As the colourful Christmas lights are turned off and packed away for another year, instead of turning your thoughts to denial, think instead of a villa set amongst the undulating hills of Tuscany surrounded by olive groves and geometrically aligned vines…and picture yourself there.
People familiar with Caravino of West Cork Food Festival fame will have already travelled virtually through Tuscany in the company of Fionnuala Harkin and Maeve Bancroft whilst tasting wines and eating delicious regional food. More recently, Fionnuala, a qualified and passionate wine educator, has hosted groups around a large workbench in her husband’s toolshed @wineshedwestcork. From there, they voyage imaginatively through various vineyards whilst sampling wines and nibbling cheese and charcuterie.
Fionnuala and Maeve have paired up again and are delighted to host their first trip (for real!) to Italy, bringing 14 food and wine lovers along with them for the experience. The group will travel to Tuscany, as the rolling hills house some of Italy’s best-known appellations, as well as lesser known but equally delicious and interesting vineyards with whom Fionnuala has a connection. Fionnuala and Maeve are planning an immersive experience into the region’s fabric and history, a region that has inspired so many artists, writers, and winemakers.
“We will stay in a gorgeous villa with pool and views across the vines as we dine al fresco in the warm night air, drinking wine, socialising, and talking over the events of the day,” share the women.
“The days will include a welcome dinner; day trips to small family-owned vineyards taking in the stunning countryside and honey-coloured stone buildings with tastings followed by lunch paired with the wines; a cookery class of Tuscan fare in the villa by a local woman who will also prepare other meals for us; a tour of the winery and olive operation at the villa.”
Other highlights include a celebratory meal paired with wines towards the end of the week when Fionnuala will again share her knowledge of the terroir, the growers, and makers and insight into what it takes to make great wine. “Tuscans work hard to produce such wonderful wines; they tend, prune, weed, harvest, make and age so that we can taste, enjoy, and share,” explains Fionnuala.
It will be an inspirational setting with interesting characters, so is a wonderful opportunity to explore creativity. For those interested in exploring their inner writing muse, Maeve will be offering two creative writing workshops during the week. “There will be much to draw on to enrich our writing lives as we gather sensory details from our Tuscan surroundings. This will be a positive and nurturing step into writing with prompts to get us started,” she says.
At the heart of the retreat is the benefit of time and space spent with likeminded people so there will also be opportunities for people to chill, swim, read by the pool, write, or take some time for a coffee and walk to Barberino Val d’Elsa, the local medieval village, only half a mile away.
Once the week is done, you’ll have many pleasurable memories and new knowledge to see you through the winter.
Places are limited: To get details please email
email@example.com. When you sign up you will be asked for a deposit to secure your spot. Fionnuala and Maeve will follow up with regards to the balance once your spot is confirmed.
Where: Villa in the heartland of Tuscany between Florence and Siena
When: June 10-17, 2023
Who: Fionnuala, Maeve and 14 other likeminded people who enjoy food, wine, conversation, conviviality and creativity.