Writing Retreat in Italy with Sarah Bullen & Kate Emmerson

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Writing Retreat in Tuscany with Kate Emmerson & Sarah Bullen

June 25 – July 2, 2022


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?

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: the rolling hills of Tuscany, the sweeping vineyard outside your window and the winding, cypress-lined lane that meanders past your private villa.

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.

MORE WHYS (Did we mention this is Italy?)


  • 17th century villa
  • morning cappuccino under a rose-covered pergola
  • fresh-baked torta
  • strolls through the vineyard
  • winding alleyways in medieval villages
  • vines laden with ripe, red grapes
  • pizza night
  • wine and cheese tastings
  • geraniums spilling from window boxes
  • dinners under the Tuscan stars
  • Click to view your private villa accommodations


Day 1 – June 25: Arrival

  • Welcome and trip orientation Villa Poggio alle Trese, aperitivo, welcome dinner
  • Dinner

AFTERNOON: From Rome Fiumicino Airport you’ll journey through the rolling hills of Tuscany and Umbria to your elegant villa accommodations, Poggio alla Trese, nestled along the border between the two regions. After a warm Tuscan welcome and check in, take some time to get acquainted with your fellow writing enthusiasts before a retreat orientation and writing introduction with Sarah and Kate. Then it’s time for a friendly aperitivo hour, followed by a delectable welcome dinner where we set our writing intentions for our time together. 

Day 2 – June 26: at Villa

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Every morning we enjoy quiet writing time. Savor a delicious breakfast at the villa that includes homemade pastries, organic yogurt, seasonal fruits, eggs, cheeses, cold cuts, as well as teas, juices and Italian coffee. We gather late morning 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 here at the villa, you’ll enjoy some quiet and focused writing time.

In the early evening, we will gather to share our day’s writing over a friendly aperitivo followed by a delectable chef-prepared dinner with some poetry.

Day 3 – June 27: at Villa

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning we once again enjoy quiet writing time. You might also take an early morning walk along the nearby countryside lane, before enjoying an abundant breakfast in the charming breakfast room at the villa. In the late morning you’ll gather 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.

After a light lunch at the villa, you’ll continue your writing with the opportunity for a one-on-one session with Kate and Sarah for specific advice on your writing. Then later, get ready to don an apron for an optional oh-so-fun pasta-making lesson! You’ll not only learn the art of making hand-made pasta, but also how to pair pasta with just the right sauce. What fun!

This evening, with Kate, you’ll take a soulful look at your life and journey. After our usual aperitivo you’ll enjoy dinner featuring (you guessed it!) your hand-made pasta! Buon appetito!

Day 4 – June 28: Montepulciano

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

The morning we enjoy quiet writing time. Then, after a lovely breakfast at the villa, it’s off to the land of Tuscan vineyards and the beautiful hill town of Montepulciano where you’ll begin your visit in regal Piazza Grande. Here you’ll walk in the footsteps of the great Medici family, as you explore – and shop – your way along the palazzo-lined alleyways of this picturesque, walled village.

Then it’s time to meet up at our friends’ fabulous 15th century wine cantina, nestled beneath a historic palazzo, where you’ll enjoy a wine tasting, along with a light lunch.

In the afternoon, you’ll return to the villa with Kate and Sarah for a focused writing session and feedback, followed by evening aperitivo and dinner in the villa’s dining hall.

Day 5 – June 29: at Villa

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning we enjoy quiet writing time. Then, after breakfast, you’ll be joining Sarah to learn about dialogue, tone of voice and finding a theme for your story.

After lunch your writing continues, and in late afternoon you’ll join Kate, along with delightful Paola, for a mindful walk through the estate’s olive grove, where you’ll get to know the process of making olive oil, followed by a fascinating olive oil tasting session! Then it’s off to the bruschetteria, where you’ll learn the way Italians really make delicious bruschetta (over wood coals!), as you enjoy a fireside aperitivo.

This evening’s dinner will feature a mixed grill and classic, Tuscan side dishes. Over dinner, Kate will help you unpack the common writing blocks that arise in the journey of a writer.

Day 6 – June 30: Castiglione del Lago

  • Breakfast and dinner

As usual, our morning begins with quiet writing time. Then, after another delicious breakfast, it’s off to the medieval hill town of Castiglione, perched on the edge of beautiful, Lago Trasimeno. Here you’ll explore and shop your way along the picturesque avenues, where you’ll find shops selling location specialties, from salamis to olive oil to lentils. You might also want to pay a visit to the town’s castle and fortress (highly recommended) with its intact ramparts and stunning views of the lake.

Lunch is on your own in any of the town’s fabulous trattorie, before returning to the villa for a focused afternoon writing session with Kate and Sarah.

In the evening, you’ll enjoy a friendly apertivo, followed by pizza and a magical storytelling night.

Day 7 – July 1: at Villa 

  • 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 the villa – your writing continues, as you finalize your writing project! In late afternoon, you’ll join Kate and Paola for a purposeful walk along the nearby vineyard, followed by a special apertivo and wine-food pairings lesson.

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 prepared by chef Lorenza where you’ll share writing, poetry and life together.

Day 8 – July 2: Departure  

This morning our drivers will be transporting you to Rome Fiumicino Airport.


Accommodations are elegant 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 of same gender per bathroom). Rooms options are made available upon booking.

