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NEWSLETTER ISSUE 126 / December 2020

Dear Friend,

Locations around the watermill in Tuscany, Italy

As this newsletter is published, we are halfway through our Watermill online ‘virtual’ painting week with Mike Willdridge. No fewer than 118 people booked up to take part in this extraordinary week, painting along at home for a couple of hours each day in a Zoom meeting with Mike. We visited (virtually, that is) the stunning locations we go to during our ‘real thing’ week-long painting holidays at the Watermill. (The pictures above and below this introductory section give a flavour of some of the locations.)

We have given the participants recipes, so they can cook some of the mouth-watering dishes we prepare in the Watermill kitchen, to give them more of the flavour (sorry about the pun) of a Watermill creative week.

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
Randy Hale’s trial painting for his online session

We have also been busy organising other online, interactive painting sessions, not only with Mike, but with other renowned painting tutors, like Randy Hale and Rebecca de Mendonça.

We have a session with Randy on 10 December, and with Rebecca on 17 December. More details of Randy’s session are below. There will be details of Rebecca’s session in early December.

We are even working on sharing the secrets of those Watermill recipes with online sessions. Watch this space!

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

Meanwhile, from the virtual to the real world: We are confident that things will be more or less back to normal by the time our next season begins, and we have organised another exciting schedule of our world-renowned creative holidays for 2021, in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Already these courses are filling up: we have more than 210 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’s more about our 2021 creative courses on our Watermill website: Just click here.

Watermill's hedgehog and nightingale

In this month’s newsletter we have stories on:

  • two more winter visitors to the Watermill walled garden: one sleepy and one chirpy
  • a golden harvest celebrating an annual event that is hundreds of years old
  • a tour of the Botticelli bedroom
  • Italian cooking, Watermill style: focaccette from Kaoutar
  • Randy’s Whistle Stop online session
  • introducing a nature-loving watercolour tutor, Caroline Deeble
  • how about knitting-up a fountain dolphin?
  • new meanings for old words: are you flabbergasted?
  • and are you imbottito? The Italians are at this time of year!
  • all the data on the latest availability of all our creative courses.

Happy reading!

Locations around the watermill in Italy

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
It would be much ado about something
if we booked a creative week
at the Watermill

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.

Picture (right): Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson in Much Ado about Nothing. Picture from: MovieStills DB.

Another winter guest in the walled garden

Hibernating hedgehog

Last month, Watermill gardener Flavio Terenzoni discovered another ospite in giardino, guest in garden, and sent us the charming picture right. He tells me he was doing the winter tidying up and cutting back, 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!

A golden harvest

Harvesting our persimmons
Lois harvests some of our persimmons

In November, the colours of the Italian countryside were gorgeous: yellows, oranges, reds and browns, as the leaves turned and began to fall. And a spectacular contribution to this autumnal splendour was a fruit tree that the Italians call cachi, and the English, persimmon. Not only are its leaves beautifully coloured, but its fruits are magnificent golden orbs, an imposing sight in many a back garden.

We have a persimmon tree in the Watermill walled garden and we have to confess that we grew it mainly for its looks rather than to eat the fruits. We tried them once many years ago and found they left a weird furry coating on our tongue. At the end of November, however, at lunch with Italian friends in Florence, we were persuaded to try them again – and they were delicious, not 'furry' at all. The secret, other friends told us, is not to eat them until they are fully ripe, when the tannins have faded away. We should also, we were told, harvest them before the frosts arrive, and let them ripen on their own in a secluded spot.

Picked persimmons at the watermill in Tuscany

So Lois picked a couple of buckets of them – and there they are above, ripening in the Watermill courtyard.

While the golden orbs of the cachi are wondrous to behold, we also think that the fallen leaves are aesthetically pleasing, so we couldn’t help but snap the multicoloured carpet beneath our feet.

An exotic visitor also enjoyed our golden fruits

Japanese nightingale
Picture: Flavio Terenzoni

All in all, Lois picked a hundred or so persimmons, some of which we enjoyed for breakfast and others, we gave to friends in Florence, to brighten their locked-down days.

We were not the only ones to savour the cachi: 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 ausignolo giapponese, a Japanese nightingale, seen above right. Our gardener, Flavio Terenzoni, captured his/her visit (you see how good my ornithological knowledge is!) 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 stories in previous newsletters.

Moths and butterflies at the watermill in Italy
Pictures: Lara Breckon and Ron Ploeg

As well as the 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.

Celebrating an annual event that is thousands of years old

Olive picking in Italy
Vivienne gets to work on one of
the White’s 600 olive trees

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. By November, the olives must be picked, and the local frantoio, the olive press, is busy producing the wonderful 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 before we, too, were cabined, cribbed and confined in Florence, Lois contributed another pair of picking hands. (As Bill’s medical condition precludes picking, he was in charge of lunch: freshly made panini from the pasticceria, stuffed with mozzarella and tomato, a melange of ice creams from the gelateria.)

