The Vasari suite: a self-contained apartment in the restored 17th-centurymill, with an elegant sitting room and views over the Watermill cascades and the river

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

Today we reach the end of our tour of the Watermill bedrooms, with the second of our self-contained apartment suites, The Vasari Suite. As usual, I have made one of those short Facebook slideshows, which you can see by clicking here.

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

Giorgio Vasari, who lived and worked in Florence in the 16th century, was another of those great multitalented Renaissance men: painter, architect and town planner, as well as writer and historian. His most famous for his book, The Lives of the Artists, the first book on art history, in which he lauded Michelangelo as the apotheosis of artistic development.

He painted (with others) the inside of the dome of Florence cathedral, wonderful frescoes in the palazzo vecchio; he built the uffizi and in particular the loggia of the uffizi, creating a unique Renaissance street with unified architecture, the first regularised streetscape in Europe. Oh, and the Vasari corridor, linking above street level the palazzo vecchio with the Pitti place, so his Grand Duke, Cosimo 1 de’ Medici, wouldn’t have to mix with the hoi polloi on his way home.

And he built the Fish Loggia, one of my (many) favourite buildings in Florence.

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

The Vasari Suite at the Watermill has an elegant sitting room and a double bedroom, with views over the mill cascades and the River Rosaro. It is ideal for a couple, or two friends sharing. (We can make a bed in the sitting room for two friends sharing the apartment.)

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

We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and join us and choose your favourite bedroom.

You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

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

The Lippi suite: a self-contained apartment with an elegant sitting room and views over the Riverside gardens and the river

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

Continuing our tour of the Watermill bedrooms we move today to the first of our self-contained apartment suites, the Lippi suite. As usual I have made one of those short Facebook slideshows, which you can see by clicking here.

The suite is named after Filippo Lippi and his son Filipino Lippi, painters in the mid-15th century. Filippo, a monk with a scandalous private life, was a sublime painter and, incidentally, taught Botticelli. Filippo’s Madonna and Child with two Angels (below) is one of my favourite paintings. I particularly love the smile of the angel of the right.

Filippo’s son, Filipino, was, among other things, responsible for some wonderful frescoes depicting the life of St Peter in the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence.

The suite has an elegant sitting room and two bedrooms: a larger double one and a smaller single. There are views over the Riverside gardens the public River Rosaro. It is ideal for a couple, or two friends sharing.

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

We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and join us and choose your favourite bedroom.

You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

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

The Donatello bedroom: cosy and bright and with a terrace with wonderful views over the garden and mountains

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

The Donatello bedroom, appropriately enough, is next to the Brunelleschi, for Donatello was for many years his apprentice and accompanied Brunelleschi on their celebrated trip to Rome, where they rediscovered the secrets of classical architecture and sculpture.

Habakkuk: almost alive

Donatello’s sculptures, in both marble and bronze, were revolutionary, notably his St George for the Orsanmichele in Florence and his irrepressible bronze David, commissioned by Cosimo the Elder. Both can be seen in the Bargello museum and herald the rebirth of classical sculpture. My favourite Donatello sculpture is the grizzled Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, who Donatello nicknamed ‘pumpkin head’ and talked to it as if it were alive while he was carving it.

I have made one of those short Facebook slideshows with pictures of this bedroom, which you can see by clicking here.

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

We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and join us and choose your favourite bedroom.

You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

Not by Donatello, but Rinaldi’s sleeping Chatsworth Lion will keep you company in the Donatello bedroom

The November 2019 Watermill newsletter is just out

You can read all our latest news, and details of our 2020 creative courses by clicking here. https://watermill.net/mill-news/millnews113/millnews113.php

  • There are stories on our newly launched knitting week with Renée Callahan
  • a recipe for gorgonzola soufflés
  • how to catch an Italian thief. (Forget the fatty bacon!)
  • and Italian infants soaking up culture

Eclectic, or what? Happy reading

The November 19 Watermill newsletter is just out

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

You can read all our latest news and details of our 2020 creative courses by clicking here.

  • There are stories on our newly launched knitting week with Renée Callahan
  • a recipe for gorgonzola soufflés
  • how to catch an Italian thief. (Forget the fatty bacon!)
  • and Italian infants soaking up culture

Eclectic, or what? Happy reading

Maybe (just maybe) we will go for a Lavinia Fontana bedroom

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

Lois commented some time back that in the naming of our Watermill bedrooms I’d failed to take account of the contributions of female artists in the Renaissance and Early Modern period in Italy. I succumbed when we created a new guest bedroom a couple of years ago, which we named the Gentileschi, after Artemisia Gentileschi, currently the feminist’s favourite female Florentine.

But I drew the line at Nellie, or to be precise, Plautilla Nelli, an earlier Florentine painter (she was active in the 1500s) “No guest of ours is going to sleep in a Nellie bedroom,” I said.

I have, however, just read a fascinating article on the online Hyperallergic website (https://hyperallergic.com), which might persuade me that any new bedroom we create could be called the Fontana, after Lavinia Fontana. She was Bolognese, not Florentine, as are our other bedroom artists, but I do like her work. That is her lively portrait of the Maselli family, above.

