The Writer’s Studio On The Amalfi Coast Positano™

Writing & Cooking Boot Camp with Germaine Stafford & Lauren Birmingham Piscitelli~7 Day

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The Writer’s Studio ~ Positano ~ October 7 to 13, 2017

Join Gemma & Lauren and Cooking Vacations for The Writers Studio boot camp in gorgeous Positano on the Amalfi Coast. This extraordinary Literary & Culinary Week, is set for October 7 to 13, 2017.  Through the use of unique in-class exercises and longer assignments you will learn how to make your pages come alive. We provide a safe environment where you can write, expand, surprise, delight, free your creativity, and give a gift to your soul. writers_studio_positano_2

You will learn about developing character, place, dialogue and interesting detail, and how to select those things that will advance and help shape a story for fiction or non-fiction and food & travel writing. You will also have a chance to see how others respond to your work, through kind but honest critiquing. You will discover what techniques work best for you. Best of all, you will be given tools that you can continue to use at home. Our goal is for you to come away with a draft for a finished piece. There’s something about being away from home that can allow us to tap into our creativity in ways we never have before. Join our small group and see what you will discover about yourself. This small, intimate group will be limited to 8 participants. Non-writer companions are welcome and might like to choose a variety of add-on activities from hands-on cooking classes, watercolor painting, and ceramic making while their co-traveler is writing. Learn about the art of writing in this exclusive Writers’ Studio, which includes hands-on cooking classes too. Both Lauren & Gemma, published food & travel journalists, love to travel and write, and of course love Italian food too!

A Note On Lauren & Gemma

Lauren splits her time between Boston and Positano on the Amalfi Coast. When she’s not in the kitchen cooking at Cooking Vacations, she is writing. Lauren writes and photographs for Tastes Of Italia Magazine every month. As the Italian correspondent, she travels Italy’s 20 Regions covering interesting food & cooking, artisan producers, slow food advocators, food purveyors and all good things Italian-then puts it all into words and pictures.  Food lover, cook, pastry baker and host, she keeps everyone in the know with her food stories that are published in America’s most beloved magazine dedicated to Italy’s food and cuisine. Presently she is finishing her story and recipe recounting her life in Italy, which will be available for purchase soon. Gemma is a freelance writer who has lived and written in Italy for almost 20 years. Her years as both a journalist and magazine editor have given her insight into today’s fast changing publishing world, and helped her understand what editors are looking for. She has also won prizes for her fiction and non-fiction work, which has appeared in a variety of publications and has twice reached the final of the CWA Debut Dagger Awards. For many years when she was the gastronomic correspondent for Italy magazine, Gemma was lucky enough to be able to combine her love of travel and good food and wine, and spent many enjoyable hours sampling the many different regional cuisines of Italy. Let Lauren & Gemma guide you through learning new writing skills and the process of how to transform the seed of an idea into an article, short story or even the beginning of a book. Learn how to harness the inspiration provided by the gorgeous surroundings of the Amalfi Coast and ensure the writing process is a joyful one. Also learn how to pitch your writing for publishing houses or self-publishing routes.

Get Writing – A Literary Week with a little cooking & touring too!

Wake up every morning in sunny Positano on the sea, while soaking up inspiration, expanding your writing skills and agree with yourself to take your desire to write seriously. This course will help you find your voice, grow in confidence and give you the writing tools you need to continue.

The Writer’s Studio

In talking about being a writer Lauren says, “There is nothing more powerful than being a writer within a group of creative people. Although writing is an alone art form, your best companion is, ‘Escaping Into The Open’ by Elizabeth Berg.” Discuss and learn how to polish your writing and get it in the hands of publishers with Lauren & Gemma in beautiful Positano. While you are there, enjoy not only a marvelous stay at a seaside villa property hotel and the sumptuous cooking classes but also the exclusive writing workshops. You will focus on how to get started; how to write honestly and using your own voice; and how edit your own work. You will also learn inspirational techniques to keep writer’s block at bay and ensure writing is a natural and joyful process every single day. You will return home with a finished piece of work, either an article, short story or a narrative essay based on your stay in Positano. The workshop will be structured in this way:

  • Three / 3-hour Writers’ Studios with Lauren or Gemma, from 3 to 6pm. Each day students will be given an exercise to complete for the following day.
  • Participants will have free time to prepare their finished pieces to be read aloud to Lauren, Gemma and the group on the last day.

