Terenzano is a small, working agricultural village overlooking the Alpi Appuane mountains of Carrara in the most northern part of Tuscany. The Romans called this area Lunigiana because of the luminosity on the marble reflected by the moon.
The village is about a ten minute drive from the fortified Medici town of Fivizzano; a small, lively market town running many cultural and food events during the summer months.
Il Vecchio Frantoio, ‘The Old Olive Press’, is a collection of old agricultural buildings, reconstructed to provide a venue for small groups to get together and enjoy their common interest, such as painting, walking and creative writing amongst others.
The buildings have been lovingly restored by the owners, Peter and Hilary Roberts. Peter is an architect in private practice working in the UK; he has taken time out to work on the re-building over the last ten years with his family and local craftsmen.
Up to eight people can be accommodated in good sized bedrooms, together with a large lounge and terrace for eating al fresco. There is also a ‘plunge pool’ within a private lower terrace.
We’re delighted that writer and performance storyteller Deborah Winter will be leading a Creative Writing course this year.
A writing tutor with 30 years' experience of running courses, Deb is loved for her warmth and enthusiasm and has a real gift for inspiring others to write. She runs lively, stimulating workshops full of ideas, tips and laughter.
This is what previous participants have said:
‘I found the whole thing totally inspiring. Came away buzzing with ideas.’
‘I haven't had so much fun for years! Your energy and enthusiasm certainly got my grey cells working overtime and I very much appreciated your guidance.’
‘The best writing course I have ever been on. The exercises were inspirational.’
‘Deb puts everyone at ease. It was great to spend time with other people who love writing. There was so much laughter but I filled up so many notebooks too!’
The course aims to inspire you to write and have more confidence in your voice as a writer, whether you are writing for pleasure or aiming for publication. All you need to bring is your imagination. It’s suitable for beginners, as well as those who are already writing. Treat yourself to the luxury of time to concentrate on your writing and find the stories and characters waiting inside you to be written. Jump-start your novel!
The week will be a mixture of writing at our comfortable retreat in Terenzano, and stimulating short excursions to enjoy the stunning scenery, the beautiful medieval hill-top villages, romanesque churches and some fascinating collections of sculpture, art and ancient artefacts. (See following page for more details about these excursions). There’ll also be the opportunity for every student to have a one-to-one session about their writing with Deb, if desired. You can read more about Deb’s writing courses and storytelling performances elsewhere on this site and she is more than happy to discuss any questions you have about the course over the telephone.
Everything is included in the cost of your holiday: accommodation in a good sized double/twin room with en suite shower-room, pre-dinner aperitivi and all meals with wine. Lunch and Dinner will be served in and prepared specially for you by a small family run restaurant located in the nearby town of Fivizzano, however there will be a chance to visit a couple of wonderful, family-run restaurants during your holiday.
Deb will lead writing exercises in the morning and after lunch we’ll drive you to sample the delights of this region of Tuscany.
A short drive by car the Medieval town of Fivizzano offers a wealth of interesting things to see, not forgetting the weekly Tuesday market which is when the town comes to life. During your stay you will have the opportunity to enjoy one evening a pizza at Pizzeria Vladimiro, with its wood fired oven and extensive selection of pizzas. On your last evening we will drop you off in the square after dinner. On a warm summer evening Fivizzano comes alive! Go for a stroll, enjoy a gelato or even a digestivi in one of the many local bars.
From Fivizzano a few minutes trip by car takes you to the beautiful village of Verrucola with winding streets dominated by the castle. Here you will enjoy lunch at Ristorante Locanda al Castello. After lunch a visit to the castle with a guided tour, including the opportunity to see many of the models made by Pietro Cascella - famous Italian sculptor, now deceased.
30 minutes drive from Terenzano is Monte dei Bianchi. A small mountain village with remains of a monastery, and a recently restored monastic vineyard, Monastero dei Frati Bianchi , with spectacular views. This small family-run vineyard produces around 12,000 bottles a year. Find out more by visiting www.monasterofratibianchi.it .
