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Dear Friend,

Your hosts at the watermill in Tuscany, Italy Lois and Bill

I don’t know about you, but we are not very good at hanging around. But that’s just what is happening at the moment (up to a point, anyway). In the next few weeks we are expecting uplifting news of the control of the virus in Italy and the announcement of the lifting of restrictions on travelling here. But until then, all we can really do is wait, even though it is not in our nature.

Not that we have been idle: we have been running our weekly interactive online painting courses, which have created a real sense of international camaraderie during this difficult period. And we’ve launched our new Watermill Patrons club, to allow those who love the Watermill to play an even greater part in its future. (There are more details of both these ventures below.)

Alls quite in Florence
For more about our online courses, please click here

For more about rewards of becoming a Watermill Patron, please click here.

And, of course, we have been working away to maintain the mill in tiptop condition ready for when our first guests arrive. We are planning our exciting Grand Reawakening, from the beginning of July onwards. (We have special contingency plans in force so that if it’s not possible for you to make it, we will postpone your course with the same tutor to a later date, or give you the choice of another tutor if you prefer.)

People are again beginning to book for our creative weeks away from it all in the heart of unspoiled Tuscany. Now that it is possible to look forward to a Great Escape, why don’t you join them for inspiring tuition, beautiful surroundings spectacular scenery, warm hospitality, delicious food and wine – and the convivial company of like-minded people? Watermill creative courses refresh the parts that other holidays cannot reach. There’s more about our 2021 creative courses on our Watermill website: Just click here.

In this month’s newsletter we have stories on:

  • Looking forward to the revival of the passeggiata
  • A citrus bonanza
  • More exclusive rewards for Watermill patrons
  • Our online, interactive painting sessions continue to inspire
  • A new boxed set of videos from our second ‘virtual’ online week
  • The Vasari bedroom celebrates another Renaissance polymath
  • Painting tutor of the month: Grahame Booth
  • The latest availability on all our renowned creative painting courses
  • What do Sex and the City’s Carrie and Mad Men’s Joan have in common?
  • Witty literary lines
  • Italenglish and the Academy of Bran
  • What's new on your bookshelf?

Happy reading!

The pictures surrounding this introductory section are: Top left: Lois blows on a dandelion; top right: Bill waiting for you in the Millstream gardens; bottom left: our kumquats take the Spring air; bottom right: a vibrant iris blooms beside the millstream

Flowers and fruits at the watermill in Italy

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
Take me to Posara, darling!
Cary Grant and Doris Day in
That Touch of Mink

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.

Looking forward to the revival of the passeggiata

Social Lifr Project
Picture: The Social Life Project

One of the things that we, and millions of Italians, have missed most in recent months is the evening passeggiata, that delightful hour or so when, in towns and cities throughout the country, everyone goes for a walk. Well, not exactly a walk, more a stroll, a gentle promenade about the town, the aim of which is not exercise per se, but rather to see and to be seen, to chat with friends and to take an apertivo (a cocktail or a glass of wine, with a few tasty appetizers, to get one in the mood for dinner).

There is nothing nicer than to stoll in the warm evening air surrounded by elegant architecture, and then to sit and watch the world and his wife go by. And not only his wife, but his mother, father, children and grandchildren, teenagers, schoolkids, infants pushed in baby buggies, elderly people pushed in wheelchairs, others promenading purposefully with their sticks, supported by their loved ones. It is a vivacious scene: over there’s a young couple proudly taking the air with their brand-new bambino in his brand-new pram; in the piazza, older men and women are chatting and gossiping, while doe-eyed girls dart doe-eyed glances at passing boys.

In recent months, however, with café’s, bars and restaurants forced to close at six in the evening, the passeggiata has become a shadow of its former self. Masked and social distanced, with no pleasant hostelry open for an aperitivo and a chat, there seemed little point in the ritual evening stroll.

Now, however, things are opening up and the coming days we will again be able to take an exhilarating passeggiata, either in Florence or in Fivizzano, the walled mediaeval town near the Watermill. Salute! Shall we look out over the square in Fivizzano or choose our favourite corner in Florence?

Eating out in Tuscany
Two of our favourite places for an aperitivo: the Ricci in the square in Fivizzano,
or the 19:26 bar in Florence


A citrus bonanza

Montage of citrus trees

Here’s our fine collection of citrus trees — lemons, oranges and kumqats – taking the air after wintering indoors to protect them from the cold. There’s still threats of a chilly wind blowing down from the mountains on some days, so they will shelter in the lee of the studio for a little bit longer before being distributed about the Watermill courtyard to brighten your welcome.

