Castello di Potentino
"Writing Italy" with Helena Attlee and Julian Evans (May 2021)
Starts on: Saturday, May 8, 2021
Ends on: Saturday, May 15, 2021
Price: Starting from - based on available rooms and number of guests, fill out the form for total price.
Join us for 6 days of masterclasses and enjoy the superb comfort and bohemian atmosphere of a 13th-century castle deep in the Tuscan countryside.
Guided by bestselling author Helena Attlee and acclaimed biographer and travel writer Julian Evans, this is an ideal opportunity to forge 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 will be the perfect moment to start a new project or look at an existing one with fresh eyes.
During the week you will watch Tuscan shepherds making cheese, taste wines made from the castle vineyards, explore unspoiled landscapes with a local botanist, learn to make pasta and immerse yourself in village life at the market: lived experiences that you will capture on the page. Working in a small group, you will use carefully crafted techniques to strengthen your writing voice and enable you to create storytelling truth from fact. Helena and Julian will also offer one-to-one tutorials.
Our special guests will be Rachel Roddy, whose weekly column in the Guardian has won her many fans, and Derek Johns, who has recently stepped down from running London’s oldest literary agency.
Helena Attlee has been writing about Italy for thirty years. Her first book was a guide to Italian gardens, written while travelling around the country with her husband, photographer Alex Ramsay, a small baby and a tent. Helena and Alex have produced many books about the cultural history of gardens all over the world. Helena’s most recent title is the award-winning Sunday Times bestseller The Land Where Lemons Grow. She has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme and BBC Radio 3’s Thinking Aloud. Whether working with creative writers or with graduate students at university, Helena incorporates experience-led activities into her teaching. The ideas for these activities grow out of her own writing practice, often on the move, often abroad, always developing new techniques for bringing the reality of her experiences to the page. She and Julian regularly work together, leading successful writing workshops for universities and businesses, and she also leads creative writing workshops outdoors in unusual landscapes.
Julian Evans is a biographer, travel writer and journalist. His first book was Transit of Venus, the account of a journey to the US’s Pacific nuclear-missile range at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. He then wrote Semi-Invisible Man, an authorised biography of his friend Norman Lewis, author of the classic Naples ’44. He has written and presented radio and TV documentaries including BBC Radio 3’s 20-part series on the rise of the European novel, The Romantic Road, and the BBC Four film José Saramago: A Life of Resistance. He is a lead reviewer for the Daily Telegraph and has covered the war in Ukraine for Granta magazine as well as writing for the Guardian, Prospect, New Statesman, Times Literary Supplement, Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Traveller, and L’Atelier du Roman. He leads workshops for audiences as varied as UK universities and the Premier League.
- All accommodation (please chose your room below)
- Tuition with Julian and Helena
- All lunches and dinners at the castle
- Transport for all activities,
Fees do not include:
- Flights to and from Italy The airports of Pisa, Rome, Florence and
- Transfers to the Castle. Please contact Alexander to arrange transfers if you are not hiring a car. Transfers can be arranged from airports and local railway stations.
Please enter the code NOTWRITINGITALY to receive a reduction of €400 if you have a non-participating partner.
If you have any questions before you book, do not hesitate to get in touch with Alexander Greene email@example.com
How the days will work during your stay
At Potentino the morning begins with breakfast in the old kitchen, where home-made bread, local fruit, cereals and fresh pastries are set out for everyone to enjoy.
Work begins either with a short guided writing session or by diving straight into one of the local experiences – exploring the valley with an expert botanist, cheese-making, a rural market – that will be at the core of our writing each day. During the daily workshops that follow we will experiment with a range of techniques for transferring lived experience to the page. Our special guest Rachel Roddy, the celebrated food writer, will lead the workshop on one day during the week. Our second special guest Derek Johns, formerly a leading literary agent, will lead a question-and-answer session on getting published.
A light lunch will be served in the loggia. All meals are prepared in Potentino’s kitchen, using home-grown vegetables and salads, local cheeses and meat.
During the afternoons you will be free to develop the words you set down in the morning or work on your own writing project. There will also be plenty of time to discuss your work in one-to-one sessions with Helena and Julian, read in one of the castle’s lovely library rooms, relax in the comfort of your own room, swim or explore the beautiful surroundings.
We regroup again every evening for dinner at the long table in the castle dining room, where you can expect to enjoy good food, wine and conversation.
‘Thanks for instilling in me a new passion for writing, and for removing my block’
‘The workshop encouraged me to test out my creative writing [and] explore other senses rather than only relying on sight. I got a deeper understanding of different ways into talking about a topic, and the fact that there isn’t a right or wrong way to approach things’
‘It has made me want to give more time to writing – accept that it requires time, thought and reflection, and that’s not a bad thing!’
‘I’m impressed and grateful that I’ve been encouraged to take a literary approach to my writing’
Comments from Helena and Julian's courses-
Sunday, December 1, 2019
‘It was so refreshing to have input from professional writers who are adept in their fields’
‘Helena created a relaxed, collaborative environment in which we were able to explore our thoughts’
Comments from Helena and Julian's courses -
‘This was so much more than a writing workshop, and Julian Evans is so much more than a writing tutor’
‘Brilliant! I ended up having completely transformed my writing style. My writing has a voice now! Thank you both’Comments from Helena and Julian's courses - Sunday, December 1, 2019