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

Relaxing and inspirational: Jon’s verdict on our scriptwriting course

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Members of this year’s Scriptwriting course with Laurence

Our thanks to Jon Holmes for a delightful and amusing article in yesterday’s UK Sunday Times about his time as our guest on Laurence Marks Scriptwriting course here earlier this year.

Jon joined 10 other would-be scriptwriters last September for an intensive week-long course to learn about the secrets of successful scriptwriting for TV, screen and stage. It was a fun-filled week and the participants were so inspired that no fewer than six of them have already booked up to join Laurence (who will be joined by his comedy partner Maurice Gran) for next year’s scriptwriting course in May.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The hills are alight: a writing course guest in full Sound of Music mode in the mountains near the Watermill

In his Sunday Times article, Jon writes: “The Watermill at Posara is a collection of restored millhouses originating from the 17th century and set around a sunny courtyard, with a vine-clad veranda and a rose-covered pergola. It’s enjoying a second life offering creative holidays: week-long courses with experts imparting knowledge on everything from Italian language lessons to knitting and painting. Rather than a shawl or a watercolour of the watermill, however, my companions are aiming to create the new Fleabag by Friday.

“‘You’re not going to create the new Fleabag by Friday,’ says Laurence, over home-cooked river trout with chestnut leaves and rosemary. The produce is local, and Bill and Lois, the expat owners, create fine Italian dishes, served with the region’s vino.”

Jon says: “If creativity is your thing, I can see why this kind of holiday would appeal. The mix of work and play is about right, the setting is relaxing and inspirational, and time seems to stand still — save for the distant village bells, which serve as an hourly reminder that my page is still blank.”

Jon’s article is witty and insightful, and you can read it all by clickìng here.

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

But why not come and see for yourselves and learn the secrets of successful scriptwriting from those Masters of comedy drama, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran? They will be with us from Saturday 2 May to Saturday 9 May 2020. We are delighted to welcome both of them: We know them as entertaining and inspiring friends, but the British Comedy Society describes them as ‘living legends!’

Laurence and Maurice are famous for such TV hits as Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart, The New Statesman and Shine on Harvey Moon. And in a new incarnation, they’ve written hit stage musicals, such as Dreamboats and Petticoats and Save the Last Dance for Me, as well as film scripts and award-winning stage, TV and radio plays. And it’s not just comedy: Marks and Gran are producing serious dramatic works as well. They are currently engaged in writing a series, with Michael Dobbs, (the creator of House of Cards) on Winston Churchill’s secret and mysterious wartime valet!

Their unique course at the Watermill will give you insights into writing comedy and drama for TV, stage and screen and it will help you to craft your work from original idea to final script. While the course will focus on scriptwriting, the insights into structure, plotting, characterisation, dialogue etc. are applicable to any genre.

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

But if you want to bag your place, you’d better get your skates on: not only do we have those six re-bookers, but they have already been joined by one other aspiring scriptwriter. So, we only have four or five places left.

If you would like to learn the secrets of scriptwriting from the Masters, now is the time to book your place, especially as we have an Early Bird Discount Offer: £75 (English pounds) off this inspiring creative writing course if you book before 31 December 2019. (But as we said, it is probably wisest to book now, since we are expecting heavy demand.)

If you are an aspiring scriptwriter, or indeed, would like to write in any dramatic genre, Laurence and Maurice’s course is the place to be, and they promise you will leave a much better writer than when you came!

To recap: our Scriptwriting course with Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran will run from Saturday 2 May to Saturday 9 May 2020. Come and join us on the road to scriptwriting success.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Listening to words of wisdom on the vine verandah.

Join Jo to add spice to your life story

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A collage of conversation compiled by Sue Reed.

Jo Parfitt’s Writing Your Life Stories courses at the Watermill have provided some of the most inspiring and creative weeks in our calendar, with dozens of people learning new writing skills to help them capture the stories of their lives.

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

This creative writing course is designed to help you produce your best work, to find your true writer’s ‘voice’ and to write authentically. Among other things, you’ll discover the secret of SPICE, the seven steps to writing life stories and making them leap off the page You learn how to:

  • Let it flow
  • Write about childhood
  • Write about people
  • Write about places
  • Write on a theme
  • Write humour
  • Write complete stories, with beginnings, middles and ends

 Jo says: “You will be empowered to write in a compelling way, bringing your experiences to life.”

As one of our previous guests said: “It is a very special and beautiful place and everything was organised so perfectly. Jo is a great tutor and we all had an amazing time.” Another said: “It was a great week: “Beautiful setting, perfect weather, delicious food and some super outings, who could ask for anything more — and I did quite a bit of writing!”

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

Above are some members of Jo Parfitt’s writing group earlier this year sharing snippets from their lives One of the group, Sue Reed, tells us: “The vine verandah has been the perfect place to gather to write and share our stories. Last night we all shared a funny story, and the laughter rang out. My life feels so much richer for having met and shared stories with these wonderful people.”