This workshop will teach you about what techniques work best for you as a writer. You will also have a chance to see how others respond to your work, through kind but honest critiquing. Best of all, you will be given tools that you can continue to use at home. There’s something about being away from home that allows us to tap into our creativity in ways we never have before. Come to Italy and see what you discover about yourself. *No pre-written work or manuscripts can be read outside of the group or sent on to publishers during the Writer’s Studio. Lauren & Gemma can read manuscripts by appointment outside of the Writer’s Studio. Not included in program price.

Accommodations

The attractive B&B or 3-Star property accommodations include rooms with a town and sea view balcony, ensuite private bath, in-room safe, mini-bar, hair dryers and air conditioning. Each room offers a Mediterranean atmosphere decorated with pastel frescoes and Amalfi coast ceramic tiles in azzurra blue and the natural cool colors of the region. There is a concierge, daily continental breakfast served in the common breakfast room is included, and free internet in the common area is also included. This property is just by the piazza and has an elevator. Each morning a tasty International buffet breakfast is served with cappuccino, caffè, tea, fresh Italian croissants, assorted seasonal pastries and breads, cakes and fruits to satisfy any palate. The knowledgeable staff is available 24 hours to answer questions, give advice and offer every comfort you might imagine.

Cooking Classes

Lauren & Gemma love to cook and eat Italian! Tie on your aprons for a hands-on cooking class that will bring you into the kitchen with our Executive Chef who guides each guest in hands-on cooking while sharing his knowledge on local regional cuisine. Discover how to create authentic southern Italian foods, learning the important cooking techniques for each recipe. In each hands-on cooking class you will prepare an antipasto, pasta or risotto, fish or meat or vegetarian main course, and a delicious dessert. Our Chef advocates the healthy Mediterranean diet using only fresh organic vegetables from the garden and locally produced extra virgin first-cold-pressed olive oil. Dinner follows as everyone joins together at the table to enjoy the foods that were made in class. A toast of local red or white wine is included. The warm sun and rich soil of southern Italy, along with the sea, provide the perfect climate for healthy vegetables and fruits to grow 12 months per year. After each class, everyone enjoys eating the food that was prepared in class accompanied with a glass of local red or white wine.

Positano~ “It’s A Dream Place,” John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck lived in Positano in 1953 and wrote, “Positano bites deep, it’s a dream place, that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
Positano is a little Moorish-style village, discovered by American and British troops at the end of World War II. Its small winding streets are filled with tiny cafés, terraces, and artisan shops selling ceramics, limoncello and antiques. In the 10th century, Positano was part of Amalfi’s Maritime Republic and rivaled Venice as an important mercantile power. It was an important center during the 16th and 17th centuries, when its ships traded in the Near and Middle East, carrying spices, silks and precious woods. The majolica dome, Positano’s landmark, is that of the Chiesa Madre, or the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta. It has a green and yellow majolica dome, topped by a cupola. It was built on the site of a former Benedictine Abbey of Saint Vito, a 13th-century Romanesque structure, and was almost completely rebuilt in 1700. Through the years it has been a magnet for writers, artists, musicians and artists during the Grand Tour.

Writing & Cooking In Positano

October 7 to 13, 2017 – 7 Days / 6 Nights

Saturday: Welcome To The Writer’s Studio~ Meet Lauren & Gemma & Journal Exercise~ Chef’s Tasting Dinner

  • Pick-up and transfer from Naples airport or train station to the property.
  • Arrival, check in, refresh and relax. Welcome snacks and aperitivo drinks upon arrival.
  • Read over the contents of your Welcome Bag including helpful information that will acquaint you with the area and outline your Writing program. Also included are your Chef’s apron, general information on landmarks, and our “Positano Hot Pick list.”
  • Chef’s Tasting Dinner at our favorite local restaurant. Dine on award-winning southern regional Italian food set in charming surroundings that overlook the panoramic Amalfi Coast. (Wine, drinks, grappa and an assortment of after dinner digestives are not included, and are available at a surcharge).  Everyone has the chance to introduce themselves and tell a little bit of their background.  A reading follows to spark the group’s creativity and set the mood.  You’ll be given your first writing assignment.

