Home  |  Adventures  |  Lessons of Leonardo  |  Calendar  |  Press  |  About Us  |  Blog  |  Contact


Locations | Sculpting | Writing | La Dolce Vita | Field Trips
 | Dates/Prices | To Register

We 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 of Peralta, 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 Peralta!

Sculpting in Clay / Oil Painting


Peralta evolved over three decades as a sculptor’s haven. Small studios with views stretching to the sea, sculpting tables, 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 people.

All levels are welcome – from beginner to professional.

Oil Painting

The painting class is in oils and based on the study of the Still Life. We begin with composition and main values in 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 your writing. 

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, Viareggio.

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 are included.

Field Trips

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 Crucifixion. We will have time to walk or bike the famous walls (2.4 miles), shop for gifts and have dinner.


Stefania Brandinelli

Stefania Brandinelli

Stefania Brandinelli has studied art for twenty years in Italy and the United States. In Bologna she studied painting and 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 with Nathaniel Kaz.

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 Monteiro Martins

Julio was born in Rio de Janeiro in the mid 1950’s. 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 PDF form).

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

To register, call Barb Petrarca Hardesty at Tel: (303) 284-1383
Cell: (303) 570-5287, or email her at barb@DaVincicapers.com

Preferred Carrier:

Back to Top
  Home  |  About Us  |  Lessons  |  Adventures  |  Calendar  
Press  |  Contact