Olive farming

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 has ordered 60 litres of Vivienne and Nick’s extra virgin olive oil: come and join us on one of our creative courses next year and you be able to sample it for yourselves.

No Botticelli’s on this bedroom’s walls!

Botticelli bedroom
Picture: Francesco Lastrucci

To whet your appetite for a Watermill creative week, we are continuing our 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.

Of all the painters we celebrate, Sandro Botticelli needs least introduction. Two of his paintings, Primavera and The Birth of Venus are artistic icons, instantly recognisable. We are sorry to say we have no Botticelli’s on the walls of the bedroom named after him, but we do have some alluring original pictures by modern masters (and mistresses).

As you come into the bedroom you will see two delightful collages by Susan Winfield, which we purchased many years ago and which still cause us to smile. You can see one of them above. And then there is the extraordinary painting on silk of Venice (below), by our friend Annabel Collis:

Scarf painted by Annabel Collis

This started life as a silk scarf, commissioned by Bill as a birthday present to Lois, but she liked it so much that she didn’t want to wear it, but rather had it framed. The colours are wonderful.

Just some of the delights of the Botticelli bedroom, which also has lovely views from its balcony over the Watermill walled garden and the Apennine mountains beyond. Another perfect setting for a Watermill creative week.

We made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows, with more pictures of the Botticelli bedroom, which you can see by clicking here.

View from our Botticelli room

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 choose your favourite bedroom.

We are sure that you will love it, whichever Florentine genius you choose: Botticelli, Bronzino or Brunelleschi, Donatello, Fra Angelico or Ghiberti, Gentileschi, Ghirlandaio, Lippi, Uccello, or Vasari (more about them in later newsletters).

Details of all our creative courses can be found by clicking here. Come and celebrate Italian genius with us.

Italian cooking, Watermill style. Do you like the idea? Let us know!


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.

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 often focaccette (above).

Kaoutar Okbani

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 ‘crumpets’ with your aperitivi one evening, accompanied by local cheeses, hams or salami.

Botticelli bedroom
Capturing the flavour of autumn
in the Watermill:
bresaola with Parmesan shavings,
home-grown tomatoes,
chestnuts and prosecco

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 we said, we are developing the concept of creation of a series 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 on the Watermill Contact form. 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!

Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Randy’s Whistle Stop online painting session

Painting by Randy Hale

We are honoured to welcome the exciting American watercolourist Randy Hale to the Watermill online team. Randy will be joining us for real in Tuscany, Italy next summer, but in the meantime, we are looking forward to his first interactive online session with us, on 10 December 2020.

The theme will be painting negative shapes in watercolour and the session will start at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, UK time. (5 o’clock in the afternoon European time; 9 o’clock in the morning in Denver, Colorado, USA where Randy lives.) Please note that this is a little later than our normal Thursday online session, to allow more of Randy’s compatriots in the United States to take part. The session will last two to three hours.

Above is Randy’s trial picture of the subject, a quiet American railway siding. He calls the painting Whistle Stop. We suppose he means it more in the American sense of a small, unimportant town on a railway, rather than a rush-about whistle-stop tour, because you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy Randy’s demonstration, as well as painting along with him.

The subject is a railway siding, where trains will be loaded with coal to haul down the track. Randy says: “It’s winter, so I figured I’d add snow-covered peaks as a background: I wanted to work with some basic cube shapes.”

Randy says: “I’ve had several requests recently on how to use negative shapes to create strong value contrast.” So he has made this small graphite value study (left below) to help him work out where he wanted to save white spaces and where he needed to place darks.

Sketch by Randy Hale

Randy says: “Planning is all about making choices, visualizing, painting the painting in my head before I every put brush to paper.”

Before the session Randy will supply the photograph (right above), together with a preliminary drawing, and a list of equipment and colours for your palette. We will send these beforehand to all the participants in the session. After the session we will send you a link that will enable to you revisit Randy’s step-by-step teaching. There will also be a gallery of paintings sent in by participants.

The online sessions, which will be hosted by Lois Breckon, will be full of inspirational tips. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions during the demonstration as well aspainting along with Randy. Please register by clicking here.

When you register, you'll be given a link to the Zoom session and to a suggested materials list and colours for your palette. All those who register for Randy’s course will also receive, after the event, a link to a video of the session, for you to revisit his tutorial in your own time. You will also receive a link to a gallery of participants’ paintings.

