Verrocchio Arts Centre, Toscana, Italia

An amazing view from my bedroom window

Tucked away amongst the rolling green hills of Tuscany is the little known town of Casole d’Elsa. I spent two weeks there in 2007 attending classes at Verrocchio Arts Centre. It was an unforgettable two weeks spent painting, drawing, sculpting, enjoying amazing food (thanks to our in-house chef) and idly soaking in the fresh air and undulating hills of Tuscany.

Casole d’Else is a typical Tuscan hilltop town, which overlooks the surrounding, picture-perfect countryside. Like many rural town, it isn’t the easiest place to access – it look me almost 24 hours from Split, Croatia. It consisted of an overnight boat to Ancona, three trains, two buses and one long uphill walk! Despite the small size of the town, which cannot be home to more than a few hundred people if that, I even had difficulty locating Verrochio Arts Centre in the labyrinth of streets and walkways.

Everyday at Verrochio Arts Centre would commence in much the same way. We’d wake up to the sound of the church bells tolling seven o’clock and by eight o’clock our delicious breakfast was served on the vine-covered terrace overlooking the landscape beyond. Classes began at 9am sharp in the studio and continued until 12 noon. At 1pm an equally amazing lunch was laid out on the communal table (usually creative prepared from leftovers from the previous night) and then we took a siesta until 3pm when classes recommenced. Classes ended for the day at around 6pm, which gave us enough time to get ready for dinner at 7:30pm. Each night dinner consisted of a delicious three-course meal and the dessert was always scrumptious (I’m a self-confessed sugar addict). I almost enjoyed the food more than anything else during these two weeks. Dinner was always followed by an engaging and lively discussion about politics, philosophy, art, the state of the world in general (it was a group of about ten artists, could you expect any different?). In short, two weeks of bliss!

We also had a few free days during which we walked throught the surrounding countryside, exploring nearby churches, farms, Etruscan archeological sites and a few of the nearby towns. I was fortunate to be there during a festival which was held one evening in the plaza beneath the Arts Centre. We joined in with some of the extremely friendly local people, for an evening of eating, drinking, singing and dancing under the stars into the early hours of the morning.

A misty morning looking over the terrace

Julie’s watercolours

Maria’s House

Cats of Casole d’Elsa

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