Traditional                Multimedia                  Workshops

The Bottega offers courses, workshops, and seminars in various traditional media on site in Italy.

Most courses address ancient techniques and materials as studio workshops focused on production of artwork. Below is a sample of course descriptions. Courses may be tailored to fit individual or group interest.

We have worked with students from John Cabot University, The Umbra Institute, University of Delaware, Stonehill College, Boston University Venice, Temple University Rome, and Richmond University of London.


The Mindful Palette. July, 2018.


Program Description This new and unique 3 week international seminar will offer authentic learning experiences in Studio Art and Environmental Science within a global context. It will be held at and partnered with the Spannocchia Foundation, a historical agriturismo near Siena, Italy, offering on-location activities and site visits pertaining to shared issues within each discipline. The Spannocchia Foundation’s mission encourages a global dialogue about sustaining cultural landscapes for future generations with strong interests in supporting the preservation of cultural history including crafts and fine arts, local ecology, and farm-based education. This seminar will engage students on multiple levels of the food and art production process by offering experiences in which they will directly be sourcing, making, and using materials that are located within Spannoccia’s domain. Students will meet daily for an immersive experience in the landscape and agricultural tradition of the Spannocchia estate. Activities will include oil painting, drawing, alternative printmaking and photography, interactive farm work, site visits to churches, museums, and Slow Food Presidias, and communal meal preparations. Students will stay in renovated and historical farm houses with modern conveniences on the Spannocchia property. Communal meals will be prepared in farm house kitchens or taken together at the main villa.

Course Objectives Through interactive activities that invite students to learn about food systems and traditional studio practices, students will conclude their stay with a meal that culminates with the understanding of each ingredient’s origin, lifecycle, and their historical and artistic value. As many parts of our food system are compartmentalized and the origin is hidden, their direct experiences will allow them to experience the connections between food and art and to better understand human dependence on a healthy environment. Thus, they will be connected to the world that surrounds them and instill a new understanding of sustainability. Reflective discussions and pertinent readings about food production and the necessity of human beings to creatively express themselvesand how it can be a transformative experience will be utilized. By participating in the production of food (plant and animal based) and learning about the origin of many art materials from these same products, students will learn how these ingredients contribute to the local and global Slow Food movement and how fair trade, organic production, and humane methods of production, distribution, and consumption relate to sustainability, conservation, and art history.  There will also be a focus on climate change and its complex relationship with global food security.

Traditional studio activities with a sustainable and historical perspective will include oil painting, drawing, and early photographic and printmaking processes with a strong focus on foraging and utilizing materials and resources uniquely available from Spannocchia and the surrounding area. Oil painting on location will use natural oils and soaps rather than petroleum products. In addition, drawing will utilize handmade charcoal made from the farm’s grapevine cuttings, and sienna pigment will be found and processed directly from the local earth. Anthotypes made from foraged plants and homemade dyes will be made on-site. Pinhole photography will be introduced, using the architecture and rooms of the castello as the mechanics and inspiration.

Activities and site visits may include wine-making and olive oil production, cheese-making, animal husbandry, organic gardening, paper and parchment making, church and museum visits, Tuscan culinary instruction, and Italian Slow Food Presidias. The Slow Food movement began in Italy and supports the protection of biodiversity, territories and knowledge of traditional productions. Visits to small-scale producers may include farmers, fishers, butchers, shepherds, cheesemakers, bakers and pastry chefs.

The Spannocchia Foundation Spannocchia offers an exceptional opportunity for students to understand what living off the land truly means as it strives to be as self-sufficient as possible within green, local, and humane contexts. By being immersed in the landscape and participating in agricultural traditions – caring for the heritage pig breed, Cinta Senese and working in their gardens, students will gain a personal understanding of their relationship to the land and its natural rhythms. This will stand in clear contrast to some of the readings they will do about our global food and trade system, and offer them a new perspective on the term “sustainable” and how their choices connect to the health of the environment that supports them.

 Rationale: This program will offer a unique area of interdisciplinary study at a specific location and with a partner that specializes in our pursuits. It offers a global partnership with long-term collaboration and development potential for our students and the College, such as future internships and research opportunities in both the field of sustainable agriculture or the visual arts. The timing of a summer program abroad through Stonehill will allow students who are interested in these topics but would not otherwise be able to pursue study abroad during the regular semester year (athletes, science majors for example). *This course is open to all levels of students- no prior studio experience is necessary.



September, 2018. Venice Workshop, see information under the Venice heading.