When you register for the session you will be asked for a donation. Our Zoom painting demonstrations do take quite a bit of time in preparation and administration and your support is very much appreciated. With your generosity we can plan and run further sessions and, more importantly, provide a regular meeting place for creativity, camaraderie and fun. We hope that you enjoy the international, online painting community that we have created.

To recap: Randy Hale’s watercolour session ‘Whistle Stop’, emphasising the importance of negative shapes, begins at 4 o’clock in the afternoon UK time on Thursday 10 December 2020. That registration link again: just click here.

painting by Randy Hale at the watermill in Tuscany
Randy’s impression of the
Watermill seen from the walled garden

And when you have enjoyed painting along online with Randy, why not join him for his fun-filled, sun filled, inspiring week-long courseat the Watermill at Posara next summer, Saturday 21 August to Saturday 28 August 2021 You can find out more about it here.

We have made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows, with more of Randy’s paintings, which you can see by clicking here.

Presenting another new inspiring Watermill tutor: Caroline Deeble

Paintings by Caroline Deeble

We are looking forward to welcoming a new Australian painting tutor to the Watermill next year. Her name is Caroline Deeble and she uses her art to share her love of the natural world. We can’t wait to see how she captures the beautiful scenery of the Watermill and its surroundings. Caroline will be with us for a week-long course in watercolours, from Saturday 7 August to Saturday 14 August 2021. Caroline’s artwork connects the viewer with nature, it’s gentle rhythm, it’s immense power and it’s cleansing ability to calm the soul.

You will find out more about Caroline and her course here.

Caroline Deeble

Caroline is also an experienced teacher who encourages her students to be themselves and explore their passions, as well as learning technical skills. As one of her students says: “It is such an artistic adventure to have Caroline teach you. Fantastic watercolour classes, fun, creative, enriching your soul.”

Caroline will teach in watercolours during her course, but is happy to help with other mediums as well.

Her philosophy about teaching and creating works of art is to “be yourself, explore your passions and continue to learn the technical skills to enhance your ability.”

We have made one of those fun 30-second Facebook slideshows with more of Caroline’s exciting pictures. You can see them 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Rebecca de Mendonça

Rebecca de Mendonça
26 June - 3 July 2021 - three or four places remaining
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.

Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
3 - 10 July 2021 - three or four 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Fancy a bit of yarn bombing on a Watermill knitting week?

Yarn Bombing
(Left) Yarn bombed bus - Picture: Magda Sayeg
(Right) Yarn bombed bench - Picture: Karie Westermann

We have always liked the idea of doing a bit of yarn bombing on a Watermill knitting week, just for the fun of it. But our knitting guests have always been far too busy working on the projects brought by the tutors and enjoying each other’s company on the vine verandah, or in the mill sitting room, or in the garden – or at the local ex-monastery where we go to enjoy the quiet cloisters on a Thursday afternoon.

Sketch by Robert Christopher
A watercolour sketch
of the Fivizzano fountain
by one of our painting guests,
Robert Christopher

But we are still tempted. Perhaps the bus above (left) might be a little ambitious and not meet with the approval of the local transport company, but how about the famous Medici fountain (right) in the nearby walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano? We know the Mayor and perhaps he’d agree to a temporary covering of one of those sprightly dolphins.

Or perhaps we ought to stay at home: Do you think one of our courtyard benches could look like the one above right?

Just a thought. We suspect you knitters would rather get on with your own projects during the week-long courses!

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.

Sketch by Robert Christopher
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 vacations, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Are you flabbergasted at how much weight you have gained?

Sketch by Robert Christopher
Picture: West Midlands Ambulance Service, UK

All writers delight in words and strive to find le mot juste when trying to describe something. But it is fun from time to time to play with words in a different and amusing way. So we were tickled by a recent competition in The Washington Post, in which readers were invited to come up with alternative meanings for common words. They made us laugh and we hope they make you do so, too. Here are some of the winners:

  • coffee: the person upon whom one coughs
  • flabbergasted: appalled over how much weight you have gained
  • abdicate: to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach
  • esplanade: to attempt an explanation while drunk
  • willy-nilly: impotent
  • lymph: to walk with a lisp
  • flatulence: emergency vehicle that picks you up after you have been run over by a steamroller
  • rectitude: the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists
  • Pokémon: a Rastafarian proctologist

You will be smiling, too, when you learn to use words in the most effective way on one of our famous creative writing courses: Scriptwriting, by those ‘living legends’ of comedy and drama for stage, screen and TV, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran; and Writing Your Life Stories with mentor and memoir guru Jo Parfitt. Dates and links below.

2021 Our illuminating creative writing courses

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
8 – 15 August 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
8 – 15 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.



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

Sketch by Robert Christopher
The Local, Italy

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).

All wrapped up - imbottito

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 it 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.’”

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