All the Best of Tuscany, Sketching and Painting with Nancy Thompson
Example of Weekly Schedule

(Please note that some activities may change slightly based on weather and availability of venue)

Day 1:

Arrival Day: you are met at the Pisa airport or Lucca train station and transported to the Villa Fiori (House of Flowers), set in the Lucca hills. Unpack, settle in and perhaps take a walk around your home for the next ten days. At 5:00 p.m. gather at one of the comfy outside seating areas for wine and cheeses. You'll meet your fellow artist/travelers, and Nancy will introduce to you to the workshop and the week’s activities and discuss goals and challenges. Afterward you'll begin the process of making homemade limoncello, which will be ready to sample at pizza night on your last evening. Dinner is prepared for you by the Abbondanza Toscana staff.

Day 2:

Greet a beautiful Tuscan morning with an easy start to our first full day! A mid-morning brunch features some of the fare made by local artisanal producers followed by instruction and painting time. You'll have the day to become familiar with your surroundings. Be sure to take your sketchbook as you wander and begin noting all the views and vignettes you'll want to sketch during your stay at Villa Fiori.

Day 3:

Our excursion today takes us to a private home in a refurbished old barn. You'll see how expertly Italian craftsmen have merged the old with the new to create a charming and comfortable residence. You can spend time in the terrace garden with its refreshing fountain to marvel at the views and perhaps create a sketch or two. Our hostess, Katinka, will guide you through painting a souvenir plate that she'll fire for you in her kiln. You're also welcome to take a short walk to the neighboring sculptor's studio where you can watch him carve in olive wood.

Day 4:

An introduction to Lucca begins with the very best cappuccino in the world followed by a stroll down the most useful shopping street in the world, filled with stores chockfull of baskets and pans and brooms and seeds and all manner of things. You’ll have a short cultural tour of Lucca, including its Romanesque churches, Roman amphitheater, medieval gates and Renaissance walls. Then you’re on your own to explore the city’s visual treasures, including a Renaissance garden with limonaia and statuary. Lunch is on your own to allow you time to follow your artistic muse. Back to Villa Fiori mid-afternoon where half of the group will join our chef in preparing dinner.

Day 5:

Sketch around the villa and its surroundings or hike across the hills for a different view. After lunch we'll head back into Lucca to join the locals in the Sunday evening passeggiatta (stroll) through the winding streets of Lucca. At dusk we'll hear a Puccini concert in a Romanesque church built over Roman ruins. Dinner is at one of our favorite restaurants with an outstanding wine list.

Day 6:

Today we venture west to the sea. The Ligurian coastline beckons with spectacular views of imposing cliffs, pastel-colored homes against the water, colorful fishing boats, a hilltop fortress with panoramic views and a medieval church striped with the local black and white stone. Our destination is Portovenere where you have the entire day to wander the cobblestone streets, dip your toes into the Mediterranean and stroll the seaside walk to inspire your painterly muse. Lunch is on your own with a wide choice of excellent seafood restaurants boasting the day's catch from the local fishermen.

Day 7:

"At home" today to sketch and paint. Maybe it's time to finish a sketch you've already started or to seek out a new subject. Gnarled olive trees, flower pots abundant with blooms, rock walls and terraces, the outside oven, imposing beams inside the house, an ancient door . . . all are waiting for your interpretation. After lunch perhaps a little nap is in order or a refreshing dip in the pool before you return to your art.

Day 8:

After breakfast you’ll have most of the day to explore Lucca. Inside the walls, a traffic-free area, you can wander the ancient Roman street plan enjoying the shaded piazzas, the beautiful churches richly appointed with portraits and murals and the captivating architecture topped with red tile roofs. Palazzo Pfanner, an imposing house built in 1667, is a favorite painting and sketching venue. The formal gardens are lined with Baroque statuary interspersed with lemon trees in huge terra cotta pots. Colorful flower beds surround the fountain with views of the palazzo behind. When you want to take a break from painting, consider a stroll or bike ride along the tree-lined path on Lucca's famous walls. And save some time for Lucca's world class shopping. Italian leather goods, linens, ceramics, olive oils and pasta all make perfect take-home gifts. Pick up lunch at one of the "take-away" restaurants or pull up a chair at an outside table at one of Lucca's excellent full-service restaurants. We'll return to Villa Fiori mid-afternoon where the second half of the group will help our chef prepare dinner for everyone.

Day 9:

Today we drive south to one of Tuscany's premier wine regions famous for its Super Tuscan wines. We're heading to the charming town of Bolgheri where the road into town is lined with Italy's iconic cypress trees. Lunch is on your own to allow more time for sketching and soaking up the ambience of this delightful little town. After lunch we'll have a wine tasting of the area's classic Bolgheri wines.

Day 10:

Our last day of sketching gives you time to finish up your work with help from Nancy. Later in the day, we'll have a gallery of everyone's work with hors d' oeuvres and bubbly and plenty of time to share and discuss your accomplishments and challenges with the group. Dinner is our traditional pizza night using the wood-fired oven. You'll design your own pizza with our pizzaiolo Eduardo and sip your homemade limoncello as a nightcap.

Day 11:

After breakfast, we wish you arrivederci, until we meet again. The van transports you back to the train station or airport.