And, of course, there’s another bonus: we will always have plenty of lemons to drop in our gin-and-tonics and our Aperol-based house cocktail and, of course, slivers of orange peel for our Negronis. Come and join us this summer and celebrate the citrus bonanza.

Cocktails at the watermill in Tuscany, Italy
Cocktails need a hint of citrus


Building our Watermill community of patrons

View our patreon page
You can enjoy patronage perks by clicking here

We have been working hard this month building up the creative community of convivial like-minded people who have become a Watermill patrons. There are lots of bonuses to persuade you to do so.

Patrons receive regular videos keeping them up to date on all our activities, together with top tips from our renowned creative tutors, podcasts giving insights into Italian life, and, of course, delicious recipes from the Watermill kitchen. And there are other perks, such as free access to some of our live, interactive online painting sessions and discounts for our renowned residential creative courses here at the mill. You will have your say, too, on future exciting projects at the Watermill.

Patrons videos
You can watch the teaser video
by clicking here

We have already built up a library of a dozen or so videos, podcasts and blogs, to which our patrons have exclusive access. Lois recently made a teaser about one of the latest videos, to show what you are missing if you haven’t joined up.

We would like to persuade you not just to view the teaser video but also to become a Watermill patron yourself, and add your vibrancy to our international community.

The first step is to click here to take you to the Patreon site to see an introductory video and read more. Then join up to become part of our new Watermill adventures.

Our online, interactive painting sessions continue to inspire

Watermill painting courses online

Just click here to learn more.

Mary Padgett's online course at the watermill in Italy

We have had wonderful feedback from our online, interactive painting sessions every Thursday, and as we’ve said before, we really do seem to be creating an international community of like-minded creative people. As one participant recently said: “I have been doing lots of Zooming (hasn’t everyone?) and I must say that you get the prize for ‘best organized’ and ‘best participant experience’!!”

We will continue to run our online Thursday sessions in May and June, before the Grand Re-Awakening in July. Please just click here for more.

To celebrate the success of our online sessions, you'll see above just a few of the bouquets of tulips from some of our participants on pastellist Mary Padgett’s online session of last month.

A new boxed set of videos from our second ‘virtual’ online week (and another perk for patrons)

Online painting courses at the watermill

As part of our series of interactive online sessions with Mike Willdridge we created special ‘virtual’ online painting weeks, where participants painted along with Mike for a couple of hours each day for seven days, at the Watermill and in the surrounding stunning scenery of unspoiled rural Tuscany. The response was overwhelming. As one of our ‘virtual’ guests said: “It was a fabulous week and over all too quickly. I can't tell you how much I am missing being in Tuscany! It was the best thing I have done all year. Mike's demonstrations were so clear and informative. I felt I learnt more in seven days than I have in seven years!”

The virtual weeks were in November last year and February this year. If you couldn’t make it at the time, you will be pleased to know we have just launched our second boxed set of edited videos, one from each of the seven days last February. Lois has made a little trailer, giving you a flavour of the virtual week, which you can see by clicking here. We think the full boxed set is excellent value for money at just US$99 or approximately £70 (British pounds) for all seven videos. You can or rent buy the set or, if you prefer, individual videos.

Online course video package

Another perk for Patrons:

if you sign up as a Watermill Patron, as well as all the other rewards you are eligible to a 15% discount, whether you want to buy or rent either the full complement of seven videos or just a single video of your preference. (This offers available for a limited period only.) Just email us for the promotion code.

The first step is to click here to see an introductory video and read more. Then join up to become part of our new Watermill adventures. Then you can claim your discount on the virtual week.

The Watermill’s Vasari Suite: commemorating a Renaissance man who pioneered the History of Art

Vasari suite

The last of the Renaissance artists celebrated in our tour of the Watermill bedrooms and suites is Giorgio Vasari, painter, architect, town planner and pioneer of the history of art. The self-contained Vasari Suite looks out over the Watermill cascades and the courtyard, and, as usual, I have made one of those short Facebook slideshows, which you can see by clicking here.


Vasari, who lived and worked in Florence in the 16th century, is perhaps most famous not for his artistic endeavours, but for his book, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, the first book on art history, in which he lauded Michelangelo as the apotheosis of artistic development.

