invite you to experience the real Tuscany — a slow rhythm
that echoes nature, scents of jasmine and lemons to uplift
your spirit, and inspiration to fill your soul.
For one or two weeks we settle in the ancient stone hamlet
home and studio of internationally renowned sculptress, Fiore
de Henriquez. Surrounded by Fiore’s sculptures, purple
bougainvillea and views of a small national park and the Italian
Riviera, we begin our creative explorations…
Location – Peralta
Unlike the famous palatial villas dotting Tuscany, Peralta is
rustic and intimate at the same time – a place you feel
comfortable as soon as you arrive. That is, after you make the
steep ascent, for it is perched on the slopes of the Apuane mountains,
overlooking a natural preserve and beyond to the blue Mediterranean
Sea. It beckons you to stay for a while.
Fiore insisted on keeping her ancient stone hamlet in harmony with
its earthy surroundings. She felt that it should be simple, like
a “good peasant.” Stone by stone and over three decades
Fiore created her dream – a place where friends and other
artists could come and create their art. With the necessity to cover
expenses of maintenance, Fiore slowly opened it to the public. Over
recent years it has been updated with beautiful touches of hand-painted
headboards, new mattresses, gorgeous tiles, contemporary plumbing,
even a swimming pool on the upper terrace. Planted bougainvillea,
roses and mimosa create a colorful backdrop. The vineyards and olive
trees make room for the wide-leaf fig and tall chestnut trees. It
truly is a little piece of paradise.
One summer evening while eating ice cream in the main piazza in
Lucca, Barbara Hardesty, founder of Da Vinci Capers, starting speaking
with someone who just happened to be staying at Peralta. This encounter
lead to several visits, and the realization of two dreams –
Fiore’s and Barbara’s vision of creating a place where
one may be free of problems, take deep breaths, soak up the warm
sun, watch wildlife and sunsets, dream and capture moments of personal
insights and creativity.
We invite you to experience Da Vinci Capers’ Studio at
Sculpting in Clay / Oil Painting
Peralta evolved over three decades as a sculptor’s
haven. Small studios with views stretching to the sea, sculpting
tools and clay wait for your personal creations. Stefania
Brandinelli will provide personalized instruction in the morning
and afternoon, except on weekends and on optional field days.
Stefania Brandinelli teaches
sculpture in your areas of personal interests – figurative,
abstract, or architectural. We learn how to design our piece, define
planes and understand the relationship between them. We will learn
to identify the rhythms that give harmony to the entire work. If
staying for two weeks, Stefania will teach you how to make plaster
and rubber molds.
With only two weeks, it will be impossible to make a bronze;
however, we will visit Fiore’s bronze foundry in Pietrasanta to see first-hand the whole process. Clay, stands, wires, and
tools are provided. If you have favorite tools, feel free to
bring them. Model fee is included if we have three or more
All levels are welcome – from beginner to professional.
The painting class is in oils and based on the study of
the Still Life. We begin with composition and main values
a charcoal study. We translate these values with oil color
without the use of black. The purpose is to learn to “see” colors
in nature, to learn limited range of oil colors in order
to obtain subtle nuances, and become aware of soft and sharp
edges. Stefania guides us with these new technical skills
to develop our personal style.
All easels, paints and brushes are supplied. However, Stefania
will provide a list of supplies if you prefer to bring your
own favorite brushes, palette knives and paints.
All levels are welcomed. Stefania is able to help improve your
skills, regardless if you are a beginner or a professional.
Writing – "The
Necessity to Narrate"
It is so clear to Julio Monteiro Martins that everything depends on language – it is a vital part
of our biology, our personal history and culture, even the
barometer of the health
of a whole nation. We live in a world of symbols and images.
It is necessary to write.
In one of the most beautiful places on earth, we have a safe
and relaxed environment for Julio to be a “revealing
mirror”, someone to carefully look at the author’s
creative process (with all of the normal blockages and whims) – a
process that becomes blurred and confused when looking at it
from within. We have the luxury of investigating right from
its origins construction of characters, plots, styles, narrative
points of view and genres. Most importantly, Julio is interested
in your expressive voice and moving you to the next level in
If you would like for Julio to read your work(s) prior to arrive,
please submit to Da Vinci Capers’ Studio. Bring all of your
works-in-progress. We will work with Julio for four half days. With
a small group, we will have plenty of one-on-one time with the possibility
of e-mail or phone calls when he is away. The following week has
the same schedule.
If you bring your laptop, please remember to include a charger
and an adapter. Then, you will be able to write anywhere from
your private terrace, the studio (with incredible views), in
the vineyards or by the seashore.
Julio said, “Why should authors in the making be left
to their destiny, to bitter and confused self-teaching, as
if they were tortoise eggs on a deserted beach waiting to hatch
in the sun?” This is a good time to become inspired,
and to make progress with a mirror of an accomplished author.
