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NEWSLETTER ISSUE 125 / November 2020

Dear Friend,

Paintings by Mike Willdridge at the watermill in 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. (Not quite! So you may want to join us for real next year!)

At the top and the bottom of this introductory section you will see Mike’s paintings of four of the locations, and there are more pictures to entice you in the section below, together with details of how to register for this unique venture. 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.

Visit the Watermill's website for more info
Just click for more info

You can find out more about our online sessions, in watercolour or pastels, just visit our Courses Online Page - here.

Meanwhile, in real life... We are confident that things will be more or less back to normal everywhere by the end of this year or the beginning of next, and we have organised another exciting season of our world-renowned creative holidays for 2021, in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Already they are filling up: we have more than 200 bookings out of a potential total of some 250/260.

So if you want to find out what all the fuss is about for real, now is the time to reserve your place. There are more details later on in this newsletter, but you can also just click here to see our updated Watermill website and to be inspired.

In this month’s newsletter we:

  • 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!

Paintings by Mike Willdridge

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
It may have been breakfast at Tiffany’s
but how about lunch and dinner
at the Watermill?
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Bring a partner: there's plenty for them to do

They don’t have to participate in the course, but they will be able to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the mill and, whenever they want, to come out with you to our beautiful locations.

We also offer a range of Alternative activities for partners on all our courses, as well as a generous £GBP 250 discount if they share a room with you.

Almost as good as the real thing! Spend a 'virtual' week painting at the Watermill

Paintings by Mike Willdridge

The Watermill is proud to announce an exciting new initiative to help you beat the coronavirus blues! We have teamed up once again with our friend and painting tutor Mike Willdridge to produce a fascinating virtual painting week here.

Yes, every day for a week you will be able to join Mike online and paint along with him live as we make ‘virtual’ visits to the lovely locations we enjoy during our Watermill painting holidays: an imposing castle, market day in a walled mediaeval town, a nearby fishing village, the cloisters of a quiet convent, and a hilltop village with imposing mountains in the background.

Painting by Mike Willdridge
Fivizzano market,
where you will pay a
'virtual' visit on Tuesday.

You'll enjoy daily interactive sessions on Zoom. Full of fun, it’s just like an international painting club where you can enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people. You will paint along with Mike every day from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December 2020 inclusive. Beginning at 2.30pm (UK time), each session will last a couple of hours or so. It’s the next best thing to being here and it will bring Italian sunshine and memories of la Bella Vita to brighten your days.

And to help give you the real flavour of a Watermill painting week, as well as those live daily paint-along sessions, you will also receive mouth-watering Watermill recipes, for you to try out at home. After each painting session there will be an exclusive video of Mike’s demonstration to refresh your memory.

There will also be a daily gallery where you can post your paintings and admire the efforts of your fellow participants' paintings. And you’ll even have a chance to win one of Mike’s outstanding paintings.

Mike Willdridge

Mike Willdridge works in a wide range of media and is an enthusiastic and energetic tutor, often encouraging his students to be bold and to take chances. His classes are always light-hearted and fun. He will concentrate on watercolours, but is also happy to help with gouache and acrylics. A comment from a previous painter: “Mike Willdridge is a most inspiring tutor whose energy and enthusiasm encourages students to develop both their visual awareness and confidence. His patience and good humour create an enjoyable atmosphere in which students thrive.” Another said: “Mike is a superb tutor and his online, interactive painting sessions our inspiring and fun.”

Mike online tutoring a painting course online at the watermill in Italy

Unlike many online painting programmes, Mike’s will not expect you to ‘look over his shoulder’ for a long demonstration, and perhaps be allowed to ask the odd question or two. No, you will be painting along at more or less the same time, trying out the watercolour techniques that Mike has shown you, step-by-step. He will demonstrate some basic techniques for only a few minutes before you start painting the same subject at home. Then, after you have had your turn, Mike will move onto the next part of the process. Lois Breckon will be on hand to feed your questions. Each session will last a couple of hours.

