Eat, Paint, Cook Tour of Tuscany & Cinque Terre

DATES: 09/23/2017 - 10/03/2017
LOCATION: Tuscan Renaissance Center
PRICE: $2795.00

Rebecca is living and working as an artist and art instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She has studied extensively under many currently renown teaching artists and is adventurous in her methods and materials.

Why I paint:
Beauty has always been apparent and exciting to me. I began to paint in order to attempt to capture that beauty in some way through the painting process. As an artist, I have the opportunity to celebrate this vision. The painting becomes a way to play with light and color, line and texture. I like to explore possibility in my work. I don`t want to limit my perspective or technique, nor do I want to constrain my approach in any way. I love having every option available to me. This makes the journey toward completion of a painting exhilarating. Anything is possible! My perspective is reflected in the variety of mediums and approaches which are used in my work.

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Why I teach:
The exchange between my students and I has become the most personally rewarding thing I do as an artist. I love to see the light go off in someone`s eyes as they enjoy a process or gain confidence by doing something well which they have never done before. My life has been forever changed by developing my artistic capabilities after a long period of neglect. I know first-hand the power that art has to transform people`s lives in a positive way and I love to share that with my students.

Personal Goals:
I have the goal of teaching and traveling as an artist. Along with that goal, I hope to use my art as a means of giving something back. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities and gifts throughout the years. I like to honor that fact through charitable giving. 30% of all my art sales are donated to charity.

You can contact Rebecca directly at with questions about this program.

Comments from students:

Rebecca, thank you for all the wonderful positive energy and encouragement you bring to class as a teacher and fellow artist. I am so enjoying all that is unfolding….it`s all inspiring – learning – much needed for me as an artist on so many different levels. You are a gift.

You touch and make a difference more than you realize…you have lit the fire and i look forward to all the gasoline you can muster …I look forward to that ROAR.

Let’s slow down and savor life the way they do in Tuscany…

This will be a week of getting to know authentic and beautiful Tuscany through photography, drawing and painting, cooking classes and plein air/studio painting.  We are sure to travel with interesting people, and visit beautifully authentic and wonderfully medieval towns in the region of Italy known as Tuscany.

This year we are adding an optional 3-day extension in the Cinque Terre (see details below).

A Note from Rebecca:

After 5 trips to this region, I know that Tuscany continues to charm and reveal itself to me again and again in ever surprising ways. It’s just that special! San Fedele is the perfect place to call home while in Tuscany. It’s convenient, romantically old and beautiful, and fully modern in terms of amenities. I love being able to tour and paint the days away without having to answer the question: “what will we do for dinner?”. Our private chef takes care of all of that, and we can bond as a group over our nightly 5-course gourmet dinners and local wines. We also can get space from one another and freedom to wander as we please on our excursions. We have drivers to all our destinations, and that means we can enjoy a little wine with our lunch! It’s really the ideal format for a tour.

Here is the Itinerary we propose: (typical Tuscan dinner and breakfast at San Fedele each day)

  • Saturday: Meet at Florence train station at 3:30PM. Board bus to San Fedele in Chianti. Check-in/ Orientation first dinner.
  • Sunday: art Lesson with Rebecca in the morning, opportunity to paint/draw/photograph on location at San Fedele. Non-painters can hike and explore the local Etruscan sites or visit nearby Vagliagli. Afternoon BBQ. Optional evening excursion to a local family winery – tour/light dinner/wine tasting at winery.
  • Monday: excursion to San Gimignano (45 minute drive). Opportunity to draw/paint/photograph on site. Shopping, lunch on your own. Late afternoon studio time/art review/photo sharing. After dinner- music on the terraza.
  • Tuesday: morning art lesson with Rebecca. Excursion to Dievole Chianti Winery: paint en plein air followed by winery tour and tasting, independent lunch in the winery’s restaurant. Optional cooking lesson with our chef Andrea in afternoon. Studio time with Rebecca for artists. After-dinner music on the terraza.
  • Wednesday: excursion to medieval Pienza and/or Montepulciano. Lunch on your own. After-dinner studio time.
  • Thursday: morning art lesson with Rebecca. Afternoon excursion to nearby hilltown. Painting/photography time on location. Lunch on your own.Optional cooking lesson with our chef Andrea in afternoon. Studio time/photo sharing for those not cooking. After dinner music on the terraza.
  • Friday: final art lesson.Hilltown excursion with independent lunch . Studio time/hike time in afternoon. Farewell exhibit.
  • Saturday: Breakfast and departure for Siena and travel connections

For those who choose to continue… we’ll travel by private coach from San Fedele to our small family hotel in Monterosso-al-Mare in the beautiful Cinque Terre area.

