Paper Paintings Italy Retreat with Elizabeth St. Hilaire

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  • you stopped telling yourself “no”?
  • you stopped saying “one of these days”?
  • you decided to do something extraordinary and creative? Just because.

Elizabeth St. Hilaire’s annual Paper Paintings Italy Retreat is all about turning your “what ifs” into “wows”, as you propel your creativity and skills forward – right up to the stratosphere!

Elizabeth’s extraordinary collage retreat sells out every year – primarily through word-of-mouth from students who’ve attended over the years – and is her most comprehensive and in-depth workshop to date. That’s because it’s the ideal combination of personalized art instruction and spectacular inspiration. After all – this is Italy!

Open to students of all artistic levels, each day of the Paper Paintings Italy Retreat brings a new collage or paper-painting lesson with Elizabeth in the stunning setting of a private, Italian villa. Although some painting experience is helpful, it is definitely not necessary.


  • create a stunning, Italy-inspired underpainting
  • hand paint, stain, stamp and pattern your own papers (sooo fun!)
  • use hand-painted and found papers that infuse your project with your own personal style 
  • develop imagery and form so that your collage has depth and interest
  • incorporate essential light and shadow into your paper painting
  • master directional ripping (Elizabeth’s signature technique) so that your project has a painterly look
  • use Elizabeth’s “paper mosaic” technique to add interest to your project
  • varnish and display your paper paintings
  • post your artwork on social media


Elizabeth really knows how to kick things up a notch. Her annual Paper Paintings Italy Retreat gets better and better each year, and 2019 is going to be out of this world! She’s added BRAND NEW hands-on activities, special extras and extraordinary bonuses to enhance your experience on this retreat, including…

  • NEW ⭐ Private, 17th century villa accommodations (reserved exclusively for the Paper Paintings Italy Retreat!)
  • NEW ⭐ Limited spaces for a more intimate, personalized experience (max. 12 students)
  • NEW ⭐ In-house art studio (with 24 hour access)
  • NEW ⭐ Advanced collage techniques, including her “paper mosaic” technique
  • NEW ⭐ Visit and tour of Organic Flower Farm (includes picnic lunch under the grape arbor!)
  • NEW ⭐ Free-flow flower arrangement class (take away your own arrangement!)
  • NEW ⭐ Collage instruction with Elizabeth of “live” flower arrangement
  • NEW ⭐ Marbled paper mini-workshop with paper expert, Lamberto (design your own sheet of marbled paper!)
  • NEW ⭐ Saffron paper painting with Alessandro (plus a saffron tasting!)
  • NEW ⭐ Private Facebook group for sharing and learning
  • NEW  Morning vineyard walks (optional)
  • NEW  Italian crostata-making lesson with Paola
  • NEW  Olive oil tasting
  • NEW  Bruschetta-making lesson (delicious!)
  • NEW  Wine tasting and pairings lesson with local sommelier
  • NEW ⭐ Gallery show finale and aperitivo 



The Paper Paintings Italy Retreat is more than just a collage workshop. It’s a week of fellowship, camaraderie and fun beyond your wildest dreams – all situated in the gorgeous Italian countryside. In addition to carefully crafted, daily lessons with Elizabeth St. Hilaire, you’ll enjoy excursions to picturesque, medieval hill towns and private visits with hand-selected Italian artisans that are nothing less than extraordinary.

And your accommodations? Well, once you get settled into your room at 17th century Villa Poggio alla Trese you won’t ever want to leave. Think swimming pool, wine cantina and chef-prepared meals that will leave you speechless. Plus Elizabeth has reserved the entire villa exclusively for her group. You’ll be saying, “Pinch me. I must be dreaming.”


DAY 1: Arrival

  • Tour of Villa Poggio alla Trese, retreat orientation, under-painting, aperitivo hour, special welcome dinner
  • Dinner

Benvenuti in Italia! Upon arrival at Florence Peretola Airport, sit back and relax as you are transported by private Mercedes Benz van service to the Italian countryside and Poggio alla Trese, your 17th century villa accommodations near the Tuscan town of Chiusi. After check-in you’ll have the opportunity to explore your surroundings and studio space before taking part in an orientation and paper paintings lesson with Elizabeth where you’ll get a preview of retreat, as well as an introduction to Elizabeth’s unique approach to collage. Afterwards it’s time for aperitif hour together before enjoying a delicious, regional-style dinner prepared by our own Chef Doriana.

DAY 2: Montepulciano 

  • Visit to organic flower farm, flower arranging class, take-away flower arrangement, studio instruction
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning after a delicious breakfast at the villa, you’ll head off with Elizabeth to a romantic, organic flower farm in the heart of Tuscany’s wine country. Sisters, Mara, Laura and Teresa will give you a personal tour of their incredible farm (where they grow more than 500 varieties of flowers!), followed by a hands-on, free-form flower arranging class. Afterwards you’ll enjoy a picnic lunch under the grape arbor as you soak in the atmosphere of this authentic, family-run farm. In afternoon it’s back to the villa with Elizabeth – and your flower arrangement – where you’ll being the beautiful process of creating your collage from a living subject. After apertivo hour together with the group, you’ll enjoy a chef-prepared Tuscan-style dinner. 

