Frequently asked questions
Below are a few frequently asked questions relating to our language holidays in Tuscany. If there are any further questions you need answering, please do not hesitate to contact us using our Contact Form.
At the Watermill
The Watermill is an historic building, dating from the 17th Century, and there are steps both internally and externally.
The Vasari Suite and the Ghirlandaio and Uccello bedrooms are accessible from ground level, with the odd step. The other bedrooms are on the first and second floors (US: second and third floors), accessed by internal and/or external stairs.
The painting studio is accessed by a flight of a dozen or so external steps.
The Vine Verandah in the Walled Garden, where aperitivi are served, has three stone steps leading from the Courtyard.
(click HERE for the typical language itinerary)
Our transport will drop us off at lovely locations, but sometimes there will be a short walk to get to the best spots. The maximum walk (at Verrucola castle and village) is some 80 metres down quite a steep slope. At Fivizzano there is a walk of a similar distance, gently uphill from the lower gate of the town to the main piazza where the market is held. At the other locations our minibuses will drop you off within a few metres of your destination.
If you have doubts about your mobility, it would be wisest to bring a spouse or friend or carer who can help you.
None whatsoever. Everything is included in the cost of your course: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals (including dinner with wine at charming local restaurants), and local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport; the excursion by train to Lucca or Cinque Terre).
All you have to do is to get to Pisa and we do the rest.
On the excursion day (transport is free), at breakfast time we'll provide materials for your own picnic lunch or, if you prefer, you can buy yourself a snack or a more formal lunch when you are out - it's up to you!
Other than that you only need money for personal needs, postcards and the odd cappuccino in the piazza.
We can organise special optional excursions for non-participating partners (npps) and will discuss these with the npps when they arrive. These extra excursions will be at cost. The Watermill makes no profit from them.
We pick you up at Pisa airport on the first day between 11am and 1pm. We organise precise pick-up times to fit in with our guests' flight arrivals times.
Transfers to the mill later than 1pm are extra, at cost. If you arrive later than 1pm, we can arrange a local taxi to come to pick you up at Pisa airport. This will be cheaper than hiring a taxi at Pisa airport. The cost for a taxi is of the order of 180 Euros. Alternatively, there are trains from Pisa Centrale (shuttle train from airport) to Aulla Lunigiana station and we can arrange to pick you up there, where the taxi fare will be far cheaper than from Pisa. If there are other people arriving outside our pick-up hours, we'll let you know and you will be able to share the transport costs.
Alternatively, you may care to arrive a day early and stay in Pisa overnight (See Where can I stay in Pisa? below) and come to the airport on the Saturday morning. The airport is close to the town and there is a shuttle bus from the centre, as well as a train and taxis. We will tell you the precise times we will pick you up from the airport on Saturday morning.
We depart for Pisa on the last Saturday after breakfast. In practice, this usually means there are two minibuses, leaving at around 8:30 am and 9:30 am, but precise timing does depend on all our guests' flight times. Since the mill is about a one-anda-quarter-hour to one-and-a-half-hour's drive from Pisa airport and since check-in starts two hours before flight time, your ideal return flight time should be later than about 12 noon. (A 1200 flight would mean having to be at the airport at 1000 and leaving the Watermill at 0830).If your flight is earlier than noon, we’ll try to help with our complimentary drop-off, but it depends on all our guests’ departures – and if your flight time means that you have to leave Posara before 7.30 am, we will arrange a taxi for you, for which you will have to pay.
Those with late afternoon or evening flights from Pisa may find it more convenient to leave their bags at left luggage in the central railway station (Pisa Centrale) and take a (very short) taxi ride or walk into to Pisa for sightseeing. There is a regular shuttle train from the station to the airport (Pisa Aeroporto), taking about five minutes. It is probably wisest to check shuttle times before sightseeing/lunch, to ensure arrival at the airport on time.
If you prefer, we can drop those with late flights at the airport itself in the morning. There is also a left luggage service there, located in the Arrivals area, open from 8am to 8pm, but it apparently costs €20 per bag. You can leave your luggage there and hop on the Pisamover shuttle train from Pisa Aeroporto station to Pisa Centrale station in the centre of town. The airport is close to the town and the shuttle only takes about five minutes. Or you can take a taxi from the rank just outside the Arrivals area if you prefer.
