

Saturday 26 June to Saturday 3 July 2021 

Pastels and mixed media

To learn more about Rebecca and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Vicki Norman  One or two places remaining

Saturday 3 July to Saturday 10 July 2021 

Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)

To learn more about Vicki and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sue Ford Places available

Saturday 10 July to Saturday 17 July 2021 

Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

To learn more about Sue and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Caroline Deeble Places available

Saturday 7 August to Saturday 14 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Caroline and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Randy Hale Places available

Saturday 21 August to Saturday 28 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Randy and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mike Willdridge  Recently opened, places available

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics.)

  To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Mike Willdridge One place available

Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Milind Mulick  Places available

Saturday 11 September to Saturday 18 September 2021 

‘Colourful Watercolours’

 To learn more about Milind and his week at the Watermill please click here.

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

Brienne Brown one or two places remaining

Saturday 18 September to Saturday 25 September 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Brienne and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

Charles Sluga  Places available

Saturday 25 September to Saturday 2 October 2021 

Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Charles and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Tim Wilmot One or two places remaining

Saturday 2 October to Saturday 9 October 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Tim and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Ali Hargreaves, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Ali Hargreaves Two places available

Saturday 9 October to Saturday 16 October 2021 

Watercolour and mixed media

To learn more about Ali and her week at the Watermill, please please click here.


Our elevating knitting weeks

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

Norah Gaughan Places available

24 April – 1 May 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Norah and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Louisa Harding Fully booked, waiting list open

29 May – 5 June 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Louisa and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Knitting retreat Three or flour places remaining

17-24 July 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about our knitting retreat week at the mill, please click here.


Our illuminating creative writing weeks

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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran Places available

8 -15 May 2021

Scriptwriting

To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please click here.

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

Jo Parfitt Two or three places remaining

14 -21 August 2021

Writing your life stories

To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please click here.


Our impassioned Italian week

Francesca La Sala Two or three places remaining

16-23 October 2021

A novel approach to learning Italian

To learn more about Francesca an her course at the mill, please click here.



View Post

A new winter guest in the Watermill garden

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

Our Watermill gardener Flavio Terenzoni has just sent me an email with the title ospite in giardino, guest in garden, with the charming picture above. He tells me he was doing the winter tidying and cutting yesterday, when he discovered an old bird’s nest with this little chap inside. He’s a riccio in letargo, a hibernating hedgehog. Flavio has tucked him in again. Sleep well young man!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The Watermill walled garden: A magical place for a nice long snooze.

Celebrating an annual event that is thousands of years old

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

In these difficult times, it is pleasant to note that the natural world continues in its seasonal rhythms, oblivious to our human affairs. Here in Tuscany we are effectively locked down again and Lois and I are in our apartment in Florence. But, until last week, when we could move freely from here the Watermill at Posara, Lois has been helping out friends with the olive harvest.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Part of Vivienne and Nick’s olive grove.

There’s something magical about olives, not just the colour of the trees, shifting as the wind exposes the underside of the leaves; nor that the older trees, some of which have been around for hundreds of years, are gnarled sentinels of time. But the annual harvest is also a signal that, whatever our troubles, the world will go on. It’s November, the olives must be picked, and the local frantoio, the olive press, is busy producing the magical green liquid with which we will flavour our food and enhance our cooking in the coming year.

The oil we use at the Watermill comes from our friends Vivienne and Nick White who live in a wonderful house up the hill from us. Usually other friends of theirs from the UK come to help with the harvest, but travel restrictions and quarantine have ruled that out this year. So, for a couple of weekends, until we, too, were cabined, cribbed and confined, Lois has contributed another pair of picking hands. (As my medical condition precludes picking, I’ve been in charge of lunch: freshly made panini from the pasticceria, stuffed with mozzarella and tomato, a melange of ice creams from the gelateria.)

