Frequently asked questions
Below are a few frequently asked questions relating to our painting holidays in Tuscany. If there are any further questions you need answering, please do not hesitate to contact us using our Contact Form.
At the Watermill
The Watermill is an historic building, dating from the 17th Century, and there are steps both internally and externally.
The Vasari Suite and the Ghirlandaio and Uccello bedrooms are accessible from ground level, with the odd step. The other bedrooms are on the first and second floors (US: second and third floors), accessed by internal and/or external stairs.
The painting studio is accessed by a flight of a dozen or so external steps.
The Vine Verandah in the Walled Garden, where aperitivi are served, has three stone steps leading from the Courtyard.
Painting on location
(click HERE for the typical painting itinerary)
Our transport will drop us off at lovely locations, but sometimes there will be a short walk to get to the best painting spots. The maximum walk (at Verrucola castle and village) is some 80 metres down quite a steep slope. At Fivizzano there is a walk of a similar distance, gently uphill from the lower gate of the town to the main piazza where the market is held. At the other locations our minibuses will drop you off within a few metres from where you will paint. As well as mobility, please also be certain you are able to carry what you need during your location painting sessions.
If you have doubts about your mobility, it would be wisest to bring a spouse or friend or carer who can help you.
Writers, language-learners and knitters
Will also be taken to these lovely locations for a quick tour and special lunches.
The above gives an indication of steps at the Watermill
None whatsoever. Everything is included in the cost of your course: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals (including dinner with wine at charming local restaurants), and local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport; the excursion by train to Lucca or Cinque Terre).
All you have to do is to get to Pisa and we do the rest.
On the excursion day (transport is free), at breakfast time we'll provide materials for your own picnic lunch or, if you prefer, you can buy yourself a snack or a more formal lunch when you are out - it's up to you!
Other than that you only need money for personal needs, postcards and the odd cappuccino in the piazza.
We pick you up at Pisa airport on the first day between 11am and 1pm. We organise precise pick-up times to fit in with our guests' flight arrivals times.
Transfers to the mill later than 1pm are extra, at cost. If you arrive later than 1pm, we can arrange a local taxi to come to pick you up at Pisa airport. This will be cheaper than hiring a taxi at Pisa airport. The cost for a taxi is of the order of 180 Euros. Alternatively, there are trains from Pisa Centrale (shuttle train from airport) to Aulla Lunigiana station and we can arrange to pick you up there, where the taxi fare will be far cheaper than from Pisa. If there are other people arriving outside our pick-up hours, we'll let you know and you will be able to share the transport costs.
Alternatively, you may care to arrive a day early and stay in Pisa overnight (See Where can I stay in Pisa? below) and come to the airport on the Saturday morning. The airport is close to the town and there is a shuttle bus from the centre, as well as a train and taxis. We will tell you the precise times we will pick you up from the airport on Saturday morning.
We depart for Pisa on the last Saturday after breakfast. In practice, this usually means there are two minibuses, leaving 8:00 am and 9:00 am, but precise timing does depend on all our guests' flight times. Since the mill is about a one-and-a-quarter-hour to one-and-a-half-hour's drive from Pisa airport and since check-in starts two hours before flight time, your ideal return flight time should be later than about 1130 am /noon. If your flight is earlier, we’ll try to help with our complimentary drop-off, but it depends on our guests’ departures – and if your flight time means that you have to leave Posara before 7.30 am, we will arrange a taxi for you, for which you will have to pay.
For those who are leaving Pisa airport later in the day, we will drop you off at the airport in the morning. It's easy to leave your luggage there and enjoy sightseeing in the city. The airport is close to the town and there is a shuttle bus to and from the centre, as well as a train and taxis.
Please let us know your flight details as early as you can so we can make all the necessary arrangements.
A handling charge of £75 per person per week will be levied on all cancellations. In addition, if you have to cancel four to eight weeks before departure, a charge of 40% of the total price is payable; at two to four weeks, 60%; at one to two weeks, 80%; at less than one week, 90%. Once the course has started, 100% is payable. We highly recommend that you take out travel insurance that includes provision for you having to cancel.
We don’t stay there ourselves of course, but our travel advisers and guests have in the past recommended:
- Bologna Hotel Pisa - www.bologna.pisahotelsitaly.it/ - 4 star
- Alessandro della Spina - www.hoteldellaspina.it/ - 3 star
- Relais dell'Orologio - www.hotelrelaisorologio.com/en/index.html - 5 star
- One of our guests regularly stays at the cheap and cheerful B&B Gate 52: www.gate52pisarooms.it/ and he swears it was exceptional value and very convenient.