Before each session Mike will supply a photograph, sometimes a practice painting, and, if appropriate, a drawing of what is going to be painted, plus a list of equipment and colours for your palette. We will send these to all the participants in the session. After the session we will send you a link that will enable to you revisit Mike’s step-by-step teaching, and you will also be able to see the paintings sent in by the participants.

Alls quite in Florence
A montage of mouthwatering Watermill dishes.
Picture: Pam Smart

And there is more: Lois will supply you with recipes for some of the renowned mouth-watering Watermill dishes, from Gorgonzola soufflés to chocolate cake from Capri; from tasty appetisers to succulent chicken involtini.

And there is even more: at the end of the week we will put all the participants' names into a lottery and the winner will be sent one of Mike's original paintings from the online course. (To comply with the law there has to be an element of skill in a lottery these days, so were going to ask you a question about the Watermill and its painting locations. Readers of this newsletter will have a head start. The question is: what is the name of the walled mediaeval town where we go to paint on market days on Tuesdays?)

The cost?

It obviously takes a good deal of time and effort to organise the sessions and in administration and personal communications with each of the participants. So we think the virtual painting week at the Watermill is incredibly good value for money: £70 (British pounds) for all seven daily sessions and all the add-ons. That’s just £10 for each one of these inspiring, interactive online sessions. (This is a block booking: If you can’t make it each day, you will still receive access to all the videos, the daily gallery and have an entry into the lottery for your chance to win Mike’s original paintings.)

Here’s how to register

Please register by using our Courses Online Booking Form - here.

Why not also paint with Mike at the Watermill for real?

Painting in the Watermill garden in Tuscany
Painters in the Watermill walled garden.
Picture: Francesco Lastrucci

When you’ve enjoyed working with Mike online, why not join him for real, on one of his Watermill courses next year? There’s been such a large demand that we have opened up the second week for Mike, 28 August to 4 September 2021.

You can also learn about all our renowned creative courses, in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language, by clicking here. We would love you to join us!

Prickly night-time visitors

Watermill porcupines at night

Here are a couple more night-time visitors to the Watermill grounds, spotted by Flavio Terenzoni, using one of those night-vision cameras to spy on the nocturnal wildlife around the Watermill.

These two prickly customers are istrici, our native porcupines, sharing the Watermill grounds with deer (of various sizes), badgers, foxes, wild boar and goodness knows what else in this protected environmental habitat. The picture above is a still from the video made by Flavio. You can see the whole video (some 30 seconds) by clicking here.

Flavio Terenzoni's baby birds at the Watermill in Tuscany
Picture: Flavio Terenzoni

As a guest at 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 nice to know that we are sharing the wonderful countryside of Lunigiana with a host of other animals. But you may be awoken by a dawn chorus. We have an active population of birds and they can be noisy in the mornings, especially in the spring. Here (left) are some hungry youngsters contributing to the melodic cacophony.

Beautiful pastels from Rebecca’s online ‘Evening in Posara’

painting by Rebecca de Mendonça

Our heartfelt thanks to Rebecca de Mendonça for a lovely online session early last month on the art of pastel painting. More than 100 people participated, many of them trying pastels for the first time.

The subject was a view from the nearby walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano, looking down the Valley of the River Rosaro towards Posara in the distance.

Here’s (right) Rebecca’s demonstration and below is a montage of a few of the paintings sent in by participants at the end of the session. We are sorry we haven’t room for all of them, but many thanks to those who sent them in.

Paintings by participants at a watermill online session

So that you can see them a little larger, I made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows with these and a few other images. Just click here.

Rebecca will be back with another online session on Thursday 19 November at 2.30pm UK time. Please register your interest by useing our Courses Online Booking Form - here.

As well as watching and painting along with Rebecca online, why not join her for real, on her Watermill course next year, Saturday 26 June to Saturday 3 July 2021? To tempt you, here’s another beautiful Rebecca pastel, of the gate to the walled village and castle of Verrucola, where we go to paint on Mondays before a tasty lunch in a traditional Italian trattoria.

