Taking a break from George Eliot’s 'Middlemarch', I picked up Domenica de Rosa’s 'Summer School', poured myself a glass of red and whiled away the afternoon enchanted by the descriptions of the beautiful Tuscan countryside, the thirteenth-century Italian castle and the mouth-watering menu. 'Summer School' is about seven aspiring authors enticed by ads for a writers' retreat Patricia O’Hara runs at her Castello in Tuscany. The writing is warm and witty, and I find myself polishing off a third glass of wine before I forced myself to lay it aside until the next evening. 'Summer School', in my minds eye describes the idyllic writers' retreat and I find myself roaming the internet, dreamily scrolling through the plethora of websites offering writers' workshops in San Gimignano, Siena, Montepulciano, Pienza where through “the ancient history that gathers in every piazza, and in every voice speaking the beautiful Italian language, you will find a well-spring of ideas”, as one website describes it. Having spent a month in Italy a few years ago I need little convincing.
The last month we have been discussing writing courses and whether they do indeed help you become a better writer. I’m eagerly awaiting the results of the survey conducted by Barbara. A lot of these courses are also outrageously priced anywhere between $5000 for a Graduate Certificate to well over $30000 for a Bachelor’s Degree. A fortnight in Tuscany at a writer’s retreat costs about 2000 – 3000 euros. I don’t know, but a writers' retreat is sounding better everyday.