August 27, 2016 – September 3, 2016
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect location and base than the beautiful b&b of Ancora Di Chianti. Hidden away in the beautiful vineyards and olive groves of the Chianti region, Italy. Situated between Pisa and Florence in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. Our hosts, Laura and Philippe welcomed our painting group to their lovely home. We stayed in a collection of beautifully restored farm buildings. We all had spacious rooms with a lovely relaxed country decor. The group of buildings, sat around a courtyard garden, were perched on a hill with long views of the vineyards and olive groves, rolling away into the gentle hills and valleys with picturesque landscapes, just waiting to be painted.
We arranged with Laura for a local chef to come and cook authentic Italian dishes each evening. We thoroughly enjoyed all the delicious food she cooked. A good selection of rich meaty Italian dishes, wonderful delicate country vegetables and fabulous sweets, all washed down with plenty of Philippe’s own red wine. Delicious breakfasts sat on the terrace, fruit, cold meats, home baked bread, and each day a wonderfully light breakfast cake, full of fresh fruit.
A large spacious and light studio became a great base for relaxing painting, out of the sun. Finding lovely views to draw and paint was easy, a vista at every turn. There were plenty of warm but shaded areas to work in and paint the typical Tuscan views.
With two tutors we covered most media, some guests worked in Acrylic, others in Oil. There were plenty of pen and wash sketches and watercolour painters. Guests work in any media they choose and changed about during the seven day course.
The main focus of the whole course was “Preparation”. Emphasising the importance of working out composition, a focal point and content. We also pointed out the importance of sketches and preparatory colour mixing in readiness to paint. Armed with all this preparatory work, painting “plein air” we feel, is made easier.
We also organised a trip to a very prestigious Olive Oil producer for a tour and Lunch. Prunetti is known locally as the Ferrari of Olive Oils. The Owner explained the process and showed us the very complex equipment. We then went to their showroom and were given taste tests on several qualities of Olive Oil. It was very informative and enjoyable. It was a life changing moment and buying Olive oil will never be the same again.
Some of the guests also went to a local vineyard to visit the vaults and sample the wine with lunch. Another informative and very enjoyable experience. The vineyard was set in a castle grounds in manicured gardens, a beautiful location to paint on our next visit.
On one evening during the week,we had dinner at a local restaurant in the nearby town of Greive. It is small town, very picturesque with lots pretty shops, buildings and streets.
To round off the week some of the guests caught a local bus from Greive to Florence, the capitol of the region one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Some guests had visited Florence before and were happy to wander around by themselves, enjoying the sights and shopping. Several of the guests had not visited Florence before, so we gave them the essential tour. The Ponte Vecchio, a stroll past the Ufizzi, we popped in the Vecchio Palace and happily wandered around Piazza del Signiorina. We stopped here for a delicious pizza lunch and afterwards strolled on to the magnificent D’Uomo. It was a hot day and we were glad to sit and cool down with iced coffee and ice cream before we met up with the rest of the group and took the bus back to Ancora. We felt this trip was a success, beautiful accommodation, stunning location with plenty of resources to paint. Lovely weather, not to hot at Ancora and plenty of shady spots to sit. Wonderful food and wine. Guests produced good paintings and sketches, and took plenty of photos to continue to paint their Italian holiday. We finished the trip with an informal exhibition to allow everyone to appreciate all the hard work and effort of the work completed by each guests.
A selection of guest paintings from the 2016 trip.
Click on a thumbnail to see the full image.