Rebecca will help you to capture the architecture and landscape of the beautiful Watermill painting venues with a combination of materials: soft pastels, pen and ink, Conte crayons and pastel pencils, separately and in combination, to achieve lively sketches and finished pieces.

The Watermill’s Bronzino bedroom celebrates a painter of glittering portraits

To whet your appetite for a Watermill creative week, we thought we might begin a series of ‘tours’ of our Watermill bedrooms, all of which have been painstakingly restored and, we think, elegantly decorated. They are all named after famous Italian artists, mainly of the Renaissance but also moving into the later Mannerist period.

Bronzino and the Watermill's Bronzino room

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bronzino, both the 16th-century Florentine painter and the recently redecorated bedroom named after him, pictured by the illustrious contemporary Florentine photographer, Francesco Lastrucci. That’s Francesco’s overview of the Bronzino bedroom above. We have made one of those fun, 30-second slideshows with more of Francesco’s pictures, which you can see by clicking here.

The Watermill's Bronzino bedroom

Agnolo di Cosimo (1503–1572) (above left) is usually known as Bronzino, perhaps because of his tanned skin, or reddish hair. He was a Mannerist painter who trained with Pontormo and was court painter to Cosimo I de’ Medici. He is noted for the glittering portraits of the grand Duke and his family.

Below (left) is a picture of Eleanor of Toledo, Cosimo’s wife, and their son Giovanni de’ Medici. Giovanni looks a little bored to me, but well aware of his status in 16th-century Florence society. Eleanor’s dress and jewels reflect the power of the Medici family, but I always think she looks a little sad.

Alls quite in Florence
Left: Eleanor and Giovanni - Picture Uffizi gallery, Florence
Right: Bronzino’s charming portrait of Bia de’ Medici

The Bronzino bedroom commands great views over the courtyard and gardens, with the Apennine mountains, the backbone of Italy, in the distance. It’s the perfect setting for a couple or two friends sharing (we can make the double bed into two singles). Come and join us: we promise you will have a bigger smile than Eleanor’s, whichever Florentine genius you choose, Bronzino or Brunelleschi, Donatello, Fra Angelico, Ghiberti, Gentileschi, Ghirlandaio, Lippi, Uccello, or Vasari (more about them in later newsletters). Details of all our renowned creative courses can be found by clicking here. Come and celebrate Italian genius with us.

Just to remind you that we are Cool and Green

painting by Vicki Norman
Left: Vicki Norman’s evocative oil painting of sunshine on a nearby vineyard

Just in case you were worried that it may be too warm for you in the summer months in Italy, don’t forget that we are a thousand feet above sea level and enjoy cool breezes from the mountains. But within the Watermill complex itself, we are also Cool and Green!

We have installed air-conditioning units in all our bedrooms and in the public rooms (the dining room, the sitting room, the studio). They are all powered by our array of photovoltaic cells, installed last summer, which are already making more than enough power to ensure that we are self-sufficient in electricity. We have now produced more than 20,000 kilowatt hours of solar-powered electricity and what’s more, we’ve saved more than 14 tonnes of carbon dioxide production.

Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Presenting two more inspiring Watermill tutors: Paul Talbot-Greaves and Vicki Norman

Alls quite in Florence
Paul’s watercolour of the country road near the Watermill
and Vicki’s oil painting of the nearby rugged Apuan Alps

This month we are presenting two more of our sympathetic and inspiring Watermill painting tutors, each with different styles in which to capture the stunning scenery of the Watermill and its surroundings. They are the watercolourist Paul Talbot-Greaves, and Vicki Norman, who specialises in oil painting.

Paul Talbot-Greaves: light, shade and vibrancy

We are delighted to welcome back Paul Talbot-Greaves to the Watermill for another of his illuminating watercolour courses. Paul’s week with us next year will run from Saturday 19 June - Saturday 26 June 2021.

Paul Talbot-Greaves

Paul is a professional English painter who works primarily in watercolour. He says: “I seek out compositions employing patterns of light, shade and contrast and I aim to achieve vibrancy in the colours that I use.

