A Sketching & Painting Holiday with Nancy Thompson in Cortona
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 airport or train station and transported to Cortona, one of the oldest cities in Italy. It was founded by the Etruscans. Check in at our lodgings and explore your surroundings. At 5:00 p.m. we'll meet for a welcome gathering with proseco and Tuscan spuntini (snacks). Nancy will introduce the workshop format, teaching method and goals. We'll distribute Cortona maps and discuss points of interest and answer any questions you might have about the city, the villa or the schedule. Dinner at the villa follows prepared by our hostess, an accomplished chef.

Day 2:

Greet a beautiful Tuscan morning with an easy start to our first full day, allowing for recovery from jet lag! After breakfast at the villa, Nancy will give a short lesson and talk more about technique. You can wander around the villa and the spactacular grounds with her to discuss subject matter for your first day of sketching and painting at the villa. This may be the day to consider a little sonnellino (nap) to get back on schedule from your travels. Lodging staff prepare lunch and dinner for us.

Day 3:

After breakfast, we'll meet our guide for a tour of Cortona's Etruscan and medieval treasures. We'll visit the Museo Diocesano to view Fra Angelico's moving The Annunciation. A museum of Estruscan and roman artifacts also presents a shopping opportunity with its next-door shop of Etruscan-styled jewelry for purchase. Our guide leaves us at the piazza with spectacular views of the Valdichiana, the verdant plain known for its rich farmland, and Lago Trasimeno, one of Italy's largest lakes. Nancy will be available for individual guidance as you sketch at various sites around the piazza. When you're ready to take a break, Cortona is waiting for exploration . . . shopping, a museum visit or two and lunch at your choice of the many restaurants. We'll return to the villa at 4:00 p.m. where half the group will join our chef for a cooking class making dinner for the rest of the group.

Day 4:

Our excursion today takes us to Pienza, a fortified hill town that was to have been a model Renaissance town under Pope Pius II. His plans were never completely fulfilled but Piazza Pio II showcases the Renaissance buildings completed by architect Bernado Rossellino. The crenelated towers, graceful arches and ancient doors surrounding the piazza make ideal sketching or painting subjects. Pienza is also well known for its local pecorino, cheese made from sheep's milk. Wander the cobblestone streets and enjoy your lunch in one of Pienza's restaurants or choose something from one of the takeaway shops to enjoy on a shady bench. Late in the day we head back to the villa for dinner.

Day 5:

After breakfast we head to Bramasole, the home of author Frances Mayes whose renovated villa was featured in her book Under the Tuscan Sun, now celebrating 20 years since its publication and translated into 52 languages. You'll have the day for sketching, painting and photographing the home and grounds so typical of the Tuscan lifestyle. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch and admire the views from one of Bramasole's charming outdoor seating areas. Dinner is prepared for us this evening at the villa.

Day 6:

Today is the midpoint of the program, and it's a good day to take it easy and catch your breath after a busy first half. After breakfast Nancy will conduct a lesson. Then you're on your own to paint and sketch and do more exploring around the villa, the grounds and in the neighborhood. After lunch perhaps a little nap is in order or a refreshing dip in the pool before you return to your art. At 5:00 p.m. our friend Ivan has invited us to his art gallery, Il Pozzo, for wine and hors d'oeuvres. You'll see evidence of Cortona's founders with the Etruscan well in the floor of the gallery. Enjoy browsing the local artwork and discuss with Ivan the artistic elements of Cortona. Dinner at a Cortona restaurant follows.

Day 7:

Today we travel the beautiful Tuscan countryside of rolling hills, stone farmhouses and iconic cypress trees to Siena at the very heart of central Tuscany. The 12th century Piazza del Campo anchors the center of Siena and is surrounded by historic buildings from Siena's golden age, 1260-1348. Explore the narrow, winding streets that climb the seven hills on which Siena is built and afford views of the city spread out below you. Siena's magnificent Duomo, the graceful Gothic town hall and more are all awaiting your exploration. Lunch is on your own with a wide choice of restaurants on the city's piazzas. We return to our lodgings in the late afternoon for dinner.

Day 8:

"At home" this morning to sketch and paint with instruction and individual guidance from Nancy. At 12:30 we leave for a wine tasting and lunch at Tenimenti d' Alessandro where the Shiraz grape has been taken to new heights. Enjoy the pace of fine wine and exquisite food well savored. When we return to the villa, the second half of our group is invited into the kitchen for a cooking lesson to prepare dinner for the entire group.

Day 9:

Our excursion today takes us to the small village of Castiglione del Lago Trasimeno, recognized as one of the most beautiful villages in Umbria. The imposing Fortress of the Lions dominates the village with its crenelated battlements and towers. Views from inside the fortress or on the beach looking up at it make for ideal sketching and painting or photos for later consideration. The charming centro (town center) is filled with good restaurants for your lunch as well as small shops that just might hold the perfect gift to take home. After lunch we head back to Cortona to visit a local ceramic artist who will introduce you to the designs, colors and technique of signature Cortona pottery. We'll return to the villa where staff has been preparing dinner for us.

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. Our villa chef prepares a special gala dinner for our last evening together.

Day 11:

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