The Hyperallergic article tells me that in the late Renaissance, Bologna boomed with professional women artists, primarily painters. Of the 300 active painters in the city during the 1600s, around 25 were women — more than in any other Italian city. And Lavinia was the most prominent.

Self-portrait in tondo by Lavinia Fontana – Web Gallery of Art

The article says: Lavinia Fontana asked her fiancée to sign an unusual marriage contract before they exchanged rings in 1577. Fontana wouldn’t be providing a dowry, as was customary in her native Italy. Instead, the Bolognese artist committed to financially supporting her husband, as long as they agreed to live under her father’s roof and she could continue painting in her family’s workshop. Her husband agreed. And with good reason: Fontana was a phenomenal success”. 

Lavinia is considered the first professional female artist active in any European city. She competed with male contemporaries on the open art market, and her career helped pave the way for others. You can read more about her by clicking below:

This Self-portrait at the clavichord with a servant is considered her masterpiece:

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

We have no plans at the moment to create a new bedroom, but when we do Fontana’s name will be in the frame! In the meantime, our guests can continue to enjoy the Gentileschi bedroom, along with the Brunelleschi, Donatello, Bronzino, Ghiberti, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Ghirlandaio and Uccello bedrooms, and the Lippi and Vasari suites.

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

A dramatic evening picture from a Watermill guest

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

Rose Diamond, who was on Charles Sluga’s painting week recently, has just sent me this lovely and unusual picture of the Watermill courtyard with a dramatic evening sky behind it. Thank you very much for that, Rose.

Rose also comments: “I want you to know how special it was to experience the Watermill at Posara. Last week was magical on so many levels…magnificent setting, accommodations and meals, day trips, and painting instructor.”

We reckon we are in the happiness business and we are delighted if we can make our guests happy. Come and share the Watermill experience yourself: our 2020 creative courses are filling fast. You can find out more by clicking here.

Exclusively designed knitting projects for you on Renee Callaghan’s week at the mill

Design by Renée Callahan, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

We are delighted to welcome Renée Callahan to the Watermill knitting tutors team! Renée is a prolific knitwear designer from London in England, who loves to combine texture and colour to create hand-knit patterns that are enjoyable to knit and remain wearable for years to come.

Renée studied Fashion Design with Knitwear at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College in London. She has always loved textiles and the technical challenge of knitting: she finds a real joy in producing something both useful and beautiful.

Renée will be with us for another of our famous Knitting and la Bella Vita Italiana weeks, from Saturday 15 August to Saturday, 22 August 2020. And she says: “I am already planning some wonderful exclusive projects for the students, which will give us the opportunity to try out new techniques, such as brioche and slipped stitch patterns.”  

As ever, your knitting week will combine expert tuition, like-minded company, wonderful food, the delightful ambience of the Watermill and outings into the surrounding unspoiled Tuscan countryside of Lunigiana.

We have just announced this new knitting week, and already there has been considerable interest, so if you are interested in coming, now really is the time to book, particularly as we have our Early Bird Discount Offer: If you book before 31 December 2019 there’s a £75 (English pounds) per person discount on this fabulous 2020 knitting holiday. (Everything is included in the cost of your holiday: tuition, accommodation, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation. You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!)

To find out more about Renée and her inspiring week at the Watermill, please click here.

Come and enjoy inspirational knitting and La Bella Vita Italiana next summer!

Design by Renée Callahan, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Natural beauty in the palm of a hand

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

This lively little chap is a member of the Hemidactylus turcicus clan, a Mediterranean house gecko. Ain’t he cute? He looks more like a jewelled brooch than a cold-blooded insect hunter. He’s held in the palm of the hand of our ‘Man Friday’, Nathaniel (‘Nate’) Szekely (who took the picture with his other hand).

Geckos are just part of the fascinating wildlife you can see around the mill buildings and gardens: there are lizards galore and, in the season, amazing hummingbird moths and elegant swallowtail butterflies. And along the river and millstream, damselflies and pond skaters… all part of the abundance of nature in this ecologically protected area.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
An amazing hummingbird moth. Picture by Watermill guest Ron Ploeg.

Come and see for yourself when you join us on one of our sun-filled, fun-filled, caring and inspiring creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. You can find out more details of all our activities by clicking here. Places for 2020 are filling fast so if you’d like enjoy creativity and nature, now really is the time to book, especially as you can take advantage of our Early Bird Discount Offer: £75 (English pounds) off any of our creative courses if you book before the end of this year. But to be sure of the course you want, it is probably wisest to book now.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A swallowtail butterfly, photograph: Lara Breckon
A damselfly beside the millstream. Picture by Trevor Sanderson.

Cultural osmosis in progress?

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

I love this picture of young children tripping through the Uffizi gallery in Florence in their school smocks. I like the idea that they’re surrounded by creativity hundreds of years old and I hope that, by some process of cultural osmosis,the ideas and emotions of the previous centuries seep into their young minds and add beauty and inspiration to their lives.

But, hang the philosophy, ain’t it a great picture? Thanks to The Florentine, Florence’s English-language newspaper for publishing it this week.