It’s almost impossible to imagine a more beautiful setting in which to let the creative juices flow. Picture the rolling hills of Umbria, with its medieval villages perched high and scattered about strategically for extra impact and you have the ideal landscape to capture the imagination.
Arte Umbria is a retreat for artists for most of the season and it’s easy to see why people would come here to capture the stunning scenery. Once a year it’s booked for Sue Moorcrofts writing course and I have to admit; the scenery is a bit of a distraction! I had to keep reminding myself that I was here to learn and not admire my surroundings.
But seriously, it was an extremely well run course, expertly led by Sue, who was on her fourth consecutive year there, and I learned so much. Both from Sue and my peers (some of which were already published authors) and I took away with me a wealth of tips and inside information (nod nod, wink, wink) from the writing world and came back home bursting with a new enthusiasm, confidence and determination.
It wasn’t all work and no play though; oh no, there was plenty of time to play and also a couple of trips were thrown in for good measure. So we didn’t get cabin fever, we were first let out on a trip to the local vineyard complete with a tour by the lovely Lorenzo (who got us all in a bit of a dither!)
Then there was the day out to Orvietto on the train and the funicular up to the top where the most stunning Duomo outside of Florence stood in all it’s glory. We mooched about the shops, had a gelato and a coffee and found a delicious place to have lunch.
Monday morning found us back in the jeep, down the bumpy track to our next destination La Scarzuola. A Fransiscan convent built in 1218 by St Francis of Assisi at the front; and at the back an entirely different world. Tomazzo Buzzi’s “ideal city” which was quite surreal.
After lunch on our terrace back at the ranch (or, rather, Hunting Lodge) it was back to workshopping and free writing time, followed by a dip in the alluring pool, which lay in the grounds of Arte Umbria and was just waiting to be taken advantage of!
Even the pool had a view to die for and once I’d worked out how I could keep my iPad out of the sun in order to do some free writing down there; that’s where I made myself comfortable. It was a little distracting though, especially as Fleur the Spaniel wanted to have water splashed on her all the time!
Meals were served al fresco and were absolutely delicious, made for us daily by the Leiths trained chef Mags from England. We really were spoiled every day by her culinary skills and I came home half a stone heavier and I know I’m not the only one! Our hosts Sara and David Moody joined us at mealtimes and attended our every need.
They chauffeured us around and David even let some us watch his “Game of Thrones” box set in the evenings. I had never seen it before and wanted to know what all the fuss was about and I was joined by avid followers of the show who were happy to educate me regarding the plot.
All too soon it was time to go home but I left with a set of new friends; all with the same passion in life and I’m certain that we will stay in touch and cheer each other on when we have a success and commiserate when we get the inevitable rejection from time to time.