June 2 - 6, 2019 in Florence, Italy

An intimate 25-person writers retreat in Florence, Italy. Featuring author Lisa Clifford, author Shelley Weiner,  and philosopher Matthew Ferrara. Special in-house guest New York literary agent, Jeff Kleinman.

Write and Recharge

The Art of Writing is a writers retreat in Tuscany run by Italian resident, author and journalist Lisa Clifford and international speaker and philosopher Matthew Ferrara.

Join us for a week away to write, think, share and reconnect with your writing muse. Whether you’re a published author or just starting out, our Florence retreat is perfect for you. All we ask is that you love writing.

Classes, Workshops, Activities and Advice

Enjoy a variety of sessions to nurture your writing skills, personal creativity and projects. We will inspire you to write more and better, without feeling intimidated. Learn techniques for character development, dialogue, plot, structure, memoirs, writing from a sense of place and more. Practice creative writing, editing, non-fiction and even developing your author’s social media platform.

Insights and Inspiration!

Spend time with world-class writers, publishers, speakers and photographers. Schedule a time to “Pitch Your Book Project” and receive feedback on your ideas. Learn techniques from a world-class street photographer while touring the streets of Florence. Get insights and feedback from your tutors during freeform writing periods. And hear what’s new and trendy in publishing in a special insiders session with a founding partner of a New York City agency.

Attendees Say…

‘The Art of Writing gave me the kickstart to my novel I needed. From just a seedling of an idea, I was able to workshop my story without any limitation to creative possibilities through group collaboration and practical writing exercises. The speakers are so inspiring and encouraging, and you feel secure knowing you’re in the hands of people who have ‘made it’ as authors and industry experts. Since returning home to Sydney, I feel equipped and empowered to write my novel knowing I have the skills to leap over the hurdles of daily life and the backing of my new network to support me. I cannot recommend this experience enough for any dreaming writer.’
-Danielle Raffaele

Join the Writers in Florence!

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June 2019 Program Highlights

(Workshop Times and Topics Subject to Changes)

Sunday June 2, 2019

15:00 Reading Great Literature (For Early Arrivals)
In the Garden

16:00 Special Guest Emiko Davies, Author of Tortellini at Midnight will host a chat about her journey as a food writer, photographer, Florence resident, journalist and more. 
In the Garden

18:00 Registration 
In Reception Area

18:30 Welcome Dinner
Included in Registration
Location TBD

Monday June 3, 2019

07:00 Photography Walk with Matthew Ferrara
Meet in Reception Area

08:00 Pitch Your Project
Pitch your book idea to Jeff Kleinman, Literary Agent and get feedback on your project. By appointment. 

09:00 – 09:30 Welcome to the Art of Writing – with Lisa Clifford and Matthew Ferrara

09:30 – 11:00 Get Started, Keep Going with Shelley Weiner 
Why write? Inspiration, impetus, and overcoming resistance. Tenacity and curiosity are the keys – but technique is vital. Lively interactive workshops are designed to bring to life Five Essential Foundations which form the basis for all fiction.

Essential Foundation 1: Character, character, character
It’s the springboard to narrative: the invention of fully rounded characters that will transport us through your story and carry the reader along.

11:00 Coffee and Tea Break

11:30 – 13:00 Narrative and Dialogue with Shelley Weiner
Essential Foundation 2: Hearing your characters talk.
Dialogue is conflict; it’s what characters do to one another and must be pointed, intentional, and relevant. Insightful exercises bring it alive.

13:00 – 15:00 Lunch
Locations nearby Palazzo San Niccolo 

15:00 Unlock Your Creativity with Matthew Ferrara
Spark your creativity with quick word exercises and techniques for building great opening sentences, paragraphs that draw readers into your story and play with words to bring your stories alive.

16:00 – 18:00 Free Time to Write or Meet with your Tutors
Spend the afternoon writing on your own or make a private appointment to discuss your writing with your tutors.

18:00 – 19:00 Conversations with a Literary Agent: Agent 101
Get an insider’s view of the publishing space with a special industry guest, Jeff Kleinman. Learn how to boil your book down to a sentence or two that will not only provide focus for your book, but allow others to talk about it more effectively.  Also learn tips for finding and working with an agent, author/agent agreement terms and what to expect when working with an agent.

Tuesday June 4, 2019

08:00 Pitch Your Project
Pitch your book idea to Jeff Kleinman, Literary Agent and get feedback on your project. By appointment. 

09:30 – 13:00  Writing from a Sense of Place with Lisa Clifford
Take a tour of the San Lorenzo food markets, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and outdoor cafes to develop a writer’s “sense of place.” This session starts in the Salon and becomes a walking tour and writing lesson leading up to lunch at the end. Learn how to add authenticity to your settings and characters, create atmospheres and articulate descriptions that show, not just tell, the sense of a location through its sounds, touch, smells and tastes. (Walking shoes recommended.) 

