(NB courses suspended for the time-being so some of these reviews won't reflect the new Artists' Community set up) 

Diane Green, Scotland

The centre was full of character and charm, rustic and beautiful. The patio with its canopy of vines and flowers was a very peaceful and beautiful space to sit, to work, to think. The sculptures around really added to the atmosphere, as did the pool - quirky. The art studio was a wonderfully light space and a perfect setting, backdrop for the two weeks of art learning. I loved that we had access to tea and coffee upstairs and downstairs all day…it gave me a real feeling of being at home. Having breakfast and supper communally with other guests really added to the experience making me feel part of a community right from day one. The food was really good and that it was authentic added to the whole feeling of being in Italy. The fact that the village was so quiet and relatively small and not so touristy was great. I loved the opportunity to be able to see some sites. Eg sienna. Wine on the first night as a welcome was a nice touch. Also great to have all the transport organised for us. Started out without feeling the stress and pressure of finding taxis etc. Being met was great.

Gary Long Reviews May

Peter Cronin Reviews June

Art and Yoga Reviews June

Liz Hough, St Ives course, Reviews June/July

Bella Green, Connecting with Colour Sept

garys course group photo

JE, UK (Gary Long's Course 2014) wrote:

As you know we just flew in tonight and I thought I would drop you a line before things take over my memories of our holiday.

I can honestly say that we all had a great experience in the enchanting Verrocchio School. My room (1) was delightful. The bed was just what I had hoped for, comfortable and double.  I understand that the shower room was new and this worked very well with tons of lovely hot water for showers every day.  There was a minor teething problem with the shower head but Caro sorted this out immediately and efficiently so there were absolutely no problems. The sheets were lovely cotton and it was nice to have a change after 5 days. As you said, there was a bit of after dinner chat on the terrace and i think some people could find this intrusive and noisy but it didn't bother me.

We did ask for a bit of extra fruit at breakfast and this was duly produced.  I think someone wanted boiled eggs and so these appeared also.

The staff were wonderful and made our stay very happy.  Nigel was of course the most charming and perfect host and even produced disco music on the last night due to a rumor that it was my birthday. We all danced on the terrace and it was the perfect ending to a happy and productive painting experience. Gary and Pat are a very nice couple and worked hard.  

More photos from Gary's course May 2014


JC, UK wrote:

Overall a great experience- I keep telling people it's a workshop and not a holiday!

From my perspective Verrochio provided a splendid ambience for creative activity enhanced by the sculpture and paintings and enriched by its setting in the old town and surrounding countryside. Nigel was a warm and engaging host and the staff were friendly and efficient and shared with  the group their enthusiasm and passion for art.

Gary was an excellent tutor and took great pains to offer positive criticism and provide encouragement to the individuals in the group. He went the 'extra mile'. His wife Pat, a 'non-painter,' assisted Gary in running the workshop and was also very supportive to the group as a whole.

I enjoyed hearing about Nigel's research on the work of Rembrant and particularly looking at his various carvings and modelings in the center and around the town. His talents also extended to some creative dancing to great music on the last evening which infected the rest of the group!

The flight times for me were very good, but I know others flying to Bristol were faced with a long gap between arrival in Pisa and departure. I imagine other options, such as using Florence have been considered, but long airport waits particularly and the end of the holiday (sorry workshop!) are very tiring.

It would be helpful for those wanting to balance the excellent Italian food and wine with some exercise to have an is idea of a  few footpaths for walking. Sophie did kindly let me have a map and I was ablr to walk to  Lucciana and back on paths.

I hope the rest of the season goes well. I'd love to come again some time!

 gary demo

AB, UK wrote:

We got what we paid for and a "great great deal more".
We were made very welcome by everyone at the school.
Nigel was an amazing host (on tap) to look around his studio see him working ask questions a very important part of the environment and our stay which I will not forget.
The food was excellent considering the amount of people being catered for.
There will always be a full English breakfast man like John, who incidentally enjoyed cereal and fruit is still alive and will send you his version.
We loved the double room in the annex with plenty of access to toilets and showers it worked well, never queue.
Plus Gary and Pat worked non stop to make sure the painting part went well, along side the trips and all the other art, pretty full-on
Hannah, this is my immediate feedback I know that I would go back without a doubt


JH, UK wrote:

As you described the accommodation without frills, it was if anything beyond expectation. You never said this was the Trump Hotel on Fifth Avenue. Quite what any visitor would expect from an ancient Etruscan hill fort I can’t imagine. I had looked forward to some atmospheric Italian eccentric plumbing or power failure but this never happened. Most disappointing.