- We also have heard good things of the 4-star Republica Marinara - www.hotelrepubblicamarinara.it/en/
- And, very near the tower: Hotel Pisa Tower www.hotelpisatower.com/ - 3 star.
Added by guests in 2017:
- La Corte di Stelio www.lacortedistelio.it Tel: +39 050 2200092 - Excellent B&B, very close to the airport, ideal for late arrival and Watermill pick-up next day at the airport. Hot and cold drinks available 24/7, good buffet breakfast. Very friendly family business.
- Hotel Roma www.hotelroma.pisa.it Tel: - +39 050 550578 - Excellent B&B, just across the road from the city walls and the Baptistry, Cathedral, and Leaning Tower. Also, there is a bus stop outside the hotel to get to other areas of Pisa. (La Taverna di Emma, a short walk down the road from Hotel Roma, for an amazing Italian evening meal, with wonderful service. Booking recommended, hotel reception will do it)
Our Personal Travel Adviser, Jan Handley, of Freedom Personal Travel Advisors (part of the Thomas Cook Group), can find a hotel for you. There is absolutely no obligation to use her, but if you would like her help, her UK phone number is 0844 8716162 (freephone) or +01964 626360 (local call charge) [From outside the UK. Dial +44 844 8716162 or +44 1964 626360] and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
For our UK guests:
You can book your own flights to Pisa (there are good connections from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, East Midlands, Birmingham, Leeds/Bradford, Manchester and Bristol and an increasing number of other UK airports).
Or, to make life easier, you can use the services of our Jan Handley, of Freedom Personal Travel Advisors (part of the Thomas Cook Group), who will fix everything for you at very competitive prices. There is absolutely no obligation to use her, but if you would like her help, her UK phone number is 0844 8716162 (freephone) or +01964 626360 (local call charge) [From outside the UK. Dial +44 844 8716162 or +44 1964 626360] and her email address is email@example.com. We have found that many travel agents these days are not very helpful and are often tied to big tour operators. Jan will give you personal service.
For our non-UK guests, we suggest you book online, or use a local travel agent. Don’t forget travel insurance!
Of course you can. You can park at the mill and we'll give you full instructions on how to get here. (We haven't lost anyone yet!). We reckon you can do Calais to the mill easily in two days using the French autoroutes and the Italian autostrade and it is even more fun if you take three days and make a holiday of the journey. We recommend stops near Strasbourg and beside Lake Como if you make a three-day trip. We'll gladly share our experiences of motoring down, suggesting routes and places to stay.
Yes, of course. Italian electricity supply is 220 Volts, You will need an adaptor from your plug to a 2-pin continental socket. We have wi-fi available in the communal sitting room.
Your tutor will be in touch well before the course with a suggested list of materials, but we are generally very relaxed and there's no obligation to bring anything specific.
To save you being overloaded on your flight we can provide:
- lightweight portable easels
- portable chairs
- drawing boards
- water bottles
- white spirit
No, all linen and towels are provided. There's also a washing machine for communal use, but please ask us first so we can fit you in around the mill's laundering.
There are hairdryers in each room. If you bring your own, the electricity is 220V. You will need an adaptor from your system to a two-pin European plug.
In an emergency it's probably best for your friends or relatives to contact Bill on his Italian mobile: +39 327 379 9178. Or Lois at +39 328 471 3589. Or you can call our manager Karsten on his mobile: +39 347 979 3294.
If you bring your laptop you can receive emails in our communal sitting room.
Please note that the numbers above are correct; don't add or subtract zeroes to those above.
Please see the Note on mobility above if you have any doubts about your capacity to climb steps or walk short distances.
At the Watermill there are steps, both internally and externally.
The painting studio is accessed by a flight of a dozen or so external steps.
Painting on location
The maximum walk (at Verrucola castle and village) is some 80 metres down quite a steep slope. At Fivizzano there is a walk of a similar distance, gently uphill from the lower gate of the town to the main piazza where the market is held. At the other locations our minibuses will drop you off within a few metres from where you will paint.
As well as mobility, please also be certain you can carry what you need during your location painting sessions. If you have doubts about your mobility, it would be wisest to bring a spouse or friend or carer who can help you.
The Wednesday excursion is to Lucca or the Cinque Terre is by train. How much walking you do when you get there is entirely up to you! There is some strenuous walking in the Cinque Terre if you want to do it, but there are ferry boats (and trains) between the villages.
