What an incredible week’s journey I have been on, not just in miles but in experience too. Eight strangers met for a writers’ workshop (Actually some were married to each other so not quite strangers), plus our host and her husband Angela and Maurice and Sonja Price our tutor. Our location was the converted watermill, Il Mulino situated in the Rofelle area of Tuscany; a picturesque valley complete with sparkling river.
Being a relatively new writer, I personally learnt valuable information. We covered plot and storytelling – making scenes, creating credible characters – seeing them in action, setting, good and bad writing, things that can go wrong, dialogue, voice, point of view, psychic distance (I’d never heard of that – think of using a camera, first in close then moving further away giving a broader picture), showing and telling, narrative drive, endings, editing and how to publish. A hugely comprehensive course.
It wasn’t all hard work, we had some fabulous meals prepared by Maurice and Angela. We visited a friend of Angela’s further up the mountain in Montebotolino for delicious “Apericena”. Antoinella had made the meal and gave us a tour of her ancient home. She greeted us warmly and so did her dog, an enormous, but soppy German Rottweiller.
We spent several hours wandering round the beautiful town of Arezzo. The weather was 32 degrees. Church towers reached up to the infinite blue of the sky. I made friends with a brightly coloured parakeet and took many photographs, some of which are here for your pleasure.
The next evening we walked to the near small hamlet of S. Patrignano. There we sated our appetite with dinner at Il Casalone.
The highlight of meals was a feast at L’Erbhosteria. We had been warned not to eat a big breakfast as we would be served many courses. Too right! They began serving at around 1pm finishing with dessert at about 4pm. Amazing dishes with many ingredients grown or collected locally. Some of us took a leisurely homeward stroll down the mountain afterwards.
If all that was not enough, there was spare time to get to know each other with much laughter and a few emotional moments. Sonja kept us busy with excercises. Not the physical kind. We had to write about 500 words of Flash Fiction based on the theme of a Vespa Scooter. It was amazing to hear the resulting stories – how each story was so different even though from one theme. We were given a stack of photographs from which we could choose one, then write a story about it. Another excercise was to take the first line from a book and continue in our own way.
We exchanged a huge amount of information. Some of us were complete beginners while others had a wealth of experience. Some were adept at computer skills giving advice on various websites to help in promotion of our books. There was a wide variety of genres and quite a wide range in ages, yet we united in our love of writing.
Finally, we couldn’t have wished for better weather. I’m sure Angela and Maurice must have been dancing an anti-rain dance to ensure the dramatic thunder and rain only came at the most opportune moments.