Friday Weekend Escape to Tuscany with Elaine Fraser

Today we’re escaping for the weekend with my author friend, Elaine Fraser, to the beautiful region of Tuscany in Italy. Elaine is sharing her holiday and writing retreat in a Tuscan villa. Enjoy!

The Art of Writing Tuscan Retreat

By Elaine Fraser

Imagine sitting on the terrace of a Tuscan villa in the Casentino region, surrounded by fascinating people from around the world who all have stories to write. The food is Kilometre Zero —sourced from local producers, along with the red wine.

You are there to spend a week developing your writing project and being inspired by great tutors. You’re in heaven!

Sometimes you have to climb out of your comfort zone, fly to the other side of the world and take a step of faith.

I found The Art of Writing through Lisa Clifford’s Facebook page: Because of the beautiful photos of Tuscany I was led to discover Lisa’s books and the writing retreat she has created.

I decided to sign up, take the plunge and join the retreat.


The Art of Writing is an opportunity for writers at all stages of development to gather and move their project on—whether it’s a memoir, short story, blogging or a novel. The retreat is located at the Borgo Caiano in the Casentino region.

Our hosts Ombretta and Roberto Stoppioni are very welcoming and you feel very at home. They cooked traditional dishes made with simplicity and authenticity for us.


Located in eastern Tuscany, Casentino is in the upper Arno valley and is fifty minutes from Florence and fifty minutes from Arezzo.

Casentino has a rich literary and historic heritage. Dante was inspired to write parts of his Divine Comedy in this region and it is said that St Francis of Assisi received his stigmata here. It’s a land of castles, medieval monasteries and sanctuaries.


We had our own private apartment, complete with living room, worktable and Wi-Fi inside and on our own terrace. Walks around the property and area were lovely.


The sunflowers were out and the rolling hills had that distinctive olive green haze that we associate with Tuscany.


On Wednesday we had an outing to visit Castello Di Porciano where we met the owner Martha Specht Corsi, the daughter of George and Flaminia Specht, who restored the castle. You can actually book the apartment out at the top of the castle or a cottage on the grounds‑very romantic!


Later in the day we visited Lorenzo Cipriani’s farm where we milked sheep. Lorenzo and his family then made ricotta and pecorino. The family then treated us to a Tuscan feast with the fresh cooked ricotta, some aged pecorino, prosciutto, salami and the most amazing tomatoes we had ever eaten—picked from their garden.


From a writing point of view, there were morning lectures on writing, individual coaching sessions in the afternoon and guest speakers in the evening.


Our tutors were generous and encouraging. Lisa Clifford, Jane Corry and Conrad Williams are successful authors who gave practical insight, and help, to each one of us.


Each of the participants had fascinating life stories and discussions around the meal tables were full of laughter and deep conversation. From England, Dubai, Australia, the USA and Italy it was a mix of culture and experience that was uniquely cohesive. Lifetime friendships were birthed in this group.


This was one of the best weeks I have had in terms of both work and travel. Tuscany is inspiring and beautiful. For a feast of the senses and warm hospitality, you can’t beat it.

DSC_7351 Elaine

About Elaine:

Elaine Fraser, author of ‘the Beautiful books’, is from Perth, Western Australia. For many years she taught English and Drama in secondary schools.

Although Elaine is best known for her non-fiction work: Beautiful: beauty tips for the soul and Too Beautiful: more beauty tips for the soul, she has branched out into fiction.

Perfect Mercy, Book #1 in the Beautiful Lives series was released in 2012.

Book #2 Love, Justice was released 2014, and Book #3 Amazing Grace is in the works.

‘I try to write books that are honest, concerned with real lives and real issues with a spiritual edge. My books are contemporary, don’t always have the perfect ending, but always have hope. For example, Mercy Hamilton, the central character in Perfect Mercy, finds out that life isn’t always perfect.’

Then, she looked up to heaven and thanked God from the bottom of her heart for where she was at that moment. She didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but at this minute, in this place, she was thankful.

Travel is an important part of Elaine’s life and she spends up to three months of the year away from home.

‘People say I have the dream life. I get to do what I love – write, study, travel, mentor writers and enjoy living in one of the best cities in the world with my wonderful husband, young adult children and golden retriever, Bear,’ Elaine says.

‘I agree with Marc Anthony when he said, If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.’

Elaine’s latest book Love, Justice can be purchased online at: or at Koorong Books

 DSC_0702 Love Justice 2

Find out more here:

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    1. Hi Marco, I only went to Castello de Porciano. Martha was a participant on the Art of Writing course and invited us to tour her home. Maybe next time I’ll get to Poppi’s Castle! Elaine

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