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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
A ten day retreat in a beautiful villa. Decorative work for gilded surfaces, antique painting mediums. Accommodations and meals on site at the villa.
June 6-15, 2023
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 

Gilding Retreat


retreat villa.jpg

True luxury is the simple enjoyment of beauty!

About the course:​

This retreat is for artists, decorators and craftspeople who have had some experience, even minimal, with traditional painting mediums and gilding, and are inspired by Italy and historical artworks.

This is a small group retreat (10 participants) in a secluded private villa in the south of Tuscany. It’s one of those places where you will be reminded of how beautiful life can be. Here you will find fresh air, soft tuscan light, and quiet landscapes.  Enjoy practicing your art in this dreamy setting, take a dip in the pool with a panoramic view overlooking the valley, and savour the excellent local cuisine in good company. 


You may be feeling drained, uninspired and isolated after the past couple of years and dismayed by  the current state of the world. It’s important for creative people to nurture themselves so the they can continue to shine from within and lead the way for a future that is less concerned  with consuming and more concerned with a balanced existence.


We will be situated near Anghiari, which is recognised as one of the most beautiful small towns in Italy. This region of Tuscany was home to Piero della Francesca and there are many inspirational works of his to visit in the area, as well as masterpieces by Donatello, Beato Angelico and others.


When you take the time to relax and allow yourself a combination of peace and beauty, artistic practice, exchange and learning, the benefits are sometimes quite unexpected. You can rediscover your artistic self and become inspired.  Sometimes new ideas present themselves, you feel moments of pure joy and you quite often make lifelong art friends. In this uncontaminated geographic area specifically, you can immerse yourself in history to gain a new perspective. It is easy to  stumble upon masterpieces in the tiniest remote churches that speak of lives lived fully, reminders that you have this life to enjoy and be creative with.

Course level:
This retreat is for you if you have some experience of gilding and painting, and have a desire to study traditional Italian techniques and materials. We recommend that you have a familiarity with the basics of drawing, shading and color theory for the hands-on course exercises. Participants should be above beginners level in order to get the full benefit of the course material. We cover several traditional Italian decorative techniques and mediums, all in a relatively short period of time. 

Course projects: 

We will be exploring water gilding and all the various techniques for the decoration of the gilded surface including pastiglia, sgraffito, incising and punch work. We will also explore colored glazes on the gold, and the use of egg tempera and casein paints for the decoration of gilded surfaces. The course will be useful to understand correct gilding techniques for those who wish to combine fine art painting with gilding. We will explore the use of casein paint for decorative painting, and as a base for silverpoint drawing. The Mischtechnik is another fascinating painting technique which we will employ for creating luminous studies. There will be a lot of creative combination of the various techniques  so that participants can understand the full potential of these beautiful antique mediums.


The course covers:

-Water gilding advanced techniques, (pastiglia, sgraffito, punch work and incising)

-Casein paint on panel or paper 


-Egg tempera 

-Mischtechnik (egg tempera and oil/alkyd paint) 


The proposed course projects are designed as exercises that combine various techniques on one panel. Some participants may wish to work on their own projects under the guidance of the teacher. In this case we recommend an exchange of e-mails before the course to review the independent project, in order for the student to get the most benefit from the course. Contact us if you have a special project in mind.


For a full class description please see the daily schedule below.

The Accommodations:


Pricing is based on double occupancy in private rooms, each with bathroom facilities. The villa has four bedrooms and there is a separate cottage which has one double bedroom. There is a large terrace with  a long wooden table for our shared Tuscan style meals which will be provided by a local catering team. (Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements or preferences.) There is a breathtaking pool with views of the landscape. (Glamping is also available on request)

Our hosts are Willem and Annelied Mock, a couple from Amsterdam who fell in love with the villa and decided to make it their home. They are happy to open their dreamy location to our group for the workshop and will be available on site during the retreat for any assistance needed.


Travel to and from our location to the  Arezzo train station is provided.


Please read over the covid guidelines below.

Course Schedule:

Day One  Tuesday June 6

2:30 pm: Pick up at Arezzo train station 2:30 pm 

3:15 pm (approx.) Arrival at the villa and room assignments

4:00 pm :Welcome drinks, snacks and discussion of individual projects in the studio

7:00 pm: Catered dinner at the villa


Day Two Wednesday June 7

Breakfast is available from 7:30 am to 9:00 am

9:00 am Morning Class: 

-gesso preparation

-creating relief with gesso - the pastiglia technique

1:00 pm catered lunch at the villa

2:30 pm Afternoon Class:

-further preparation of panels

-application of bole

7:00 pm catered dinner at the villa


Day Three Thursday June 8

Breakfast is available from 7:30 am to 9:00 am

9:00 am Morning Class: 

-handling of gold leaf, water gilding 

-gilding the pastiglia 

1:00 pm catered lunch at the villa

2:30 pm Afternoon Class:

-burnishing gold

-making egg tempera paint 

-the Sgraffito technique of scratched back egg tempera paint over the gilded surface

7:00 pm catered dinner at the villa


Day Four Friday June 9

Breakfast is available from 7:30 am to 9:00 am

9:00 am departure for Cortona

10:00 am arrival at Cortona, a charming hill town. A visit to see the masterwork, Beato Angelico’s annunciation in the Diocesano museum is recommended for the use of gold and mixed tempera and oil paint techniques.

