Writing Retreat in Italy with Sarah Bullen & Kate Emmerson

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Writing Retreat in Tuscany with Kate Emmerson & Sarah Bullen

August 26 – September 2, 2023

Imagine This…

Warm sun on your shoulders, filtered through the branches of an ancient oak tree. A pencil and paper in hand and your eyes dancing across the scene before you: a sweeping vineyard, silvery olive groves and the rolling hills of Tuscany reaching out to infinity – dotted with villages, towers and castles.

Pinch yourself.

Here you are in Italy, immersing yourself in the opportunity to be mentored by Kate Emmerson and Sarah Bullen, as you experience an unforgettable writing journey to get your book or writing project, on track. Together, with Kate and Sarah, you’ll travel the journey of memory, dive deep into the craft of writing, have heaps of fun, enjoy unforgettable experiences in Italy and join a supportive community of fellow writers.

Maybe it’s the light, Maybe it’s the fresh air. Or maybe it’s the contagious enthusiasm of your expert teachers, but the inspiration here is practically palpable. You can feel it in the atmosphere and all around you, turning the act of writing into an unforgettable, even spiritual, event.

Savor this moment. Cherish it ….Write. Create. Experience … Aren’t you glad you came?

Photos courtesy Ayla Tolosa Kline

Meet Sarah and Kate … Your Hosts & Teachers

Writing coach and literary agent Sarah Bullen and multi-published author Kate Emmerson have been working with writers to share their stories and get published. They run international writing retreats, online mentorships, publishing bootcamps and courses for writers at all levels of their writing journey – from beginners to multi-published authors, spanning novelists to poets, memoir to non-fiction. Their retreats have been reviewed as one of the ‘Top Writing Retreats to Attend’ by Susan Shain and are featured on the Queen of Retreats.

Sarah frames and unpacks your writing (technical, structural and content) while Kate looks after your heart ’n soul (life coaching, letting go, unlocking creativity, overcoming blocks). It’s a rare thing to experience this powerful combination of support in one magical retreat.

In the words of one of their reviewers, “Sharing this time with them is truly a holiday and retreat of a lifetime and a perfect way to immerse yourself in your writing project and shift your life.”

Sarah Bullen has worked with authors and publishers for over 17 years as an international writing coach and literary agent. Sarah has written six books including ‘Hey Baby: The Hip New Mom’s Guide’ and ‘Romance 101, Can your Relationship Survive your Kids?’ published by Penguin Random House Struik, two children’s book and a romance. She is a professional ghostwriter and writes four books a year under commission – mostly non-fiction. She has also contributed to numerous anthologies and collections. She was the former personal finance editor at the Mail & Guardian, radio news editor at Business Day radio and had a 10 year career as a magazine publisher and editor. She teaches personal narrative fiction at MA level. Sarah is a frequent guest on talk shows and literary festivals and a contributor to magazines internationally.

Sarah joined High Spot Literary in 2019 where she represents authors of non-fiction, commercial fiction (with a special interest in Romance, Crime, Middle Grade Fiction and Young Adult/ New Adult). She also represents celebrity or breathtaking memoirs.

Kate Emmerson, The Quick Shift Deva has been coaching for 16 years and doing transformational work since her mid 20s. She supports clients to stop playing small and mucking about by creating a life they love by following steps to STEP IN, STEP UP and STEP OUT. Her motto is LIVE LIGHT, LIVE LARGE and she offers her enLIGHTening ideas globally, as a best selling author and international speaker. She shares her obsession with productivity, leveraging and de-cluttering through online coaching, unique mastermind groups for entrepreneurs, business decision makers & CEO’s, as well as travelling globally for speaking engagements and working internationally with the YPO. She has published three books and created 10 online coaching courses.

Kate was hand picked to star in an award winning USA movie, alongside the world top self development leaders (Don Miguel Ruiz, John Assaraf, Brian Tracy), in “The Secrets of the Keys”. She has taken her life and message to the next level with THE MINIMALIST MANIFESTO by living location-free since 2016. She is regularly called on for her expert opinion on TV, radio and in magazines.

Now Add Italy

This ancient land with its characteristic landscapes and incredible light will envelope you, as it has countless creatives before you, including some of the greatest writers the world has ever known, like Renaissance master, Dante. In fact, the energy – and spectacular land – of these master writers continues to inspire countless authors today.

So take a deep breath and soak up your stunning surroundings: an irresistible medieval village just outside your door, surrounded by the rolling hills of Tuscany.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN on this 8 day/7 Night Immersion into the Craft of Writing

This retreat is a powerful combination of group writing sessions on the craft of writing and how to advance your writing, with one-on-one personal feedback and coaching sessions.