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

It is not really possible to mechanise olive-picking, so the techniques have been largely unchanged for millennia. The lower berries are picked by hand; the upper ones shaken from the trees and gathered from the nets carefully arranged beneath them. Lois says: “It’s hard work, but it is wonderful to be out in the fresh air all day and to be taking part in something that has been going on for thousands of years. It is a real privilege.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The fruits of the day’s labour: Vivienne and Nick bring home the olives, ready for the frantoio. Picture: Lois Breckon

Nick reckons it’s going to be a good year for the oil, and we’ve got 60 litres on order for the Watermill and our guests. Come and try it for yourself. (Oh, and we will give you panini and ice cream on Tuesdays when we go to the weekly market at a nearby walled mediaeval town.) We can’t pretend to have a tradition as old as olive picking, but the Watermill is already establishing its own reputation for inspirational courses, mouthwatering food, warm hospitality and the convivial company of like-minded people. To say nothing of the olive oil…

Here is the latest update on availability for all our creative courses next year.

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

The Watermill’s world-renowned creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language – are filling up. We already have some 210 reservations for next year’s courses, out of a potential maximum of some 260 or so places.

So, as we never tire of saying, now really is the time to reserve your place on one of our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring weeks next year. Cast off the coronavirus blues and give yourself months of warm anticipation of a week at the Watermill in 2021. (And don’t forget, just in case it’s not all over, we have a generous coronavirus cancellation scheme, which you can see by clicking here.)

Here is the latest availability on all our creative courses. Book now to avoid disappointment!

Our inspiring painting weeks

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

Keiko Tanabe Places available

Saturday 17 April to Saturday 24 April 2021 

Watercolours 

To learn more about Keiko and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mary Padgett Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 1 May to Saturday 8 May 2021 

Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air

To learn more about Mary and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Carl March  One or two places remaining

Saturday 15 May to Saturday 22 May 2021 

Drawing and watercolours en plein air

To learn more about Carl and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Grahame Booth  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 22 May to Saturday 29 May 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Grahame and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (1)  One or two places remaining

Saturday 5 June to Saturday 12 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (2) Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 12 June to Saturday 19 June 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Paul Talbot-Greaves Places available

Saturday 19 June to Saturday 26 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Paul and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Rebecca de Mendonça  Three or four places remaining

Saturday 26 June to Saturday 3 July 2021 

Pastels and mixed media

To learn more about Rebecca and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Vicki Norman  One or two places remaining

Saturday 3 July to Saturday 10 July 2021 

Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)

To learn more about Vicki and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sue Ford Places available

Saturday 10 July to Saturday 17 July 2021 

Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

To learn more about Sue and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Caroline Deeble Places available

Saturday 7 August to Saturday 14 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Caroline and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Randy Hale Places available

Saturday 21 August to Saturday 28 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Randy and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mike Willdridge  Just opened, places available

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics.)

  To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Mike Willdridge Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Milind Mulick  Places available

Saturday 11 September to Saturday 18 September 2021 

‘Colourful Watercolours’

 To learn more about Milind and his week at the Watermill please click here.

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

Brienne Brown one or two places remaining

Saturday 18 September to Saturday 25 September 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Brienne and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

Charles Sluga  Places available

Saturday 25 September to Saturday 2 October 2021 

Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Charles and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Tim Wilmot One or two places remaining

Saturday 2 October to Saturday 9 October 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Tim and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Ali Hargreaves, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Ali Hargreaves Two places available

Saturday 9 October to Saturday 16 October 2021 

Watercolour and mixed media

To learn more about Ali and her week at the Watermill, please please click here.


Our elevating knitting weeks

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

Norah Gaughan Places available

24 April – 1 May 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Norah and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Louisa Harding Fully booked, waiting list open

29 May – 5 June 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Louisa and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Knitting retreat Three or flour places remaining

17-24 July 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about our knitting retreat week at the mill, please click here.


Our illuminating creative writing weeks

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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran Places available

8 -15 May 2021

Scriptwriting

To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please click here.

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

Jo Parfitt Three or four places remaining

14 -21 August 2021

Writing your life stories

To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please click here.


Our impassioned Italian week

Francesca La Sala Three or four places remaining

16-23 October 2021

A novel approach to learning Italian

To learn more about Francesca an her course at the mill, please click here.



