This course will aim to help you develop your writing by placing a special emphasis on a sense of place. Through a series of workshops, writing exercise and field trips the course will help you make the most of the locations and settings in your writing and provide you with strategies for enhancing your writing through an understanding and appreciation of place. We will look at ways of describing landscape, whether urban or rural, from close observation of the smallest details to the widest vistas and most panoramic views. We will look at how to use places as starting points for pieces of writing, we will explore the relationship between characters and places and see how locations can influence storytelling and plotting. What stories do places themselves have to tell? What are their histories?
We will be making use of the magnificent surroundings of Villa Lugara for inspiration, exercises and ideas, and the course will include field trips to nearby locations for further inspiration.
Whether you are an experienced writer looking for new ways of thinking about your work, or a beginner who has only just started trying out their voice, this course aims to bring out the best in your writing and help you take it to the next level.
Each day will begin with a morning workshop which will be a mixture of writing exercises, close reading of published texts, discussion and feedback. We will look at how various writers have used a sense of place in their writing and seeing what we can learn from them and apply to our own writing. Each workshop will concentrate on a different aspect of writing and place – descriptive writing, place and character, place and history, place as a starting point, place and story.
After lunch the afternoon session will consist of either – a field trip, one to one tutorials with the tutor, or free time to work on your own either in your studio space or outside. ‘The first field trip will be to a local semi-derelict, partially restored villa and chapel, where we will be looking at ways of writing about the buildings and the surrounding landscape and using them as inspiration for fiction.
By way of contrast the second trip will be to the nearby city of Modena or Reggio Emilia. Here the emphasis will be on the observation of people in a particular setting, as well as on the description of the built environment.
Evenings after dinner will offer the opportunity for more relaxed discussions and readings.
Fly to Bologna from where you will be collected by minibus. Group collection and drop off times will be arranged by email.
You can find more details on how to get here. For the more adventurous, you may want to allow time for a longer visit which could include the nearby cities of Modena, Bologna, Reggio Emilia, Parma and Ferrara, Piacenza and Mantova, read more about the area at .
Gerard Woodward has published six novels, five collections of poetry and two collections of short stories. His first novel, August, was shortlisted for the Whitbread (now the Costa) First Novel Award. His second novel, I’ll Go To Bed at Noon, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Proze. His first poetry collection, Householder, won the Somerset Maugham Award. He has also won the Jerwood Fiction Prize and has been twice shortlisted for the T.S.Eliot Award. His most recent publication is a novel, The Paper Lovers. He is professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University where he has taught since 2004.
Running the villa and supporting the course is host Fiona Geilinger, an artist and short film maker. She is a keen gardener, looking after the kitchen garden with the support of neighbouring friends Elis and Graziano, who keep things going when she is back in the UK. Find out more about Fiona’s work at
Helping out with driving and other odd jobs during the course will be Steve (Spike) Geilinger. He is a freelance director, working mainly for the BBC, making documentaries about fine art, architecture, history and food. Most recently he has been making the series ‘Britain’s Lost Masterpieces’ with Bendor Grosvenor for BBC Four.