Barga is the nearest hilltop village in the Garfagnana region. Your home will be a short fascinating mountain drive to the spacious property past old stone mills, streams, overgrown ruins, and past locals having a drink together and chatting.
Each day we will visit quaint villages for sketching, rich in history and stories. This part of Tuscany is wonderfully high up with changing colour and moods you’ll see from your windows every day.
The places we visit are living villages with amazing views up to the mountains and down to the valleys below. You’ll see rushing streams and ancient stone bridges and walls. Other favourite locations are up many old stone paths and steps past village houses to the monastery on top.
The house (a 300yr old farmhouse) and adjacent barn have been renovated to create stylish and comfortable living accommodation consisting of six bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and three living rooms. The barn also houses the artists’ studio and library.
The large terrace between the house and the barn is a beautiful spot to sketch from. The lawn and garden beyond the swimming pool gives spectacular views of the valley and mountains.
The extensive grounds of Val di Pozza offer lovely walks through chestnut woods and to the river which flows past our property. We have kept the old terracotta pig huts and the alfresco Italian oven, which comes into its own on Pizza Night, as a reminder that Val di Pozza was once a traditional Italian chestnut farm.
The studio and arts library provide well-equipped facilities for painting, drawing and sculpture.
The arts library contains a comprehensive range of reference books, videos and DVD’s covering traditional and contemporary art, and computers for Photoshop work. Wireless access to the Internet is available.
Fresh Tuscan food is prepared daily at Val di Pozza by Mari. She is used to catering for all special dietary needs. Some of her specialities are funghi porcini risotto, insalate di farro and strawberry tiramisu.

“The high standard of everything from the room to the gorgeous food and wine were more than I expected.” – JANE

Each day you’ll meet for breakfast between 7.30 and 9am from a beautiful continental selection fruit, breads and cereal with tea and coffee.
After breakfast we’ll all meet in the Studio for a ‘warmup’ sketch and some techniques on what we’ll be doing that day. We start with a chat by Chris and myself about the philosophy and background to the days subject.
Generally we spend an hour or so here, have a cup of tea or coffee and get ready to go out for the morning.
Sketchers will then see a demo by Erin starting with a ‘thumbnail’ page plan. Then 30 -40 mins to complete the line sketch. We can apply colour then or at lunch or later in your own time.
We complete the session and go home for lunch or a local restaurant. The afternoon is free for you to swim in the pool, walk, rest, or sketch. Aperitifs at 6.30pm on the Terrace. Dinner at 7.30 at home or a local restaurant.

If you are full of energy in the morning you may decide on a walk through the chestnut trees or a swim in the pool before breakfast.
But like most of us you will probably opt for a gentle awakening to the smell of hot bread and coffee, listening to the song birds celebrating the start of another day.
Take your fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, acacia honey, cheese, home-made bread, cake and a big mug of tea or coffee onto the terrace and watch the patterns of the morning-sun casting shadows on the hills in the distance.
You may even see a Roe Deer grazing in the meadow or a ‘salamander with yellow spots making its way towards a damp patch in the garden.
There’s bound to be a couple of wall lizards sunning themselves but the porcupines will be hiding until the sun goes down before they venture out.
Every morning the course begins with a demonstration and discussion in the studio. Then you will either sketch at Val di Pozza, in Barga, the hilltop villages of Cascio and Sommocolonia, the lake at Pontecosi or one of the other stunning sketching venues nearby.
On days when you sketch at Val di Pozza Mari will spoil you with her Italian lunch of crostini, barley salad, gorgeous tomatoes with basil and oregano, sheep’s cheeses, and a glass or two of local wine.
If you are out in Barga you will probably go to Capretze to have lunch on the terrace where you can admire the spectacular views across the valley.
Your afternoons after lunch are free unless of course you become obsessed, when you may wish to continue sketching until aperitif time.
After a busy day of sketching, relax around the pool or pick a quiet spot in the garden or chat on the terrace with your fellow sketchers.
What will it be this evening? Mari’s lasagne, porcini mushroom risotto, lemon chicken and strawberry tiramisu or dinner at one of Barga’s favourite restaurants.
Ristorante Locanda di Mezzo is situated in a beautiful candlelit piazza reminiscent of those wonderful Fellini films.
The Osteria Angelio, in the centre of Barga Vecchia, is famous for its rustic dishes and a meeting place for the local Italians taking their evening passagiata.
If it’s Saturday, the free day, it’s pizza night and the flames will be dancing in the pizza oven.
On the free day you may wish to go to Lucca (we usually all do) or to explore some more of Barga or even go to Florence for the day.
You may want to continue sketching in the studio or just hang out at Val di Pozza.
If there is something you especially want to do let us know and we can organise it for you.
The Garfagnana region is famous for its porcini mushrooms and the ‘Slow Food’ movement.
Much of the food is organically grown as are the grapes for the wine.
Our red table wine comes from the vineyards in the hills surrounding Lucca. Our white wine comes from the Veneto.
We cater for all dietary requirements.


THE FULL SKETCH KIT – AU $150. For all term classes, Intensives, Travel Sketching Holidays. Uses 2 mediums.

* Cotman’s Pocket Plus Watercolour Set (see change of colours in link below)

* White Chinagraph pencil, or Sharpie ‘peel off’ china marker

* A5 sized ringbound 110gsm Sketchbook ( 9 x 6 inches or similar in USA )

* Set of black waterproof drawing pens.

* Set of 12 Watercolour Pencils. Staedtler Noris Club 12 Aquarelles. Make sure you have a yellow ochre!

* Barrel Sharpener

* Waterbrush pen. Larger size

Additional materials if you wish. White gel pens. Sepia drawing pens. Rosemary & Co traveling 1/4″ Dagger paint brush.

(Please bring a small water pot with an attached lid. for use with watercolours, and small packs of tissues)

We meet at Pisa airport on the first day (Tuesday May 1) at 12 noon.
You may decide to stay in Pisa before and after the tour if it works better for your flights.
I stay at Hotel Pisa Towers, a 3 star very convenient hotel to see the leaning tower nearby and for getting easily by cab to the airport for our pickup.
We meet at the main entrance to the airport.
We’ll be picked and driven the hour or so to our home for the rest of the week.
We’ll be headed to the Garfagnana region and the hilltop village of Barga where we’ll stay at the beautiful farmhouse estate of our host.
At the conclusion of the week, (Tuesday May 8) we’ll be back at Pisa airport or Lucca station by 10.00 am.
Afternoons are free to swim relax or keep on sketching.
Pre dinner aperitifs are about 7pm followed by dinner at home or in the old town.

By the end of this glorious week you’ll have a sketchbook filled with sketches and each one a story in itself. Come and join us. Life is too short. We then follow on to the French Alps.
For those of us going on to The French Alps, we will get a train from Pisa Centrale to Moutiers-Salins. It’s a day trip so we’ll arrive in our village in time for dinner that night.

Transport to and from Pisa airport on first and last day.
Sketch tutoring daily
Daily transport to our sketch locations
All breakfasts,
Lunch ( except 2)
Aperitifs and dinner with wine at home or a restaurant
Tea and coffee when you like.

Travel to and from Pisa
2 lunches (Lucca, and Barga on free day)
Train tickets to Lucca
Extra accommodation either side of the tour
Travel insurance
Sketch Kit
Transport from Pisa to Naves Fontaine, French Alps.

See you in Tuscany!

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