Non-participating partners are welcome to join the groups. You should certainly come on the day we go to the wonderful Al Vecchio Tino restaurant (usually the Friday) in its spectacular setting, and on the excursion to Lucca or the Cinque Terre on the Wednesday. And we have many suggestions for fun places to visit and things to do while your partner is busy on the course. If you come by car, of course, you will enjoy even more freedom. Many non-participating partners, however, find it rather relaxing to choose a quiet spot in the walled garden or the riverside gardens and settle back with a book or enjoying a dappled-sunlight snooze....
Visit our Partners activities page HERE for more information
Painting holidays latest 'guests' comments
A few of the many comments from our painting holiday guests in 2018:
I have never received such great treatment on a holiday. You all couldn't have been kinder. Everything was 5 star, from the food to the bedrooms, to all of your staff. It couldn't have been any better. Your organisation of the week was amazing, down to the very last detail. Thank you again. - CG
I just wanted to say again how much we enjoyed our time at the Watermill last week. 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. With my gratitude and best wishes to everyone. - KMcA
What a great week full of Art, wonderful company and mouth-watering food & wine in a picturesque location in Tuscany!! Thank you, Bill & Lois, for your hospitality- everything was superb and we were looked after so well by you and your team throughout the whole stay. Many thanks to Maggie and Lou for such a great inspiration and instruction- you are such a beautiful and talented couple!! Definitely would recommend to anyone who wants to enjoy the best of Tuscany and improve their art skills! - AK
First class accommodation: the hosts couldn't do enough for their guests, the food was first class and the day trips along with the excellent art tuition made it a holiday to remember. I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending The Watermill. - CD
A lovely holiday, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Excellent tuition from Maggie. Superb scenery. Delicious food. Many thanks for everything. - SH
Thank you so much for your warm and generous hospitality last week, which far exceeded any expectations that I might have had. Convivial lunches and dinners, the scrumptious food, the aperitivi under the vines and the digestivi and amusing conversation in your very comfortable sitting room. Last but not least, the inspiring painting with Sandra in such beautiful surroundings. - AD
What a wonderful week we had at the Watermill. The experience exceeded all expectations. We are home now and I’ve been looking through my photos and paintings and can’t stop thinking about how wonderful everything was. - KR
Everything I dreamt of and more. The group that are now precious friends made the experience even better. Excellent accommodations and cuisine. The hospitality was 5 star! Thank you, Bill, Lois, Sandra, Chloe and Karsten. BRAVO. - SH
Thank you for such a lovely and memorable week at the Watermill. It was although everything was magically suspended for a week and all I had to do was to show up for one delightful painting session after another with Sandra. Through your hospitality I felt part of a big family by the end of the week. Thank you for making my week so special. - BZM
I am just back from an awesomely fantastic week at the Watermill, at Sandra’s painting holiday.
I don’t have enough words to describe my experience & don’t know where to begin.
Sandy is a superb artist; which we all know from her works. Apart from that, she is an excellent instructor & doesn’t hold back even the tiniest secrets of how she has reached where she is now & shares all her big and small tips with her students. It was a great experience and good fun to embrace a totally new style of painting under her guidance.
As for Bill & Lois – could there be better hosts than them? They have displayed absolutely courteous and impeccable care in looking after us – right from the smallest individual requirements to taking care of the group as a whole. I think it was flawless.
And The Watermill – wow – what a property, the sound of the gushing stream, the hundreds of chirping birds at dawn, the church bells (not to forget their school bell), the vast spread of greens & flowers all around, the well maintained rooms & the feeling of welcome all the time.
We were treated to lovely meals, beautifully plated at each meal & served in great style, Here I must mention that without a single error, they took care of our special dietary requirements, whether at the Watermill or at a restaurant in the villages.
Thank you Bill & Lois for a wonderful experience. - SH
Thank you both for a really fabulous week. What a very special week it was. It was all so well managed and thoughtfully organised, it was so peaceful and relaxed. The meals were especially delicious, and I so enjoyed your introduction and the in-depth descriptions of the many varied Italian dishes we experienced, this really was a treat. Sandra was very charming and I learnt a lot from her. It really was the most wonderful week, in a most beautiful and unique setting. Your kindness and charming hospitably, made us all feel so relaxed and spoilt. Thank you both again for one of the best holidays I have experienced, and perhaps I can repeat again one day. - VS