Monday, August 6, 2012

Springtime in Italy, 2013

Nature and Travel Journaling in Tuscany
Tenuta di Spannocchia-view of the compound
June 16-23, 2013
Tenuta di Spannocchia
Siena, Italy
Instructor: Gretchen Halpert
Fee: includes 7 nights lodging in a 16th century Villa, 19 meals, wine, field trips, daily classes, evening events and a one-year membership to the Spannocchia Foundation.  Fee does not include personal travel or expenses.
$2475 per person based on double occupancy
$2750 per person based on single occupancy

You may request a roommate if you are traveling on your own and would like to share a room.
Meals: All meals are prepared on the premises, using fresh wholesome ingredients. Much of the food is grown in Spannocchia's own organic gardens. The farm grows fruits, vegetables, meat, grapes for the wine, olives for the olive oil. You'll receive dinner the day you arrive, breakfast the day you leave, and three meals a day every day in between except for Saturday night. On that night, the cooks take a break, we go to Siena, and dine as a group or on our own. This is the one meal that is not included in the package, so bring a few Euros for whatever you're craving. There is exquisite dining to delicious pizza and plenty of gelato stands to satiate every palate.

Breakfast and lunch are served family style in the dining room. Before dinner each night, we gather on the terrace for wine and conversation.Dinner is then served at long tables outdoors by the family of Spannocchia interns. On Wednesdays, the outdoor pizza ovens are fired up, exotic pizzas are made, wine is poured and the community  feasts together.

View of vegetable gardens
from the terrace 
Accommodations: I have reserved a 16th century Villa overlooking Tuscan hills, 
flower and vegetable gardens. Each room has a private bath, either in the room or adjoining it. Rooms have large windows opening onto the countryside, simply appointed with furnishings from the estate. Think 16th century Italian farmhouse, not 21st century American hotel. Stone staircases are worn from 500 years of guests. The property includes a swimming pool, vegetable and flower gardens, olive groves, livestock, trails, an abandoned hermitage and, within a healthy walking distance, the ruins of The Castle That Only God Knows (Castiglion che Dio Sol Sa).

WorkshopThis workshop is about creating a journal, focusing on nature and expanding to architecture and travel. Daily lessons in pen and ink, watercolor, composition, text, observation, and writing give participants the tools to document their time in Italy and whereever they go in the world, including home. All takes place on one of the first privately owned wildlife sanctuaries in Italy. Wildlife, trails, an abandoned castle and gardens offer plenty of material.  Afternoons are set aside for field trips and working on your own, relaxing by the pool, hiking, reading, exploring and enjoying life.  The week ends with a wine and cheese opening of our sketchbooks.
Lesson in perspective
This workshop is open to all skill levels and individual needs and interests, as well as those of the group, will be considered. Spouses are welcome too!

Field Trips: On Saturday, we will visit the historic city of Siena to practice our travel journaling and explore the museums, galleries, shops and restaurants. One other day of the week we will travel to other historic hilltops towns. On both of these excursions, you will be able to explore at your own pace to draw and write at will. We'll share our discoveries back at the Villa.

Extra-curricular activities:  Italian language lessons and Italian cooking classes are always popular. Both are offered for an additional fee. See what there is to do at Spannocchia:

Instructor bio: My interests and professional life combine science, art,  nature, travel and education. I received a BA in Botany from Connecticut College; attended the University of New Haven for biological illustration and received a certificate in Scientific and Technical Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design/CE. I worked as a scientist for many years and taught illustration courses for RISD, Brown University and Wheaton College, as well as workshops for a number of institutions. I have been a freelance illustrator for many years as well. When we meet in June, I will have recently returned from teaching nature journaling in Asia and perhaps developing new exercises for this class.   For a full rĂ©sume´ and examples of my work, go to

Registration is now open. Deadline is March 1, 2013. Early registrants (Oct 1) receive a gift in Italy.
Enrollment is limited to 12

To register: For registration forms, contact me at