But Vasari was very busy elsewhere, too. He painted (with others) the inside of the dome of Florence cathedral and some colossal frescoes in the Palazzo Vecchio; he built 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 I de’ Medici, wouldn’t have to mix with the hoi polloi on his way home.

Alls quite in Florence
Uffizi courtyard and the corridor, two of Vasari’s great architectural feats

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 if two friends share the apartment but prefer separate sleeping quarters.)

Vasari bedroom suite at the watermill in Tuscany

You can find out more about all our elegant Watermill bedrooms and our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

The Bookseller of Florence

What's new on your bookshelf?

It's always fascinating to know what your friends are reading, so we'd like to share with you our choice for this month:

The Bookseller of Florence by Ross King.

What are YOU reading?


Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Painting tutor of the month: Grahame Booth

We are delighted to welcome Grahame Booth to the Watermill painting tutors' team. He will be with us to teach in watercolours from Saturday 23 October to Saturday 30 October 2021.

Grahame paints only in watercolour, and his success is reflected in the numerous awards he has won over many years. Also, his YouTube channel now has more than 20,000 subscribers. He only started to paint in his early 30s, some 30 years ago, and, because he clearly remembers the problems and frustrations of learning to master watercolours, he is a particularly sympathetic tutor.

Grahame’s painting above is called Market Day and shows how you can successfully depict crowds by painting a few people with reasonable accuracy and just suggesting the rest. You will be able to try the techniques yourself when we go on Tuesdays to our nearby walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano to enjoy, and sketch, the weekly market there.

Paintings by Grahame Booth
(Left) Here’s another lovely Grahame watercolour, a courtyard in the French town of Lumières
(Right) We love this atmospheric watercolour of an allotment garden by Grahame

Grahame Booth

Grahame believes that plein air painting is the key to success in this beautiful medium and he will show how to use a logical approach to translate the landscape into watercolours full of light, excitement and impact. One previous student said: “Grahame can both paint and teach. He can manage a group of all levels and everyone learns and improves. Most importantly it’s always fun.”

Grahame’s 2021 course at the Watermill, is already filling up, so if you’d like to join us, now really is the time to book.

Our inspiring 2021 painting tutors

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

Vicki Norman

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

Carl March

Carl March
10 - 17 July 2021 - three or four places remaining
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.

Randy Hale

Randy Hale
21 - 28 August 2021 - three or four places remaining
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 - three or four places remaining
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 - two or three places remaining
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.

Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot
2 – 9 October 2021 - fully booked, waiting list open
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 - one or two places remaining
To learn more about Ali and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.

Grahame Booth

Grahame Booth
23 - 30 October 2021 - four places remaining
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.

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 connection between Sex and the City and Mad Men

Alls quite in Florence
Sarah Jassica Parker and Christina Hendricks - Photos: Cordon Press and Daily Mail
Ryan Gosling - Photo Daily Candid News.

As well as being famous actresses, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Christina Hendricks have something else in common -- they’re both keen knitters. Sarah Jessica Parker knitted in breaks during the filming of Sex and the City, in which she played Carrie, while Christina Hendricks was often seen with her needles and yarn on the set of Mad Men, where she played Joan.

And it is not just actresses: actor Ryan Gosling became an enthusiastic knitter, too, when filming some years ago with a group of women. He told Good Housekeeping Magazine: “I was in a room full of old ladies who were knitting and it was an all-day scene, so they showed me how. It was one of the most relaxing days of my life.”

Yes, all knitters know the beneficial effects of their work. The tension just slips away. Speaking of which, after a year of tensions, why not join us for a relaxing, mollycoddled week, where the only tension you have to worry about is getting it right with your needles! We are running two knitting courses this year: our first-ever knitting retreat, and the second, a tutored course with exclusive knitting projects, run by the renowned English knitting designer Louisa Harding.

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

The Watermill knitting retreat will run from Saturday 17 July to Saturday 24 July 2021 and, since there is no official tutor, we are offering a special  discount of £200 (British pounds) per person. We already have eight knitters booked into this course, so we have room for four or so more.

Knitting in the Watermill'sitting room
The Watermill sitting room,
an ideal place to knit and chat.
Picture: Phil Wright

Instead of having a tutor, individual guests will bring their own projects to knit during the week. The rhythm of the week will be much the same as usual, with morning and afternoon sessions on the vine verandah or in the Watermill sitting room, where you will enjoy convivial like-minded company in the peaceful ambience of the Watermill. There is a link with more details below.