His picture below left is called Through the Woods. Paul says:“I like to find interesting subjects in the least expected places. In this picture, I used simple dynamic shadows combined with contrast and appealing colours to create a quick impression of light streaming through the woodland.

Paintings by Paul Talbot-Greaves

Here above right is a detail from another stunning watercolour from Paul, of the main square in the French town of Roussillon, painted from an unusual angle.

As well as receiving many accolades for his work, Paul is also an inspiring and sympathetic tutor. He says: “I get an enormous amount of pleasure seeing people improve and enjoy their own work.” As one of the students on Paul’s last course here said: “The combination of the place, the excellent art course with Paul Talbot-Greaves and the care from you and your staff made a really lovely experience.”

We have made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows of Paul’s work, which you can see by clicking here.

Tutor Vicki Norman: “Her wonderful paintings are an inspiration.”

Paintings by Vicki Norman

We are looking forward to the return of Vicki Norman this summer for another of her charming and inspirational painting weeks. Vicki will be with us for her course, in oils and watercolours (and other mediums), from Saturday 3 July to Saturday 10 July 2021.

Vicki Norman

English painting tutor Vicki Norman specialises in painting on location. Her paintings seek to capture the essence of the day and the sense of place through the colour and play of the light. Vicki will teach primarily in oils and watercolours, but is happy to help with other mediums, too. She has been teaching professionally for more than 15 years and offers plenty of help and individual attention.

Here’s a comment from one of our guests on Vicki’s last course at the Watermill: “An excellent painting and holiday week. All the trips out to painting locations,were well organised and Vicki was excellent as a teacher: Her wonderful paintings were an inspiration.”

We have made one of those short, fun Facebook slideshows with more of Vicki’s exciting paintings which you can see by clicking here.

Our inspiring 2021 painting tutors

Here is the complete list of our painting tutors for next year. You can find out more about each of them by clicking on the Tutor Profile page link in their entries below.

Keiko Tanabe

Keiko Tanabe
17 - 24 April 2021 - places available
To learn more about Keiko and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Mary Padgett

Mary Padgett
1 - 8 May 2021 - fully booked, waiting list open
Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Carl March

Carl March
15 - 22 May 2021- fully booked, waiting list open
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Grahame Booth

Grahame Booth
22 - 29 May 2021 - fully booked, waiting list open
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
5 - 12 June 2021 - one or two places remaining
12 - 19 June 2021 - fully booked, waiting list open
To learn more about Sandra and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Paul Talbot-Greaves

Paul Talbot-Greaves
19 - 26 June 2021 - Places Available
To learn more about Paul and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Rebecca de Mendonça

Rebecca de Mendonça
26 June - 3 July 2021 - four or five places remaining
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
3 - 10 July 2021 - one or two places remaining
Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Sue Ford

Sue Ford
10 - 17 July 2021 - Places Available
To learn more about Sue and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Caroline Deeble

Caroline Deeble
7 - 14 August 2021 - Places Available
To learn more about Caroline and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Randy Hale

Randy Hale
21 - 28 August 2021 - Places Available
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Mike Willdridge

Mike Willdridge
28 August - 4 September 2021 - Places Available
4 – 11 September 2021 - one place remaining
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Milind Mulick

Milind Mulick
11 - 18 September 2021 - Places Available
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Brienne M Brown

Brienne M Brown
18 - 25 September 2021 - one place remaining
To learn more about Brienne and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Charles Sluga

Charles Sluga
25 September - 2 October 2021 - Places Available
To learn more about Charles and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.

Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot
2 – 9 October 2021 - one or two places remaining
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.

Ali Hargreaves

Ali Hargreaves
9 - 16 October 2021 - two places remaining
To learn more about Ali and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Come and join us and enjoy the magic at the mill!

Why not bring your non-painting partner as well?

There’s a generous £250 discount for him/her if they share a room with you - and there’s plenty for them to do. Have a look at our Partner’s Activities Page for suggestions.


