top of page
Course logo with shadow.png


IMG_0071 3_edited.jpg
Course Information


Throughout the year we hold special retreat courses in which students stay and learn in a beautiful Italian location. These courses allow students to learn as much as possible during their stay in Italy and are perfect for those who are unable to get away for long periods of time. The locations are carefully chosen to offer you one of the most picturesque settings imaginable, together with very comfortable accommodation. They are ideal places for creative exchanges and inspiration. 


Your tutor, Alison Woolley, accompanies you and teaches daily lessons during your stay. Alison is a a master artisan recognised by the region of Tuscany. She has over 20 years experience teaching decorative arts and she specialises in hand painted decoration using traditional media. 

Information will be found for upcoming courses below as they are scheduled. If you would like to enquire about a course, please complete our Course Enquiry Form.

Upcoming Retreats
Retreat Name
Retreat Dates
Retreat Location
Tuscan Luxury Gilding/Painting Retreat
An 8 day retreat in a beautiful villa. Decorative work for gilded surfaces, antique painting mediums. Accommodations and meals on site at the villa.
Sep 24- Oct 1, 2024
see course description
Anghiari, Italy
Intro Gilding Monastery Retreat
Learn about Water Gilding through this immersive course in the stunning setting of renaissance monastery
Sep 29- Oct 22, 2022
see course description
Anghiari, Italy


If you are interested in joining a retreat, please complete our Course Enquiry Form or email 



Intro Gilding Retreat

An introduction to gilding techniques in a antique monastery retreat:

This retreat is for beginners or for people who are unfamiliar with traditional painting mediums and gilding, and are inspired by Italy and historical artworks.


This is a small group retreat in a monastery in the south of Tuscany. You will find a pleasant combination of elements for both mind and body. There is fresh air, quiet, good food, renaissance treasures to connect you to history, and of course plenty of beauty to stir the heart as well.


You may be feeling uninspired and isolated after the past couple of years and need a break to indulge in your personal interests or to refresh your skills. You probably have an eye for beauty and have always appreciated the works of the Italian renaissance and wondered how they were made on a technical level.


This is a short but intense workshop, a perfect introduction, with all the elements necessary to make you fall in love!  Plunge into the beauty of a 16th century monastery for a long weekend and start learning a new art skill under the guidance of an expert teacher. 


We have added an (optional) pre-course day of visits to gilded renaissance masterpieces in Arezzo, Sansepolcro, and Citerna for a personal introduction to masterworks by Piero della Francesca, Beato Angelico, and Donatello executed with the same techniques we will be employing. This way you can observe first hand and take note of the materials and their beauty.

The benefits of this introductory weekend are twofold, you get a blast of inspiration and realise how expressive and deeply moving these techniques can be, and you can start your own journey on the right track, with an experienced master artisan teacher to guide you so that you can continue practicing at home without developing bad habits or incorrect practices.


Each participant has a private room with ensuite bathroom facilities. The course group size is restricted (5 people) so you get individual attention and personal space both in the studio and in your lodgings. All meals are provided unless otherwise stated. (Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements or preferences). Travel to and from our location to the  Arezzo train station is provided for those who sign up fo the full course. The hosts are on site at all times in case of any emergencies. Please read over the covid guidelines below. 


The workshop:

The studio area will be available on site from morning to late evening for those who wish to work on their projects. Projects are prepared step by step by the students. Product recipes and procedures are given in the class notes. Example projects and finished examples will be used to teach. Please read the class schedule below for more details of the class.

Instruction is available in English and in Italian.

Schedule (Fall 2022 INTRO Gilding Retreat):

Day One Thursday September 29th, 2022: 

  • 10am: Meet at Arezzo train station

  • Morning visits on foot in Arezzo: Cimabue and Piero Della Francesca in the cathedral

  • Break for independent lunch then meet to join the private minivan. 

  • Trip to the town of Sansepolcro and the museum, then a brief stop at your lodgings to deposit your bags.

  • A visit to the town and welcome dinner in Anghiari 


-Please note itinerary may change slightly


Day Two Friday September 30th, 2022: 

  • Breakfast availablefrom 7:30 to 9:00 

  • 9am- 12:30pm: Morning workshop class on introduction to gilding, preparing gesso and applying it, preparing bole. The materials and their characteristics are explained.

  • 1pm: Catered lunch in the church hall

  • 2:30pm-5:30pm Afternoon class: sanding gessoed panels, applying bole. The application of gold leaf will be explained and demonstrated.

  • 7pm: Catered dinner


-Small wooden panels and/or frames will be supplied


Day Three Saturday October 1, 2022: 

  • Breakfast available from 7:30 to 9:00 

  • 9am- 12:30pm: Morning class on the application of gold leaf with the water gilding method, handling of leaf, proper practices and tools.

  • 1pm: Catered lunch in the church hall 

  • 2:30pm-5:30pm Afternoon class: burnishing the gilded surface will be explained and demonstrated, if students panels are ready they can be burnished. Pigment paints made with rabbit skin glue, and casein paints will be demonstrated.

  • 7pm: Catered dinner


Day Four Sunday October 2, 2022: 

  • Breakfast available from 7:30 to 9:00 

  • 9am- 12:30pm: Morning class: introduction to decorating and finishing the gilded surface including discussion, demonstration and hands on work.  

