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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.


Self-caterers

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 can organise special optional excursions for non-participating partners (npps) and will discuss these with the npps when they arrive. These extra excursions will be at cost. The Watermill makes no profit from them.

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 8:30 am and 9:30 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 12 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.

The deposit is non-returnable, unless you cancel within 14 days of the booking.

If the course has to be postponed because of official restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the deposit may be transferred to a course with the same tutor at a later date, or to another tutor of your choice.

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:

Added by guests in 2017/8:

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.

Added by guests in 2018/9:

Palazzo Kinsky, 52 Via San Martino, just south of the river.

Added by tutor Randy Hale in 2022

La Corte di Lisa B&B, Via San Bernardo 22. https://www.lacortedilisa.com/
Adjacent to Piazza della Pera with about 7-8 restaurants an bars all around the perimeter. Filled with local families on a Friday evening! (NE part of Pisa, yet on south side of river).

The best airport to arrive at is Pisa, which has many daily flights to and from international destinations. You might also care to fly into Florence and spend a few days there. There is a regular train service from Florence Santa Maria Novella station to Pisa Centrale, where there is a shuttle train which takes only a few minutes to arrive at Pisa Aeroporto, where we pick our guests up on the morning of the first Saturday of their holiday week.

We recommend that you do not book your flights until we have told you that sufficient numbers have enrolled on a course to make it viable, and that it will definitely run. We will let you know this at the earliest opportunity, (many months before the start of the course) to help you get the best deals on flights online or through your local travel agent. When booking your flights, please note our complimentary pick-up and drop-off times, which you can find in the section above. And don't forget to take out 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. Most of our bedrooms now have a good wi-fi signal, but if you have any problems, you will find the best signal 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
  • rags

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.

Outings

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 of your destination.

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

Comments on our 2022 painting holidays

A few of the many comments from our 2022 painting holiday guests

Mary Padgett’s course


I was so pleased with my experience at the Watermill. The attention to detail was impressive--well cared for property, clean rooms (all with own bathrooms) with amenities and regular housekeeping, delicious meals, logistics for each day's activity well-planned and precise; I did not have to worry about anything except focusing on my painting which is what I went there to do! The hosts, Bill and Lois, are friendly and kind (and orgainzed!) Karsten and the rest of the staff also welcoming and ready to assist with any question. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and will visit again. Meals were great and my request for vegetarian substitutes as needed readily met. Transportation to and from airport provided. This is a gem of a place! JW


i feel so lucky to have spent a week at the watermill and i give it my most enthusiastic recommendation. my list of appreciations is long, but foremost is that every detail is accounted for - there are simply NO logistical hitches! guests are totally free to both pursue what they came to do - in my case painting - and to enjoy the beautiful surroundings (of which i took at least 1000 photographs). nothing was lacking - the facilities are a wonderful blend of history, beauty, and functionality; the food is plentiful, soulful, and clearly made by hand; the house wines are lovely (not to mention the daily aperitivi and digestivi); and the espresso flows at any time of day. the hosts even lent me a mat and weights so i could continue my daily workout routine. there were absolutely no extra charges or fees. in short, my painting tutor was able to totally focus on her students in this environment - what an amazing luxury.


Mary Padgett herself:


It was an absolute pleasure to teach at the Watermill. You and Lois have created an ideal environment for artist guests. Buzz and I, and all in my group, felt welcomed and well-cared for throughout the week.

One of my goals in my workshops is to nurture connections between participants and you set the stage for us to become a community of artists. Our mealtime conversations along with our end-of-the-day studio critiques were highlights of the week.

Our painting sites exceeded my expectations, each one distinct and each with a variety of options. I’ve taught workshops in Spain, France, and at another location in Italy and The Watermill gets my vote as the best. I will promote it as such!!

Thank you both for giving me and my group this opportunity. I’m grateful to Karsten too for his kindness and vigilant assistance. MP


Keiko Tanabe’s course;


I had a wonderful time at The Watermill.. A fantastically beautiful setting and accommodation, with amazing hospitality, and food to die for. A really special group of people, we painted with the superb artist Keiko Tanabe, such a great lady, such fun, and so generous with her time. I hope you consider visiting The Watermill if you are near to Pisa, italy because for me it was the trip of a lifetime!!! HM


Just back from possibly the best Art workshop at the Watermill at Posara. Tutor non other than the renowned Keiko Tanabe. Art, food, wine were tried but friendships were born and will continue. Lois, Bill and Karsten were absolutely super hosts. If you haven't been there, put it on your wishlist. PM


We just can’t thank you enough for such a fabulous week at The Watermill. It is such a lovely place to be, but you and your staff go over the top to make it an exceptional week. And Lois is such a good cook! Have you ever considered compiling some of your recipes? We had a fabulous group of painters. A delightful mix. And of course, Keiko is not only a painter she does a terrific job teaching and tuning into individuals. MLW & WW


Having just enjoyed my 15th, yes 15th, painting week at The Watermill at Posara, now fully operational again after lockdown, I can with enthusiasm say that I can think of no more exhilarating setting for such a holiday.

The welcome from Bill and Lois Breckon is as warm as ever. The accommodation, together with all the delicious menus, consisting almost exclusively of locally produced ingredients, is faultless. All rooms are en suite.

Over the years I have chosen a variety of teachers, experts mainly in watercolour. All have been stimulating, helpful and encouraging. Non-painting partners are most welcome. They can either join the artists on their daily excursions or simply relax in the beautiful gardens or beside the picturesque river Rosaro which provides the water for the mill-race which still runs beneath the old Tuscan buildings now so attractively restored and adapted.