Watermill in Italy's Knitting NewsKNITTING NEWS

The health benefits of knitting

Watermill knitting group
Knitting under the shade of the vines in the Watermill garden.
Photo: Phil Wright

We are sure that every knitter knows it: knitting and crocheting can bring great health benefits, not least in stitching away stress, lowering heart rate and blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga.

Picture: New York Times
Picture: New York Times

We were recently reading an article in the New York Times which confirmed all that. The author, Jane Brody, also said: “Perhaps most exciting is research that suggests that crafts like knitting and crocheting may help to stave off a decline in brain function with age.” Yes, a 2011 investigation by the Mayo Clinic found that people in their 70s and 80s had less chance of developing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss. Now we know why our Watermill knitting guests are so bright and interesting.

Another study, at the University of Texas, showed that learning to quilt, (or incidentally learning digital photography) enhanced memory function in older adults, improvements not seen in activities that were not so mentally challenging.

There is the social side, too: Ms Brody reported: “Given that sustained social contacts have been shown to support health and longevity, those wishing to maximise the health value of crafts might consider joining a group of like-minded folks.

As we said, we are sure that knitters have known all along about the health benefits of their hobby, and in these difficult times knitting and crocheting are undoubtedly a great comfort to many.

Why not add to the pleasure and the therapeutic effects by coming on a week’s knitting holiday at the Watermill at Posara? Not only will you enjoy knitting therapy and the convivial company of like-minded people, but also savour the delights of unspoiled rural Tuscany, the warm hospitality of the Watermill and delicious healthy food. And if you book yourself a place now you will have the added benefits of warm anticipation.

Knitting holidays at the Watermill in Tuscany, Italy
Knitting in the Watermill sitting room, surrounded by original art

We have organised three delightful knitting weeks at the Watermill next year. Two of them are with renowned designers: Norah Gaughan from the United States and Louisa Harding from the UK, while the third is a Knitting Retreat, with no tutor, just a relaxed group enjoying knitting and each other’s company.

Norah Gaughan

Norah Gaughan is an independent knitting designer working out of her studio in historic Harrisville, New Hampshire, USA. She has just been appointed editor-in-chief of Vogue Knitting, the premier knitting publication in America. “I’m inspired by nature and science, while at the same time keeping an eye what’s happening in the fashion world. My teaching style is rather relaxed. My goal is to have the class be fun and interesting.” Norah will bring two special projects for her week, based on her new book, Twisted Stitches, which will be out in 2021. There are more details below.

Louisa Harding

We are delighted also to welcome Louisa Harding, the celebrated cashmere knitter and yarn producer, to the Watermill knitting team. She has also established a new brand, called Yarntelier, combining the finest yarns from the English county of Yorkshire with beautiful designs, to make each item a piece of hand-crafted couture. Louisa is now planning the projects she will bring for our knitters during her week and is talking of a cashmere shawl, where you can draw on designs in the Tuscan countryside and incorporate them in your knitting; and another, smaller project, involving beading using a crochet hook. Again, there are more details about Louisa’s week below.

Knitting courses at the Watermill in Tuscany Italy

Many of our knitting guests at the Watermill have asked is whether it would be possible to run a knitting retreat here, in which there would be no tutor, but rather individual knitters would bring their own projects and enjoy convivial like-minded company in the peaceful ambience of the Watermill, as well as our usual offering of wonderful food and outings into the surrounding unspoiled Tuscan countryside of Lunigiana.

So, by popular demand, we are doing just that, in our first-ever Knitting Retreat. Since there is no official tutor, we are offering a special blanket discount of £200 per person. More details below.

Yarn waiting for you
Waiting for you...

If you would like to see these images a little larger, We’ve made one of those short, fun Facebook slideshows, capturing the essence of our Watermill knitting holidays, which you can see by clicking here.

As ever, your knitting weeks at the Watermill will combine expert tuition, like-minded company, wonderful food and the delightful ambience of the Watermill, it’s gardens and riverside walks, and outings into the surrounding unspoiled countryside of Lunigiana in Tuscany, Italy.

