‘A Personal Invitation’ to a Writer’s Retreat in Venice, Italy – 08-15 Sept, 2019

We’d like to invite you to join a private, house party event in the idyllic countryside of  Veneto, Italy for a one week Writers Workshop. It’s going to be:

‘The Write of Your Life’

08-15 September, 2019 

River Brenta at Mira Porte, Veneto, Italy - www.grand-tourist.com
River Brenta at Mira Porte, Veneto, Italy – http://www.grand-tourist.com


“…But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think…’’

George Gordon – Lord Byron (Don Juan)

Workshops – Seminars – Conversation – Inspirational Tours


Sophfronia Scott and Janet Simmonds

Meet Sophfronia a successful writer, poet and essayist. Sophfronia was educated at Harvard where she studied English Literature. After a successful career in New York as a magazine journalist, she became a full-time writer and teacher. In 2017 her second novel ‘Unforgivable Love’ was published by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins. It has received excellent reviews. In the last year Sophfronia’s essay collection ‘Love’s Long Line’ has been published by The Ohio State University Press. She has also co-authored a book about faith with her son Tain. Sophfronia is a kind, considered and charismatic teacher.

Janet is an Oxford educated Geographer, with a Master’s in the History of Art. Whilst Sophfronia is the writer, teacher and wordsmith, Janet is the tour guide, itinerary writer and travel planner. She has spent her career creating unique travel experiences for an international client list. She also blogs about travel, life, the universe and everything! Her enthusiasm and knowledge of Italy is both extensive and contagious. She speaks French and Italian and is consequently very useful to have around.

TOGETHER we’d like to introduce you to the very best of Italy: the perfect place to seek inspiration; a haven to enrich your writing skills and expand your horizons; a place to grow creatively in an atmosphere of support, guidance and camaraderie.

We’d like you to join us for ‘The Write of Your Life’.


Our home in Italy – Villa Margherita, Country House Hotel. Located on the River Brenta, just 20 minutes from Venice and yet in the peace and tranquility of the Veneto countryside.

Experience the verdant, green countryside and cobalt blue skies of Italy’s Veneto region. A region that inspired Lord Byron, Browning, Casanova, Hemingway and Thomas Mann.


The ‘Write of Your Life’ event:  08-15 September, 2019, Italy

Day One – 8th Sept (Sunday)

  • ARRIVAL – Arrive at Venice’s Marco Polo Airport, your driver and vehicle will be waiting to drive you the short distance to your hotel. You are staying at a comfortable, first class hotel, surrounded by peaceful gardens. Check in and relax. Each bedroom has a desk and chair to facilitate your writing.
  • EVENING – This evening there will be a ‘Welcome Party’ in the hotel. Meet your fellow writers and say hello to Sophfronia and Janet. A light dinner will be served. The writing programme for the week will be discussed.
  • Meals included today: Dinner

 Day Two – 9th Sept (Monday)

  • MORNING – The first workshop will take place.
  • ‘What do you believe? A study in voice and authenticity’.
  • AFTERNOON – excursion along the Brenta Canal, inspiration to Lord Byron (poet), Casanova (professional charmer) and Canaletto (artist). We will see the ‘Old Mill’ at Dolo, a point of inspiration for several artists. We will also see exceptional historic villas inspired by the classical designs of architect Andrea Palladio. Marvel at the beauty of the River Brenta as it makes it’s way to the lagoon of Venice. All this beauty and artistic creativity right on our doorstep.
  • EVENING – Seminar – What do you need as a writer and how do you get it?
  • Meals included today: Breakfast

Day Three – 10th Sept (Tuesday)

  • MORNING – Workshop Two – What is Love, Anger, Hope, Despair?
  • Making the abstract tangible.
  • AFTERNOON – a drive through the countryside of the Veneto. First stop the spectacular Villa Barbaro at Maser. Built in 1560 for the wealthy Barbaro brothers. The frescoes inside the villa are allegorical, depicting family members and bucolic scenes, a rich source for the imagination. The paintings are magnificent, bright and full of humour.
  • LATE LUNCH – Next door to Villa Maser is the vineyard, here we will enjoy a family-style late lunch with locally produced meats, cheeses, salads, chutneys and top quality local wines.
  • EVENING – Return to the Brenta Canal in the late afternoon – feeling thoroughly inspired and relaxed. Free evening for reflection and writing.
  • Meals included today: Breakfast, Lunch

Day Four  – 11th Sept (Wednesday)