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. Louisa will be with us from Saturday 7 August to Saturday 14 August 2021. Again, there is a link to more details about her week below.

2021 knitting breaks

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.

Louisa Harding

Louisa Harding
7 August - 14 August 2021 - four or five places remaining
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course 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

Witty literary lines: how many of these to you recollect?

Cody Delistraty

We are grateful to Cody Delistraty, a writer who lives in Paris and New York, for this collection of witty literary lines. We suspect you know many of them, but it’s fun to see them again.

“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness”Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.” — Dorothy Parker, The Collected Dorothy Parker

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

P.G. Wodehouse
P.G. Wodehouse - Photo: BBC

 “If not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters

“And she’s got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need.”P.G. Wodehouse, Mostly Sally

“I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer” Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”Dorothy Parker, The Algonquin Wits

“I don’t deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it.”Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
- Art Uk

“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”George Bernard Shaw

“The youth of America is their oldest tradition. It has been going on now for three hundred years.”Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”T.S. Eliot

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark

We also like the, possibly apocryphal, remark by Oscar Wilde when someone else said something witty at a dinner party. Oscar said: “I wish I’d said that.” A fellow diner replied: “You will Oscar, you will.”

Come and indulge your own literary wit and enjoy that of our inspiring creative writing tutors and your fellow students one of the two creative writing courses we are running this year.

Jo Parfitt will be hosting another of her famous Writing Your Life’s Stories weeks and Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran will be back for their inimitable Scriptwriting course. How can you resist? (As Oscar probably said: “I can resist anything but temptation.”)

2021 Our witty and uplifting creative writing courses

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
24 – 31 July 2021 - Places available
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please visit their 2021 Profile Page.

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
14 – 21 August 2021 - two or three places remaining
Write your life stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.


Italenglish and the Academy of Bran

Language Bran

We enjoy Dot Wordsworth’s weekly column Mind Your Language in The Spectator. Dot, as her nom de plume implies, is a whizz with words and each week she makes a foray into the linguistic landscape, remarking on origins and changing meanings.

In one of her columns, she discussed the Italians’ predilection for using English words to appear cool and fashionable: columns in La Repubblica’s weekly magazine are headed (in English) Beauty and Lifestyle for instance.

Language Bran

Dot says: “This is the sort of thing that drives the Accademia della Crusca into a frenzy. The academy has been making judgements since its foundation in 1583 on the use of the national language. Crusca means bran and the academy likes to sift out indigestible foreign bran from the fine home-grown flour.”

Despite the Academy’s efforts, however, many English words have crept in, like smoking for a dinner jacket and footing, meaning jogging. And a spider is a sports car, derived from the Fiat Spider of the 1960s, but now generic for all convertibles.


We particularly like andare in tilt, which means to go haywire, or for your computer to crash. And the expression fare tilt means to become incoherent. It all implies that too many Italians misspent too much to their youth playing pinball machines in their local café!

Rest assured that on the Watermill’s elegant* Italian Language course you won’t fa tilt, but become even more coherent in one of the more beautiful languages in the world. *We're elegant, but you won’t need your smoking and you can go footing in the beautiful countryside if you want. Come and join us for la lingua e la bella vita italiana!

Learning Italian In the garden shade at the watermill in Italy
Learning Italian under the dappled shade
of the vine verandah

For our week-long course, from Saturday 16 October to Saturday 23 October 2021 we’ve teamed up again with wonderful tutor Francesca La Sala, you’ll meet Italian people and interact with their daily lives. There will not only be formal lessons under the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but we’ll also be making trips and excursions to enjoy 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, speaking Italian, practising what we’ve learned.

2021 Language Course

Francesca la SalaFrancesca la Sala
16 - 23 October 2021 - one place remaining
Learning Italian with the Italians
To learn more about Francesca and her
2021 course at the mill, please click here.

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 Patron of The Watermill at Posara

Visit our Watermill Patrons website (Link below). Just follow the instructions to subscribe and enjoy special privileges. By becoming a Patron you’ll enjoy many exclusive benefits, including practical and inspiring tips from our international painting and creative writing tutors, recipes from the watermill’s mouth-watering menus, and podcasts on Italian life. And there are also exclusive offers at the higher tiers for our courses and holidays.

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