  • What is your story? Let’s find it together
  • Why are you writing this book?
  • Finding your audience and speaking to your reader
  • The basics of planning a compelling story
  • The key elements of narrative structure
  • Finding your story hook, genre and message
  • Crafting characters
  • Handling different narrative points of view
  • Working with dialogue
  • Knowing what to include and exclude
  • Adding depth and layers, tone and voice
  • Using interviews to advance your characterization
  • Working through personal and creative blocks
  • Learn how to plot a book
  • Researching and remembering your life (memoir)
  • The power of letting go to reconnect with your creative self
  • Understanding the journey of an author from dream to publication



This is a structured writing workshop for writers of all levels who want to tell their story or write their book. The course is a daily combination of technical writing techniques, working through your blocks, finding ways to access your memories and plan your story. This is ideal if you are writing a novel, memoir, biography, non-fiction, e-course and you need to understand how to structure a publishable book.

Photos courtesy Ayla Tolosa Kline


Day 1 – Saturday, August 26: Arrival

  • Dinner

From Florence Peretola Airport you’ll journey to your welcoming accommodations in the heart of Tuscany. After a warm welcome and check in, we’ll gather together to get acquainted with one another, before a retreat orientation and writing introduction with Sarah and Kate. Then it’s time for a friendly aperitivo, followed by a delectable welcome dinner where we set our writing intentions for our time together. 

Day 2 – Sunday, August 27: San Casciano dei Bagni 

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Every morning we enjoy quiet writing time, then we gather together for a structured writing class. Today we will split you into novels and non-fiction writers as we cover the basics of plot and narrative structure for each genre. After lunch at our friend, Daniela’s, chic restaurant, you’ll enjoy quiet and focused writing time.

Then, later in the afternoon, you’ll gather with your fellow writers for a session with Kate and Sarah, along with focused writing and feedback. Afterwards you might enjoy a walk to explore the village and take in the spectacular views of the valley below. This evening you’ll enjoy aperitivo and dinner served up at Daniela’s.

Day 3 – Monday, August 28: San Casciano dei Bagni

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning we once again enjoy breakfast and quiet writing time before gathering together for another content-packed writing class with Sarah and Kate. Today you’ll look at characters in your book, along with how to structure your plot and word building. You’ll also have the opportunity for a one-on-one session for specific advice on your writing.

This afternoon we meet up with a local archeologist for an incredible visit to a recently discovered Roman Sanctuary, situated at the base of the village. Since its discovery, this stunning site continues to reveal its hidden treasures almost daily, and you’re in for a treat as you get an up-close, insider look at this live archeological dig. This evening we’ll enjoy aperitivo and dinner at Daniela’s.

Day 4 – Tuesday, August 29: Città della Pieve

  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

This morning we once again enjoy breakfast and quiet writing time. Then it’s off to the nearby village of Città della Pieve for a fascinating walking tour of this historic, medieval town. Afterwards you’ll enjoy time on your own to explore and shop before we gather together at our friend, Cristian’s restaurant for an oh-so-fun pasta making lesson. Lunch follows, featuring your own hand made pasta.

This afternoon, back in San Casciano, you’ll gather for focused writing time with Sarah and Kate. This evening you’ll enjoy a light aperi-cena (aperitivo and dinner together).

Day 5 – Wednesday August 30: San Casciano dei Bagni

  • Breakfast, dinner

As usual, our morning begins with quiet writing time, followed by a focused writing session with Kate and Sarah, before heading to luxurious Fonteverde Resort and Spa to enjoy soaking in the hot, mineral pools. After enjoying the restorative waters, and perhaps booking a treatment on your own, you can take lunch on your own in the Spa’s poolside cafe at your leisure.

After lunch, you’ll have time to rest and relax for before joining Kate and Sarah for a group session. This evening we gather together to share our day’s writing over a friendly aperitivo – with some poetry – followed by pizza at our friends’ local pizzeria.

Day 6 – Thursday, August 31: Montepulciano

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

The morning we enjoy a quiet writing time before gathering together for a session, during which Kate will help you take a soulful look at your life and journey. Lunch today will be served up at Daniela’s.

Then, in the afternoon, our private drivers will transport you to the, picturesque Renaissance town of Montepulciano. We’ll begin our visit in regal Piazza Grande, and then walk in the footsteps of the great Medici family, as you explore – and shop – your way along the palazzo-lined alleyways of this regal, walled village. Then we’ll meet up to continue to our friend, Susanna’s, 15th century wine cantina for a private wine tasting and light dinner.

