"Writing Italy" with Julian Evans and Miranda France (September/October 2024)
Friday, 27th September to Wednesday, 3rd October 2024
Now in its 4th successful year, Writing Italy: Potentino is for you if you want to capture an experience you’ve lived, to shape a story you want to tell, to strengthen your style and voice on the page, or all three.
Over a week of activity-based workshops and writing, acclaimed biographer and travel writer Julian Evans and award-winning writer and novelist Miranda France* will help you discover new writing skills and new ways of seeing and experiencing your surroundings.
Whether you already think of yourself as a writer or are starting to write, with each day based around an activity, the course is an ideal time to work and reflect on a new project or to look at an existing one with fresh eyes. It might be autobiography, biography, memoir, or travel, landscape, food or nature – any form of creative non-fiction.
During your stay in the delightful comfort of the restored 13th-century Castello di Potentino, you’ll join Tuscan shepherds making cheese, taste wines from the castle’s vineyards, explore its unspoiled landscape, make pasta with the fabulous food writer Rachel Roddy and visit the beautiful hill town of Pienza: experiences you’ll capture on the page and use to inspire your writing.
Julian and Miranda will work together with you in small groups, modelling new approaches to strengthen your writing and your voice and helping you find the most compelling way to tell your story. You will also have one-to-one tutorials with us both, where you can discuss your writing in detail – discussions that can continue over lunch and dinner each day in the castle’s shady loggia and elegant dining room.
Our special guests at Potentino this year will be Rachel Roddy, whose bestselling books and column in the London Guardian have won her a legion of fans, and Derek Johns, who recently stepped down from running London’s oldest literary agency.
We advise early booking as places are strictly limited.
* Miranda France is taking Helena Attlee’s place as tutor on this year’s course, as Helena is no longer able to teach this year.
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.
Miranda France is an award-winning writer and novelist. Her most recent book, The Writing School, a memoir set on a fictional writing course, was published this year: the Times Literary Supplement called it “highly enjoyable and extremely moving”. She is also the author of Bad Times in Buenos Aires and Don Quixote’s Delusions and has many years’ experience teaching creative writing.
Friday 27th September
Arrive in time to settle in before meeting the tutors and other writers for an introduction and aperitivo followed by dinner
Saturday 28th September
Using our senses as a way of expressing experiences and connecting with readers, we explore rooting our writing in the physical world to bring it alive
Walking the Potentino valley
dinner at castle
Sunday 29th September
Building skills to commit real people to the page, using their appearance, body
language, behaviour and other observed details
Visit to the local market
time for lunch after the market
Writing people, their settings and voices
dinner at castle
Monday 30th September
Framing a process or an event to make it interesting to a reader, even those not specifically interested in it
Local shepherds making ricotta cheese, followed by cheese tasting
Finding the universal strand
Tasting the wines of Potentino with Charlotte Horton, followed by dinner with Rachel Roddy
Tuesday 1st October
Today is led by Rachel Roddy, acclaimed author, Italian food expert and Guardian columnist
Pasta-making and pasta stories with Rachel in Potentino’s 13th-century
Lunch is home-made pasta, of course!
Armed with flour-covered notes and thoughts, we will look at strategies for writing about food and how creativity in the kitchen can be a metaphor for a sustainable, enjoyable writing process, balancing messy creativity with structure, form (and dinner!)
Feedback session with Rachel, Julian and Miranda
“Getting published”, a question-and-answer session with Derek Johns, drawing on his career as a leading literary agent
Dinner at castle
Wednesday 2nd October
We take you through a series of invaluable techniques for revising and polishing your work
Ultimate editing: putting it all together
Celebration and sharing of your work
Dinner at a local restaurant
Thursday 3rd October
[We reserve the right to make changes to this timetable if necessary]
“I learnt so much, about my voice, my style. I enjoyed just writing – the different approaches we worked on each day helped enormously”
“I loved the setting, the learning and in particular meeting such a fun and interesting group of people. It seems like it attracted women at different points of exploration in their lives”
“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”
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 € 2510
Two people sharing a room is € 2105 per person.
Three people sharing a room is €1970 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.
If you have any issues booking
Sometimes, it takes a few attempts to clear the cart if you need to make any changes to your room selection etc.
If you have any issues at all, please contact Alexander Greene firstname.lastname@example.org