October, 2018, Cottanello Fresco Workshop, TBA



January 7-14, Stonehill College workshop, Siena (closed)

May 15-27, 2018 Stonehill College Discovering Devotion Fresco Seminar, Siciliy (closed)

June 1-July 22, 2018 Mindful Palette, Siena (open)



Venice: Watercolor Painting and the Cuisine of the Veneto (see the page, above)


Make a stop on the Grand Tour with artists and professors, William Pettit and Candice Smith Corby as they escort you on an unforgettable and personalized journey thourgh the city of dreams.  Experience the treasures of Venice, watercolor painting and local culinary delights. Guests will stay in the elegant and comfortable Hotel Pausania, an ancient palace from the XIV century.  Using the sea as inspiration, participants will experience the connection between art-making and local cuisine by visiting markets, using food as subject matter, and eating well.  Following in the footsteps of artists who have come before us, we will visit the same beautiful landmarks, world-class museums, and inspiring churches. We are happy to individually cater our workshop for beginners through advanced students. William Pettit teaches at  John Cabot University in Rome and and Candice Smith Corby teaches at Stonehill College in Easton MA and have have collaborated on several fresco painting travel workshops. Note: There are limited slots for this opportunity.


Fresco Painting Workshop  This workshop will consist of demonstrations and practical experience in the many phases of traditional fresco painting, including historic research, wall preparation, cartoon studies, and painting. The course will take place on site in an ancient chapel on convent in Central Italy.  Participants will work under the guidance of the professor to restore and recreate parts of convent in the form of permanent fresco paintings. Students will stay and work on the premises of the Franciscan monastery. The retreat will also expose participants to the local cultural, artistic, and culinary traditions of the Sabina region. This workshop is an informal, but serious hands-on restoration project. Quantity and quality of participation will depend on each students desire and interest. The goal is to provide first hand instruction and exposure to the ancient fresco painting technique, and to initiate a gradual restoration in the local style of the period. The course will consist of five 4-hour lessons in fresco painting. Additional informal instruction in any media will be provided according to interest. All workshop tools and materials are supplied. We recommend having a personal sketchbook, pencils, and a watercolor set. The workshop is designed for about 20 hours, in morning sessions. Afternoons are free, but additional visits will be organized and homework assignments will be suggested.


See a video  here and here  


Icon Painting Workshop This course is a survey of traditional art studio techniques as practiced in Central Italy and Europe during the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. The goal is to learn the various processes and materials, and to create an artwork typical of the period between 900 and 1400 BCE. We will use the artists’ botteghe in Italy as a model, and focus on art-making as a multimedia collective workshop. As well as a survey of the period and styles, the course will cover techniques such drawing, painting in egg tempera, supports, and pigments typical of the period. Students will be guided through the steps in preparing a finished piece. We will focus on Icon painting in egg tempera.The course is well suited to students of different levels and backgrounds who wish to gain a greater understanding of the history of art-making



Food Painting Workshop Through traditional painting techniques and materials, this course explores the history of food representation using the bountiful local produce and cuisine of Rome as subject. This is a studio class concentrating on the ancient techniques of watercolor and egg tempera, where students paint with organic “food” materials to understand the nature of fresh and elaborate seasonal edibles. We will address issues of color, texture, temperature, and of course taste and smell, and how these elements contribute to making a compelling painting. We will look at the genre of food painting throughout history and discuss intention and representation in various media. Using common materials, the course will function as an itinerant investigation in found organic media throughout markets, and include studio lessons to discuss still life painting. We will cover traditional materials such as eggs, fish and animal glues, clay, organic (animal and vegetable) dyes and found pigments and their use in the history of painting. We will study the specific genre through Italian painting from the Roman period through medieval, renaissance, and modern artwork and its different expressions in religious and secular art. This is a painting course with lessons in the classroom, in markets, museums, kitchens, and restaurants.



Primitive Photography Workshop This course is a studio course focusing on ancient and modern image-making with particular attention to pinhole photography. The purpose of the course is to provide students with a background in photography in general and in the relationship between image technologies through the centuries. Through exercises and experiments, students will acquire competence with traditional black and white photo techniques, from making their own cameras to developing and making prints in the dark room. The first photographs emerge in the middle of the 19th century, but pinhole technology dates back a few thousand years. The knowledge of light being compressed, inverted, and projected goes as far back as the 5th century BCE. Pinhole imaging has been used widely in art and science since the 13th century and  throughout the Renaissance until the first photographic images were printed around 1850. This course focuses on the earliest techniques of image-making, bringing them in touch with the most recent technologies. Students will build their own cameras and use them as a vehicle across the history of photography.  We will cover exposure in terms of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO; developing and printing various supports (film and paper);  the progress of photographic technology through the decades; and aesthetic issues in photography and in art in general.  Starting with the most basic principle of light, students of this course will learn to capture, record, manipulate, convert, share and understand the process of making meaningful images.


The retreat. Besides the courses, participants will have time to relax, study, sketch, photograph, and visit sites and towns near and far on their own. The program includes room and full board (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and use of all convent facilities, such as common living areas, gardens, private church, courtyard, vineyard and olive groves. We can organize cooking classes and wine and oil tasting classes on the premises according to interest. Group visits or field trip will also be organized accordingly. Locations may change according to project.