Italian cooking, Watermill style. Do you like the idea? Let us know!

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

Over the years we have welcomed thousands of guests here for our renowned creative courses, where they have enjoyed the tranquil and spectacular setting of this part of rural Tuscany, inspirational teaching, warm hospitality and the convivial company of like-minded people.

But whether they are here to learn more about painting, creative writing, knitting or the Italian language, they are almost universal in their praise for the Watermill food. Almost every week, somebody says: “You ought to write a cookbook!”

We have been toying with the idea for some time, but we think that probably the way to proceed is to do something online  — and to that end we have been making some little videos about some of our speciality dishes, which, in the fullness of time, we may well work up into online Watermill cookery sessions. Watch this space!

The theme we are developing is called Italian cooking, Watermill style and Lois is not only planning to present our own recipes, but also on those of our friends and neighbours who add a local flavour to our culinary offerings. Just to whet your appetite (please excuse the pun) just click here for one of those videos.

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

If you been to the Watermill you know that every evening when we serve aperitivi on the vine verandah we prepare a small stuzzichino, an appetiser, to go with them. One of them is focaccette (above).

Focaccia is a flat, oven-baked bread containing olive oil, typically associated with Ligurian cuisine, but which is very popular in our part of Tuscany too. It is often used for sandwiches, stuffed with mozzarella cheese and tomato, or with a ham and cheese filling. Focaccette is the diminutive plural, and we serve these tasty ‘scones’ with your aperitivi one evening accompanied by local cheeses, hams or salami.

The focaccette are prepared by Kaoutar Okbani, originally from Morocco but now living in nearby Fivizzano, who works with us during the summer months, helping to look after our guests on creative courses. Lois watched her at work and made a little video, which you can see by clicking here.

As I said, we are working on the concept of creating a series of weekly interactive Internet sessions, presenting some of our favourite recipes from our Watermill creative weeks. Is this something that might interest you? If so, please let us know by leaving a comment. It will spur us to further action.

In the meantime, why not try Kaoutar’s focaccette with some cheese or ham – and, of course, an aperitivo glass of prosecco. Salute!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Capturing the flavour of autumn in the Watermill: bresaola with Parmesan shavings, home-grown tomatoes, chestnuts and prosecco.

A golden harvest at Posara

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

At this time of year, the colours of Italian countryside are gorgeous: yellows, oranges, reds and browns, as the leaves turn and begin to fall. And a spectacular contribution to this autumnal splendour is a fruit tree that the Italians call cacchi, and the English, persimmon. Not only are its leaves beautifully coloured, but its fruits are magnificent golden orbs, an imposing sight in many a back garden.

We have a persimmon tree in the Watermill walled garden and we have to confess that we grew it mainly for its looks rather than to eat the fruits. We tried them once a few years ago and found them rather sour and bitter. Last week, however, at lunch with Italian friends in Florence, we were persuaded to try them again – and they were delicious, very sweet and not bitter at all. The secret, other friends told us, is not to eat them until they are fully ripe, when the bitter-tasting tannins have faded away. We should also, we were told, pick them before the frosts arrive and let them ripen on their own in a secluded spot.

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

So yesterday Lois picked a couple of bucketsful of them – and there they are above, ripening in the Watermill courtyard. We are looking forward to eating them soon, taking them to Florence to share them with our friends there. (They are easy to eat: you just slice the top off and scoop out the sweet orange contents with a teaspoon.)

While the golden orbs of the cacchi are wondrous to behold, I also think that the fallen leaves are aesthetically pleasing, so as Lois picked, I couldn’t help but snap the multicoloured carpet beneath my feet.

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

Oh, and I also couldn’t resist taking a picture of one of last of our last summer roses, still bravely blooming.

