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NEWSLETTER ISSUE 133 / July 2021

Dear Friend,

Mill summer garden

There is a real sense of déjà vu this July as we still seem to be in the same situation that we were a year ago, having to postpone some of our creative courses as bureaucrats dither and the politicians play, um, politics with decisions to allow their citizens to travel from one country to another.

Our thanks to all those who booked on our creative courses this year for their patience, as we have had no choice but to postpone some of our early courses and are still uncertain about precisley when will be able to start up and welcome you here again. Hopefully it will not be before too long.

Our friends from the United States can now come with little or no restriction, but it seems as if it’s going to be yet another few weeks before our British guests will have similar freedoms.

In the meantime, Lois and I (and Karsten, our factotum, and Flavio, the gardener) are enjoying the superb ambience of the Watermill, its gardens, the millstream and the pure waters of the River Rosaro rushing by.

Patrons videos
For more about rewards of becoming a
Watermill Patron, plase click here

We really do Wish You Were Here! There’s more about our 2021 creative courses on our Watermill website: Just click here.

And don’t forget, our new Watermill Patrons club, to allow those who love the Watermill to play an even greater part in its future, is attracting increasing attention.

The pictures above and below this introductory section show how blooming beautiful the Watermill gardens and grounds are looking this summer. Top left: Courtyard plants and trees; top right: Rose of Sharon; bottom left: we sow poppy seeds for a colourful display in early summer; bottom Right: the terracotta pots in the Watermill courtyard are overflowing!.

Watermill's summer garden in Tuscany

In this month’s newsletter we have stories on:

  • our grateful thanks to the powers-that-be
  • embroidered 'postcards from Posara' - our new venture
  • more rewards for Watermill Patrons
  • Bill's latest essay on Arezzo

Happy reading!

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
Ross and Rachel
from Friends

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.

Our grateful thanks for help from the powers-that-be

Watermill GAL notice

The mills of God may grind slowly but they are as nothing to the pace of Italian bureaucracy! But while we may complain about apparently interminable delays and an Annapurna of paperwork, nonetheless, the powers-that-be do seem to come up trumps in the end, and we are very grateful for the financial assistance that we have received from the Italian government to help sustain our business during these very difficult times.

And we are particularly grateful to GAL Lunigiana, the Gruppo di Azione Locale, which, together with the Region of Tuscany’s Programma di Svillupo Rurale (Rural Development Programme), the Italian Republic and the European Union, for agreeing to give us a grant towards the cost of our photovoltaic electricity-generating system. Mind you, the money hasn’t quite arrived yet, but we are assured that it is on its way!

Watermill's photovoltaic array

Our large array of photovoltaic panels, hidden away in the south-facing roofs of the Watermill complex, now makes us self-sufficient in electricity production, to say nothing of reducing our carbon footprint. We have already produced almost 30,000 kWh of electricity from the sun and saved more than 20 tons of carbon dioxide production.

An ancient bedspread and the new venture: embroidered ‘postcards from Posara’


On a recent visit to a small-but-perfectly-formed castle in the next valley (there are hundreds of them in our area), the castellana* proudly showed us the wonderful 18th-century embroidered bedspread above. We were not its only admirers: every few minutes one of the castle’s 13 indoor cats chose it as a resting place! *Chatelaine in French. I don’t think there’s a word for it in English. Lady of the Castle?

Thinking about wonderful embroidery gives us the opportunity to introduce a new week-long creative course at the Watermill next year. We are calling it ‘Embroidered Postcards from Posara’, and it’s the brainchild of an innovative artist from the North of England, Rachel Wright.

Here’s one of her enchanting embroidered pictures (below left), called Leaving the Tyne 1915.

Embroidery by Rachel Wright

Our guests will join Rachel creating extraordinary embroideries, experimenting with stitch and thread textures. As well as drawing inspiration from Watermill itself, in the walled garden and along by the river and the millstream, our guests will also be visiting, among other local venues, another imposing castle, a tranquil monastery and an ancient hilltop village with towering mountains in the background. Rachel is working away at the moment on ideas for her ‘Postcards from Posara.’ Above right are her first thoughts on the Watermill bamboozery.

Embroidery by Rachel Wright

We are really looking forward to this ‘course with a difference.’ We’d love you to join Rachel for her week and if you book before the end of the year you can come on this 2022 course at 2021 prices. You will find a Preview of the course by clicking here. Please go to the Knitting and Embroidery holidays section and scroll down.

Here is another beautiful creation by Rachel, this one called Crock of Gold. Come and find your own crock of gold at the end of our Watermill rainbow!

