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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
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 

Gilding Retreat


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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 (approx.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 few 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. 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)

-Egg tempera 

-Mischtechnik (egg tempera and oil/alkyd paint) 


-In addition for those who work quickly there can be some extra project proposals using casein paints and silverpoint drawing


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. 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.

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

The Accommodations:

Accommodations on site are limited, so book early to ensure your spot. There is also the possibility of staying nearby independently and participating in the course. We are happy to reccomend places in the area and help with your travel plans. 

At the villa, pricing is based on single occupancy in private rooms, each with bathroom facilities. The villa has four bedrooms and there is a separate cottage which has one double bedroom and a downstairs living room with sofa bed. 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 September 24th

10:30 am: Pick up at Arezzo train station 

12:30 pm: (approx.) Arrival at the villa and room assignments

3:00 pm: preparatory drawing for Mischtechnik  panel

6:00 pm: Welcome drinks, snacks and discussion of individual projects in the studio

7:00 pm: Catered dinner at the villa


Day Two Wednesday September 25th

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

-first layer Mischtechnik

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 September 26th

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 

-second layer Mischtechnik

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 September 27th 

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

10:30 am departure for San Giustino to visit the Bufalini castle

11:00 am circa arrival at San Giustino and castle visit

12:30 pm free for lunch on your own in San Giustino (suggestions: Il Posto Giusto, Il Dongione)

2:00 pm departure for Monterchi (20 minute ride approx.) to see the Madonna del Parto by Piero della Francesca

3:30 pm circa Departure for Citerna: (10 minute drive approx.) This town is perched on a hill looking over the valley of the river Tiber. We will visit the church of San Francesco to see the Madonna with child by Donatello 

5:00 pm circa departure for Anghiari (15 minute drive approx.) your choice Visit the medieval old town and have an aperitivo on the panoramic terrace 

7:00 pm Dinner in Anghiari

9:30 pm Return to the villa


Day Five Saturday September 28th 

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

9:00 am Morning Class: 

-continuation of gilding projects

-egg tempera painting  

-third 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 September 29th 

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

9:00 am Morning Class: 

-continuing on the Mischtechnik panel

-continuation of egg tempera panel projects

1:00 pm catered lunch at the villa

2:30 pm Afternoon Class:

-continuation of egg tempera panels

7:00 pm catered dinner at the villa



Day Seven Monday September 30th

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

9:00 am Morning Class: 

-completion of panels 

-lesson on varnishing waxing, 

1:00 pm catered lunch at the villa

2:30 pm Afternoon Class:

-review of antique mediums and their properties, questions and answers, group critique

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



Day Eight Tuesday October 1st 

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

10:00 am Departure by minivan for Arezzo train station