Watercolor Journaling in the Chianti Hills of Tuscany

DATES: 10/08/2022 - 10/15/2022
LOCATION: Tuscany, San Fedele
PRICE: $3,295.00
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:
VISIT WEBSITE

I have been painting in watercolor since 1980. I began painting with acrylic on canvas and when I started to play with watercolor I was transfixed by its luminescence. From then on I focused on watercolor and experimented with its transparency and luminous color combinations. I continue to learn watercolor techniques that come from nature studies and from the fascinating accidents that often occur when working with watercolor. I have learned that working with and accepting these unexpected occurrences with watercolor are what give my work its vitality and originality.

Over the years I have exhibited my work in group and solo shows. My work is in many private and corporate collections.

Dragonfly by Sharon Pitts

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Several years ago I began teaching watercolor workshops, which have ranged from Prince Edward Island, Canada to Maryland, Florida, and New Mexico. Recently I have taught three wonderful painting holidays to the south of France.

These trips have been extremely valuable to develop a connection to new places to paint but mostly in terms of allowing students a new way to “see”. These trips have also become a major part of my inner self that I tap into every time I paint, wherever I am.   I know that this becomes a special benefit for every person who experiences the personal growth that comes from taking a painting workshop.

For further information feel free to email Sharon Pitts at paintergirl@comcast.net

Pink Dogwoods by Sharon Pitts

Master your creativity in this breathtaking region of rolling vistas, rustic medieval towns set high in the hills, and a patchwork of vineyards with watercolorist Sharon Pitts!

Sunflower by Sharon Pitts

 

This workshop will encourage each student to capture their observations, thoughts, feelings and ideas about the experience of being in this visually stunning location.  Students will work with a book of watercolor paper to produce a personal journal of their trip.

“This is as good as it gets!”  -2011 participant

 

Paintings will range from small sketches to complete works. There will be an emphasis on creative thinking to help students paint their own unique impressions of the area. We will incorporate our thoughts and feelings about our surroundings by making notes along with our paintings in our watercolor journals.

Watercolor journal by Sharon Pitts

While working with Sharon, you will immerse yourself in this special painting and cultural workshop in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.  Throughout our week, Il Chiostro will be taking care of us, arranging for the ideal painting opportunities and steering us through this incredible physical and cultural landscape.

Don’t miss this amazing adventure and opportunity to take your paintings to a new level!


Meals and our “Home”

Beautiful San Fedele, a thousand-year-old monastery near Siena, resurrected from ruins and transformed into a distinctive retreat center, will be your home away from home for a full week.

Dinners are prepared by our personal chef using local and seasonal ingredients to make every meal a feast!  We’ll eat together in the dining room of the ex-monastery each evening.  Breakfast is served buffet-style.  You are free to eat indoors or out on the terrace.  There is a lovely private pool at the end of the garden which makes for the perfect end to a long day painting.


The Hills of Radda, watercolor by Sharon Pitts

Additional Activities: Our daily painting will be combined with other adventures such as:

  • Day trip to Medieval Siena to sketch, take photos, explore and shop
  • Excursions to nearby hilltowns like Volpaia, Volterra, San Sano, Panzano (Sunday market), Castellina, etc.
  • Visit to Chianti winery for a tour and tasting
  • Variety of plein air locations to paint landscapes, villages, and the Tuscan light
  • Discussions of Tuscan cuisine with our chef

After excursions or painting on location, we’ll return each evening to relax in our 1,000 year old monastery to enjoy the surroundings, have a glass of wine and an informal critique of the day’s work. Then we will move to the dining room (the authentic refectory where the monks used to assemble) to enjoy our local chef’s authentic, home-made Tuscan meal, recapping the day’s adventure with good company.

“I found the daily demos, the individual attention I received and the group critiques both helpful and inspiring. I continue to paint from my countless photos.” -past participant


To participate in any of our Il Chiostro programs, we require every participant be FULLY VACCINATED against Covid-19.  There are no exceptions for any reason.  We realize that nothing is 100% certain to prevent the virus, but our goal is to reduce the risks for the group as much as possible.  We cannot be responsible for, nor do we have the resources to take care of anyone contracting Covid in a foreign country.

Price: $3,295 p/p; non-painters $2,995

Eros Iris by Sharon Pitts

Supplement:  $575 for single room, limited availability

$500 deposit due upon registration.  Balance due by August 15, 2020.

Includes:

  • Shared double room in restored monastery
  • Daily traditional breakfast and dinner, including wine
  • Daily painting classes and critiques
  • Excursion to Siena
  • ½ day painting excursions to nearby plein air settings and hilltowns (Volpaia, Volterra, Panzano, San Sano, Arezzo,…)
  • Pick up from Florence train station at 3:30pm on arrival Saturday
  • Transfer to bus/train station in Siena on final day
  • Click here for our Covid protocol.

Does Not Include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch (lite lunch will be available for purchase at San Fedele on days we are not out on excursion)
  • Art supplies
  • Independent meals and sight-seeing
  • Gratuities

To Register:  just click on the Sign Up Now button.  A deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot in the workshop.  [Our deposits are typically non-refundable, but given the unpredictable Covid situation, should travel become restricted we will either reimburse your deposit or give you an equal credit for a future workshop with Il Chiostro.]  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: info@ilchiostro.com or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.


 

Borgo San Fedele

— San Fedele is a restored 12th century monastery floating in the Chianti hills —

©Lester Lefkowitz 7003-001Il Chiostro at San Fedele 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 compliment the 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.

Common/Studio space in the ex-chapel

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

lester-lefkowitz-room1

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.

The upper pool at San Fedele

Florence 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.

Above the Ponte Vecchio, photo by Andy Holtzman

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 1½ 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 our Traveling to Italy link in the main menu bar above. Renting a car from all the major rental agencies is possible if you prefer to be more independent during the week.


If you have time, it is a nice treat to stay in Florence before the workshop starts.  It gives you a chance to get over jet-lag while at the same time allows you to see this incredible Renaissance City.  It is filled with incomparable artwork, architecture and history – not to mention great shopping.  Why not stop in for a few days.  (Look at our Travel to Italy tab above for accommodations suggestions.)

Florence-2008_SunriseOverCity-ABenvenuto

Florence: Sunrise Over City, photo by Anne Benvenuto

 

The side of the Duomo, photo by Andy Holtzman

 

Borgo San Fedele 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 is a Tuscan native who uses recipes from her 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.