  • MORNING – Workshop Three – When did that happen? Playing with time.
  • AFTERNOON – This afternoon is at leisure to focus on your writing. You can write in your room, in the gardens of the Villa Margherita or in our workshop room.
  • LATE AFTERNOON – Seminar – Worrying about what others will think? Does a      writer have to wait until certain individuals are dead before they can write        about them?
  • EVENING – Dinner this evening will be at a local fish restaurant, typically Italian and run by the same family for four generations. There’ll be a complimentary aperitivo on arrival. It is fascinating to sit in this traditional ‘ristorante’ and to observe the ‘old school’ waiters in action. A thoroughly Italian experience.
  • Meals included today: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Five  – 12th Sept (Thursday)

  • MORNING – Workshop Four – What did you notice? A ‘real time’ live exercise in mindfulness. This is a very special workshop indeed.
  • Today’s workshop will take place, on a boat floating gently along the Grand Canal, Venice. This is the main waterway of Venice, it flows from Piazzale Roma out into the lagoon of Venice at St Mark’s Square. It is the life blood of the city. As you admire the marble palaces of the Grand Canal, imagine the writers, artists and poets who have travelled along this exact same canal in days gone by. You are travelling in the footsteps of Robert Browning, John Ruskin, Lord Byron, Henry James, Ernest Hemingway, Peggy Guggenheim, the list goes on…
  • Our first stop is the island of San Giorgio Maggiore where we stop to ascend the bell tower (campanile) of San Giorgio Maggiore. At the top of the bell tower there is an incredible view of the city of Venice and the lagoon beyond. As the Italian’s say the view is ‘mozzafiato’ breath-taking.
  • AFTERNOON – We’ll tour the lagoon by private boat today. Seeing the city as she was meant to be seen – from the water. We will visit the island of Torcello with its elegant church and incredible 12th century mosaics, depicting the bleakest ‘Last Judgement’ with dismembered skeletons burning in the fires of hell.
  • On a more cheerful note we’ll have lunch on the fishermen’s island of Burano – where the traditional dish is a home-made seafood risotto. We’ll also meet the lace makers who made lace whilst their menfolk were at sea – often for weeks on end.
  • EVENING – after a relaxed day we return to the hotel for a free evening.
  • Meals included today: Breakfast, Lunch

Day Six – 13th Sept (Friday)

  • MORNING – Workshop Five – They did what? Writing difficult characters.
  • AFTERNOON – This afternoon is at leisure to focus on your writing.
  • LATE AFTERNOON – Today there will be a late afternoon excursion to Padova – the university city. We will visit the spectacular Giotto frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, built in the 13th century by Enrico Scrovegni, a notorious money lender. As Scrovegni’s life was coming to a close he became concerned with the afterlife, particularly given his choice of profession. He commissioned a magnificent chapel and had it decorated with frescoes of the life of Christ. Giotto the finest fresco painter of the day was summoned from Tuscany to work on the interior paintings. As we all know it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • EVENING – Dinner will be at a small, trattoria on the shores of the Brenta Canal
  • Meals included today: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Seven – 14th Sept (Saturday)

  • MORNING – A visit to Villa Foscari at Fusina. A short drive from our hotel. This villa was designed by the architect Andrea Palladio and was intended as a country house for the Foscari family. Unfortunately the young wife of Mr Foscari had not behaved with sufficient modesty. She had scandalised polite society by having an affair. As a result she was exiled to the villa and it became her gilded cage. Locally the property became known as Villa Malcontenta after the unhappy woman who lived there.
  • AFTERNOON – SEMINAR – Going Home – How do you take the ‘Write of Your Life’ with you and implement what you’ve learned in your regular writing practice at home?
  • EVENING – This evening there is a Farewell Dinner at Villa Margherita, hosted by Andrea del Corso and the Del Corso Family. There will be great food, sparkling conversation and a small awards ceremony.
  • Meals included today: Breakfast, Dinner

Day Eight – 15th Sept (Sunday)

  • MORNING – This morning is our departure day
  • Vehicles will be available to transport you to Marco Polo Airport for departure flights.
  • Sadly ‘The Write of Your Life’ journey has come to an end, it’s time to head home and put new techniques and skills into practice. Happy Writing!
  • Meals included today: Breakfast


