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One Week Retreat for Women Writers

It’s not just a retreat – It’s a Renaissance!  Join author Julie Hedlund for an intimate week of writing and creativity in the awe-inspiring city of Florence. Whether you have been writing for years or are just beginning, this retreat will kindle your creative spirit and provide inspiration for your writing that will linger long after your return. This is the trip you were meant to take.

Program Schedule

Sunday Evening, April 12: Welcome Reception

We will gather on the breathtaking terrace at the hotel. The one facing the Duomo and the Piazza della Signoria. We’ll get to know each other and hear more about our week while sipping Prosecco (Italian champagne) and munching on antipasti. More…

Monday, April 13: Writing from a Sense of Place

Place is much more than setting. Place is written on our hearts and whispers in our ears. Place is hope and regret and longing. Author Lisa Clifford knows this better than anyone. She spent 18 years torn between Australia and Florence – a career and a man. Luckily, she ended up having both! More…

Tuesday, April 14: What is Your Block of Marble?

Writer’s block is never about a lack of ideas. It’s always about fear. Imagine what Michelangelo felt right before he struck the first blow into that huge block of marble that become the David. Author Julie Hedlund will spend some time after breakfast discussing Michelangelo and how his experience five centuries ago applies to our writing today. Then we will go the Accademia Gallery to see Mr. David himself. Author Mary Hoffman, who published a book told from the perspective of the fictional model for David, will accompany us. You’ll be given writing instruction and exercises to work on in your free time aimed toward striking blows at your own blocks of fear. More…

Wednesday, April 15: On Location

How do authors, who are setting their stories in places other than where they live, use their time when they are “on location” doing research? What are the best onsite and offsite tactics for evoking the sensory, logistical and emotional details of a place? If the time-period is historic, how can visiting a place in modern time help uncover the “bones” of the era in question? 

Almost every novel author Mary Hoffman has written has taken place in a city and/or a time period “foreign” to her. After breakfast, she will reveal her secrets to us. More…

Thursday, April 16: Enrich Your Writing by Unleashing Your Inner Artist

Where else to combine art and words but in Florence? Faculty-member Katie Davis is bringing back her popular program from 2013 that will take you on a daily story-creation adventure, culminating in a chance to release your inner-artist to bring it all together and take home the best souvenir, your own creation!

Friday, April 17: Creativity and Cooking

After breakfast, the rest of the morning is on your own. We’ve spent the week sharing recipes for good writing. Now we are going to head out to the countryside to put our cooking to the test. NEW for 2015 – lunch in the hills! Our driver will collect us at the hotel and whisk us off to a village in Chianti for some exploration and lunch.  After lunch, we will head to Badia a Coltibuono (Abbey of the Good Harvest) for a tour and a lively cooking class, followed by a dinner of our own making in the heart of the former twelfth century monastery. More… 

Saturday, April 18: Goodbyes

We’ll meet for breakfast one last time, make our goodbyes, with hopes of keeping in touch and sharing more adventures in the future.


  • Mary Darby

    Writer’s Renaissance was a once-in-a-lifetime, magical experience!

    Mary Darby
  • Jane Olson

    Writer’s Renaissance was inspiring for the writer and the soul. The stories of Florence came to life.

    Jane Olson
  • Teri Wilson

    My time in Florence was above and beyond anything I could have wished for. The accommodations, meals and events were all so elegant and thoughtfully planned. I rediscovered my passion for writing and walked away inspired by a remarkable city and a group of amazing women writers. It was a week that will stay with me in treasured memory, dreams and in my writing for pages and pages to come.

    Teri Wilson
  • Laura Bartha

    Since I’m such a word-based person, experiencing the landscape of Florence and participating in the visual-based activities, like writing in the Boboli Gardens and doing Katie’s art project, really helped connect me more to sensory writing.

    Laura Bartha
  • Margit Liesche

    I have such fond memories of last year’s retreat. What remains with me most is meeting such an inspiring group of women. I was struck by how accommodating, how supportive everyone was. There was a sense of excitement and anticipation over being in a beautiful spot in the world… The art, the people (oh those Italian men!), the street markets, the architecture, the food… It was all so entrancing and lovely. I can’t say enough good things.

    Margit Liesche
  • Esther Hershenhorn

    “I am extraordinarily grateful that I was able to come to Florence and ‘re’ everything: renew, reenergize, revitalize, recharge, refill. Every day, all day, ALL of my senses were on overload (think gelato, Italian men, La Traviata on the rooftop of Antica Torre). I especially appreciated how Florence itself was brought to me and to my writing in purposeful, mind-expanding ways.

    Esther Hershenhorn
  • Cory Corrado

    When I look back, Julie, I can see the magic of the universe at work in ways that I could never have imagined. I am awed at how every little detail unfurled. I was in a beautiful bubble of love blessed with the company of fabulous women—a truly incredible gift!

    Cory Corrado