Thank you for your concern about my “finding things to do” while Anne was scribbling. It was enough to wake up and open your eyes, savour the views, smells and atmosphere to satisfy your senses, but walking around the area proved to be even more rewarding. Finding hoopoes, a wild boar and eventually a short-toed eagle and a couple of bee-eaters on the way out was uplifting to me. I wasn’t ‘birdspotting’, although I so enjoyed seeing these unfamiliar birds, just an incidental pleasure. It all depends on your wants and being a simple soul I expected only to be somewhere different and take it in. I have never been to Tuscany before.

It was gratifying to be welcomed, not least by your father, but by all the resident ‘assistants’ who helped in many various ways to make it easy to feel comfortable – Amanda, Sophie and James. They deserve the warmest of thanks. Another consideration is the dear Loridana who provided a wonderfully varied and exquisitely prepared sequence of dishes, a difficult trick when sixteen people might not always care for Italian food

Caroline was also helpful in the extreme, among other things with her bird guidance as was her husband Maurizio who took us from the airport to Verrucchio. Fine people.

Peter Cronin Reviews


MC, Bristol

We had a really lovely time.

The centre was very relaxed and friendly and the staff were all really nice.

The food was really good - and many thanks for my birthday cake!

Peter was a very good tutor - very encouraging and really engaged with the work we were all doing - I think I can say that all of us improved our watercolour technique during our stay (not difficult for me as a novice!). Peter was also really helpful in the second week, critiquing our work and suggesting improvements.

Casole is delightful and I am rather ashamed to say that James and I didn't go any further for our two weeks - just wandered about painting and having the occasional ice cream!

We also had some talks in the evening at the centro during the first week which were interesting.

CP, London, UK (Peter Cronin's Course)

I am glad to say that I had a very good holiday and opportunity to produce some interesting work at Verrocchio last week. I had no idea that we were staying in a small town and was a little surprised when we reached the school, but I soon appreciated the location as ideal as it had all the views one could possibly want and had the proximity to all the facilities of a delightful small town. The atmosphere and organisation of the school was excellent and very relaxed and I found that I soon felt able to make it a 'home' for the holiday and enjoyed being able to move about the place with complete freedom using all the facilities as and when I wanted. I also felt that it would be nice to bring my wife next time as a non painting partner and enjoy the going out and about together a bit more. All in all a very special place for painting and relaxing - I will recommend it when the occasion arises. Many thanks


"I enjoyed the watercolours course in June. Peter was an excellent tutor, he took us through the stages of applying washes, and though I've been using watercolour for about 70 years I had not realised the possibilities he demonstrated. He also found time to address our personal problems. Altogether a first class course from an expert who was willing to pass on his methods."


Art and Yoga with Paul Gould, Jenni Fox and Andrea Borsuk Reviews


Sandy, USA

Dear Hannah and Nigel,

I had such a wonderful time during this retreat. Art and yoga are a wonderful combo in my opinion. The setting was truly inspiring. I had room 3 in the annex and I could not get enough of looking out my window especially early in the pre-dawn time as I watched the light and landscape change with the coming of the sun amongst the early fog in the valleys. Gorgeous!

I want to commend you on your staff. They all became friends, part of our group really. And they were totally helpful and provided us with all we needed most beautifully. The wifi going down was inconvenient, but in some respects gave us more interaction time amongst ourselves and pushed more business into the village as those who sought connection went into town and bought a coffee or something so they could sit and read email.

My only "complaint" was not anything you can do something about really. It is just that the noise in the annex really travels. A door closing or people talking is easily heard in the rooms. Guess a gentle reminder to folks to do their best to close doors gently and talk softly will help that situation.

Peggy, Santa Cruz, CA, USA flowers_s

Dear Hannah and Nigel,

This was a perfect introduction to Tuscany for me with so many outstanding views of the landscape, the people and the architecture in Casole d'Elsa. I loved my room with its easy access to the other rooms for my worn-out knees. Everybody was so friendly and accommodating, and with good food that it was impossible not to feel somewhat pampered.