One day mid-week is free for an optional visit either to Lucca (longish but very picturesque train journey) or to the Cinque Terre (sometimes crowded), but both enjoyable - fares included in the price.

I cannot praise a 'Watermill at Posara' painting holiday too highly. WS


Maggie Renner Hellmann’s course;


This was my first visit to The Watermill. I was there as a solo traveller. My week was art-tutored by the decidedly talented, stimulating, patient and knowledgeable Maggie Renner Hellmann. Words don’t do justice to all her charming and artistic attributes. As a complete novice, she guided me with tact and inspiration and I ended up quite proud of my watercolour daubs that resembled those by a 2 year old. Still, practice makes perfect!

The accommodation in picturesque rural surroundings in Tuscany was very comfortable and restful with all amenities. Everything ran like clockwork. Delicious food appeared as if by magic at mealtimes washed down by copious quantities of local wine. Excursions and transport were well planned and there were no hitches. Nothing was too much trouble for Lois and Bill Breckon or for Karsten

.

Members of staff were unobtrusive and everything imaginable was done to render it a memorable week. The fellowship of other participants (painting and non- painting) was interesting and congenial. All in all, it was a most enjoyable holiday. SJ


Thank you for all your work , welcome and hospitality to make our week in the Watermill so pleasant. The place is very beautiful and conducive to art and relaxation. The food was really lovely and so beautifully presented. I really appreciated all the extra effort you made to see that we, non painters, were educated and entertained. SC


We had a wonderful time last week. Loved it all—the Botticelli room and the comfy bedding. Our delightful hosts. Your organization and thoughtfulness. Karsten! Our excellent drivers. The location and the beautiful Watermill property in general. The help you gave us both before and during the week. I would encourage others to take classes at The Watermill. SS


Maggie herself


What a great week painting with all you lovely creative souls! Thanks Bill & Lois for taking such great care of us all!! The accommodations and food were phenomenal once again! The Watermill knows what they’re doing!! Bravo!


Painting holidays latest guests' comments

A few of the many comments from our painting holiday guests:


Best holiday I've had in years! A wonderful week spent painting watercolour landscapes with the inspirational guidance and teaching of Paul Talbot Greaves. Everything was taken care of, all we had to do was paint - and eat! Our group of 12 visited a market, hill-top villages, a former monastery and the glorious city of Lucca, using the sketches and photographs we made to help us produce work in the studio later. Each evening featured a delicious three course meal, cooked by Lois or other members of her local team - I must have put on about half a stone! My single room was plain but comfortable, spotlessly clean, with an en suite shower and superb views of the beautiful grounds. The only downside couldn't be helped - the weather was unusually chilly for late April/early May. But the wonderful scenery and the beautiful flowers of the Tuscan hills more than made up for it. Thank you, Bill and Lois and all your many splendid helpers, for the best holiday I've had in years - and I've got some nice paintings to show for it! - PT


Our accommodation was great and very palatial. The hospitality was wonderful. The itinerary was perfect for us and we really appreciated Bill's knowledge of Italian culture and traditions. Chris (non-painting partner) was grateful for the advice Bill gave him on the local walks and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. I enjoyed painting with Paul again and as usual learnt new techniques to improve my work. He is such a talented artist and so good at pitching his tuition to the needs of his students.

The locations we visited were so traditional and interesting and I have many images to refer to for future projects.

We loved the local Italian food, so different from other food we have had in other areas of Italy. Thanks for the yummy chocolate cake recipe. I shall definitely be making one when the family come round.

What a great group of people, I know I shall be keeping in touch with several . A wonderful holiday! Thanks to you both and your staff for looking after us so well. - S&C H


A very big thank you for the wonderful week at the Watermill—it was way and beyond any of my expectations! You both are such caring and warm hosts, which added to the enjoyment and inspiration of having Keiko as our tutor — your attention to detail. And gourmet food served was not something I had expected, nor was the beauty of the rooms, villa and rose blooming gardens!! I am taking away many happy memories indeed! - MR


Thank you all for a brilliant, brilliant holiday... with the awful weather it could have been a bit miserable, but thanks to your impeccable organisation, truly superb meals and fabulous accommodation in a glorious setting, it was a real joy despite the rain!! Of course. our wonderful tutor, Keiko, was so warm and friendly, so enthusiastic, and truly inspirational that that made a huge difference too. - HM


Thank you both and all the staff for your wonderful hospitality. it is like coming home and I am so looking forward to seeing you again next year! - MB


Sandy was a fantastic tutor and kept our noses to the proverbial millstone! The food, the wine, the organisation, the host and hostess and all the staff were superb. - SC


Thank you for giving us such a lovely time at the Watermill it was way beyond my expectations and Vicki’s tuition took me out of my comfort zone, which is what I needed. I’m looking forward to putting my new plein air skills to practice... - IW


It really was another lovely week as I am sure other participants have indicated. I particularly enjoyed Mike’s tutorage. I felt that I had actually achieved something at the end of the week but of course the painting is only part of it. - LD


I had an absolutely wonderful time at the Watermill. I haven’t had such a stimulating time for years! Very unusually I hardly read a word of my book for, as soon as I collapsed on my bed for a rest and a read, I found I wanted to get up and carry on sketching or painting. I very much appreciated the fact that everything about the holiday had been so well thought out. It meant that I could “relax” and enjoy myself, in beautiful and friendly surroundings, doing what I had come for. - RH