Sunday: Boat Cruise To Capri & Guided Writer’s Tour Walking Tour

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Sail to Capri for a full-day visit to the Isle of Capri, where you can choose to see the Blue Grotto – the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, or stroll along the port. The Blue Grotto has a special cavern entrance where the sunlight reflects on the water in the cave, tingeing it a dramatic Mediterranean cerulean shade of blue. Capri is Italy’s most popular and well-known seaside island and is just twenty minutes away. Once in the port of Capri, you can choose to take the funicular up to the famous Piazza Umberto. The square, better known as ‘la piazzetta’, is perched high above the sea and offers a panoramic view of the Bay of Naples and Ischia. At the main Piazza, you will find many designer shops and luxury boutiques or you can simply sit at a café and enjoy a gelato or Prosecco Mimosa.
  • Meet for a Writer’s Walking Tour lead by our Capri guide Annarita and follow in the footsteps of Pablo Neruda, Oscar Wilde and Norman Douglas. Visit the villa of Axel Munthe, who wrote his book, The Villa Of San Michele from this peaceful site. Readings included and inspirational techniques included to open the heart and mind and get you writing!
  • Following the tour, explore Anacapri, a favorite place on Capri is Anacapri. This old world village that once captured the hearts of writers, artists and poets is dainty, delicate and quiet. Anacapri, the highest point on the island, virtually carries you back in time. Walk through narrow streets lined with Grecian-style whitewashed villas, ancient churches, and small bookshops. From Anacapri, take the chair lift up to Monte Solaro; pass the castle of Barbarosso, fields of Capri flowers and marvel at a clear blue sky that seems to turn 360 degrees above you.
  • This full day excursion departs from Positano port at 9:00am, the boat continues around the island and you will be able to see the Natural Arch, White, Green and Blue Grotto lasting approximately 3 hours, and then docks in Marina Grande approximately at 12noon and you have 4 hours on the island to explore. Your Captain will explain your meeting point please be on time for your departure.  (If you suffer from seasickness let us know and we will put you on the Positano Jet which takes 25 to 30 minutes each way, without the Capri Island tour by boat).
  • *For fun and after your Villa San Michele visit, venture up into the chair lift off the Piazza Vittoria in Anacapri for an inspiring lift to the highest viewpoint on the island. Dinner on your own. Your Welcome bag has a Restaurant Hot Pick with suggestions.

Monday: Morning Free & Afternoon Writer’s Studio

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Spend the morning observing and writing.
  • Writer’s Studio ~ Introduction & Character: In the afternoon at 3pm, meet with Lauren & Gemma for your writing workshop. 3 hours approx.
  • Next day’s writing assignment is given.
  • Dinner follows on your own.

Tuesday: Morning Free & Afternoon Writer’s Studio

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Spend the morning observing and writing.
    Writer’s Studio ~ Dialogue: In the afternoon at 3pm, meet with Lauren & Gemma for your writing workshop. 3 hours approx.
  • Next day’s writing assignment is given.
  • Dinner follows on your own.

    Wednesday: Morning Cooking Class & Afternoon Free

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Morning Cooking Class.  Spend the morning slicing, dicing in our hands-on cooking class.  While you are cooking, sharing the kitchen and interacting with other guests, take time to observe.  Keep your journal nearby and write your observations on the characters, dialogue, details, sounds, sites and smells of the cooking class.  hands-on cooking class featuring seasonal ingredients in regional recipes. We will prepare an appetizer, pasta, fish, meat or vegetarian main course and a sweet dessert. Everyone joins together at the table to enjoy the foods made in class for our farewell dinner. Toast with a glass of local red or white wine, included. Raise your glass and salute to all!
  • Olive Oil & Wine Tasting with tastings & discussion. You will taste Cooking Vacations’ Extra Virgin First Cold-Pressed olive oil drizzled over local bread cooked in a wood oven. Informal tastings & discussions included.
  • Afternoon off to spend time alone, writing and developing your piece.
  • Dinner follows on your own.