Thank you both for your attentiveness in the physical as well as the mental to us boarders, and Nigel's highly interesting "art history curriculum."


Stephen, Vancouver, BC, Canada

I thoroughly enjoyed the Verrocchio experience. It is a unique and magical place and I felt privileged to have shared this with you and the other course members.

Liz Hough Reviews, St Ives June/July 2014

Liz T. UK

Hi Hannah Had the best painting holiday I've ever done, and I've done a few! Loved Liz - she's a gentle inspiring and amazing tutor. She's intuitive and incredibly able. Do you get the idea I love her? On top of this she's a very caring. She got up at 6 to make sure I got my taxi! That's dedication. Mind you on the last night I did have rather a lot of apperros and mimosas, think that's what they called them, my memory of the evening's a touch vague. It was a good evening though - I think!

Re anything you could do better. All I can think of is could you move the gelateria next door to the art centre? Apart from that there's just a couple of really minor things like a towel rail or some hooks to hold the towels in Room 1.

I absolutely love Casole d'Elsa and the centro is charming in a sort of Heath Robinson homely way. I love all the books, the helpers, the views and as for the studio - the views, the views... I just don't have the words. It's such an inspirational space.

swallowsThen there's the food - Loredana - I've said her name in every variation possible. LD is an absolute star. Despite the heat in the kitchen she just smiled her beautiful smile all the way through.

Caro also just kept smiling and gave an aura of calm regardless of what was happening. I just felt she would have coped with absolutely anything. Then of course there's all the art to look at including Caro's work which I love. I honestly can't think of anything else I could have wanted that wasn't either there or on offer. If I think of anything I'll let you know.

Ah, 1 thing has just occurred to me. If the course runs again can I come again? Pretty please!

L.T. again!

Liz Hough in Tuscany

I just had such a good time. I did wonder if 11 nights away would be too much but what with the trip to Siena and then us all clubbing together to go to St Gimignano it was perfect. Days off and days painting - what more could I have asked for. Wonderful, and of course Casole d'Elsa is just brilliant. Big enough to have a choice of places to eat and drink. There's architecture, flowers, countryside in spades, a tutor who was a dream.

Do tell Loredana I just loved her cooking. I got the feeling it was the sort of food that could be served to family rather than the sort of thing you'd get in a hotel. It was fresh, tasty and just wonderful. Her lemon dessert is definitely heaven in a dish as far as I'm concerned.


I had an absolutely wonderful time on the holiday. Great Michelin-star food, fantastic room (thanks for giving me Duccio), beautiful setting and the centro was so characterful and unique. The staff were friendly and joined in with us so that was nice.

It was the perfect time for me to go and I really needed something like this. My very good friend died in between booking the holiday and leaving for it, and this proved just the tonic I needed. Lots of laughs, great group of women and Liz's teaching was superb and challenging. Thank you!!

Bella Green - Connecting with Colour 2014

Elizabeth Robson:

Course Content and Tuition:  This is not just any art course it is Bella's course at the Verrocchio Art School.  Bella is a wonderful teacher and tutor, ambitious for each student to succeed.  For the student this is not a holiday but a chance to really work on making progress in painting.

Centro In general - Food, accommodation, staff:  Verrocchio is one of the rare places with a unique golden atmosphere.  The food this year was even better, lots of vegetables and fruit and salad and lovely Italian cooking.  The rotating staff are friendly and the permanent staff are brilliant. 

Casole d'Elsa and environment:  Casole is authentic Italian.  It is a constant sources of life and music with markets, festivals, varied restaurants to fit all purses, bars to chat over coffee and the warmth of Italy and Italians.

Any other comments/feedback/suggestions:  The sheet on scumbling and glazing put me off the process last year!!  Bella needs a new projector or at least a new bulb - this is a colour course we need to see the genuine colours. 


Nigel Robson (non-participating)

Centro - general, food, accommodation and staff: Love the Centro It has a extraordinary quality and sense of individuality which is liberating.  Nigel, CAro and all the staff/helpers are just so friendly, supportive and hard-working.  the food has been very good, and plentiful.  I love just allowing the courses and conversation to unfold each evening.