Of course, there’s not only laughter, but tears, too, as members of the group share emotional experiences from their lives, but in the secure and sympathetic surroundings of the Watermill, this sharing can become life-enhancing. As Jo says: “The course at the watermill will provide a safe haven in which to unlock your creativity, write from your heart and hone your writing craft”. And there’s more laughter than tears, with the warm camaraderie of like-minded people

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A writing group on the steps of the castle at Verrucola, where we went to lunch on Monday

So, come and add spice to your life stories and learn the secrets of compelling writing, when Jo returns next year. Her Write Your Life Stories course will run from Saturday 9 May to Saturday 16 May 2020. You can learn more by clicking here. https://watermill.net/writing-holidays/writing-holidays-tutor-jo-parfitt20.php

And if you book now, you can enjoy our Early Bird Discount Offer: £75 (English pounds) you reserve your place before the end of the year. But to be sure of a space it is probably wisest to book sooner rather than later. We already have seven people booked into Jo’s course, so we only have room for four or five more.

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

Jo Parfitt is an author, journalist, teacher, blogger, conference speaker and poet. She has published 32 books herself, has helped more than 100 authors into print and more than 1,000 people to begin writing. Jo’s a compassionate, inspiring, and encouraging teacher: her motto is ‘sharing what I know to help others to grow’.

 The workshop will include several methods and genres and is perfect for anyone wanting to write about their own lives for an effective journal, memoir or blog. If you would enjoy an injection of inspiration in a safe and supportive environment this course is for you. It is appropriate for students of any level.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre). You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Finding a quiet corner to start writing your life’s stories

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

Learn the secrets of successful scriptwriting with Laurence and Maurice

Samuel Johnson, writer, compiler of dictionaries, man about town and intellectual punch-up expert, once wrote: No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” Watermill scriptwriting course participant Caroline Rixon is no blockhead (far from it), but she made it clear she was not writing for money when she made the comments below about her week-long course here earlier this year with scriptwriting guru Laurence Marks.

She writes: “It is so good I don’t want to share it! What a wonderful place to go and visit. This is my second writing trip and once again the team at the Watermill have made it a unique holiday. It is truly a magical experience. Lois and Bill have creatively combined the rustic charm of the mill with the sumptuous mod cons we all like to enjoy. And no, they have not paid me commission to say all this – I speak as I find and I for one, will most certainly be going back …”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Members of this year’s Scriptwriting course with Laurence

Well, Caroline has already booked up for our Scriptwriting course next May, as have five others who attended Laurence’s week this year.

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

A comment from another of them, Carmen Gould: “You must consider coming on this course if you wish to write in any form, whether you are a beginner or whether you have already put pen to paper. It is certainly not easy: expect to have your work put through the ringer, but what comes out the other side takes you on a journey to producing something that means something … And. it may well be produced.” As for Laurence: “BAFTA judge, connoisseur extraordinaire of the business, an entertaining and incisive raconteur. The best of the best.”

Why not join our returnees and learn the secrets of successful (both artistic and financial) writing for screen, TV, radio and stage?

This year there is an additional bonus: Laurence will be joined by his writing partner Maurice Gran, so you will enjoy not one but two ‘living legends’ (British Comedy Society).

They will be with us from Saturday 2 May to Saturday 9 May 2020.

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

Laurence and Maurice are famous for such TV hits as Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart, The New Statesman and Shine on Harvey Moon. And in a new incarnation, they’ve written hit stage musicals, such as Dreamboats and Petticoats and Save the Last Dance for Me, as well as film scripts and award-winning stage, TV and radio plays. And it’s not just comedy: Marks and Gran are producing serious dramatic works as well. They are currently engaged in writing a series, with Michael Dobbs, (the creator of House of Cards) on Winston Churchill’s secret and mysterious wartime valet!

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

Their unique course at the Watermill will give you insights into writing comedy and drama, and it will help you to craft your work from original idea to final script. While the course will focus on scriptwriting, the insights into structure, plotting, characterisation, dialogue etc. are applicable to any genre. Laurence and Maurice promise you will leave a much better writer than when you came!

But if you want to bag your place, you’d better get your skates on: not only do we have those six re-bookers, but we are also expecting an article in the UK Sunday Times very soon, which is also likely to engender a great deal of interest.

So if you would like to learn the secrets of Scriptwriting from the masters, now is the time to book your place, especially as we have an Early Bird Discount Offer: £75 (English pounds) off this inspiring creative writing course if you book before 31 December 2019. (But as we said, it is probably wisest to book now, since we are expecting heavy demand.)

To recap: our Scriptwriting course with Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran will run from Saturday 2 May to Satutrday 9 May 2020. Come and join us on the road to scriptwriting success. To learn more, please click here.

As Carmen said above, the process is by no means easy, so let’s leave the last quote to the estimable Dr Johnson again: “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Llistening to words of wisdom on the vine verandah.

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.