DAY 3: Poggio alla Trese

  • Collage class, paper painting techniques, vineyard walk and wine tasting
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Breakfast this morning includes organic yogurt, freshly baked pasties, cheese, eggs, fruits, cereals, juices – plus made-to-order cappuccino, caffè or tea. Then get ready for an fun-filled, inspiring day! You’ll be heading to the onsite studio with Elizabeth to learn a plethora of methods for painting paper, from stamps to rollers to stencils – and so much more. You’ll also learn Elizabeth’s expert techniques for developing imagery and form. After lunch at the villa, you’ll continue painting papers, while preparing to begin your special Italy-inspired paper painting project. In late afternoon it’s time for a break – and perhaps a dip in the pool – before enjoying a guided walk through the estate’s vineyard, followed by a private wine tastings with sommelier, Paola. This evening you’ll enjoy a delectable chef-prepared meal under the Tuscan stars.

DAY 4: Orvieto

  • Side trip to Orvieto, private mini-workshop with paper artisan, marbled paper, on your own shopping, studio instruction
  • Breakfast and dinner

This morning, after an abundant breakfast, you’ll be heading to gorgeous Orvieto, a medieval hill town layered in 3,000 years of history. First stop is the historic center of town where you’ll find one of Italy’s most beautiful cathedrals, followed by a very special visit with our friend, Lamberto, an antique book expert and marbled-paper artisan. Here you’ll enjoy a fascinating demonstration and lesson all about paper – plus you’ll be able to try your hand at creating marbled paper designs. So fun! Afterwards you’ll have some time for shopping and exploring (Orvieto is famous for its hand-painted ceramics and fine lace), as well as lunch on your own at one of the town’s charming restaurants. Then it’s back to the villa for some extensive class time and paper paintings instruction with Elizabeth. In evening you’ll enjoy aperitivo hour and another fabulous dinner together.

DAY 5: Città della Pieve, Chiusi

  • Collage instruction, saffron paper painting and saffron tasting, village walking tour, Chiusi archeological museum, pizza night
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning after a delicious breakfast at the villa, Elizabeth will be sharing more of her sought-after techniques and best-kept secrets for creating a floral collage that looks like a painting. Elizabeth’s signature approach to collage is renowned! After a light lunch at the villa, it’s off to nearby Città della Pieve for a fascinating visit at our friend, Alessandro’s, saffron shop, where you’ll learn about cultivating saffron and painting with saffron (yes, painting!). Plus you’ll have fun painting your own paper using “watercolor” made from the local saffron. After some time your own to explore the charming, medieval avenues of the town, it’s off to enjoy dinner at our friend, Pinos’s, charming pizzeria (one of Elizabeth’s favorite spots) – so fun!

DAY 6: Poggio alle Trese

  • Guided instruction with Elizabeth, crostata-making lesson with Paola, gallery finale with Elizabeth
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

This morning, after breakfast, you’ll be heading to the art studio for instruction and one-on-one assistance from Elizabeth with your project, as you rip and glue your way to project completion. Then it’s time for a break and a fun-filled crostata-making lesson with our friend, Paola. Lunch will be served up at the villa, and in afternoon you’ll head back to the studio with Elizabeth to continue working on your project. In evening you’ll enjoy a celebratory gallery “show” and aperitivo followed by a delectable farewell dinner prepared by Chef Doriana. 

DAY 7: Departure

Our drivers will be transporting you this morning to Florence Peretola Airport.


  • Paper Paintings Retreat with Elizabeth St. Hilaire
  • Dates:
    • SOLD OUT September 1-7, 2019
    • SOLD OUT September 22-28, 2019
  • 7 Days/6 Nights
  • Trip Price (choose your room configuration upon booking):
    • $3,495 per person – single occupancy room with ensuite bathroom
    • $3,395 per person – single occupancy room with shared bathroom (no more than 2 people per bathroom)
    • Non-participant Companion: $2,895 (Upon booking, please indicate that you will be traveling with a non-participating companion and we’ll send you a separate payment link.)

A $500 deposit is required to book your space on this trip.



Your accommodation for the Paper Paintings Retreat with Elizabeth St. Hilaire is beautiful Poggio alle Trese, a 17th century villa, nestled along the border of Tuscany and Umbria, near the town of Chiusi (Tuscany). The villa boasts an ample studio space (available 24/7), sweeping terraces for dining or lounging, swimming pool and elegant breakfast/dining hall. Sleeping rooms are furnished with family antiques are offer either an ensuite bathroom or shared bathroom (max 2 guests per bathroom). Rooms options are made available upon booking. View photos of Villa Poggio alle Trese here. 

