In and around the watermill
Our beautiful and historic watermill stands beside the River Rosaro in the small village of Posara. Peaceful and secluded, yet part of the village, the mill is just a mile or so from the walled medieval town of Fivizzano with its cafés, restaurants and shops. This is the heart of Lunigiana, in the North-west of Tuscany.
Set in a gentle valley with mountain peaks in the background, the mill is a peaceful spot, yet is within easy reach of the sea and the tourist attractions of Tuscany.
We have lovingly restored the historic buildings and created five self-contained apartments around a courtyard. These apartments come together for our painting and creative writing courses. When the courses aren't on, the apartments are available for holiday lets. The bright and airy rooms are well decorated and tastefully furnished. All enjoy lovely views of the the river, the gardens or the mountains.
Around the mill there's a walled garden, a vine verandah, a winding rose pergola, and riverside gardens, all with tables and chairs and providing delightful spots for sun-kissed or shady relaxation and contemplation. Then there are further secluded private gardens where you can stroll beside the millstream for about a quarter of a mile.
The mill is a unique piece of 'industrial archaeology'. Around the courtyard and behind the three-storey Tuscan houses there are two ancient watermills, one built in the 17th century and the other in the 19th. Their millstones and workings are still intact and we are slowly restoring them. Waterpower was used not only for producing wheat, maize and chestnut flour, but also for crushing and squeezing olives for their oil.
The large walled garden has a vine verandah and rose pergola. For meals in the sunshine there are millstone tables, and a barbecue. The riverside gardens feature the old olive press reservoir (now filled with chilly water from the mountains, in which you can plunge or just dangle your toes). There's also a terrace overlooking the river and a bamboozery through which you can walk.
Posara is a small, friendly village, with ancient houses and narrow alleyways, surrounded by vineyards and fields of maize and sunflowers.
The natives are friendly and will always talk to you when you make your evening passagiata, perhaps to view the ancient packhorse bridge to another mill downstream
Fivizzano is a walled Medieval market town, complete with castle (just to the North) and a Medici fountain in the main piazza. There are lots of shops, both a supermarket and small shops selling local produce, notably ham, salami, cheese and wine. There are also plenty of cafés, ice-cream parlours, restaurants and pizzerias. You can hire a tennis court in Fivizzano and there is a big outdoor swimming pool at Cormezzano, on the road towards Aulla. Above the town, the scenery becomes spectacular, with beautiful views over the mountains, olive groves and chestnut forests.
Despite its rural quiet, Posara is only 40 minutes drive to the coast and the beach resorts in the Gulf of the Poets (Shelley and Byron swam here) and even less to the autostrada to Pisa, Lucca and Florence. At Pontremoli there's a small, but fascinating, museum of enigmatic Etruscan statues.
If you don't want to take your car, a train from nearby Soliera will take you through the hills to Lucca, skirting the Regional Park of the Alpi Apuane.
From Aulla you can taken another train to the Cinque Terre, five fishing villages in spectacular settings. A walk from Monterosso to Vernazza along the cliff top path is an unforgettable experience.