Venezia - 1942 map of the Lagoon of Venice - shows clearly the extent of the lagoon which is bounded by the River Brenta to the south and the River Piave in the north. www.educated-traveller.com
Venezia – 1942 map of the Lagoon of Venice – shows clearly the extent of the lagoon which is bounded by the River Brenta to the south and the River Piave in the north. http://www.educated-traveller.com
Be inspired at our Writer's Retreat in the glorious Veneto region, 08-15 September, 2019 - https://wp.me/p5eFNn-3DV
Emilio Cecchio – Out-fitter to the gondoliers! Be inspired at our Writer’s Retreat in the glorious Veneto region, 08-15 September, 2019 – https://wp.me/p5eFNn-3DV
Villa Barbaro at Maser. Be inspired at our Writer's Retreat in the glorious Veneto region, 08-15 September, 2019 - https://wp.me/p5eFNn-3DV
Villa Barbaro at Maser. Be inspired at our Writer’s Retreat in the glorious Veneto region, 08-15 September, 2019 – https://wp.me/p5eFNn-3DV
Veronese - fresco detail - Il Birichino - the young hunter www.educated-traveller.com
Veronese – fresco detail – the young hunter http://www.educated-traveller.com
Be inspired at our Writer's Retreat in the glorious Veneto region, 08-15 September, 2019 - https://wp.me/p5eFNn-3DV
Be inspired at our Writer’s Retreat in the glorious Veneto region, 08-15 September, 2019 – https://wp.me/p5eFNn-3DV

If you’d like to extend your stay: 

BEFORE ‘The Write of Your Life’ there will be a 3-night tour entitled ‘The Foundations of Venice’ – including historical walking tour of Venice, and visits to Roman cities and sites that existed before Venice developed. The cost will be US $ 1200 per person.

AFTER ‘The Write of Your Life’ there will be a 3-night tour entitled ‘Verona, Lake Garda and Palladian Villas of the Veneto’ including tour of private vineyard, boat trip on Lake Garda, visit to Verona. The home of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. The cost will be US $ 1500 per person.

What’s included: 

The ‘Write of Your Life’ – 08-15 September, 2019

Hotel accommodation, Writers Workshops, Seminars & Meals:

  • 7 night stay on the Brenta Canal, Veneto, Northern Italy
  • Accommodation in a very comfortable, four star country house hotel
  • Choice of room types and single or shared rooms available
  • Delicious buffet breakfast daily
  • Arrival and departure transfers from Venice Airport to the hotel.
  • A professional series of Writers Workshops led by Sophfronia (Total 5 workshops)
  • Three seminars where ideas and writing skills are discussed (Total 3 seminars)
  • Fascinating and inspirational local sight-seeing programme curated and designed by Janet Simmonds.
  • All tours are planned to enrich and inspire your writing experience
  • Welcome Cocktail Party on arrival day included.
  • Meals included during the trip: 7 x breakfasts / 2 x lunches / 4 x dinners.
  • Note – further details of the seminars and workshops at the end of this document.

Exceptional and unique sight-seeing visits as follows:

  • Afternoon excursion along the Brenta Canal to see the ‘Old Mill’ at Dolo, a point of inspiration for the painter Canaletto.
  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Villa Barbaro at Maser.
  • Private Boat on the Lagoon – An opportunity to see Venice from the water. In the footsteps of Hemingway, Ruskin and Thomas Mann. Amazing perspectives.
  • Afternoon trip to Padova – the university city. See the Giotto frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, built in the 13th century by an infamous money lender.
  • Visit to Villa Foscari known as the Villa Malcontenta, a superb Palladian villa that was the gilded cage of a lonely and disgraced aristocratic woman
  • All transportation for services listed – comfortable minivans with air conditioning
  • Professional and courteous drivers.
  • For more details and on-line brochure – click hereWrite of Your Life brochure

The programme cost is as follows – prices are per person:

  • US $ 3500 / GBP £ 2750 / Euros € 3100 pp / based on a shared twin room.
  • US $ 3900 / GBP £ 2950 / Euros € 3300 pp / double for single occupancy.
  • US $ 4200 / GBP £ 3250 / Euros € 3600 pp / based on shared Junior Suite
  • All enquiries to: janet@grand-tourist.com


  • A deposit of US $ 1500– is required to book and confirm your place on the trip.
  • The balance payment is due no later than 01 July, 2019.
  • There will be a maximum number of 16 participants in the group.
  • Please note that deposits are not refundable.
  • It is essential that you take out travel insurance (medical & cancellation)
  • You can make payments by Pay Pal or Bank Transfer
  • To discuss payment contact janet@grand-tourist.com 


  • Flights are not included and must be booked by each individual participant
  • All services are subject to confirmation at time of booking.
  • Grand Tourist Ltd is registered in England. Co. registration: 5455911
  • This is a unique and exclusive tour run by Janet Simmonds and Sophfronia Scott
  • All technical details handled by Grand Tourist Ltd grand-tourist.com

Sophfronia Scott’s publications include:


Here’s what Sophfronia has to say about writing and what the programme includes:

 An unforgettable journey that will, for new writers, jump start your writing practice or, for experienced writers, re-energize your current one’.

I believe we all have a reservoir of creativity within us. It is filled with the inspiration we take in during the course of our lives, everything from a beautiful painting in a museum to a beloved song on the radio to the fascinating sight of a hummingbird feeding on flowers. For writers, this reservoir fuels our work and encourages us to soar on the page.