  • Saturday afternoon:  enjoy a boat ride to Manarola for sunset, then back to Monterosso for dinner together
  • Sunday:  hike or take the train to charming Vernazza for plein air painting by the port for the painters, lunch together in the square
  • Monday: full day excursion to Portovenere by boat (possible stop in Riomaggiore for a quick photo op and look around on our way), painting, shopping, exploring independently in Portovenere.  Dinner together, then van back to Monterosso.
  • Tuesday:  morning departure by van back to Florence where you can catch your flight or connections to other towns in Italy.

Rebecca painting on site

Who should consider spending a week with us in Tuscany?

  • Come if you like food and eating authentic farm-to-table fare. (Farm-to-table is nothing new here – Tuscan chefs have always cooked this way!). Dinners will always be eaten as a group and lunch will give you the opportunity to seek out local favorites wherever we are. Lunch is always a priority, and since we have drivers, we can safely enjoy sampling different local wines. Our daily breakfast is lovingly prepared by our hostess and the co-owner of San Fedele, Renata. She bakes wonderful Tuscan goodies and makes a fabulous breakfast for us to enjoy daily.
  • Come with us if you like Cooking- Our talented and charming Tuscan Chef, Andrea Anichini, will be our chef and cooking instructor (he is also a sommelier). You will enjoy both his food and his enthusiastic personality. Lessons will be available 2 days during our stay.
  • Come with us if you have an interest in painting or drawing or photographing beautiful sites while you travel. Plein air painting opportunities and studio time will be available for those who choose to take advantage. As your instructor on this trip, I’ll give lessons and offer tips on how you can approach making art while we travel. I have lessons planned, and will offer a few gentle review sessions where we can share the challenges of painting plein air, and take a look at our paintings together throughout the week. I’ve been to most of the places we are visiting, and along with our Il Chiostro hosts, I will have some ideas of good locations for painting or drawing. I will make a printer available for photos, and even have some photos which you may want to draw upon in advance of arrival. That way time on site can be spent painting. I have traveled quite a bit for purposes of making art, and can show you a few tricks of the trade.
  • Come with us if you enjoy wine! This region of Chianti is famous for their wines (including the Super Tuscans). Our wine is included with our meals every evening. It’s delicious and preservative free. We will also be touring a couple of lovely local wineries. Their wine, their food and their ambiance are all worth seeing.
  • Come with us if you’d like to tour other parts of Europe or Italy, before or after our week together. Feel free to add on to your travels at both ends of the trip. So long as we all meet at the appointed time in Florence on the first Saturday afternoon, your itinerary and travel plans are your own.

Come with us if you want to slow down and savor life, the Tuscan way! I want more of this kind of living in my life, and bringing a group of like-minded people along with me will make it an even more ideal experience. If that sounds attractive to you, I can assure you that my students tend to be positive, bright, adventurous, artistic, kind, and fun. If that sounds like a group you’d enjoy, then come along!

Dear Rebecca…
Thank you for providing such an exceptional trip…my dream come true! Your preplanning was so evident and made for a smooth exciting week. It was enriching to have you as our guide, teacher, host and traveling companions. You are examples of life “well lived” and sharing it with others… I wish you all the best, and will continue to savor these precious memories…     2014 Participant

General Activities:

In addition to the activities of the workshop, we will also see and explore this area of Tuscany with various excursions:

  • Chianti winery tour and tasting
  • Escorted visits to hill towns
  • A day in medieval Siena
  • Visit to open air market
  • Optional dinner at a local enoteca (wine bar)

We’ll return each evening to relax in our monastery. Then we will move to the dining room (the authentic refectory where the monks used to assible) to enjoy the authentic, home-made Tuscan meals prepared for us by our local chef.

Every moment will not be scheduled. When we get to our destinations, I will let you explore things in your own way and let you know when to return for your ride back to home base. In many of our stops, I plan to be painting/photographing, and/or drawing on site. I will give art lessons regularly, have studio time daily, and make every effort to be available to help you if you choose to paint or draw during the trip. I will even plan to bring a printer for printing any photos you might take, and just in case you`d like to use your own photo references once you get back to the studio.
For those of you who would simply like to photograph your way through Tuscany, I can assure you that the sites we are visiting will be like a visual candy store!