More rewards for our Watermill patrons

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

Our Watermill patrons are members of a creative community of convivial like-minded people who subscribe monthly to receive regular videos keeping them up to date on all our activities, together with top tips from our renowned creative tutors, podcasts with 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. They have their say, too, on future exciting projects at the Watermill.

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. It’s an update of some of our recent activities at the Watermill, including how to make elderflower cordial, books we are reading (David Hockney and Edith Wharton); and, a bit of background on the Renaissance painter Ghirlandaio and a tour of his namesake bedroom at the mill.

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.

Bill's latest essay on Arezzo

Become a Watermill Patron and you can join us online, 'Just in Time for an Aperitivo'.

From time to time Bill has been writing a series of essays, a new and unique way of looking at the smaller historic towns that make up the true Italy. As a Watermill patron, you receive exclusive podcasts of these essays.

The idea is this: four friends with different passions and expertise arrive Just in Time for an Aperitivo. They enjoy the evening passeggiata, an aperitivo, a dinner sampling local specialities, then a good night’s sleep in a hotel/pensione, awaking refreshed to see the cultural and scenic attractions of the town and the local area. They talk about their own enthusiasms and expertise, with amusing and insightful anecdotes about people and places, music, history, art and architecture, language, culture, food — everything that contributes tola bella vita italiana. This is not a traditional guidebook, but a series of love letters to Italy. The essays are delightfully read by Lois. (Bill is unable to do so because his parkinsonism precludes elegant speech.) Lucca, Orvieto and Mantova (Mantua) are already ‘in the can’, and more are on the way. You can sign up as a Watermill patron here, to listen to the podcasts.

To give you a flavour, here’s the beginning of the essay on Arezzo, birthplace of many famous men...

If you want to follow the teaching of the author of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and ‘praise famous men and our fathers that begat us,’ you could do far worse than begin in Arezzo.

Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari

For a start, how about Guido d’Arezzo, the 10th-Century monk who is regarded as the father of modern musical notation? Then there’s Francesco Petrarca, better known as Petrarch — poet, scholar, father of Humanism and co-creator of the modern Italian language — and Giorgio Vasari, artist, architect, town-planner and author of Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, the first-ever art history book. Throw in Michelangelo Buonarotti, born nearby, the greatest artist of his age, perhaps of any age, and Piero della Francesca, whose serene frescoes capture the soul of the Tuscan Spring, and you’ll agree that Arezzo has had more than its fair share of famous sons. And as for begetting, who better than Abraham, who at a ripe old age begat two boys, Ishmael and Isaac, forefathers of the Arabs and the Jews.

Abraham and Isaac
God blessing Abraham and Isaac.
Credit: MeisterDrucke

We met Abraham on the ceiling of Giorgio Vasari’s house, painted by the artist himself in his modest mansion in a quiet quarter of the town, having called in late in the afternoon with our friends Helen and Pasquale, before making our passeggiata and taking our aperitivi. Vasari was one of the busiest artists of the 16th Century, what with painting the inside of the enormous cupola of Florence cathedral and designing the Uffizi and that flying corridor for the Medici among other prestigious projects. Of course, he had a team of assistants to help, but he liked to escape regularly to his quiet house in Arezzo “in the borgo of San Vito, which has the purest air in the city” and you can imagine him pottering about the vegetable garden inspecting the beans and the basil, before getting back to painting the inside of his own house. All in, it took him (and his team) from 1542 to 1568 to do so and we’ve no record of what Mrs Vasari thought of having workmen under her feet all that time...

We urge you to tune in on Patreon and listen to the rest!

Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

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.

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 - four or five places remaining
4 – 11 September 2021 - three or four places 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 - fully booked, waiting list open
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.


Creative writing News at the watermill in ItalyCREATIVE WRITING NEWS

Come and tell the stories of your life with Jo

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt returns in August for another of her famous Writing Your Life Stories week-long residential courses at the Watermill.

Jo Parfitt is an author, journalist, teacher, blogger, conference speaker and poet. She has published 32 books herself, has helped more than 100 authors into print and more than 1,000 people to begin writing. Jo's a compassionate, inspiring, and encouraging teacher: her motto is 'sharing what I know to help others to grow'.

Her workshop explores several different methods and genres and is perfect for anyone wanting to write about their own lives for an effective journal, memoir or blog. If you would enjoy an injection of inspiration in a safe and supportive environment, this course is for you. It is appropriate for students of any level.

And don’t forget, you will be Cool and Green: all our rooms are air-conditioned, powered by photovoltaic panels which make us self-sufficient in electricity.

2021 Our uplifting creative writing course

Jo Parfitt

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


Our unique Italian language course

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

We still have a few places left on our inspiring Italian Language Course, which runs from Saturday 16 October to Saturday 23 October 2021.

There will be formal lessons under the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), and 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 - three places 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