2:00 pm Departure for San Sepolcro 

3:00 pm arrival in San Sepolcro. This town in the flat lands of the valley of the Tiber river was the birthplace of the renaissance master Piero della Francesca. You can visit his birthplace, or we recommend a visit to the works by Piero in the museo civico, specifically the polyptych of the Madonna della misericordia on a gold ground, and the fresco of the resurrection of Christ.

5:30 pm Departure for Anghiari: this town is perched on a hill looking over the valley of the river Tiber. You can stroll the medieval streets or visit the town’s museum of the famous battle of Anghiari which took place in 1440.

7:00 pm Dinner in Anghiari


Day Five Saturday June 10

Breakfast is available from 7:30 am to 9:00 am

9:00 am Morning Class: 

-continuation of gilding projects

-egg tempera painting  

-First layer of the Mischtechnik 

1:00 pm catered lunch at the villa

2:30 pm Afternoon Class:

-incising and punch work (bulinatura) on the gilded surface

7:00 pm catered dinner at the villa


Day Six Sunday June 11

Breakfast is available from 7:30 am to 9:00 am

9:00 am Morning Class: 

-second layer of the Mischtechnik 

-continuation of egg tempera panel projects

1:00 pm catered lunch at the villa

2:30 pm Afternoon Class:

-continuation of egg tempera panels

-application of base coats and tracing for the casein paint decorative panel 

7:00 pm catered dinner at the villa



Day Seven Monday June 12

Breakfast is available from 7:30 am to 9:00 am

9:00 am Morning Class: 

-third layer of the Mischtechnik 

-lesson on casein paint, its uses, properties. 

1:00 pm catered lunch at the villa

2:30 pm Afternoon Class:

-continuation  panel projects

7pm: dinner in the countryside near Anghiari at a local restaurant

Day Eight Tuesday June 13

Breakfast is available from 7:30 am to 9:00 am

9:00 am Morning Class: 

-completion of the Mischtechnik  using oil paints

-continuation of casein paint projects

1:00 pm catered lunch at the villa

2:30 pm Afternoon Class:

-continuation of work on panels

-silverpoint technique

7:00 pm catered dinner at the villa

Day Nine Wednesday June 14

9:00 am Morning Class: 

-continuation of the various exercises 

1:00 pm catered lunch at the villa

2:30 pm Afternoon Class:

-Completion of projects

-Questions and answers

6:00 pm  Excursion to the Carmine Monastery to visit Alison’s studio, followed by a visit to another local artist’s studio, then our final dinner together at the villa 



Day Ten Thursday June 15

Breakfast is available from 7:30 am to 9:00 am

10:00 am Departure by minivan for Arezzo train station

Painters attending are welcome to bring their sketchbooks, watercolors or oil paints for any personal field studies they may wish to do. 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 will be available.

Instruction is available in English and in Italian.


Pricing and Inclusions:


Cost of course:

2790 euros per person (double occupancy)

Included in the course: 

-Teaching sessions morning and afternoon 

-Use of studio space on site with free access around the clock

-Use of all studio brushes and tools. (Bringing your own personal gilding tools, basic brush set and pencil case is recommended)

-All art materials including one book of real gold. (To request more books at wholesale price please contact us ahead of time.)

Included in the accommodations 

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

  • Cleaning of the bathrooms and common areas

  • breakfasts

  • lunches (All lunches are on site at the villa except for 1 lunch on the excursion day which is not included. You are welcome to choose whether you want to have a sit down lunch there, or pick up a quick lunch and continue sightseeing)

  • dinners (All dinners are on site at the villa except of the group dinner in Anghiari on the evening of the excursion) 

  • Transfer with luggage to and from Arezzo train station for arrival and departure (group pick up at designated time). If you have some personal items that you wish to acquire its a good idea to pick them up in Arezzo before you board the minivan. 

  • Wifi 4G

Included with excursion package:

-Travel by private minivan 

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


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 

-Please note if you decide not to participate in the excursion, lunch and dinner that day are not included. You can choose to walk the trails near the villa or go into Anghiari. Please let us now ahead of time if you want to arrange a bag lunch. You can also prearrange a taxi service to Anghiari to join the group for dinner if you want.


Optional extras: Massages can be booked on site at the villa with a local massage therapist  and  yoga lessons can be arranged with Annelied our host on the spectacular yoga deck overlooking the valley. 

Not included in excursion  package:

-Museum admissions 

-Lunch in Cortona


Cancellation policy: We recommend you take out a cancellation insurance policy for your trip. The course deposit is non refundable, and the balance payment is partially refundable up until 120 days before the start of the course. If you have to cancel your trip due to a change in circumstances you should have an insurance policy in place. Please note: Often the insurance companies require you to stipulate the policy at the time of the initial deposit for your trip.


Covid guidelines:

-If you are arriving to Italy from abroad please consult the Italian government entry requirements . Currently as of June 2022 the Italian government has dropped all Covid related entry requirements 

-All rooms are sanitised before your arrival

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

Register now

There are limited places so make sure to book yours!


Payment schedule: 

Deposit of 790 euros at time of registration

Balance payment of 2000 euros by March 30th, 2023

The balance payment can be paid in two instalments if requested, the first due January 5th and the second due March 30th, 2023.


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 an 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 monastery complex near Anghiari in the southern part of Tuscany. The traditional Italian materials and techniques I have been mastering over the years are inherently beautiful and worth using not only in restoration but in contemporary art practices as well. Teaching brings me contact and exchange that I value very highly. I feel strongly about sharing and teaching the practices I have learned over my career, as well as transmitting some of the lessons, themes and perspectives that have resonated with me from the masters of the past.

To read more about my journey, please see my blog.