VIEW Photo Gallery

Tuscany Writing Retreat with Kate and Sarah Includes:

  • 7 nights’ stay at Villa Poggio alla Trese, located near Chiusi, Tuscany, Italy
  • Private group transfer to/from Rome Fiumicino Airport
  • Private transport service to/from all side trip locations included in the itinerary
  • All abundant breakfasts
  • All but one lunch
  • All delectable dinners featuring traditional dishes from the regions of Tuscany and Umbria, locally grown, organic produce and wine and olive oil from the villa’s estate
  • 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
  • Daily, onsite support and accompaniment by Strada Toscana

REVIEWS from Kate and Sarah’s Happy Students

“…I was supported and held by the professional and talented partnership that is Sarah and Kate. They are an extraordinary team with heart, backbone and intellect and lots of experience with publishing. If you are considering a writing retreat don’t think twice! Do it.”
~ Gabi Lowe, author Get Me to 21

“The course structure finally let me realize my book can be achieved with structure and the framework Sarah worked out with me. It taught me how to get from idea to a book.” ~ Julian Cowburn

“I have so much clarity and belief in myself. It was just a magical experience in a tiny village with writing support and clear direction and feedback. I made friends for life.” ~ Di Atherton

“This was mind-blowing. I was overwhelmed by the amazing people, the teachers, the food, the swimming, the guest speakers, the support and love. It allowed me to see my life in a new perspective. The time was very well structured and we were pushed to write and develop our books with guidance.”  ~ Grace

“The venue was magnificent and the facilitators world-class. This was more than a retreat it was a nurturing, relaxed and supportive writing journey that will take you out of your head and into your book.” ~ Ana Forsmann

“If you want to write, you definitely can’t go wrong with Kate and Sarah. I was so happy there was clear course content and it took us down the path of planning and writing. Finally I am getting out of my head and writing my book.” ~ Patricia Harper

“What a marvellous group of women to spend a creative week with …Sometime’s being the only bloke is a lucky advantage. The openness, the impulsive hilarity, the quirky direction all conversations flowed into… made for a memorable experience. The novel writing workshop was helmed by Sarah Bullen – a master class of structure, plot, content, hooks… and a spinal tap into imagination and spontaneous crafting. Kate Emmerson drove the ship with the very lightness of ‘being’ – a carefully crafted schedule designed to remind ourselves of who we are, what we’re capable of… and what a gift it is, to be able to ‘be.’ Soul work and clattering keyboards – a glorious combination.” ~ Nick Lorenz

“The Writing Retreat, run by Kate Emmerson and Sarah Bullen, was one of those very special and life changing events in my life. It was exceptionally inspiring. This retreat not only taught me the facts and structure of writing a book but it also gave me the encouragement, motivation and belief in my self to do it. Kate and Sarah were awesome hosts. Sarah, who shared her talent and writing experience with us and Kate who was so inspiring and motivating, were the perfect combination of talented people to provide learning and guidance, not only to write but to deal with general life challenges.I would recommend this retreat to anyone looking for inspiration in their lives to write a memoir and to find the motivation to want to achieve everything they have wanted to in life.”  ~ Venetia Howes

“Everything worked – I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you for treating us as individuals so that we could each go through our own journeys at our own paces.”  ~ Anne Wanless

“It was good to be away from home in a new setting. There’s something about a foreign country that makes you push your own boundaries + step out of your comfort zone, and do things you otherwise wouldn’t. Learnt a lot even though this is my second book.” ~ Jennifer Cole


I know have a much clearer idea of what I need to do to write a book that will be considered by publishers. Sarah’s approach is reasonable and practical. Kate’s sessions allowed me to stay in touch with my heart. Free time and day trips created an enjoyable balance between working hard and loving the journey.” ~ Tracy Gibbs

“If a restorative time in an idyllic location is what’s needed, go! If you’re intrigued about writing a story, the special combination of Kate and Sarah as experts and facilitators will more than adequately reveal the multiple facets of this personal process.” ~ Lynne Loggie

“I would certainly recommend it. It is indeed a RETREAT, more than a writing workshop: a life-enriching experience.” ~ Nick Lambrianos

“One size does not fit all, but they catered for the most diverse needs and requirements. The skill and empathy of the course leaders is excellent.” ~ Roger Wanless


​I found Sarah’s Memoir Writing Workshop to be highly useful and informative, I had been writing memoir for years with books as my guide, but she broadened my awareness of what good memoir writing consists of better than any book I’ve ever read on the subject. Her teaching style is concise, clear, inspiring, and filled with rich suggestion, I left feeling much more aware of what it takes to write good memoir and would highly recommend this workshop to anyone who is interested in memoir writing…” ~ ​Jackie Heim

“Would totally recommend this retreat to others….! I would say ‘Come on the retreat with an open heart and an open mind.  Come to learn how to write your book and leave with new skills and probably a new understanding of yourself.’  Getting away…is worth the time and the money – I would never have got the full benefit of the retreat if I had done not gone away from my home and normal life.” ~ Gail Hunter

“If you wish to write, go on this learning curve. It’s steep, it’s hard, it’s worth the climb! … It exceeded all my expectations, and more. It will have a special place in my life always. Thank you Kate and Sarah. You changed my life. I think so differently, not just about the writing.” ~ Theresa Kapp

DATES & PRICES: 8 Days/7 Nights

  • June 25 – July 2, 2022
  • Arrival and departure airport: Rome Fiumicino Airport
  • Trip Price:
    • Single Occupancy with Shared bath: $3,890 USD per person (Note: maximum 2 of the same sex sharing a bath)
    • Shared, Double Occupancy with Ensuite Bath: $3,790 USD per person (Note: If you are traveling without a partner or friend, we will pair you up with another writer of the same sex.)
    • Single Occupancy with Ensuite Bath: $4,510 USD (includes single supplement fee of $720 USD)
  • Accommodations are 17th century Villa Poggio alla Trese, situated along the border between Tuscany and Umbria. View the gallery.