Please let us know your flight details (particularly arrivals) as early as you can, so we can make all the necessary arrangements.
The deposit is non-returnable, unless you cancel within 14 days of the booking.
If the course has to be postponed because of official restrictions due to disease, terrorism or on armed conflicts, the deposit may be transferred to a course with the same tutor at a later date, or to another tutor of your choice.
If you have to cancel four to eight weeks before departure, a charge of 40%of the total price is payable; at two to four weeks, 60%; at one to two weeks, 80%; at less than one week, 90%. Once the course has started, 100% is payable. We highly recommend that you take out travel insurance that includes provision for you having to cancel.
We don’t stay there ourselves of course, but our travel advisers and guests have in the past recommended:
- Bologna Hotel Pisa http://bologna.pisahotelsitaly.it/ - 4 star
- Alessandro della Spina http://www.hoteldellaspina.it/ - 3 star
- Hotel Roma http://www.hotelroma.pisa.it/ - 3 star
- Relais dell'Orologio http://www.hotelrelaisorologio.com/eng/#!/page_splash - 5 star
- One of our guests regularly stays at the cheap and cheerful B&B Gate 52: http://www.gate52pisarooms.it/ and he swears it was exceptional value and very convenient.
- We also have heard good things of the 4 star Republica Marinara http://www.hotelrepubblicamarinara.it/en/
- And, very near the tower, Hotel Pisa Tower https://www.hotelpisatower.com/ - 3 star
Added by guests in 2017/8:
La Corte di Stelio www.lacortedistelio.it Tel: +39 050 2200092
Excellent B&B, very close to the airport, ideal for late arrival and Watermill pick-up next day at the airport. Hot and cold drinks available 24/7, good buffet breakfast. Very friendly family business.
Hotel Roma Www.hotelroma.pisa.it Tel: - +39 050 550578
Excellent B&B, just across the road from the city walls and the Baptistry, Cathedral, and Leaning Tower. Also, there is a bus stop outside the hotel to get to other areas of Pisa.
Added by guests in 2018/9:
Palazzo Kinsky, 52 Via San Martino, just south of the river.
Added by tutor Randy Hale in 2022
La Corte di Lisa B&B, Via San Bernardo 22. https://www.lacortedilisa.com/
Adjacent to Piazza della Pera with about 7-8 restaurants an bars all around the perimeter. Filled with local families on a Friday evening! (NE part of Pisa, yet on south side of river).
The best airport to arrive at is Pisa, which has many daily flights to and from international destinations. You might also care to fly into Florence and spend a few days there. There is a regular train service from Florence Santa Maria Novella station to Pisa Centrale, where there is a shuttle train which takes only a few minutes to arrive at Pisa Aeroporto, where we pick our guests up on the morning of the first Saturday of their holiday week.
We recommend that you do not book your flights until we have told you that sufficient numbers have enrolled on a course to make it viable, and that it will definitely run. We will let you know this at the earliest opportunity, (many months before the start of the course) to help you get the best deals on flights online or through your local travel agent. When booking your flights, please note our complimentary pick-up and drop-off times, which you can find in the section above. And don't forget to take out travel insurance.
Of course you can. You can park at the mill and we'll give you full instructions on how to get here. (We haven't lost anyone yet!). We reckon you can do Calais to the mill easily in two days using the French autoroutes and the Italian autostrade and it is even more fun if you take three days and make a holiday of the journey. We recommend stops near Strasbourg and beside Lake Como if you make a three-day trip. We'll gladly share our experiences of motoring down, suggesting routes and places to stay.
Yes, of course. Italian electricity supply is 220 Volts, You will need an adaptor from your plug to a 2-pin continental socket. Most of our bedrooms now have a good wi-fi signal, but if you have any problems, you will find the best signal in the communal sitting room.
No, all linen and towels are provided. There's also a washing machine for communal use, but please ask us first so we can fit you in around the mill's laundering.
There are hairdryers in each room. If you bring your own, the electricity is 220V. You will need an adaptor from your system to a two-pin European plug.