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

Day Three of your interactive ‘virtual’ Watermill painting week with Mike: The spectacular Medieval castle of Verrucola

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

Welcome to the third of our blogs to whet your appetite for, and hopefully persuade you to join us on, Mike Willdridge’s exciting ‘virtual’ online painting week at the Watermill. Yes, every day from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December 2020 inclusive we’ll be offering you the opportunity of painting along with Mike, scenes from the spectacular locations we visited during our world-famous Watermill painting weeks. There are more details below. We would love you to join us

On Mondays, we go to Verrucola (above), an ancient village huddled around an imposing castle. The castle was first documented as long ago as 1044, a couple of decades before the Battle of Hastings, but there has undoubtedly been a stronghold in this strategic spot much longer, and there are Roman traces at the base of the castle walls.

Painting by Rebecca de Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Plenty of inspiring subjects to paint.

In the 13th and 14th Centuries the castle was the family seat of the Malaspina family, who controlled much of the area. The Malaspina lands in the mountainous regions of the Apennines gave them control of (and tolls from) the highways linking the Ligurian and Tuscan ports to the cities of North Italy, making them rich and powerful. Verrucola commanded the road to and from the pass of Cerreto through the Apennines. It was here in the 14th Century that the Malaspina Marquis Spinetta the Great dreamed of conquering and unifying all the Lunigiana, an ambition ultimately dashed in a bloody battle with Castruccio Castracani, Lord of Lucca.

There are many theories about the origin of the name Malaspina, which means ‘bad thorn’. The most compelling concerns the young noble Accino Marzio who in 540 AD avenged the death of his father by slashing with a thorn the throat of the sleeping Teodoboerto, King of the Franks. The dying king cried; “Ah Mala spina” before expiring. The family motto is Sum bona spina malis sum mala spina bonis, which sort of means I am a good bad thorn; I am a bad good thorn, which, as mottoes go leaves a little to be desired.

In recent times the castle was restored by the celebrated Italian sculptor Pietro Cascella, who lived there until his death in 2008. He created the beautiful fountain at the end of the Medieval bridge, a favourite subject for painting.

Painting by Trevor Lingard, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A watercolour of the Cascella Fountain, Verrucola, by Trevor Lingard

We paint in around the village on Monday mornings, before a delicious Italian lunch in the Locanda al Castello, a traditional trattoria, where we enjoy sensational spaghetti al pomodoro, a Roman beef stew accompanied by potatoes roasted in the oven and fava bean purée, speciality of the house made with crushed green fava beans mixed with butter and pecorino cheese.

I have made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows of all our stunning locations, which you can see by clicking here.

We are sorry you can’t be there in person at the moment, but Mike’s ‘virtual’ online painting week is almost as good as the real thing. We’ll even give you recipes so you can cook for yourself some of the great dishes prepared each week by Lois Breckon and the Watermill Italian cooks.

Here are some details about the online painting week:

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

Every day, for a couple of hours, you will paint along with inspiring tutor Mike Willdridge, painting beautiful scenes at the Watermill and nearby. As well as your visit to the castle of Verrucola you will be painting around the mill itself, sketching on market day in a walled mediaeval town, ‘visiting’ one of the famous villages of the Cinque Terre, relaxing in the cloisters of a quiet convent and a taking in the spectacular views as a as a hilltop village with imposing mountains in the background.

You’ll enjoy daily interactive sessions on Zoom. Full of fun, it’s just like an international painting club where you can enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people. You will paint along with Mike every day from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December 2020 inclusive. Each session will last a couple of hours or so. It’s the next best thing to being here and it will bring Italian sunshine and memories of la Bella Vita to brighten your days. And don’t be daunted, as well as being fun, Mike’s virtual week is very much a ‘mini course in watercolour painting. He says: “I have laid it out to assist the beginner: we start easy and progress through the week and each day is related to the others, so it will benefit both the beginner and those with more experience.”

he Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A montage of mouthwatering Watermill dishes. Picture: Pam Smart

To help give you the real flavour of a Watermill painting week, as well as those live daily paint-along sessions, you will also receive mouth-watering Watermill recipes, for you to try out at home. After each painting session there will be an exclusive video of Mike’s demonstration to refresh your memory.

There will also be a daily gallery where you can post your paintings and admire the efforts of your fellow participants paintings. and you’ll even have a chance to win one of Mike’s outstanding paintings.

