The December Watermill newsletter is just out…

… with lots of activity and fun: more online painting sessions for your diary, a bite-size Italian recipe, and cheeky new meanings for old words!

Read all about it by clicking here.

I’m in the newsletter too!

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.



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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

Are you imbottito? The Italians are in the autumn, whatever the weather

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

It’s a curious phenomenon, but every year, whatever the weather, round about the middle of October the Italians start wearing their winter clothes. It’s the cambio di stagione, the change of the season: summer clothes are banished to the wardrobe to be replaced by warmer winter outfits. And these are worn even though the weather may be sunny and mild. The official arrival of autumn means a complete cambio dell’armadio (wardrobe change).

When someone is particularly well wrapped up against the cold, we say they are imbottito.Our friends at the English-language Italian newspaper The Local, who recently made imbottito their Word of the Day, say: “It might not be the most obvious adjective to use, as it comes from the verb imbottire, similar to riempire, it means to ‘stuff’, ‘pad’ or ‘fill’ something – like a cushion, or a sandwich. “It comes from the word for barrel: una botte – imagine a fat, wooden barrel filled to bursting.”

The Local asks: “So how can this possibly be the right word to describe someone being very warmly dressed? In English, we’d hardly say someone was ‘stuffed with’ or ‘packed full of’ clothes.” But that’s exactly how it can be used in Italian: Mi sono imbottito di abiti prima di uscire’  I wrapped up well before going out.

The newspaper adds: “There is after all a reason for the snug seasonal outfits: the dreaded colpo d’aria, a ‘chill’ which, as nonna will remind you, you could easily catch if you go outside, or sit inside next to a window, without being adequately imbottito. So, if someone tells you: Imbottirsi per bene, they’re not telling you to ‘stuff yourself’, but to ‘wrap yourself up well.’”

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

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.

Our November newsletter is just out, brim-full of news about the Watermill

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

The big news this month is 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, painting beautiful scenes at the Watermill and nearby. We think it will be almost as good as the real thing.

We think it will be a perfect way to beat the coronavirus blues, enjoying painting sessions to brush up your technique in the online convivial company of like-minded people. We are expecting a lot of interest in this new initiative, so if you would like to join us, please register as soon as you can. Find out more about our online sessions: our Courses Online Page – here.

In this month’s newsletter we also:

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy
  • show you some prickly night-time visitors to the Watermill
  • introduce more of our talented and inspiring tutors for 2021
  • tell you about the virtual ‘Evening in Posara’, painting in pastels with Rebecca de Mendonça
  • show you around the Bronzino bedroom and contemplate his glittering portraits
  • reflect on how knitting is good for your health
  • condemn erudite vernacular utilised irrespective of necessity (!)
  • celebrate a cheery Italian word, magari
  • give you all the latest availability of all our creative courses.

Happy reading!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy
Knitting on a cloud. Picture: New York Times

Our largest night-time visitor yet

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

Here is the largest night-time visitor we have spotted yet. Or rather, Flavio Terenzoni has captured him using one of those nocturnal-vision cameras. He’s a cervo, a deer. Above is a still from the video and you can see the whole sequence (only lasting a few seconds) by clicking here.

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


I am no naturalist but it looks to me as if he (and I guess it’s a he) is using his antlers to scrape bark from the tree. We have had to protect the trees in our orchard for the depredations of his brothers and sisters and is smaller cousins, the caprioli, roe deers.

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

The protected environmental habitat around the mill not only shelters for boys like that deer and his smaller cousins, but also porcupines, beech martens, badgers, foxes and wild boar. We even saw a coypu bathing in the river a couple of years ago, though we haven’t seen hide nor fur of him since.

As a guest a the Watermill, you will hardly be aware of our nocturnal visitors as you sleep soundly in your comfortable beds in your elegant bedrooms, but it is pleasing to know that we are sharing the wonderful countryside of Lunigiana with a host of other animals. Come and enjoy your own protected environment and sample the unspoiled Tuscan countryside with us on one of our renowned creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. There is more about everything on the Watermill website, which you can see by clicking here.

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

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.

Mike Willdridge  New course; places available

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Jude and her 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 Three or four 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 Places available

16-23 October 2021

A novel approach to learning Italian

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