INCLUSIONS Paper Paintings Retreat with Elizabeth St. Hilaire

  • 7 days/6 nights at elegant Villa Poggio alla Trese, situated in the picturesque countryside near the charming Tuscan hill town of Chiusi.
  • Group transportation by private Mercedes Benz van service to/from Florence Peretola Airport on arrival and departure dates. Please note that although group transportation is only provided to/from the airport Florence, some of our guests choose to extend their stay in Italy before and/or after the retreat. After you’ve registered, we’re happy to provide contact information for our favorite hotels in Florence, Rome and Venice – as well as a link to book train tickets.
  • Private Mercedes Benz van service to/from all cities, towns and sites included in the itinerary
  • All abundant breakfasts, featuring fresh-baked Tuscan pastries, organic sheeps’ milk yogurt, local cheeses, seasonal fruits, organic cereal, fresh eggs and cold cuts plus Italian caffè, cappuccino and herbal teas.
  • 4 lunches  
  • All regionally inspired dinners with local wines 
  • Accommodations for special dietary requirements, including gluten free, dairy free, Paleo and Vegan
  • Elizabeth St. Hilaire’s in-depth lessons, demonstrations, presentations and one-to-one instruction, including
    • Introduction to Elizabeth’s unique and renowned collage process
    • How to create a high quality drawing and Italy-inspired under-painting
    • A multitude of paper painting techniques, including stamping, rolling, pressing, imprinting, overlapping and much, much more 
    • Step-by-step instruction on painting papers for variety and interest
    • Numerous ripping and tearing techniques to create a “painterly” effect (a must-know for Elizabeth’s collage process!)
    • How to choose and glue papers to achieve the right shading, tonality and depth in your project
    • Personalized, one-to-one instruction with Elizabeth to help you achieve the very best results with your own unique project
    • advanced collage techniques, including Elizabeth’s “paper mosaic” technique
  • Fluid acrylic paints in a variety of colors and acrylic collage adhesive
  • Canvas panels
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper history mini-workshop
  • Hands-on lesson on making marbled paper
  • Saffron “water color” painting and saffron tasting
  • Visit to organic flower farm 
  • Hands-on flower arrangement class
  • Private wine tasting with local sommelier
  • Italian crostata-making lesson 
  • Bruschetta-making mini-lesson
  • Time on your own for shopping and exploring
  • Evening aperitivo hour for chatting, sharing and relaxing
  • Free wifi 

Not included: PAPER! (Elizabeth prefers that you bring your own personal papers), airfare, meals, alcoholic drinks, buses, trains or boat transportation outside of that which is specifically listed in the trip package, gratuities for villa staff and drivers

The Unexpected is Part of the Journey: At Strada Toscana we weave amazing, authentic experiences into every trip, but sometimes unexpected things come up. If a site has an unscheduled closing, we improvise to include something equally as wonderful and interesting. The quality of the retreat is never at risk, as our team is committed to excellence, along with our vast, local, Italian connections.


Elizabeth’s love of collage started with a scrap box of mementos from her childhood. She decided to incorporate these memorable papers, notes and snippets of her family’s past into something both memorable and beautiful. Thus was born a representational collage “painting.” This piece, Looking in on Jane (a portrait of her mother), won Best of Show at Orlando Visual Artists League in 2005, and for a second time at the Women’s Caucus for Arts’ Matriarchs and Madonnas exhibit in 2007. The success of this piece plunged Elizabeth head-first into her love affair with collage. Her inspiring work has earned her a Signature Member status with the National Collage Society, a solo exhibit at the Maitland Museum of Art and can be viewed in numerous galleries across the US. You’ll also find Elizabeth’s paper paintings reproduced on everything from prints to comforters in stores such at Kohls and Pier One.

Her technique has evolved as a result of experimentation with hand-painted, hand-made, and a wide variety of textured and patterned papers, focusing on intense and vibrant colors combined with a sensibility of design. “My collages invite the viewer to look, and having looked, to linger,” says Elizabeth. “Layering and weaving, pushing and pulling the colors, patterns, and values makes collage liken to music. I go back and forth, alternating and overlapping until the rhythm creates something I love.”

BJ Gallanger, in her article for the HUFFINGTON POST, wrote this about Elizabeth:
“Once in a great while, an artist comes along whose work is so distinctive, so unusual, so imaginative, and so colorful that it stands out from the crowd, much like a peacock stands out in a colony of penguins. Elizabeth St. Hilaire is such an artist.”

Learn more about Elizabeth St. Hilaire by visiting her website

Paper Paintings Italy Retreat with Elizabeth St. Hilaire

  • SOLD OUT September 1-7, 2019 
  • SOLD OUT September 22-28, 2019 
  • 7 Days/6 Nights
  • Trip Price (choose your room configuration upon booking):
    • $3,495 per person – single occupancy room with ensuite bathroom
    • $3,395 per person – single occupancy room with shared bathroom (no more than 2 people per bathroom)
    • Non-participant Companion: $2,895 (Upon booking, please indicate that you will be traveling with a non-participating companion and we’ll send you a separate payment link.)

A $500 deposit is required to book your space on this trip.

Have questions? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions Page