Creative Writing

Creative Writing workshops in Italy

Creative Writing : Dante and his poem

Imagine yourself in the familiar environment of your house or your office, or wherever you usually write. You feel comfortable, at ease, familiar. Nothing wrong with that, but the truth is that sometimes we need an extra kick, extra incentive. If everything feels easy and comfortable, nothing pushes us to our limits – and beyond. Nothing pushes us to find the depths that more often than not produce our best writing.

Now imagine yourself writing, but this time you’re sipping a cappuccino in the middle of an ancient town, in front of a beautiful and historic view. You’re hearing a language your ears aren’t familiar with, and feeling the sun against your skin as the smell of someone’s pasta dinner wafts past you. This is what we offer the writers who come with us to Italy for their vacation and creative writing workshop – new and dramatic stimulus with the help of the Italian countryside, a mix of history, views, and scents from the old continent. Yet, it is more than just a change of location that makes writing in Italy so exciting.

In reality, creative writing in Italy shouldn’t be any different than creative writing anywhere else. By all logic, location shouldn’t matter. After all, stories or poetry forms in the mind, and the images and plots and beautiful prose flows at the same speed regardless of surroundings. At least, that’s what those who have never been to Italy might say.

The truth is a little more complicated.

At the risk of playing into stereotyped tropes and lapsing into the standard adjectives about the Italian countryside, cities, people, food, fashion, and ancient history, I’ll start with the stunning impression the Coliseum makes the first time one sees it against the morning sun, or maybe what happens to the heart when one descends through layers of stone and hundreds of years to see frescoes adorning walls erected before Christ was born, or possibly I’ll start with the taste of Italian coffee and how it stimulates both body and mind as one sips in the shadows of St. Mark’s in Venice.

 

Creative Writing: Tuscan view

Or maybe the place to start is within one’s own heart, and the response to all those things that wells up from a place in the writer’s body previously untouched. It hits with the strength of a well-thrown punch and the aftershocks last until the words burst forth, spilling onto the paper with all the power behind them that great artists, writers, architects and emperors have felt throughout the ages. In the land where the Renaissance flourished and such geniuses as Dante, da Vinci, Michelangelo, and hundreds more wove their own personal brand of magic from the place, the only option is to let the words come forth as they may, and to trust that they will be beautiful.

 

The truth is that creative writing in Italy takes on a level of gravitas not found in other places. Rome, or Venice, or Florence, or smaller towns and the Tuscan countryside, they all offer charm, peace, inspiration.

The truth is that when one is surrounded by not only the ghosts of history, but the reality of a lived culture that has existed for more than 2000 years, somehow the words flow more swiftly, fall more easily from one’s mind, and speak with far more depth than when one is at home. When one visits Italy from another place, the essence of the Italian language, and music, and art, and stone, the movement of the Italian people,  they all are like an elixir that blends with one’s own passion to create stories that somehow partake of the essence of the place.

 

Creative writing workshop

I know this. I know this not only from the point of view of being a writer who spins tales more easily in the haunted streets of Pompeii and the tumbling, sculpted gardens of sixteenth century imagination than anywhere else I have spent time, but as a writing teacher and workshop leader who sees the magic happening each time I take a group of writers to Italy. Unlike other places in which I hold workshops, Italy digs deep, coaxing words and images of power from writers who otherwise struggle for just the right phrase.

 

It is not always painless, this act of creation – in fact, Italy sometimes forces us to unearth unspoken, unrevealed aspects of ourselves – but the wellspring of beauty, connection and desire seems boundless, and what we end up writing is bigger and better than anything we’ve attempted before. Italy asks much – and it gives back a hundred-fold.

Italy is, quite simply, heaven for a writer. As has been said for generations, and as is evident in the beauty that springs forth from artists of all kinds, there’s something different about the light, and this light suffuses not just the country, but the heart and maybe even the soul of a writer the moment one touches down.

<em>Creatrive writing in Tuscany</em>

Creative Writing in Italy. There’s nothing that compares. Taking that first sip of a cappuccino in a sidewalk café in Rome, or settling back against a sun-warmed fragment of a 500-year old pillar thrusting out of a meadow in Tuscany, or standing on the cobblestoned streets an 800-year old walled city in which only 50 people live – each is a moment of beginning, a moment when the mind opens and Italy surges up and outward, to pour forth from your fingers into the world. The result can’t be anything but beautiful.

 

For information on our upcoming workshops, and to read about past workshops, please go to Creative Writing Workshop or contact Teresa Cutler-Broyles at teresa_intrepid@yahoo.com, or Paolo Nascimbeni at paolo@lifeinitaly.com.

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