Day 7 – Friday, September 1: San Casciano dei Bagni

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning, after breakfast and your quiet writing time, you’ll be joining Sarah for our final writing session where we do more advanced plotting, different scenes all books need and the cast of your book. Today is a writing push.

After lunch – served up at Daniela’s – your writing continues, as you finalize your writing project! This evening we share our writing journey and our goals going forward. We talk about how to take the next steps, including the publishing journey and becoming an author brand.

Then it’s time for a special celebratory dinner where you’ll share writing, poetry and life together.

Day 8 – Saturday, September 2: Departure  

Early morning departure to Florence Peretola Airport.

Tuscany Writing Retreat with Kate and Sarah Includes:

  • 7 nights’ stay at Sette Querce Boutique Hotel, San Casciano dei Bagni, Tuscany, Italy
  • Private group transfer to/from Florence Peretola Airport
  • Private transport service to/from all excursions included in the itinerary
  • All breakfasts
  • 5 lunches
  • All dinners featuring traditional dishes, along with locally grown produce, wine and olive oil
  • Daily group and individual writing lessons with Kate and Sarah
  • Evening aperitivo hour for connecting and reflecting on the day’s events with fellow students

Not included:  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.


Accommodations are Boutique Hotel Sette Querce, nestled on the edge of the adorable medieval village of San Casciano dei Bagni. Here you’ll find colorful, spacious suites, complete with cozy sitting areas, kitchenettes and private entrances. Breakfasts are served ensuite, and other meals are taken just a 1-2 minute walk away at chic restaurant, Daniela, situated in the main piazza of the village.

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DATES & PRICES: 8 Days/7 Nights

  • August 26 – September 2, 2023
  • Arrival and departure airport: Florence Peretola Airport
  • Trip Price:
    • Single Occupancy Suite: $5,590 USD per person
    • Double Occupancy Suite: $4,790 USD per person
  • View our Terms and Cancellation Policy


REVIEWS from Kate and Sarah’s Happy Students

“This retreat topped all of my expectations. Sarah and Kate gracefully operate between professionalism, deep connection with the land and creativity, and a load of fun. I felt I was given practical tools to write while also given a beautiful space to meet my muse. It was a magical seven days in Tuscany I will carry with me forever. I will tell you what my husband said when I was contemplating the trip. “Just go!” You won’t regret it.” ~ Ayla TK, Israel

“I did the Italy retreat and it changed my life. There were so many incredible moments that inspired my writing and enlightened my soul. I HIGHLY recommend this retreat. Kate and Sarah are amazing and thoughtful in everything they do. I plan to go to another one of their retreats soon!” ~ Michelle, USA

“This is my second workshop with Sarah and Kate, I never could have written my book without them. They have found the formula to help you get motivated, structure your material, and take your project to completion. And they are also a lot of fun!” ~ Beverley Pimsleur, New York

“Recalibrated and Rejuvenated in Tuscany. This was something that took three years to manifest and was worth the wait in every way! Our group of ladies were empowered and encouraged, spoilt and embraced as we were guided by phenomenal hosts, Kate and Sarah. Definitely a highly recommended retreat for anyone who wants to find the courage to tell their story.” ~ Debbie Botha, South Africa

“This retreat was exactly what I needed to find my writing voice and get going on my book. Sarah gave me clarity on structure and content. Kate gave me clarity on my dreams being attainable. What more would any retreat attendee want? The setting was exquisite. The staff warm, friendly and personable. The region rich and delicious. There is no better place to launch my new journey with my book and life.” ~ Julia Halpin, USA

“This is the second retreat I have attended, Kate and Sarah deliver a rare combination of internal enlightenment and practical skills, that bring out the best in any would be writer.” ~ Jane Bond, Thailand

“Kate and Sarah are fantastic writing coaches! This retreat provided the opportunity to take our writing to the next level regardless of whether we were at the beginning or in the final stages of writing our book! I enjoyed how each activity, e.g., winery, shopping, pasta making came with a history lesson.” ~ Rita Cameron Wedding, USA

“If you are interested in learning how to write your book in a gorgeous setting, this is the place to go. Any retreat that includes Sarah and Kate will be amazing, full of useful information, lots of encouragement, and always heart and soul. I learned so much, I can’t wait to work on my project. I was previously feeling stuck. Now I feel inspired and have direction.” ~ Becky Strom, USA