*Because of all the work involved, we are going to have to make a small charge for this course, but we think it’s very reasonable: just £70 (GB pounds) for all seven sessions. (This is a block booking, but if you can’t make one of the sessions, you will still be able to catch up with access to the video, and still be able to see the Gallery and have a chance to win one of Mike’s paintings.) Please register using the watermill contact form, asking for ‘week’s online courses: Mike Willdridge 28 Nov-Dec’. We would love you to sign up and join us.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Painters in the Watermill walled garden. Picture: Francesco Lastrucci

Day Two of your interactive ‘virtual’ Watermill painting week with Mike: in and around the Watermill

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The Watermill courtyard and gardens: waiting to welcome you.

In a major new initiative, we have set up an exciting ‘virtual’ online painting week at the Watermill. Every day of the week, for a couple of hours, you will be able to paint along with inspiring tutor Mike Willdridge, capturing with pencil and brush beautiful scenes at the Watermill and nearby. As well as painting in and around the Watermill, you will ‘visit’ an imposing castle, market day in a walled mediaeval town, a nearby fishing village, the cloisters of a quiet convent and a hilltop village with imposing mountains in the background.

You’ll enjoy daily interactive sessions on Zoom. Full of fun, it’s just like an international painting club where you can enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people. You will paint along with Mike every day from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December 2020 inclusive. Each session will last a couple of hours or so. It’s the next best thing to being here and it will bring Italian sunshine and memories of la Bella Vita to brighten your days. And don’t be daunted, as well as being fun, Mike’s virtual week is very much a ‘mini course in watercolour painting. He says: “I have laid out to assist the beginner: we start easy and progress through the week and each day is related to the others, so it will benefit both the beginner and those with more experience.”

he Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A montage of mouthwatering Watermill dishes. Picture: Pam Smart

To help give you the real flavour of a Watermill painting week, as well as those live daily paint-along sessions, you will also receive mouth-watering Watermill recipes, for you to try out at home. After each painting session there will be an exclusive video of Mike’s demonstration to refresh your memory.

There will also be a daily gallery where you can post your paintings and admire the efforts of your fellow participants paintings. and you’ll even have a chance to win one of Mike’s outstanding paintings.

*Because of all the work involved, we are going to have to make a small charge for this course, but we think it’s very reasonable: just £70 (GB pounds) for all seven sessions. (This is a block booking, but if you can’t make one of the sessions, you will still be able to catch up with access to the video, and still be able to see the Gallery and have a chance to win one of Mike’s paintings.) Please register using the watermill contact form, asking for the ‘virtual week at the watermill’. We would love you to sign up and join us.

On Day Two, Sunday, we are going to be painting in and around the Watermill, so we thought it would be instructive to tell you a little something about the place.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, yoga holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Painting under the rose pergola

Secluded gardens, sunny terraces, a shady vine verandah for evening aperitivi, riverside and millstream walks… just some of the charms of The Watermill at Posara in Tuscany, Italy. We specialise in relaxing, inspiring, fun-filled painting holidays, creative writing workshops, knitting holidays and Italian language courses.

The Watermill is surrounded by two environmentally protected areas: the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, 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 Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Picture; Lara Breckon

The buildings, dating from the 17th Century, have been sensitively restored to incorporate modern facilities while preserving their historic character. You can read all about the history of the Watermill by clicking here.

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

All the bedrooms and apartment suites enjoy lovely views over the river, the gardens or the mountains. All have modern en suite bathrooms. There are original artworks everywhere. You can see pictures of the rooms by clicking here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy. Picture: Francesco Lastrucci
The Gentileschi bedroom and en suite bathroom

The Watermill is also Cool and Green. All the bedrooms and public rooms have air conditioning, provided by the sun’s energy! Our solar-powered photovoltaic panels make us self-sufficient in electricity generation. To learn more, please click here.

Our delicious food is made with fresh ingredients, locally sourced wherever possible, and prepared by Lois and our skilled Italian cooks.

To find out more about all our renowned painting courses, please click here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.
A classical vision in the Walled Garden.

PS: I have made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows of all the stunning locations on our virtual week, which you can see by clicking here.