Optional: The Cinque Terre…


The town of Monterosso leading to the Mediterranean Sea

is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. “The Five Lands” comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Hiking paths, trains and boats connect the villages, which cars cannot reach from the outside. For more about the Cinque Terre, the Lonely Planet gives a nice description with photos:

For those who choose to continue traveling with us for this optional 3-day extension, a sample of our itinerary is:

  • arrive in Monterosso-al-Mare, the largest of the 5 towns by private coach directly from San Fedele on Saturday (3 hours)
  • stay in a small family-run B&B for 3 nights
  • full day excursion to the beautiful port town of Porto Venere
  • 3 dinners together featuring the local cuisine of pesto and seafood, wine included
  • passes for trekking, train or boat to explore all 5 towns.

About the Painting Option

Painting demo shot on location in Chianti region of Tuscany Italy on EAT PAINT COOK TOUR of TUSCANY with Rebecca Zdybel.

Andiamo! (let’s go!) – join me for an Eat, Paint, Cook Tour of Tuscany… painting, drawing, photographing, touring, cooking, sipping, eating and savoring all that this lovely region has to offer!

Rebecca-Villa Casa Nuova

Villa Casa Nuova by Rebecca Zdybel


Tuscany only:

  • $2,795 p/p
  • $550 single room supplement
  • $250 p/p Jr. Suite supplement

Cinque Terre 3-day add-on:

  • add $875 p/p
  • single room supplement $200 (no suites available)


  • Shared double room in restored monastery
  • Daily traditional breakfast and dinner, including wine
  • Daily workshop activities
  • Excursion to Siena
  • All local transportation
  • Fully escorted excursions
  • ½ day excursion to nearby hilltown (San Gimignano, Montalcino, Castellina-in-Chianti…)
  • Pick up from Florence train station at 3:30pm on arrival Saturday
  • Transfer to bus/train station in Siena on final day or back to Florence from Monterosso (for those participating in the Cinque Terre option)
  • In Cinque Terre:  3 nights in B&B, 3 dinners with wine, excursion to Portofino, transfers between towns

Does Not Include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch (lite lunch will be available for 15 euros on days we are not out on excursion)
  • Gratuities
  • Independent meals and sight-seeing

Contact us for more information: or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

Borgo San Fedele

— The Tuscan Renaissance Center is located at San Fedele – a restored 12th century monastery floating in the Chianti hills —

T©Lester Lefkowitz 7003-001he Tuscan Renaissance Center is the combined skills of Linda and Michael of Il Chiostro joining together with Nicolo and Renata of San Fedele to produce a unique and inspiring environment rooted in the traditional Tuscan values of beauty, great food, an appreciation for nature and the value of community.  The monastery, dating back to the 12th century, was meticulously restored using traditional building methods and all original materials. Today, the monastery remains true to its original spirit, rich architectural detail. The 16 rooms and suites where participants are housed have lovely modern bathrooms, screened windows, air conditioning, period furniture, wi-fi internet service, satellite television and minibar, all designed to perfectly complimentthe medieval surroundings.

The original soaring chapel is now used as a large art studio or workshop space. The monks’ refectory, where a lost 16th century fresco was uncovered during renovation, is now the dining room connected to a state-of-the-art kitchen and the old stone cantinas where they stored their wine have been transformed into studio and classroom space.

For information about the history of this monastery, Click here to go to San Fedele’s web site…


Rather than  hotel, San Fedele is classified as a historic residence in Italy.  That means that it is an intimate setting, preserved along strict historical guidelines to preserve the spirit of the setting.  The owners are on site to oversee this unique combination of historic landmark and modern day comfort.

Accommodations are spacious shared double rooms or junior suites. Each room, because it was converted from the original structure of the monastery without altering the building, is unique in shape. Furnishings and decor were selected to coordinate with the historic, subdued feeling of the monastery, but in a comfortable, modern style. All rooms have two beds that can be separated into twins or combined into one large matrimonial. There is a sitting area, refrigerator, DSL wi-fi, television, air-conditioning, heating, modern private bathroom with shower and hair dryers.

lester-lefkowitz-room3 lester-lefkowitz-room2

There are a limited number of single rooms available at a supplement of $550.

2 Jr. Suites for a minimum of 2 people are available for a supplement of $250 per person.

Night shot piazza©Lester Lefkowitz 7003-010© Lester Lefkowitz 7184-022Archway from rose garden and breakfast buffet in the refectory (photos by Lester Lefkowitz)

Terrace-MJossThe back of San Fedele is surrounded by a large al fresco dining terrace with the original terra cotta tile designs reproduced down to the smallest details. The terrace overlooks the same organic vegetable and flower garden tended by the monks for centuries. Beyond are the rolling Chianti vineyards that make this part of Tuscany so breathtaking.

