Painting your Adventure in Tuscany and the Cinque Terre

DATES: 10/04/2017 - 10/14/2017
LOCATION: Tuscan Renaissance Center
PRICE: $2750.00

Joan Fullerton grew up on the eastern plains of Wyoming where the vastness of landscape and the slow pace of rural life allowed contemplation of the nature and solitude necessary for art making. While raising 3 children, she studied watercolor with Edgar Whitney, Frank Webb, Charles Reid and other nationally known watercolorists.

In 1985 she returned to college and achieved BFA and MFA degrees in painting from the University of Wyoming. She was a college art instructor at Laramie County Community College from 1990 to 2003 in Cheyenne, WY. In 2003 she made the leap of faith to relocate and paint full-time in Taos, NM.

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Following several successful exhibitions, during her 8 years in Taos, Fullerton made her mark and established her reputation as a well-known and respected artist and teacher. A recent move to south Denver, she is now hosting workshops in her studio and teaching across the nation.

Joan’s work has been in galleries, juried shows and museums since the early 70’s and she has shown internationally in Italy and Japan. Her work was recently published in the 2010 edition of Open Studios Press and the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media book, Visual Journeys, Art of the 21st Century.

Joan has instructed painters of all levels of experience and ages. Students thrive in the informative and relaxed atmosphere of her classes. It is her belief that people are open to learning and creativity when they are having fun. She is adept at demonstrating a multitude of techniques. Beginning students will find encouragement and confidence, while more advanced students will benefit from her insightful solutions to their creative challenges.

Joan offers classes in watercolor, oil, acrylic and mixed media collage, creating both abstract and representational subjects.

Join me in my favorite places on the planet!

Soak up inspiration and create paintings, photographs, and journal entries, that will enhance your artwork forevermore.  Paint as much as you desire with guidance and instruction, while we explore the  charming fishing villages of the Cinque Terre for 3 days, then retreat for a full week at a beautifully restored monastery in the Chianti region of Tuscany. Olive groves, hill top vistas, and medieval towns (like Siena, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano, …), will surely captivate your creativity.

Daily painting classes will concentrate on watercolor and acrylic.

JFullerton-Tuscan Fields

Tuscan Fields, acrylic by Joan Fullerton

Immerse yourself in the centuries old charm of these areas of Italy by observing and painting the scenery, eating and drinking the local food and wine and breathing in the culture as you relax with a cappuccino at a local cafe.  Italy in the fall is a delight, with fewer tourists and lush harvest colors to paint.  We’ll be there right around the grape and olive harvest time, which is always a cause for celebration in Tuscany.

This year we are adding an optional 3-days in the Cinque Terre (see details below) before we settle in Tuscany.  After 3 days we’ll transfer to – or meet at – the Tuscan Renaissance Center in the Chianti hills just outside of Siena.  This is a beautifully restored 12 century monastery in a tranquil valley on the road to Radda-in-Chianti.


Joan teaching in the studio at San Fedele

Highlights of the 10 or 7-day program:  this trip will be fully accompanied in Italy by the Il Chiostro staff

  • Daily painting classes with Joan including demonstrations and personal critiques
  • optional 3 nights at the hotel in Monterosso
  • 7 nights at a restored monastery in the Chianti hills of Tuscany
  • Daily breakfast, dinners (with wine) in trattoria in the Cinque Terre and by our personal chef at the Tuscan Renaissance Center
  • 1/2 day excursion to medieval Siena
  • Painting on location in other towns and settings
  • Chianti winery tour and tasting at local fattoria (winery)
  • Pickup in Florence on your first day. Transfer from the Cinque Terre to Chianti
  • Transfer to Siena on the final Saturday, (not Florence)

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 include this optional 3-day prequel, a sample of our itinerary is:

  • arrive in Monterosso-al-Mare, the largest of the 5 towns by private coach directly from Florence (3 hours)
  • stay in a small family-run B&B for 3 nights
  • painting in town or on the beach
  • independently explore all the towns by hiking, train or boat
  • 3 dinners together featuring the local cuisine of pesto and seafood, wine included
  • train passes to explore all 5 towns.


Tuscan Abstract by Joan Fullerton


*Early Bird Special – $100 discount if registration received by June 1, 2017

Tuscany only:

  • $2,750 p/p
  • $550 single room supplement
  • $250 p/p Jr. Suite supplement

Cinque Terre 3-day add-on:

  • add $950 p/p
  • single room supplement $250 (no suites available)

Non-participant discount $300.



  • Shared double room in Monterosso hotel and restored monastery (single room available for a supplement)
  • Daily traditional breakfast and dinner, including wine
  • Daily painting classes
  • Excursion to Siena
  • Painting on location
  • All guides and local transfers
  • Pick up from Florence train station at 3:30pm on arrival day
  • Transfer from Cinque Terre to Tuscan Renaissance Center
  • Transfer to Siena on final day
  • Pre-trip correspondence, recommendations and guidance

Does Not Include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch
  • Art supplies
  • Independent meals and sight-seeing
  • Gratuities

To Register:  just click on the Sign Up Now button.  A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot in the workshop.  Payment can be made on line with a credit card, or you can follow the instructions to send in your registration and payment by mail.  Once we receive your deposit we will send you a formal Registration Confirmation with further information about the program.  You will receive 2-3 other correspondences by email prior to the workshop with information about Italy, a supplies list and an electronic invoice for the balance.  Final Balance is due by August 15th.  Any time prior to your arrival, if you have questions about anything regarding the trip or the program, you can contact us by email or phone and we`ll be happy to assist you.

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.