Casole d'Elsa and environment:  Casole is my favourite place in Tuscany.  Spent 3 euros on a 'Sentiare' map, and have walked from and around the village during the day as my wife has worked on her painting.  The paths are well marked.  It has enabled me to unpack a little more of Casole and its surroundings. 


Barbara Mace

Course Content and tuition:  Exceptionally well prepared and generous teaching from Bella.  Personal attention at an appropriate and relevant level.  I learnt a lot. 

Centro - general, food, accommodation, staff:  Loredana provided excellent supper every day, delicious.  Staff not up to usual level of experience.  Centro facilities improved generally including more en suite bedrooms.  Unusual charm still present.

Casole d'Elsa and environment:  Charming village, friendly inhabitants, most requirements available.  Good baker,butcher etc.  Very good ice cream shop.  Unusual entertainment in the evenings from singing to "mini Miss Casole!"

Any other comments:  An excellent, good value holiday in charming village and environs, close to San Gimignano and Siena  - not too far for a day trip. 


Peter Clarkson

Course Content and Tuition:  Beyond reproach.  A lucid exposition of colour and how to use it.  Personal encouragement and exciting new development of my own painting.

Centro:  Simple locally sourced food brilliantly cooked with local wine as well.

Casole d'Elsa:  Lively village - in the summer markets, dances, concerts and sitting outside the bar in the sunshine.  Students return here year on year. 


Sheila Carey

Course content and tuition:  Bella is a wonderful teacher, she cares about her pupils and structures her courses to their needs.  her knowledge of colour, painting methods and materials is unrivalled. 

Centro:  Verrocchio is atmospheric, beautiful and friendly.  the food is excellent and the accommodation is good.  Particular thanks to Caro and Loredana the cook.

Casole d'Elsa:  I've been coming back for years.  I think that says it all. 


Margie Barton

Course content and tuition: Serious, wonderfully thouhgt out but accessible content with excercises and ideas to work on for months.  Not only does this course help in one's own work, it enhances one's enjoyment of art in general. 

Centro:  Really delicious food, kind staff and simple but adequate accommodation. 

Casole d'Elsa:  Once comes to love Casole for the people in the shops and bars as much as for its stunning views and great walks.

Other comments:  Every year something new, but without spoiling the essence and magic of Casole. 


Jackie Conradi-Robertson

Course Content and Tuition:  Well research and expertly presented teaching materials and concepts.  Every student is asistedindividually by an excellent teacher - Bella.  The course content can be adapted to every level of ability.

Centro:  The accommodation is simple yet full of interesting books, artifacts and art throughout the centro.  The chef - Loredana - is excellent at preparing a great variety of superb meals for the vegetarian and the carnivore alike. 

Casole d'Elsa:  Casole provides an interesting small town environment with vistas for painting, and walks to get closer to nature.  The town has welcoming bars and restaurants with friendly staff. 

Other comments:  I would highly recommend Casole and Verrocchio for a safe and interesting learning art experience among friendly felllow students with an excellent teacher and welcoming environment.


Celia Talbot

Course Content and Tuition:  Course very full day.  Lots of classes, lectures, demonstrations slide shows and very useful IT information.  Terrific atmosphere between tutor and group and with in group members.  Tutor led the day well and set that good learning, sharing atmophere from day one.

Centro:  Food - to die for - loved it.  Enjoyed the simple arrangement for breakfast and lunch.  The evening meal  - 3 courses with wine - on the terrace was always full of flavour and wonderfully cooked.  The best Italian meals ever.  Freedom, trust, studios open 24 hours, library, building (tithe barns) create a very creative, gentle atmosphere - life slows down here.  I savour every minute.  Love the tango!

Casole d'Elsa:  Old buildings, warm stonework, friendly people.  Enjoyed the beauty of the old town - felt very safe day or nights, wandering on my own around the castle walls, and through alleys and narrow streets.  Local church had music evenings, good museum and of course all the wonderful sculptures everywhere to enjoy.  Shops, bars, - everything I need. 

Any other comments:  I like the way Bella and Caro deal with difficult situations and resolves them asap.  Sometimes almost overload of information with no time to try out new methods - perhaps another workshop day during the week without classes - no criticism at all of the professionalism of Bella's course and the very hard work she puts in. 


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