    Thursday: Morning Free & Afternoon Writer’s Studio

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Spend the morning observing and writing.
  • Writer’s Studio ~ Description, Detail & Place: In the afternoon at 3pm, meet with Lauren & Gemma for your writing workshop. 3 hours approx.
  • Dinner follows and everyone dines together.

Friday: Check Out & Departure

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Departure transfer to airport or train station. Ciao e a presto!

Program Includes:

  • 7 days, 6 nights at villa-style B&B or Hotel with private bathroom and town/sea view. Click to View!
  • Welcome Prosecco aperitivo and journal exercise with Lauren & Gemma.
  • Chef’s Tasting Dinner on first night arrival, Prosecco toast.  (Wine & beverages at a surcharge)
  • 3 Writer’s Studio workshops, each day at 4pm for approx. 3 hours with Lauren & Gemma.
  • 1 hands-on cooking class featuring a full course Neapolitan menu and dinner following. A toast of local wine included (Additional wines and beverages available at a surcharge).
  • Capri boat trip, with trip around the island.
  • Capri Writers’ Walking Tour with our guide Annarita.
  • Olive Oil Tasting, informal discussion and tastings included.
  • Welcome gift bag with Cooking Vacations Chef’s apron, recipe booklet & writer’s journal.
  • Round trip transfers from Naples Airport or Naples Train station to Positano.*
Program Dates: October 7 to 13, 2017
This small intimate group will be limited to 8 participants. Please call for more details.
Program Prices

Writers $2,295 per person, based on double occupancy in Positano B&B. Includes all taxes and Italian VAT.

Non Writers $2,295 price for non-writer companions, including all elements of the program except the Writer’s Studio, plus 3 extra activities.  Non writers choose from 3 cooking classes, or 3 watercolor painting, or 3 ceramic making or 3 woodwork classes. Includes all taxes and Italian VAT.

$2,995 starting price per person, based on single occupancy. Includes all taxes and Italian VAT.

Check Availability

Dates: October 7 to 13, 2017. Additional nights are available for those who wish to extend their stay.  Rates are subject to change based on currency exchange. Call for updated rates. Airfare not included. Group transfers for any cooking tour or tours that include transfers, are for the group and are not private. Transfers before, after or to another destination outside of your cooking tour are not included in the program price. If you would like to add on a private transfer or transfers, let us know and we will send you pricing.

ROUND TRIP TRANSFERS *Round trip transfers from Naples Airport/Train to Positano and from Positano to Naples Airport/Train are included in your program. ARRIVAL-Arrival transfers from Naples Airport going to Positano are at scheduled 1:00pm and 4:00pm; and from Naples train station to Positano at 3:00pm, in consideration of international arrivals. Departures leave promptly at the scheduled time. Please call us if you have any questions about your airline and train itinerary.

If you cannot make the scheduled group transfer time, a special transfer can be reserved and the cost is 125€ per car; 150€ if after 6pm. All transfer fees are payable directly to the car service. Please call us if you have any questions.

DEPARTURE-Departure from the property in Positano to Naples Airport/Train are at 4am and 10am (in heavy traffic conditions, departures may start 30 minutes prior). 10am is the official property check out time on the morning of your departure. If you would like an earlier or later departure transfer, a special transfer departure can be reserved and the cost is 125€ per car; 150€ if before 8:00am. All extra add on transfer fees are payable directly to the car service. Please call us if you have any questions.

Program is set in an attractive B&B property which includes rooms with a town and sea view balcony, ensuite private bath, in-room safe, mini-bar, hair dryers and air conditioning. A daily continental breakfast served in the common breakfast room is included, and free internet in the common area are included. Daily maid service is included for your convenience. People who do not like to walk or have health problems should take note regarding the vertical terrain of Positano, and are advised to read up and view photos of the landscape. We suggest walking shoes, sun block, and a hat for Capri. *Cooking classes are held in private off-site kitchens in Positano and not on the property. Classes are in Positano and easily accessible by walking the footpath. Classes outside the center of Positano include round trip transfers. Transportation is not included for any 1 Day Cooking Class/Market Tour Add Ons.