If you know me at all, you’ve heard me talk about my wish to travel to Italy. I don’t know when or how this desire rooted so firmly inside me, but it definitely has been there for a long time. I’ve wanted to go for literally decades. Significant birthdays and anniversaries came and went and as they passed without tickets materializing, my hopes of getting to Italy started to seem as impossible as getting published one day. But then…I got published. And if THAT happened, then surely, anything could, even getting myself to Italy.

So one day I did a random online search for writing retreats in Italy. (FYI, if you do this you will find retreats all over the world, not just Italy.) I found one right away in Tuscany. A Writer Within. It sounded promising. A week in a villa in Tuscany with a group of women writers. Let me say that again. A WEEK. In TUSCANY. Staying at a private VILLA. With a group of WOMEN WRITERS. There were pictures of the villa and of the food. I was sold.

One of my best friends, Marisa, decided to go too. She wasn’t a writer (yet) but had a project she was interested in working on, but the real draw was Tuscany.

For someone who loves words, I don’t have the right ones to give this whole experience justice. Being in Tuscany was like living inside a painting. It was so beautiful it seemed unreal. Like someone had handcrafted the scenes for a movie. Each day was magical. Starting with a delicious breakfast (“Would you like a cappuccino?” “Yes, please!”) and at each place setting a note from the universe. Something encouraging. Something uplifting. Something that got us ready for a morning of writing. The writing exercises—led by the wonderful Kathryn Kay who runs the retreat—made me think about my approach to creating a scene in a new way. And the other women who were there all had such interesting stories to tell. After writing, we’d break for lunch. in the lovely patio. Scrumptious food. And beautiful. Then either an excursion or free time to write. I’m not gonna lie. I always chose the excursion. I mean I could write at home; I was in Italy! We’d get back to the villa and it was time for our apertivo on the back deck where we could see the sunset. And then of course dinner. (Have I mentioned there was a private chef who fed us constantly?) So after waiting what felt like a lifetime, I got the trip of a lifetime + great writing guidance and ++ time with a bestie. (I also got some great boots and a purse.)

If you have any interest in doing something like this, you should definitely check out A Writer Within.

Lisa Ramee