Have you dreamed of publishing those family stories that might otherwise be lost in the future? What about those travel experiences you always wanted to put to paper, or those food memories from childhood? Now, how many times have you told friends to go for it, using the phrase "You only live once"?
Well, how about following your own dream for one week while learning how to polish your prose, eating fabulous food and living in a magical village in an unspoiled region of Italy?
It's a village where road signs might have distances between towns measured in the time it takes to ride a horse.
It's a village that has quiet, secret corners and small treasures waiting to be discovered.
Why not do yourself a favor and sign up for "Italy, In Other Words," a memoir writing workshop? It takes place from June 15 to June 21st, 2014 and is held in Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a medieval village in the Gran Sasso National Park. Located in the region of Abruzzo, Santo Stefano di Sessanio has been named one of Italy's prettiest towns, or "I borghi più belli d'Italia." You'll stay in Sextantio, a unique hotel with rooms dispersed throughout the town. Yours might be warmed by this rustic fireplace (but don't worry - you'll have modern Phillip Starck bathroom fixtures):
This is the view from one of the rooms:
The wild poppies and mustard should be in bloom when we're there in mid-June.
Kathryn Abajian, college professor, author, and writing teacher, will lead the writing workshop, and she is gifting at elevating pedestrian words to poetry.
You'll get plenty of daily, helpful feedback from the other participants in the workshop too.
I'll be your cultural guide, taking you on nearby excursions. Some of the places you're likely to visit are Rocca Calascio, a mountaintop fortress dating back to the 10th century.
We'll pass by the church of Santa Maria della Pietà, built to commemorate what legend says was a victory of the locals over a gang of bandits.
We'll walk along ancient sheep trails where you might even meet a modern day shepherd:
It's not unusual to have to stop along the road for a sheep crossing.
The bedspread in your hotel room is likely to be hand woven by women from the local area, and you'll see a demonstration on a centuries-old loom:
We'll take an excursion to see how pecorino canestrato (sheep's milk cheese) is made - .
And how maccheroni alla chitarra is made - an Abruzzo specialty.
And you'll have plenty of opportunity to eat it at dinner.
But before dinner, have a seat in the cantina with your fellow students and enjoy a glass of wine with some cheese and locally made sausages.
At dinner, take the opportunity to savor conversation and delicious food.
Like these affettati (sliced, cured meats):
or ravioli with gorgonzola and walnuts:
Or arrosticini - succulent skewers of grilled lamb.
Get your feet tapping at the finale concert with DisCanto and their fabulous Abruzzese folk music:
You don't have to be an experienced writer to sign up. You just have to have the desire to improve your writing. Although we've had participants who were accomplished, published writers, we've also had homemakers, a postal worker and an artist in past years too.
Want more information? Check out all the details here on the Italy, In Other Words website. You'll find contact information to register. Hope to see you there in June. It's a week that will stay with you forever.