Other common spaces include a large classroom carved into the rock of the ancient wine cellar, an expansive private piazza, a 16 x 7 meter swimming pool and sprawling landscaped grounds on a rolling hillside.

To San Fedele-LMFlorence will be our meeting point on the first day of the workshop. A van will pick up the group at the train station at about 3:30 pm on Saturday afternoon.

We recommend that you fly into either Florence, Pisa or Rome (Milan is a bit too far away). Florence is closer but it doesn`t have an intercontinental airport, so there are no direct flights from the US. You would have to change planes in a larger European city. From the Florence airport you must take a shuttle bus (Volainbus) into the center (20 minutes).

There are more scheduled flights from the US to Rome, many of them direct. From Rome, you will need to take a train to Florence (about 2 1/2 hours).
Important! In making your return flight arrangements, if you are flying home on Saturday after the workshop, try not to book a flight too early. From our location allow 1 ½ hours to get to the Florence airport or 3 ½ hours to get to the Rome airport.

For suggestions about getting to Rome or Florence, accommodations or other logistics, please consult ourTraveling to Italy link. Renting a car from all the major rental agencies is possible if you prefer to be more independent during the week.

Fall vineyards

Fall vineyards


The Tuscan Renaissance Center sits conveniently on a country road connecting the charming medieval walled town of Radda and the village of Vagliagli. Other nearby hilltowns include Castellina-in-Chianti, Monteriggioni and Volpaia. It is about 45 minutes from San Gimignano and Volterra. Many of these towns have roots in the earlier Etruscan civilization that permeated this area prior to the Romans.

San Fedele is located about 12 km northeast of Siena and 45 km south of Florence.

The Food

For us at Il Chiostro, helping our guests to experience the traditional food in one of the earth`s richest, most sensual areas is our pleasure. The Chianti region of Tuscany is Italy’s famous wine and olive oil producing region. Here we want to expose you to the wonders of simple Italian cooking known in the area as cucina povera. Our chef Andrea is a Tuscan native who uses recipes from his mother and grandmother to bring the tradition of not only Tuscany, but specifically the Chianti region, to the table each evening.  We use seasonal, organic products, locally produced by small farms and family shops. Our chef searches for the best of Tuscany to serve you. Tuscan cuisine is a simple art that has been refined over the centuries to surprise our palates while the red chianti wine comforts our souls. Come explore what food can really be all about.

© Lester Lefkowitz 7184-057Candle Light Dinner2-CharlesAnderson
About Your Il Chiostro Hosts
Linda and Michael, and their program managers will host your program in Tuscany. They have been organizing workshops in Italy since 1995 and each person brings a special talent to the program. You can read more about them by following the About Il Chiostro link. At the Tuscan Renaissance Center, the owners of San Fedele, Nicolo and Renata, live on site. They will be available throughout the program to talk about the history of the monastery, the renovation and this area of Tuscany they call home.

In addition to your workshop
Optional activities offered with this program will focus on the cultural, gastronomic, historical and artistic heritage of Tuscany. This area has been an inspiration to countless people for centuries. What Tuscany offers its visitors is truly astounding:

Bell tower-smallArt – San Fedele is located conveniently between the cities of Medieval Siena and Renaissance Florence packed with some of the most famous masterpieces in the world.

Wine -You are in the heart of the Chianti region, synonomous with the most famous wine that Italy produces. But the innovative Tuscan vintners are also producing Super Tuscans, red varietals that are quickly ascending the ranks of world-class wine.

History – this area was settled by the Etruscans centuries before the Romans were a civilized society. Their necropoli dot the fields throughout the area. Nearby towns like Radda, Vagliagli and Castellina date from the early Middle Ages. Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. San Fedele witnessed most of this from its panoramic perch atop the hillside.

Foodcucina povera is the typical Tuscan cuisine that has become popular around the world. The recipes are simple, emphasizing local and seasonal products: porcini mushrooms, salumi, legumes, vegetables, pasta, bread and game meats. Visiting an outdoor food market, you will understand the wisdom of this very healthy cuisine.

Crafts – perhaps the harmony of the landscape has been the inspiration for many local craftsmen. Exquisite hand-painted ceramics are the prime example, closely followed by mosaics, leather, woodworking, and textiles.