We start our workshop today (17th) in this beautiful  art school in the Tuscan countryside, surrounded by vineyards,  olive trees and fruit trees.   It was an exciting and productive day using Tuscan clay.  The day was interspersed with coffee and treats at morning tea, then at lunch we were surprised to learn that we had chef Lucia to prepare our lunches while at the school.  I’m still struggling with a 3 course lunch every day then at 7:30 off to a restaurant for dinner.  We are staying at the Hotel Castello, which is part of the town Certaldo Alto.

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Plenty of restaurants, museums, churches and art shops.  The town is a fortress with towers that was built around 12th Century. Such hist ory surrounds these places.  We spend 4 days making our sculptures  and night have wonderful local food and wine at the Trattorias.  On Sunday we headed off to Florence or Firenze as the locals say.  We spent the day wandering the markets and beautiful backstreets.  Some great shopping.  Leather goods predominate.  I did manage to find some lovely handbags.

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In Centraldo Alto we were lucky enough to have a food and wine festival set up in the Main Street.  There were stalls of truffles, olive oil, pastas, chocolate, cheese and of course wine.  What a feast for the eyes.  Later that day we took the vehicular to the lower town to explore.  This unusual little transport is on a weight and pulley system.  The most popular way to get to town.

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Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were firing days.  This proved to be a truly exciting experience.  The process is quite intensive but the results were better than expected.

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image   Interspersed with this we has 2 half day trips to medieval San Gimignano.  This fortress town has imposing towers and interesting piazzas.  Siena is another pretty Tuscan town atop a mountain with cobbled streets and towers that tell that the higher they are the more prestigious.  We had transferred to Villa Baccio, our new accommodation.  This was originally an monastery perched on a hill overlooking vineyards and olive groves.  Spectacular!  Some morning hot air balloons passed over.  This villa has a reputation for exceptional organic wines and olive oil.  We we retreated to a wine and olive oil tasting one night.  So delicious!  The chef Patrice gave us a cooking class and we were also given her recipes.  Looking forward to trying them out at home.  They also had a underground cellar where they make and keeps their wines.  What an amazing place, and these people are so proud of there produce.

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