  • 12:30pm: Catered lunch in the church hall 

  • 2:00pm-3:30pm: Afternoon summary: students can put the finishing touches on their projects, ask questions and review their work with the teacher

  • 3:45 circa minivan transfer to Arezzo train station ( approx. 40 minutes)



Fees Breakdown:


Included in the course fee: 

  • Teaching sessions morning and afternoon for 3 days

  • Use of studio space with free access around the clock

  • Use of all studio brushes and tools. (Brushes will be available for sale for those who wish to own them.)

  • course notes 

  • All art materials including one book of real gold, which is sufficient for the course. 


Not included in the course fee: 

  • Accommodations, meals and travel

  • Workwear: please bring and apron or and old shirt

  • Notebooks if you want to make notes


Course Fee:

 495€ euros (special introductory offer marked down from 550€ euros per person)

Included in the accommodations package:

(to be paid directly on site in cash to the manager of  the church apartments)

  • Private room with ensuite bathroom. Sheets and towels are included but a change of linens is not included.

  • Use of common room and small kitchen to prepare snacks. (Residents must clean up after themselves)

  • 3 breakfasts

  • 3 lunches (All lunches during the course are on site at the monastery. Lunch on the first day in Arezzo is not included, you can choose to pick up a quick lunch or sit down for a light meal after our museum visits in Arezzo and before you meet the bus for the afternoon’s travel)

  • 2 dinners (dinners during the course are on site at the  monastery are included except of the group dinner in Anghiari on the evening of the excursion.) 

  • For those participating in the first day educational tour only: pick up at the Arezzo train station is included (group pick up at designated time). 

  • Group Transfer Sunday afternoon to the Arezzo train station


Not included with accommodations package:

  • Airfares and train travel to Arezzo. We recommend international arrivals to Florence or Rome airport, then train travel to Arezzo

  • Change of linens 

  • Maid service

  • Wifi is not available in the apartments , but is available in the studio only

  • Please note if you decide not to participate in the excursion, you must arrange travel to Anghiari independently. You can join the group for dinner in Anghiari on the first evening, or if you wish you can arrive directly on the Friday morning early before class starts. Contact us on details for bus or taxi travel to Anghiari.

  • Heating or air-conditioning is not activated in the rooms, and is not needed in late September


Total cost of accommodations package per person: 

only 200€ euros !!!

The monastery accommodations are very modern and comfortable and we are able to offer them seasonally at low cost because of the association with the church.  


Included with excursion package:

  • Introduction with your teacher to gilded masterpieces in Arezzo (a notepad and phone camera is recommended)

  • Travel by private minivan to Sansepolcro, Citerna and Anghiari.

  • dinner in Anghiari (This meal will have a set menu with a vegetarian/vegan option, so please communicate to us your preferences or requirements.)

  • transportation to il Carmine monastery lodgings


Not included in excursion  package:

  • Museum admissions 

  • Lunch in Arezzo

  • luggage locker fee in Arezzo if you choose to leave your luggage in oe of the convenient locker facilities near the station for the morning museum visits. 


Total cost of excursion per person: 150€ euros

* Please note excursion destinations may vary slightly. We must be flexible in the event of unforeseen closures etc. 


Cancellation policy:

We recommend you take out a cancellation insurance policy for your trip. When you sign up and pay your deposit, a place is reserved for you in the course. The course deposit is non-refundable, as is the balance payment made just before the start of the workshop, so if you have to cancel your trip due to a change in circumstances you should have an insurance policy in place. When you join the course you will be required to sign forms releasing Florenceartnet from responsibility in the event of illness, accident or injury to you during the trip.


Covid Guidelines:

  • If you are arriving to Italy from abroad please consult the Italian government entry requirements

  • We will be following current Italian government requirements for social distancing and masks

  • All rooms are sanitised before your arrival

  • Kitchen staff will wear masks

  • Please make sure your travel insurance covers covid recovery as well as other illness and injury  


Course deposit: 245€ euros (non refundable)


Payment schedule: 

  • Deposit of  245€ euros at time of registration

  • Balance payment of 250€ euros by September 15th

  • Accommodations and Excursion fee: 350€ euros payable in cash only on site at the Carmine monastery.



From Alison:

For those of you who don’t know me, I was born in Scotland, grew up in Canada where I obtained my post secondary art diploma from the OCAD university in Toronto, then came to Italy in about 1989. I have been working as and artisan ever since, first as an apprentice in a traditional decorating studio in the Oltrarno in Florence, then as an independent artisan, eventually becoming recognised as a “Maestra Artigiana’, (master artisan).


I have recently made one of the happiest moves of my life, leaving Florence to live and work in the Carmine complex near Anghiari where you will be welcomed. 


The techniques and materials I have adopted are inherently beautiful and worth using in contemporary art practices as well as restoration. Teaching brings me contact and exchange that I value very highly. I feel strongly about sharing and teaching the techniques and practices I have learned over my career, and I feel I am uniquely positioned to do so due to my years of immersion in the Italian artisan tradition, my teaching experience and my experience of other cultures.

IMG_1676 2.heic

The art studio at the Carmine Monastery

Adv Gilding Retreat


Watch some of our free art classes to start learning some basic skills from home. We also have full online courses that you can purchase. Each online course consists of a number of video lessons taught by Alison and her daughter Sonia. The content starts from the very beginning, showing you how to select the best tools and how to prepare your surface. You will then be guided through a project from start to finish.