Once upon a time there was an old watermill along the river Marecchia in Eastern Tuscany, lost in the Apennines. It had perched on its rock for centuries in countryside where wild boar and deer still graze and where orchids and wildflowers grow in abundance.
Some people say this watermill dates as far back as the 13th century. The story goes that, way back, the owners sold it to the little town of Badia Tedalda further up the mountain. Then they changed their minds and a skirmish ensued, where four people were killed by soldiers sent by the disgruntled purchasers.
Mills were vitally important for survival. This particular mill ground wheat, barley, rye and corn for local people who brought their grains to the mill and tethered their donkeys to metal rings secured to the wall.
At the very end of the twentieth century, a couple from England fell under its spell. It had stopped working twenty years previously. Inside were mouse-nibbled mattresses, windows without glass, a roof that needed replacing, disused hoppers and millstones and dozens of horseshoes. It needed a lot of work, but we scraped together our savings and bought it.
Twenty years later, we are still in love with this inspiring place, set in a magical location and we let it out to holidaymakers from all over the world. It is such an important place for us. In this beautiful, unspoiled corner of Tuscany, we find time to take stock. It has inspired me to write and it has helped us both with our general well-being.
Last year we held a writing week and this year, from September 11th to 18th, we are doing it again.
The group is small, never more than ten. Last year, there were complete beginners and published authors. Here are some of the reviews:
REVIEWS from 2018
• “The course offered me true escapism through my own spontaneous writing and also that of others. I have made new friends and spent lovely times with old friends. I leave [Tuscany] feeling refreshed, totally inspired to write and just a little bit ‘proud of myself’.” (Novice writer and winner of Flash Fiction 2018).
• “Food was lovely. Excellent cooking and supply. Plenty of wine.”
• “Perfect! … Beds and rooms wonderfully comfortable.”
• “Excellent value! Been like living in a film set. Such welcoming hosts and wonderful atmosphere you couldn’t buy.”
• “Excellent value”.
• “I enjoyed the challenge and the discipline of the course. The accommodation was extremely comfortable. You had thought of everything we could possible want and added a few touches of your own.”
• “The meals were wonderful. In some ways the meals we had at Il Mulino were better than the restaurant meals because more informal and relaxed.”
• “One word – FAB – U – LOUS.”
In 2018 we had Sonja Price to tutor us and she was really helpful, but this year we are aiming the week at writers who have works in progress, for those who want to start to write and who need peace, tranquillity and space to write, write, write, without interruption. No cooking, no housework, just time to write and dive into the imagination.
If you want to join in, there will be discussions on all things writerly too: writer’s block, research, speech and dialogue and brainstorming beginnings, middles and ends for your story are some of the subjects. These sessions are all optional. Each morning will start with a five-minute limbering-up writing exercise to kick-start your creative juices.
On Friday 13th, One Stop’s Fiction Kathryn Bax and her son, Kent, will lead a day’s session on “Self-publishing tips for success.” We are really excited about this. Some local writer are dipping in for this.
If you are artistic and would like to have a break from writing, on Monday 16th September, a local artist, Joy Boncompagni Stafford will hold a morning session on watercolour. (This is an extra and will cost Euros 25, materials provided).
La torre di Gragnano
A couple of Joy’s paintings
Last year’s Flash Fiction Competition was very popular, and we shall run this again. Title to be announced on the first day of the course.
Participants are invited to send in one piece of work (wordcount 2,000 max) no later than three weeks in advance of the start of the course, to share and receive constructive feedback.
During the week there will be an opportunity to visit the enchanting towns of Sansepolcro and Anghiari, to include an (optional) writing exercise.
So, what does all this cost, I hear you ask?
This year we have reduced the price to £550.
This includes accommodation in our restored watermill. There is one double room, with en suite still available in the mill.
If you want to see more photos of the inside of our restored watermill, we have our own site: Il Mulino, Rofelle
And, within walking distance, there is a beautifully appointed guest house, or agriturismo for extra guests. All rooms have en suite. Il Casalone
Our price includes food, drinks and wine, except when we eat out at a local restaurant or pizzeria on two occasions during the week.
It includes airport transfer to and from Bologna airport, as long as you arrive before lunchtime on September 11th. If you plan to arrive at a different airport, you will need to sort your own transport. We can advise on this.
It does not include your flight or the couple of meals, snacks or drinks when we go out twice during the week. If you prefer to stay at the mill to write instead, we can leave you food to self-cater.
If you are interested in one of our remaining spaces, or have any other queries, please contact me in the comment box below, on private message on Facebook or Twitter or via this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org