Comments from guests

Some comments from guests on our previous knitting weeks:

The Watermill is an idyllic setting for a knitting course – beautifully situated on the river, you are lulled to sleep in your comfortable room by the sound of the millstream. Bill and Lois are perfect hosts and your every need is catered for. BE

Thank you and for such a lovely week at the Watermill. It was truly a memorable week to stay at the Watermill, knit, meet new friends, enjoy fresh Italian cuisine and be shown such a glorious part of Tuscany. EP

Thanks for such a wonderful week! It had everything: fun, knowledge, good food and drink. Like a week out of time. RG

Lunch at the Watermill in Tuscany

Thank you both for making a brilliant week of knitting even better. As usual, the Watermill was amazing with wonderful food, great rooms and wall to wall sunshine. JMcB

Bill and Lois have the knack of making everyone feel special. Add a magical knitting tutor, and the result is an unforgettable experience. I can’t wait to go back! Excellent food, relaxing atmosphere, lovely people. Perfection! Thanks to you both for another wonderful knitting holiday. I feel ten years younger! NB

Absolutely loved my stay for the knitting week. The food was so yummy, I had the best sleep, and the ambiance of the Watermill and its surrounds is pure bliss. PM

2021 knitting breaks

Norah Gaughan

Norah Gaughan
24 april - 1 May 2021 - still plenty of places
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Norah and her course at the mill, please visit our 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Louisa Harding

Louisa Harding
29 May - 5 June 2021 - fully booked, waiting list open
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course at the mill, please visit our 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Knitting Retreat

Knitting retreat
17 - 24 July 2021 - three or four places
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about our knitting retreat week at the mill, please visit our 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Knitting group at the watermill in Italy

Don't forget your partner!

And don’t forget that your friend or partner doesn’t need to participate in the creative course, whether it’s painting, language or writing.

We offer them a range of Alternative activities for partners on all our 2021 courses, as well as a generous £GBP 250 discount if they share a room with you.

Creative writing News at the watermill in ItalyCREATIVE WRITING NEWS

The consequences of erudite vernacular used irrespective of necessity

Alls quite in Florence
We grow red roses on the Watermill pergola

We were browsing the web on your behalf, looking for short writing tips to add to this newsletter, when we stumbled across an article with the headline 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing. That sounds like an offer no one could refuse, so we are passing on a few of the tips...

First, don’t use big words when you don’t need them: the consequences of erudite vernacular utilised irrespective of necessity are that the reader is not impressed. And keep it simple, word-wise. Don’t ‘commence’ something, for instance, just start it, and don’t ‘facilitate’, just help!

Second, a good piece of advice is to ‘be specific’. The article says: “Consider two sentences: I grow lots of flowers in my back yard; and, I grow 34 varieties of flowers in my back yard, including pink coneflowers, purple asters, yellow daylilies, Shasta daisies, and climbing clematis. Which is more interesting? Which helps you see my back yard?”

mark Twain

Avoid those ‘fluff’ words like ‘very’, ‘a little’ and ‘rather’: they suck the life out of your sentences.

As our Copyblogger says: “It is very important to basically avoid fluff words because they are rather empty and sometimes a little distracting.”
He quotes Mark Twain: “Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

Mark Twain's Tip

Good advice -- and you can see more of those tips by clicking here.

You’ll learn much more about the art of good writing from the inspiring tutors on our two creative writing courses at the Watermill next year -- and you won’t be utilising any erudite vernacular irrespective of necessity. Oh, one more thought from Mark Twain, whose tongue was firmly in his cheek:

2021 Our illuminating creative writing courses

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
8 – 15 May 2021 - Places available
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please visit their 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
14 – 21 August 2021 - one or two places remaining
Write your life stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.



Magari: an Italian word we need to hear a lot more of just now


Our friends at The Local, the online newspaper with an Italian news in English, focus regularly on the meaning of Italian words, and one of the latest was ‘magari’, a word which we use frequently.