La Dolce Vita – "The Sweet Life"
If you are interested in coming, but not attending any of the two
workshops being offered, there is plenty for you to do. The hiking
is superb right outside your door through vineyards into little
villages, or up and over Mount Prano. Within one hour, it is an
easy stroll into the medieval village of Camaiore. There is a lot
to explore in this bustling little town from the art and architecture,
to open-air markets and shopping. A short cab drive away, you can
reach the unspoiled Parco Migliarino, to the hopping seaside town,
The famed natural reserve, the Cinque Terre is a short
train ride, and Lucca and its villas and gardens takes about a half
an hour. If you have always wanted to learn how to cook good home-cooked
Tuscan fare, Laura
Bianchini will be at Peralta every day cooking up a
storm for us. Laura is molto simpatico (very friendly)
and would love to teach you – you may even learn some Italian!
Or, you can do what many people do, just relax under the arbor,
sip the wine della casa, read a good book and dream.
A $200 discount and a $50 taxi kitty are offered to people who want
to live La Dolce Vita. All field trips and other amenities
Field trips included in Da Vinci Capers’ Studio
Scheduled are two field days for everyone to participate if they
want. One day we will go to Pietrasanta, where
there are more sculptors than anywhere else in the world. If we
have good weather, we will go into the marble quarries – an
experience never to be forgotten! We are fortunate to have Keara
McMartin, a founder of Studio Sem, the most established
studio in all of Pietrasanta, give us a tour.
We will go into Lucca one afternoon, an important gem for both
commerce and textiles. Built in Roman times and the capital
of Tuscany until the 11th century, this pedestrian, walled
city is a microcosm of Italy – the spirit and friendliness
of the locals, the art and architecture, and the purity of
the Italian language. We walk the history of Lucca with Gabriele,
and hear the tales of strength, riches, and furberia (foxiness).
We will see Lucca’s most revered Volto Santo,
believed to have been carved by Nicodemus at the time of the
We will have time to walk or bike the famous walls (2.4 miles),
shop for gifts and have dinner.
Stefania Brandinelli has studied art for twenty years
in Italy and the United States. In Bologna she studied painting
sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts, where she also received
a B.A. in Art History from the University of Bologna.
Stefania’s practical experience in both painting and
sculpture includes studying with many masters including Richard
Pousette-Dart for abstract, Henry Hensche for Impressionistic,
Cedric and Joanette Egeli for portrait painting, and sculpture
Stefania has held over 40 exhibitions in Germany, Belgium,
United States and throughout Italy, and has won several commissions
from a sculpted portrait of Catherine of Braganza (Queen of
England, XVII c), eight painted panels for the San Giuseppe
church in Genova, to a relief and mosaic “Mariner” for
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in the U.S.
Living in Pietrasanta, Stefania is an
artist and a teacher.
I have studied Sculpture with Stefania Brandinelli over
a number of years. Stefania is an inspired and inspiring
teacher. She not only knows the craft of sculpture and is
able to teach it but she encourages her students to be creative
and instills in them a deep understanding of art. Her sensitivity
to the needs of the individual student enables her to bring
out the best of what that student has to offer and to then
move them to the next level. Stefania is a most unique and
wonderful teacher and anyone coming in contact with her is
enhanced by the experience.
— Roma Kaplan, Sculptor
Julio Monteiro Martins
Julio was born in Rio de Janeiro in the mid
A lawyer by degree and fluent in five languages, Julio is
a defender of human rights and one of the co-founders of
the Brazilian Green Party and the ecologist movement "Os
Verdes." In 1979, Julio received an "Honorary Fellow
in Writing" award from the University of Iowa. In the
following two years, he taught Creative Writing and Third
World Politics at Goddard College in Vermont.
Julio is a novelist, and a fiction writer who uses the sources
of the unconscious and personal history and History as the
material for his creations. He is the founder of the creative
writing school Scuola
Sagarana in Lucca, Italy.
Julio has written and published 12 books, numerous articles,
short stories, poems, essays, and critical essays in four
countries, several short plays and two films. In addition
to his writing, for the last six years, he has been teaching
Literary Translations, and Brazilian Literature at the University
of Pisa – one of the oldest and most prestigious universities
in all of Europe. He believes that writing from your personal
history can change your life. And, he gives us "un gusto" – a
taste – of what that means.
Short sample of Julio's writing: "As
You Were Sleeping" (in
Julio was extraordinary as a teacher whose
sensibilities included those of his own heritage, as well as
those that would affect any person whatever their background,
persuasion or disposition. He understands the language of the
soul and knows how to communicate it to others.
Dates / Prices
Escape to Peralta, in Tuscany, for one or two weeks to
delve into the depths of your creative being and explore
sculpting, painting, or creative writing.
| Dates are on a individual basis. Inquire about instructor availability.
Tuition for One Week Studio :
For tuition costs for one or two week immersion workshops, please inquire.
Includes all lodging, meals, teaching
fees, materials and two field trips. Airfare is separate.
To register, call Barb Petrarca Hardesty at Tel: (303)
Cell: (303) 570-5287, or email her at barb@DaVincicapers.com