13:00 – 15:00 Lunch
Many locations nearby 

15:00 Connect the Arts with Matthew Ferrara
Matthew Ferrara connects the dots between the art of writing and photography.  See how a photographer’s techniques for capturing the emotions of a scene can help your efforts to tell a story with words.

16:00 – 18:00 Free Time to Write or Meet with your Tutors
Spend the afternoon writing on your own or make a private appointment to discuss your writing with your tutors.

18:00 – 19:00 Building a Voice that Speaks with a Jeff Kleinman
A nuts-and-bolts dialogue with our resident Literary Agent on how to build a distinctive narrative voice in the literary world.

Wednesday June 5, 2019

08:00 Pitch Your Project
Pitch your book idea to Jeff Kleinman, Literary Agent and get feedback on your project. By appointment. 

9:30 – 11:00 Essential Foundation 3: The Importance of Setting with Shelley Weiner
Characters need a place in which to live out their destiny, but readers often find slabs of description boring. Discover how to filter your setting through your character’s eyes.

11:00 Coffee and Tea Break

11:30 – 13:00 Essential Foundation 4: Narrative Structure, Causality and Time with Shelley Weiner
When a character wants something he or she can’t get, we have a story, one that is set in a place – and in time. That is narrative structure demystified: a chance to explore the seven basic plots and more.

11:30 Coffee and Tea Break

13:00 – 15:00 Lunch
Many locations nearby 

15:00 – 16:00 The Art of Memoirs with Lisa Clifford
Learn how to collect, collate and recount your own story, using examples from her best-selling memoir, The Promise. Explore how to write a good story, what to leave in or cut, and how to transform fragments of memories into great chapters

16:00 – 18:00 Free Time to Write or Meet with your Tutors
Spend the afternoon writing on your own or make a private appointment to discuss your writing with your tutors.

18:00 – 19:00 Create Characters so Real You’ll Be Tempter to Claim Them As Dependents
Our resident literary agent hosts a conversation full of tips on how the best writers create believable, empathetic characters

19:00 Evening Photography Tour with Matthew Ferrara
Capture Florence after dark with this evening tour.

Thursday June 6, 2019

08:00 Pitch Your Project
Pitch your book idea to Jeff Kleinman, Literary Agent and get feedback on your project. By appointment. 

9:30 – 11:00 Essential Foundation: 5: Who tells the story and how? First person? Third person? Past tense or present? The choices that face the writer of fiction, and the advantages – or disadvantages – vividly illustrated.

11:00 Coffee and Tea Break

11:30 – 13:00 Sustaining momentum with Shelley Weiner
Where do we go from here? Tips and techniques to keep the words flowing, to stay on track along the uncertain but exciting pathway that is the writing life

13:00 – 15:00 Lunch
Locations nearby Palazzo San Niccolo

15:00 The Writer’s Platform with Matthew Ferrara
Learn techniques from speaking and writing to help you leverage blogging, interviews, social media and guest authoring to create a tribe, promote your stories and develop a platform to drive a career through writing.

16:00 – 17:00 Turn the Page with Jeff Kleinman
Insights and experience from our resident literary agent on how to create and maintain narrative momentum in your work.

17:00 – 17:30 Retreat Wrap Up with Lisa Clifford and Matthew Ferrara

18:00 Celebration Dinner
Enjoy a traditional Tuscan dinner, share experiences from the week and read your work in this closing celebration dinner together at San Niccolo (included in Registration). 

We recommend booking your accommodation to depart on Friday so you can enjoy the Celebration Dinner the night before with us.

Note: Optional additional photography and food tour workshops may also be offered this day, at an additional fee.    


Lectures, workshops and activities hand-picked by expert writers, teachers and publishing experts, refined to take advantage of the unique venue of renaissance Florence.


We’ve packed the schedule with wonderful workshops, while leaving the choice of hotel and dinners to you. Customize your experience to fit your vision.


Our attendees are aspiring writers, published authors, business copywriters and just about anyone who simply loves writing. All experience levels, all stages of work. You simply have to love writing and sharing.


The schedule will fill your mind without filling your time. Smart sessions each morning and afternoon, with plenty of time to write, write, write!


A week in Florence, Italy, is enough to turn anyone into a future Dante! We’re in a superbly restored palazzo in the middle of the San Niccolò area of Florence, surrounded by the magical food, art and people of Tuscany.


You’ll leave the Art of Writing with plenty of new friends who will help you continue your learning and growth in our exclusive online communities year after year.

Register Today!

All prices are inclusive VAT. Tickets are not refundable after May 1, 2019.
Price does not include accommodations, transportation, lunch or dinners except as noted.

Palazzo San Niccolò Venue and Accommodations

Our event takes place within the Palazzo San Niccolò. The location takes its name from the nearby neighborhood, the oldest district of Florence and among one of the historical areas most beloved by the Florentines, just a short walk from Ponte Vecchio and the center of town. Space is limited and there are other fine accommodations nearby as well. Learn more about the venue and accommodations.

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