Between Terenzano and Monte dei Bianchi is the village of Codiponte where there is a delightful small Romanesque Church, with naïve carved stone column capitals. There is a fantastic Agriturismo nearby in Reusa, where after lunch you may relax by their private pool, and enjoy a glass of wine or two!
5 minutes drive from Terenzano is the now disused Carmelite Convent. The Convent has been recently restored after years of neglect. The complex is now used to host events, weddings, etc.
There will be a non tuition day during your holiday, where you will have the opportunity to visit the famous walled city of Lucca, birthplace of Puccini. We will drop you off at Aulla railway station where you will take a direct train to Lucca, the journey should take one and a half hours and the ticket is included in the cost of your course. We will provide you with a packed lunch, or you can buy your own lunch or snack in Lucca.
We would like to welcome ‘non-participating partners’ or friends of people attending one of the courses but who do not wish to participate themselves. You will be able to accompany your partner on their various excursions, which are all to interesting historic locations, and enjoy lunch with them at local traditional restaurants. Or just relax and enjoy the local surroundings and walks.
We can also arrange extra activities for you:
The costs of the extra activities are not included in the rate, however we can advise prices and availability during your stay.
What to bring
Your tutor will inform you before the course with a suggested list of materials.
As for clothing, the weather is likely to be warm but it can rain, so a waterproof will be advisable. Good walking shoes are essential.
Cost of Course
Included in the cost of your creative writing holiday:
£875 Per Person. Travel and health insurance is NOT included.
Deposit and balance
A deposit of £100 per person is required upon booking. The balance for the course is due eight weeks before commencement and an administrative cost of £50 per person will be levied on all cancellations before this date. All our painting courses are subject to minimum numbers, and if we are unable to go ahead with a course we will give you the opportunity to transfer onto another before refunding any amounts already paid.
Flights are not included and you will need to book your own flights to Pisa. Many UK airports fly here including Heathrow, Stanstead, Luton, Birmingham, Bristol plus many more. We will collect you from Pisa Airport between 11 am and 1 pm, a precise pick-up time will be organised closer to the date once we know all our guests' arrival times. For guests arriving by train or if you were unable to make it to Pisa in time for collection you can travel to Aulla, which is our nearest mainline train station, where we will collect you. Transfers to Aulla are not included in the holiday.
On the day of departure we depart for Pisa Airport shortly after breakfast at around 9 am. It takes approximately one and a half hours door to door. If you need to leave outside of these hours we can arrange transportation for you at an additional cost.
If your flight is leaving later in the day, you are able to leave your luggage at Pisa Airport and spend a few hours sightseeing in Pisa. There is a shuttle service (People Mover) which departs for Pisa Centrale every few minutes. For guests wishing to arrive by car, we do not have a car park however there is on-street parking near by.
All four of our double/twin bedrooms have an en suite shower room and include linen & towels, tea & coffee making facilities and a spare blankets. Hair dryer, iron & ironing-board and USB chargers are all available upon request.
We have a communal kitchen that you may use between the hours of 8am and 10pm. The kitchen is equipped with cooking facilities, tea & coffee, a washing machine and a fridge freezer.
In the war against single use plastic, we will supply you with a glass Bialetti water bottle for you to take on your travels.
We have a small plunge pool on the lower terrace, where you can relax with wine and enjoy the views across the valley. We will happily supply towels to be used around the pool, just don't forget your cossie!
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and the daily Aperitivi will be served either in the courtyard ‘al fresco’ or in the living/dinning room (weather dependent). During the summer months the courtyard is bathed in hot sunlight throughout most of the day, we do have a large sail for shade, but a sun hat and cream are a must!
Our hot water is heated during the summer months by Solar panels and in winter by a log burning stove.
We look forward to welcoming you to Il Vecchio Frantoio.