The Local reports: “While Google Translate would have us believe this world means simply "maybe", the meaning is a bit more complex than that. As reader Heather in California put it: "Magari is wistful and optimistic, full of hope, which is exactly what we need right now. I think of it as meaning "if only it could be" or "wouldn't it be great if"".

The Local reports that magari derives from a Greek word meaning blessed or happy, which is a clue to its first meaning: 'I hope so!' So, you can use magari to talk about things that are desired, wished or hoped for. Magari andrà tutto bene: hopefully, everything will be fine. The report adds: “You even can use it to stress just how much you want something, usually if someone's offering it to you: it's like answering their question with 'you bet!'

Alls quite in Florence
Would you like an aperitivo
at the Watermill
on a summer evening?

Prendo un bicchiere di vino, ne vuoi uno? – Magari! Grazie! – I'm having a glass of wine, do you want one? – I’d love one, thanks!

Of course, some wishes are less likely to come true than others. When you're talking about something you want but that isn't really attainable,magari takes on the tone of 'if only!'

Sei miliardario? – Eh, magari! – Are you a billionaire? – Huh, if only!

Hai vissuto sei mesi a Firenze, parli bene l'italiano? – Magari! – You spent six months in Florence, do you speak Italian well? – I wish!

There are many other nuances in the use of the word, but in these troubled times let’s stick with ‘wouldn’t it be nice if’. Let’s hope this coronavirus problem will soon be over. ‘Magari!’

And would you like to learn Italian yourself on this sun dappled vine verandah? Magari! You bet!

Sun-dappled Italian language learning

Language course at the watermill in Italy

Our language week really is a ‘course with a difference’. Not only are there formal lessons on the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but we also make trips and excursions to savour the natural beauty of Lunigiana, the area surrounding the mill, to explore its history and culture, to sample its traditional foods – and above all, to meet the people, speak Italian, and practise what we’ve learned.

We’ve teamed up again with the experienced and sympathetic language teacher Francesca La Sala, to design a week in which people can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way ever. You'll meet Italian people and interact with their daily lives. Your immersion into the language and culture of real Italians will be customised for you, to suit your curiosity and your interests, helping you to treasure everything you learn and make it a seamless part of who you are.

You will have the perfect opportunity to make new friends in the company of like-minded people learning and improving their Italian language skills... and enjoying unspoilt Italy and, of course, fantastic food and wine.

2021 Language Course

Francesca la SalaFrancesca la Sala
16 - 23 October 2021 - three or four places remaining
Learning Italian with the Italians
To learn more about Francesca and her
2021 course at the mill, please click here.
*Book now to come on this 2021 course at 2020 prices.

The watermill in Italy's newsletter specialsNEWSLETTER SPECIALS

Everything's included in your watermill painting holiday, creative writing holiday, knitting week or Italian Language course

Don’t forget that everything is included in the cost of a painting holiday, writing, knitting, or language holiday: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport; an excursion by train to visit the ancient walled city of Lucca or the stunning seaside villages of the Cinque Terre).

All you have to do is to get to Pisa airport and we do the rest.

Whether you're travelling alone or with a partner you can be sure of a warm welcome, and that you'll be well looked after. We have built our reputation on the comfort of the mill and the care we provide.

Become a Friend of The Watermill at Posara

Visit our Friends Website (Link below). Just follow the instructions to Register as a Friend and then Log In to enjoy special privileges. If you become a ‘Friend’ (it will cost you nothing) you’ll enjoy many exclusive benefits, including dozens of practical and inspiring tips from our international painting and creative writing tutors and recipes from the watermill’s mouth-watering menus. And there will be exclusive offers for Friends to make our courses and holidays even more attractive.

Thank you for reading the watermill in Italy's newsletterTHANK YOU

We very much look forward to welcoming you to the mill and, for those of you who have already tasted the many delights at The Watermill at Posara, we look forward to welcoming you back.

Your hosts at the watermill, Italy

With very best wishes a tutti

Your hosts at the watermill in Tuscany

Lois and Bill Breckon