Travel Sketching in Tuscany Itinerary

Looking forward to welcoming our group of artists to our Travel Sketching holiday in Tuscany, from 1st – 8th May 2018, in association with the Travel Department.


Our focus will be on relaxation and enjoyment of all the delights of Italy in Spring  – sunshine, fine food and wine, olive groves, vineyards and medieval villages. With sketchbook in hand we experience it all at a slower pace and a deeper level – lingering over a cappuccino in a sunny piazza, or a glass of local wine as the sun goes down, sketching whatever catches our eye, and creating a rich visual memento of our travels.

Day 1 – Tuesday 1 May – Travel to Montecatini 

Ryanair FR 9908 départs Dublin 09.45, arrives Pisa 13.30

The Travel Department coach will transfer us to the Grand Hotel Plaza and Locanda Maggiore in Montecatini Terme. We’ll settle into our rooms and  meet at the welcome reception hosted by the Travel Department before dinner. Our group of 16 will have 2 tables of 8 allocated to us for the week. The hotel is on the main piazza of the town, with shops and cafes around every corner. You’ll have time to explore in the evening, or Michael and I will take you on a short stroll to get your bearings

Our Hotel on Piazza del Popolo, Montecatini
Hotel Lobby
Grand Hotel Plaza, Montecatini
Sketching outside the hotel


Day 2 – Wednesday 2 May – Visit to Montecatini Alto

Montectini Alto is the quaint, historic hilltop town overlooking Montecatini Terme, with a spectacular panorama over the Tuscan countryside. The old town is accessed by a funicular railway, about 25 minutes walking distance from the hotel, however we will arrange a taxi for anyone who may prefer not to walk. Our walk takes us through the Parco Termale, past the elegant and majestic thermal spas.  The funicular departs every 30 minutes and costs €7 round trip per person.

Funiculare Montecatini

There are many wonderful sketching opportunities in the village, and I will start the day with a demonstration, after which everyone can find their own favourite spot or continue to sketch beside me. I will offer guidance and support at any time.

This is the view of the town as you step off the funicular

Montecatini Alto

And my sketch there last Autumn

Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook

Some lovely spots to discover

Montecatini Alto


We have arranged for our group to have lunch on the panoramic outdoor terrace of Il Giardino restaurant, overlooking the olive groves and vineyards of the Val di Nievole. I’ll do a demonstration while we spend the afternoon sketching the view from the terrace.

Quick sketch from the terrace

We’ll return to our hotel later in the afternoon, with free time before meeting for dinner, or for “Apero” before.

Day 3 – Thursday 3 May – Excursion to Florence

We’ll be joining the Travel Department excursion to Florence, departing by coach after breakfast.  There will be a guided tour in the morning with free time in the afternoon to sketch, shop or explore. Today we will be sketching “on the go” – fast and spontaneous impressions over coffee or lunch – a little like doing the “2 minute pose” in life drawing class! If anyone has an interest in visiting the Uffizi Gallery during the afternoon, we can arrange for you to prebook tickets to avoid the queue.


Duomo, Florence
Duomo, Florence
Santa Croce, Florence
Santa Croce, Florence


Day 4 – Friday 4 May – Tettuccio Terme Spa

We will meet in the hotel lobby at 10.00 to walk a short distance to The Tettuccio Terme spa, with it’s landscaped gardens, fountains and impressive architecture. We have arranged a day pass for our group with a guided tour, after which I will offer a demonstration and guided sketching in the gardens. We’ll have lunch in their café and return to the hotel by 16.00. Free time in the evening, then meeting for Apéro and dinner in the hotel.



Day 5 – Saturday 5 May – Excursion to Lucca and Pisa

A full day excursion with the Travel Department to the lovely medieval walled town of Lucca, then on to Pisa, famous for it’s leaning tower. Another day to practice our “quick sketch” skills on the go!




Day 6 – Sunday 6 May – Open day around Montecatini

For now I’m keeping this day open. We’ll have a better sense of what you may like to do after being there for a few days. I’ll plan sketching time between 10.00 and 16.00, and we can choose from a couple of options – return to Montecatini Alto, or to the Thermal Park, or just relax and explore the town of Montecatini.

In the Montecatini Thermal Park


Day 7 – Monday 7 May – Excursion to Siena and San Gimignano

Full day excursion with the Travel Department to 2 more iconic Italian cultural destinations, sketching as we go – the towered skyline of San Gimignano rising from the lush Tuscan countryside, and the magnificent Piazza del Campo and medieval streets of Siena.

San Gimignano


Day 8 – Tuesday 8 May – Return to Dublin

FR9457 departs Bologna 17.10, arrives Dublin 19.00

Free time in Montecatini until pick up from the hotel



Some helpful links: 

Recent article in the Independent about this Tuscany trip:

My blog posts from our Travel Sketching trips to Lake Garda (2016) and the Côte d’Azur (2015)

Travel Sketching in Italy 2017 – Brenda Malley




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