Ann’s inspiring teaching, the group’s intelligent discussions, the food, the stories, and the laughter still echo. Thanks for the sweet memories. — Ann Tsao
Getting Here: Most workshop participants fly into Florence at least one day prior to the start of the workshop and join fellow students for a van ride to Spannocchia. The estate is about an hour drive from Florence. The workshop fee includes the cost of the van ride to and from the Florence International Airport at designated pickup and drop off times. A handful of students have flown into Rome and taken the train to Siena. Spannocchia is about a half-hour drive from Siena. We can arrange to pick you up in Siena with advance notice.
Spending the night in Florence en route to Spannocchia: As mentioned, most workshop participants fly in to Florence a day or two before the workshop begins to ease the jet lag and perhaps take in the spectacular cultural scene. There are lots of great places to stay within walking distance of the major museums and other attractions. Considerations may include whether the hotel is within walking distance of the train/bus station, particularly if you plan to take the bus to and from the airport. Remember, we meet at the airport for the van ride to Spannocchia.
Hotels in Florence: Recommended hotels in Florence, based on the experiences of former students and faculty include:
— Hotel Macchiaioli, Via Cavour, 21, Florence. The rooms are clean and nice and the continental breakfast is generous. It’s an easy walk to many of the sites of Florence. This is one of the hotels that Rick Steve’s mentions in his Pocket Guide Florence — which by the way is a good resource for other hotels. Be prepared to either summon the desk clerk or haul your luggage up a couple of flights of stairs — which is not unusual at Florence hotels.
— Hotel Spadai, Via dei Martelli, 10 | 50129 Florence. This hotel is just down the street from the Hotel Macchiaoli so ti’s also in easy walking distance of many of the Florence sites.
— Hotel Davanzati, Via Porta Rossa, 5-red, Florence. The single rooms are tiny but clean and comfortable. This hotel is close to the Duomo and advertised as being a half-mile from the train/bus station. You may still want to take a taxi to and from the airport, as opposed to taking the bus from the airport to the train station and hiking the rest of the way, unless you are up for pulling your roller bag down the cobble-stone streets of Florence for a half-mile or so. Be prepared to either summon the desk clerk or haul your luggage up a couple of flights of stairs — which is not unusual at Florence hotels.
Rick Steve’s Pocket Guide to Florence also lists a host of other hotels, ranging from the Galileo Hotel — “Classy business hotel, well-run with familial warmth” — to the Relais Uffizi — “Peaceful little gem on alleyway, longue overloos magnificent Piazza della Signoria.”
In the past, students also have had success finiding nice Florence accomodations on Airbnb.
Workshop Accommodations: Students usually stay at the main villa at Spannocchia. The rooms are comfortable and students can elect to share a room or have a room to themselves, depending upon availability.
Clothing: November likely to be raining and cool. Please come prepared prepared with a rain jacket, umbrellas, rain boots/mud appropriate footwear and warm clothing layers. We recommend you have a change of clothes and basic toiletries in your carry on bag since there is some risk of your luggage being lost.
Computers, hair dryers, phone chargers, cameras and anything else you plug in requires a Type B plug adapter. You can buy them at Apple stores, Amazon and many electronics stores. (http://www.amazon.com/home-improvement/dp/B001ST6KOC). Bring several. After all, you will want to plug in more than one electronic device and you might misplace one adapter.
Corkscrews: Don’t forget a corkscrew! Spannocchia makes its own delicious wine and you will want to open a bottle for that afternoon inspiration. (If you need a photo or illustration to identify a corkscrew, please instead turn your bottle of wine over to a qualified wine cork extractor who may or may not return said bottle. Spannocchia wine is that good.)
Electrical adapters: Plugging in your electrical devices and chargers requires a Type B plug adapter. For example, the adapter shown here allows you to plug many U.S. electrical devices into an outlet in Italy. (See also computers entry above.)
Flashlights: We encourage you to bring a flashlight and extra batteries just in case.
Money: Please notify your bank that you will be in Italy so you can access ATMs. You will need to change your dollars to Euros. There is a currency exchange office at all airports and train and bus stations. ATMs in Italy will give you Euros, not dollars, when you withdraw money. Henry can help change money for you when he goes into town.
Rain jacket: It never hurts to travel with at least a light rain jacket and since this is November, a warmer jacket and extra layers are in order as well.
Shampoo, soap and etc.: Pack your own. Spannocchia does not provide those cute, fabulous shampoos and lotions and soaps that hotels do.
Shoes: Spannocchia is a farm. It can be dusty or muddy. Keep your high heels at home and bring good walking shoes, rain boots, hiking boots if you’re a hiker (there’s terrific hiking to the ruins of a castle, a monastery and an intact Roman bridge depending on the weather).
Tuxes, gowns and glitter: You don’t need any fancy clothes. Even when we go to Siena, casual works. However, some churches will not let you in with bare shoulders, so that shawl you’ve packed should accompany you when we make the afternoon and evening visit to Siena. Some churches also won’t let you enter if you’re wearing shorts, which is not much of a danger in November. But just in case you are the extra hardy type.
Is there a town near Spannocchia where writers can obtain items you forgot to pack? Spannocchia is located several kilometers from the tiny town of Rosia. There is a small supermarket. The amazing Henry Hays-Wehle, drives into town every day and will pick up items you need or desire. Henry is also the person who will pick you up in Siena if you make your way to us via Rome. And he sets up our evening snacks for our evening programs. Henry is also a terrific writer and editor.