In an emergency it's probably best for your friends or relatives to contact Bill on his Italian mobile: +39 327 379 9178. Or Lois at +39 328 471 3589. Or you can call our manager Karsten on his mobile: +39 347 979 3294.
If you bring your laptop you can receive emails in our communal sitting room.
Please note that the numbers above are correct; don't add or subtract zeroes to those above.
Please see the Note on mobility above if you have any doubts about your capacity to climb steps or walk short distances.
At the Watermill there are steps, both internally and externally.
The maximum walk (at Verrucola castle and village) is some 80 metres down quite a steep slope. At Fivizzano there is a walk of a similar distance, gently uphill from the lower gate of the town to the main piazza where the market is held. At the other locations our minibuses will drop you off within a few metres of your destination.
If you have doubts about your mobility, it would be wisest to bring a spouse or friend or carer who can help you.
The Wednesday excursion is to Lucca or the Cinque Terre is by train. How much walking you do when you get there is entirely up to you! There is some strenuous walking in the Cinque Terre if you want to do it, but there are ferry boats (and trains) between the villages.
Non-participating partners are welcome to join the groups. You should certainly come on the day we go to the wonderful Al Vecchio Tino restaurant (usually the Friday) in its spectacular setting, and on the excursion to Lucca or the Cinque Terre on the Wednesday. And we have many suggestions for fun places to visit and things to do while your partner is busy on the course. If you come by car, of course, you will enjoy even more freedom. Many non-participating partners, however, find it rather relaxing to choose a quiet spot in the walled garden or the riverside gardens and settle back with a book or enjoying a dappled-sunlight snooze....
Visit our Partners activities page HERE for more information
We would like you to know how much we appreciated our stay with you at Posara. As hosts, you made us feel most welcome; and the combination of language lessons, food and excursions was excellently balanced. We were unaware of the Apuan mountain region – it is spectacularly beautiful. Altogether a unique and delightful experience. With fond memories of your lovely home and very personal hospitality.
What an amazing week. Thank you, Bill, Lois and your excellent team. Giulia was great and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip. Can't wait to do it all again...
We all had such Fun! I had a wonderful time on the language course and laughed so much! Francesca was fantastic and designed a course that we could all follow at our own level, complete beginners to slightly more than complete beginners. There was lots of role play and games in Italian, like "Who am I?" and "Battleships". We had plenty of opportunity to talk to local Italians in cafes and the market in Fivizzano. We learned how to buy things in the market, order food and drink and ask directions. I feel confident to travel round Italy and know that I could find accommodation, buy food, drink and other items, travel on trains or hire bikes. My confidence and knowledge has improved immensely over the week and Francesca has even sent us exercises to do at home to keep our learning going. She was tireless and gave us so much. The standard of accommodation, food, drink and your hospitality was, as ever, excellent.
A very well-structured week with a mixture of classes at the Watermill and trips to areas of interest locally. These trips provided us with an invaluable opportunity to practice what we had learnt in class. We engaged in conversation with local Italians in a number of different scenarios: a local market, cafes and restaurants, shops, train stations etc. Our tutor, Francesca, was local to the area and we also had the opportunity to meet with some of her family and friends and practice our social skills in terms of conversation! Francesca was absolutely delightful. She was on hand from breakfast time until after dinner every day and was always cheerful and very positive. She took great pains to answer any queries we had and also had no difficulty in coping with the varying ability levels within our group. We learnt a lot and, just as importantly, had great fun doing so! Given the opportunity, I would have no hesitation in signing up for another course with Francesca. I learnt a lot, met some new friends, saw some beautiful places and enjoyed the wonderful surroundings of the Watermill at Posara. All things considered a perfect holiday!'
A super language week. Well organised giving us a taste of " real Italy" Francesca was amazing. Despite the disparity in ability she managed to help all of us towards a better understanding and production of the Italian language. The lessons were fun, interactive and helped me enormously. For a teacher to be " on duty" from 8.30am until bedtime - teaching us in each situation - must have been exhausting yet she kept her sense of fun throughout. The accommodation was great and the camaraderie which evolved was, I'm sure, due to your relaxed and welcoming approach to your "guests"