creative workshop ad
creative workshop

A Tuscan Retreat with Jonatha Brooke

Oct. 19-26, 2022 • Villa Il Paradisino • 6 Miles Outside of Florence, Italy

Limited to 12 PSCW ALUMNI

This retreat has been filled.

Please Email Lydia if you have any questions.

Guest Songwriting Teacher: JONATHA BROOKE


Sometimes the universe likes to take the wheel during our life’s winding road trip, throwing the map out the window and daring us to just trust. It’s during these times our challenge is to simply say yes and show up. That’s when magic is given permission to do its thing. And by being present and completely open, something inside us shifts, so when it’s time to take the wheel again we’re rested and a little more clear of purpose and direction.

That’s exactly what Italy did for me.

After I folded the magazine in 2009 and had no idea of what to do next or who I was without the identity it had given me, I was reminded of a dream I once had of walking and eating my way through Tuscany. So I said yes and showed up, cracked open and ready for something to make itself apparent.

Six miles outside of Florence, I walked through the gates of Villa Il Paradisino — The Small Paradise — and felt the shifting begin. It was what 14 acres of heaven must surely be like, complete with lemon trees, olive groves, and grapes that were soon to be enjoyed as wine. The colors were from a palette I’d never seen. Food was experienced with all the senses. And the history in each inch of ground or piece of art was beyond my imagination.

Costanza and her sister Serena, who are the fifth generation of the villa’s family, welcomed me into their home and taught me to cook meals that were their grandmother’s recipes, using ingredients grown on their property. When they talked about food, it was like the air around them—that they punctuated with their hands—sat straight up and sighed.

Francesca showed up each morning to take me on an adventure—long walks in the countryside, tours of museums and churches, historical sites and magical villages. Having someone share their knowledge and enthusiasm with me was such a gift, and Francesca did that with a huge smile and wonderfully dry sense of humor. The sweetest part was that she always introduced me as her friend. I was never a tourist.

After a few days in this Tuscan heaven I felt a shift inside of me, and things did indeed start making themselves apparent. The day before I left I told Costanza I could envision bringing songwriters over one day for a creative retreat, where we could show up, be present, breathe, and let the magic happen.

Exactly five years later that vision became a reality, and I took my first group over in October of 2014. Now this is my tenth retreat there with different guest teachers, and the opportunity for that same magic I experienced to happen in your life.


Any questions, email Lydia Hutchinson.


All-Inclusive Week of Music, Food & Friends • Limit 10-12 PSCW Alumni

About The Experience

As a small group of 10-12 PSCW alums, we will stay at the 15th Century Villa in Sesto Fiorentino, in the breathtaking countryside just six miles outside of Florence. The beautifully restored apartments are spacious, open and look out over gardens and olive groves.

Each morning there will be a breakfast of breads, eggs, jams and yogurts—all homemade and locally grown. Enjoying it together in the family’s dining room is the perfect way to begin the day.

We will have songwriting workshops on four of the mornings, taught by award-winning artist and songwriter Jonatha Brooke. She will lead inspiring morning classes to help you tell your story in a compelling way.

You will each enjoy a cooking lesson with Costanza and Serena, preparing meals from their grandmother’s recipes, and we will have dinners each night that are nothing short of events—pizza in the gardens cooked in the outdoor wood oven, a traditional Tuscan barbecue, and so much more…

Francesca will guide us through an afternoon in Florence where history will leave you speechless, and the Statue of David will move you to tears. She’ll lead countryside walks, and we’ll spend an afternoon in the Chianti region where she has wonderful surprises planned and we’ll end the day with a wonderful authentic Tuscan dinner in a restaurant in the region. We’ll also spend an entire day in the northernwestern part of Tuscany visiting a breathtaking marble mine and ancient village.

There’ll also be plenty of time to wander around the town of Sesto Fiorentino, walk to the train station from the villa and catch a 10-minute ride into Florence, or spend a planned free day visiting Lucca or Sienna … or even hang out at the villa and help pick olives.