However these days the whole “butt in the chair” mentality is stressed to the point where writers spend much of their time alone in a room mining for words. On one level that’s great—it’s how our work gets done! Although on another level it drains our resources. Eventually the reservoir runs dry and all manner of difficulties ensue, including the dreaded writers’ block.

What’s the remedy?

Filling the reservoir at regular intervals, in ways large and small. You may already do this little by little (reading, talking walks, seeing a good movie). But I’m suggesting you go big! Recall how so many of the great writers traveled, seeking adventure, new views and most of all, inspiration. What would happen if you did the same? If you walked the paths explored by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Peggy Guggenheim, Henry James, Robert Browning, or Lord Byron, what would your pilgrim soul find?

Janet Simmonds and I invite you to join us for just such a journey designed to fill your reservoir and open a new, perhaps even the best, chapter of your writing life. The Write of Your Life Writers Retreat features five workshops and three discussion-style seminars that will delve into the mysterious intangibles mastered by the best writers that delineate the good from the great. We’ll work with not only what’s on the page, but also the ultimate source material—what’s inside of you.

You’ll come away with:

  • Increased confidence in your own voice and authenticity
  • Motivation to create writing that represents a deeper expression of one’s self.
  • New work generated in our workshops and inspired by our travels
  • A greater awareness of your reservoir of creativity and how you’ll continue to fill it once you return home.

THE WORKSHOPS – each workshop will be 2 ½ hours in length, the following subjects will be covered:

 1) What Do You Believe? A Study in Voice and Authenticity

A reader may come to you for a great story, poem, or experience, but they stay because they connect to what you have to offer as a distinct writer and individual. Understanding how your thoughts and beliefs shape your writing and make you unique is essential. We’ll discuss belief systems, review samples that demonstrate author personality, and draft from exercises to explore how we “show up” on the page. This is all about authenticity.

2) What is Love/Anger/Hope/Despair? Making the Abstract Tangible

You know what it means when you say you love, hate, wish, or hurt. But how can the reader understand the depth of such feelings? We’ll explore best practices for communicating emotion, experience, and visuals in your writing.

3) When Did That Happen? Playing With Time

We speak so much about not having enough time we forget that when we’re writing about time, it’s as flexible as a rubber band. Whole books have been written about a day, stories written about an hour. We’ll discuss bringing an awareness of time to our work and how to use it as a tool to create narrative tension as well as structure.

4) What Did You Notice? A Live Exercise in Mindfulness

This workshop will take place on a boat floating down the Grand Canal in Venice. We’ll work with seeing the world as a writer, consuming it with all five of our senses, and bringing the world we’ve experienced to the page.

5) They Did What?? Writing Difficult Characters

All of our writing features characters. In fiction we make them up. In nonfiction they are real people, including ourselves. Our poetry can include both. At this point in our trip we will have heard about several interesting historical figures and you may feel inspired to write about them or create characters with similar issues. But how do we write about difficult/sad/mean/unlikeable or otherwise tricky personalities without making them into cardboard figures of melodrama? We’ll explore this and also share some of the writing we’ve generated during the journey.

THE SEMINARS – seminars will be 60-90 minutes duration:

Seminar Discussion 1: What do you need as a writer and how do you get it? Exploring Annie Dillard’s quote, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”

Seminar Discussion 2: Worrying about what others will think. Does a writer have to wait until certain parties are dead before they can write? Is it better in some instances to write anonymously? What is our reward as writers if we don’t write with our names?

Seminar Discussion 3: Going home—How do you take the Write of Your Life with you and implement what you’ve learned in your regular writing practice?

You can learn more about Sophfronia Scott at:

You can learn more about Janet Simmonds at:

Don’t hesitate to contact Janet Simmonds janet@grand-tourist.com with any questions that you may have.  In the meantime Sophfronia and I look forward to welcoming you to Venice in September, 2019 for the ‘Write of Your Life’,

Happy Writing

Sophfronia  &  Janet


9 thoughts on “‘A Personal Invitation’ to a Writer’s Retreat in Venice, Italy – 08-15 Sept, 2019

    1. Hello Sophfronia, We met at Will Eagleson’s home in Sandy Hook, CT. Will is my beloved grandson & friend of your beloved Tain. I am interested in your Sept. Writers Week. Please contact me. I left a message for Janet yesterday but have not received a reply as yet. I would like a double room for my daughter (a teacher & artist) & for me, Do you have space for us?
      Hopefully, Mary McDonald Eagleson in Lincoln, Nebraska. Athlone34A@gmail.com

      Liked by 1 person

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