"Writing Italy" with Helena Attlee and Julian Evans
Join us for 6 days of writing masterclasses this September in the superb comfort and bohemian atmosphere of a 13th-century castle, deep in the Tuscan countryside.
Following on from their successful course last year, bestselling author Helena Attlee and acclaimed biographer and travel writer Julian Evans will help you to discover new writing skills and ways of seeing and experiencing your surroundings.
Guided by bestselling author Helena Attlee and acclaimed biographer and travel writer Julian Evans, this is a perfect opportunity to discover new writing skills and ways of seeing and experiencing your surroundings. Whether you want to write about travel, history, biography or autobiography, landscape, food or nature – any form of creative non-fiction – our 6 days at Castello di Potentino are the ideal moment to start a new project or look at an existing one with fresh eyes.
During the week you’ll watch Tuscan shepherds making cheese, taste wines made from the castle vineyards, explore unspoiled landscapes with a local botanist, make pasta with acclaimed food writer Rachel Roddy, and immerse yourself in village life: lived experiences that you’ll learn to capture on the page. Helena and Julian will work with you in small groups, introducing new approaches to strengthen your writing voice and helping you to find the most compelling way to tell your story. You will also be invited to a one-to-one tutorial, where you can discuss your writing in detail.
Our special guests this week will be Rachel Roddy, whose books and weekly column in the London Guardian have won her many fans, and Derek Johns, who recently stepped down from running London’s oldest literary agency.
We designed this course for non-fiction writers who want to capture lived experience in their writing, strengthen their voice on the page, and find the story they want to tell.
Each day is built around an activity, whether it’s making cheese with shepherds from a neighbouring village, making pasta with Rachel Roddy, walking the valley with a local botanist, or tasting wines made in the castle winery.
These experiences are coupled with workshops and one-to-one tutorials designed to help you build your skills and confidence and explore essential elements of the writing process.
Helena Attlee’s latest book Lev’s Violin: An Italian adventure was published last year and broadcast as BBC Radio 4’s ‘Book of the Week’. Her bestselling The Land Where Lemons Grow: The story of Italy and its citrus fruit has been translated into several languages and won the Guild of Food Writers’ Book of the Year 2015.
Julian Evans is the author of the acclaimed biography Semi-Invisible Man: The life of Norman Lewis and Transit of Venus: Travels in the Pacific. He has presented radio and TV documentaries, reported from central Europe and written about the war in Ukraine from the frontline.
Saturday 10 September
Arrive in good time to settle in before meeting the tutors and other writers for an aperitivo followed by dinner
Sunday 11 September
Using our senses as a way of expressing experiences and connecting to readers, we explore rooting our writing in the physical
world to bring it alive
Activity: Walking the Potentino valley with a local botanist
Sensory writing Aperitivo and dinner at castle
Monday 12 September
Today is about building skills to commit real people to the page, using their appearance, body language, behaviour and other closely observed details
Activity: Visit to the local market
Free time for lunch in local town
Workshop: Writing people, their settings and voices
Aperitivo and dinner at castle
Tuesday 13 September
We focus on framing a process or an event to make it interesting to anyone, even to those not specifically interested in it
Activity: Local shepherds making ricotta cheese, followed by cheese tasting
Workshop: Finding the universal strand
Tasting the wines of Potentino with Charlotte Horton, followed by dinner with Rachel Roddy
Wednesday 14 September
Today is led by Rachel Roddy, acclaimed author, Italian food expert and Guardian columnist
Activity: Learning to make pasta with Rachel in Potentino’s 13th-century kitchen
Lunch is home-made pasta –
Workshop: Armed with our
flour-covered notes and thoughts, we will talk and do three generative
exercises. We’ll also look at strategies for writing about food and practical tips for recipe writing, and to conclude will talk about how to find a sustainable, enjoyable writing process and how to balance messy creativity with structure, form – and dinner
Feedback session with Rachel, Helena and Julian
Aperitivo and ‘Getting published’, a question-and-answer session with Derek Johns, drawing on his career as an editor, publisher and leading
Dinner at castle
Thursday 15 September
On the final day we take you through a series of invaluable techniques for revising and polishing your work
Workshop: Ultimate editing: putting it all together
Free time to work on your writing
Celebration and sharing of your work
Dinner at a local restaurant
Friday 16 September
[We reserve the right to make changes to this timetable if necessary]
“Julian and Helena worked beautifully together in creating a transformative learning experience. Taking part has raised my standard of what I expect from my writing dramatically”
“I came to Potentino without an agenda, but I leave Potentino inspired to share my stories”
“Thank you both so much for a wonderful experience. I appreciate all your knowledge, generosity and hard work”
Board and lodging at Castello di Potentino
All sessions with Julian and Helena
Pasta-making Workshop and talk with Rachel Roddy
"Behind the scenes in publishing" discussion with Derek Johns
Trips for planned excursions
Last night's dinner at a local restaurant
What's not included
Transfers to and from Potentino (can be booked as an extra)
Meals on planned excursions
Prices vary by room choice and number of guests sharing the room.
A single person is € 2315.
Two people sharing a room is € 2000 per person.
Three people sharing a room is €1895 per person.
If you would like to pay a deposit
The payment system asks for payment in full. If you would rather pay a non-refundable 25% deposit at the time of booking, please enter the code DEPOSIT25 at checkout. The final payment will be due one month before the start of the course.
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