And of course, there will be music … inspiring songwriting classes on four of the mornings, free time to write and have a one-on-one session with Jonatha, and treats from some local musicians.

So the universe is ready to take the wheel for a week in Tuscan paradise. Say yes and show up. And then let the music, food, culture and friendship begin to work its magic in your life.

Details and Price

Once you’ve arrived at the villa, you will be completely taken care of. You won’t need a car, and the train station and town of Sesto Fiorentino are all just short walks. All of your meals are taken care of except for one day that you have on your own, to explore other areas or hang around the villa.

Here is a list of few of the things that are included:

  • Transportation to the Villa from the Florence airport or Sesto Fiorentino train station
  • 7 nights in an apartment at Villa Il Paradisino: Arrive Wednesday Afternoon October 19, 2022, and leave Wednesday Morning October 26
  • Four mornings of songwriting classes with Jonatha Brooke, and a one-on-one session with her
  • Breakfasts of homemade jams, breads, yogurts, and fresh eggs
  • Light lunches of Panini, stuffed focaccia, and other delights
  • A cooking lesson with Serena and Costanza in the main house, creating meals from their family recipes that we’ll enjoy that evening
  • Four evenings of dinners and wine served in the dining room of the main house, as well as an opening night dinner on the villa patio (weather permitting) of pizza cooked in the wood-burning oven, and a closing night Tuscan barbecue
  • An afternoon in Florence, accompanied by Francesca as your guide. It will include your train ticket and pass to the Academia museum as well as dinner in a local restaurant
  • A afternoon in the Chianti region with Francesca, a walk through villages, wine tasting at a local winery, and dinner and wine at an authentic Tuscan restaurant.
  • A day in northwestern Tuscany with a tour of a marble mine, lunch, and dinner at a village restaurant.
  • Musical performances by Italian musicians.
  • … and many more surprises.

All-Inclusive Pricing (except for airfare):

  • $3,295 Per Person Double Occupancy Room With Private Bath (Available for 6 People) NOTE: You’ll need to have your roommate planned—we won’t be assigning people to room together.
  • $4,295 Single Occupancy Room With Private Bath (Available for 4 People)


  • $1000 Deposit (Plus $1000 Single Room Supplement if Applicable) Upon Registration
  • Second Payment of $1000 Due July 1, 2022
  • Third Payment of $1000 Due August 1, 2022
  • Balance Due September 1, 2022

Must be 21 Years or Older

Cancellation Policy:

  • All payments and deposits are non-refundable if we are not able to fill the spot. If we are able to fill the spot, however, you will be refunded all but $500.

Any questions, email Lydia Hutchinson.

Registration and Deposit

Registration is on a first-come basis, as well as room availability for the breakdown of single and double occupancy. You are not confirmed until the deposit is received, and you receive a direct email from Lydia confirming it and addressing any questions. If you end up not being confirmed after your deposit is paid because of the event and rooms being filled, you will be immediately refunded in full.

  • NOTE: For double occupancy rooms (that have 2 single beds) you’ll need to have your roommate planned—we won’t be assigning people to room together.

This retreat has been filled.

Please Email Lydia if you have any questions.

This Creative Retreat to Tuscany has been filled. Please email Lydia if you have any questions.

When I first read the description for the Tuscan Retreat it took my breath away. Now, when I think back on my week there, it still does. Lydia Hutchinson is that rare individual who honors her own passions and fosters creativity in those around her. She’s kind of a modern day muse. And she is also a juggernaut of organization. What that means for anyone attending her Creative Workshops is that, for a magical few days, you can trust that everything is taken care of and whether you are exploring a hidden winery in Chianti or your own creativity she has chosen your guides well. You can just focus on what you came here to do. Lydia’s got the bow and the target … all you need to do is fly.

—Teresa Chandler, Hudson, WI

If there is any part of you that hesitates regarding the cost or taking the time off from your busy life to attend one of these workshops, all I can say is that clicking ‘submit’ was the best gift I ever gave myself. And it continues to give, even months and years later. Having now attended two of Lydia’s workshops, I can share in full honesty that she creates and seamlessly orchestrates the kind of experiences that you hold in your cell-memory; in your bones. The kind of moments where you realize why you are here, that you are capable of more joy and growth than you thought possible, that the world is still full of spectacular beauty and that you, your voice and your songs are worthy and deserving. I will never forget the exquisite meals shared at the long table — peas from the garden, tender squash blossoms stuffed with mozzarella and fried till tender and melty, wine from the soil we walked on, savory leek tart that Serena and Costanza’s family had prepared for hundreds of years — where new friends laughed and sang as easily as old friends while the towering pine tree out the dining room window of Villa Il Paradisino held us all with it’s ancient arms. All I can say is grazie.

—Jane Kramer, Asheville, NC

Lydia Hutchinson knows how to throw a well organized, world-class educational songwriting experience in a mystical and magical part of the world, Tuscany! She found the perfect location: A beautiful 15th Century countryside villa in Ancient Tuscany. She has the perfect guest instructors. I really appreciated the extra details … outstanding Italian meals! Seven course meals! Pizza parties! Bar-B-Ques! Our own private cooking classes! Day trips to small ancient towns, wine tasting and cheese making. Day trip to Florence with our own knowledgeable guide … went to famous museums and sites. Ate the best Italian food! Drank the best Italian wines! All the participants were engaging, highly creative and fun for me to share this experience. One of the best gifts I’ve ever given to myself!

—Joseph Leavell, Addison, TX

This was a special time, with special people, and a special place. The music, the laughter, and the magic of the Villa made for an experience that lives with you long after you have returned home. It can kindle a creative fire, or just soothe your soul.

—Michael Allsep, Nashville, TN

The Tuscan Retreat was way beyond all my expectations! It was absolutely magical. I feel I formed life long bonds with some of the most incredible people in the most wonderful setting possible.

—Melinda Milligan, Cordova, TN

The Tuscan Experience truly was one and without doubt was the ideal location for spending time with like-minded people whilst having the opportunity to learn from one of the greats of the songwriting world. Hats off to Lydia to finding such an amazing place and organizing such an incredible week.

—Neil Newton, Bedfordshire, UK

Lydia’s Performing Songwriter Creative Workshop in Tuscany was a sensory explosion. The food, the wine, the villa, and the beauty of Florence and Tuscany lifted my creative spirit to new heights. I recommend Lydia’s workshops for writers of all levels and experience.

—Stacy Widelitz, Nashville, TN

Lydia’s Tuscany workshop simply outstanding. A week lived inside a masterpiece of art and music with new best friends–and Tuscan meals and gardens and history. Lovely on so many levels.

—Sibyl White, Wimberley, TX

Lydia creates a safe haven for anyone with a creative soul. Nurturing the mind, body and soul while leaving the heart free to take it all in. The trip to Tuscany is an incredible example. Feed the body and soul, surround yourself with natural beauty and culture. How could you not feel inspired? Lydia put together a tour de force event exploring songwriting, culture, food and fun while creating a bond among new friends. Brava.

—Matthew Ryan, North Cape May, NJ

I’ve been reveling in the lingering remnants of the sights and tastes (oh, the food!) and the sounds (oh, the music!) of our week in Italy … and appreciating even more the profound everlasting impression it’s left on me. It would have been enough to be in a songwriting workshop with the phenomenal Jonatha Brooke. But then, Lydia threw in a dreamlike setting at a 15th century estate in Tuscany, Italy. Six-course meals, wine tastings and cooking classes! Tours of Florence and the breathtaking countryside! Hanging with really special people… Really, though, what makes these retreats spectacular is Lydia’s attention to detail, impeccable planning, and a heartfelt desire to make sure we are all happy.

—Carla Imperial, Leeds, MA

Lydia has found an extraordinary, magical place from which to host this workshop. The journey through the week was luscious, thoroughly creative, progressive. Life-changing discoveries seemed to come in waves, through the days.

—Janie Barnett, New York, NY