Landscape Painting in Tuscany
San Quirico d'Orcia
Code: SNPLAPrint page
Meadows & hills
- Spend most of the day outdoors seeking out the best light, colours and landscapes
- Our professional artist leader will guide and encourage
- Visit inspirational vistas of beautiful Tuscany
- Enjoy the sociable atmosphere of painting in a group
Join us as we paint Tuscan subjects, including the medieval town of San Quirico d'Orcia and the beautiful city of Siena. We'll walk up to 2 miles (3km) each day, carrying our equipment. Suitable for all abilities.
Great Reasons to Join Us
- Great value: all prices include ensuite Half Board accommodation, plus all transport to painting sites and tuition
- Expert leader: all our leaders are experts in their field and will ensure that you get the most out of your holiday
- Accommodation: enjoy good quality accommodation and excellent food
- Sociability: we pride ourselves on the social atmosphere of our holidays - explore together, eat together, relax together
Hotel Albergo Palazzuolo
The 3-star Hotel Albergo Palazzuolo is set in a peaceful location in the countryside surrounding the village of San Quirico, and is very convenient for the local amenities. This family owned hotel was originally an attractive farmhouse, extended on both sides to incorporate the bedrooms. An attractive terrace, partly covered, overlooks the pool and has excellent views to the gentle hills of Montalcino. The hotel offers good standards of service and comfort and has a relaxing atmosphere after your day’s walking.
The hotel has 42 comfortable bedrooms, all en-suite with shower. All bedrooms also have TV, telephone, air conditioning, fridge, hairdryer
The hotel has a lounge and bar, terrace and attractive gardens, and an outdoor swimming pool (swimming hat is required)
Our holidays at Hotel Albergo Palazzuolo are on a half board basis and include breakfast and evening meal.
The self-select continental breakfast includes cereal, cheese and cooked meats, bread, croissants and home-produced honey. Tea and coffee is available.
The five course set menu features many Tuscan specialities, using homemade pasta and locally-produced oil, meat and cheese. An alternative is available for vegetarians; however we recommend that those with special diets discuss their requirements with the manager or chef.
There is a well-stocked bar serving beer, wine and spirits.
Lunch (payable locally)
You can buy a picnic lunch from the hotel (order the night before). Alternatively ingredients can be bought in local shops, including a supermarket five minutes’ walk away. On some days it may be possible to eat in a café during a walk or excursion; your leaders will advise you of all the options.
The friendly atmosphere of our holidays continues into the evening.
Enjoy a glass of wine or local beer before hearing about the next day's activities, then join your fellow guests for a leisurely meal. One evening our guests can learn more about olive oil and take part in a tasting session, very popular with our guests. Your leader will be checking out for other local events going on nearby, or you may prefer to relax on the terrace enjoying the panoramic view or in the bar with a drink.
We are staying in the beautiful town of San Quirico d'Orcia which sits atop a hill. San Quirico is set in the picturesque Val d'Orcia valley, one of UNESCO's World Cultural Landscapes. The area is full of medieval villages and outstanding views of the Tuscan landscape, offering a wealth of subject matter for our sketching and painting holiday. San Quirico is the perfect base for visiting this picturesque and paintable area of Tuscany. Each day Claire will demonstrate new and interesting features in our exciting pictorial journey, helping each artist with their own interpretations along the way.
Monday: Exploring beautiful San Quirico d'Orcia
Today we stay in San Quirico, walking around the town and enjoying the Tuscan countryside. We begin with the various techniques needed to reproduce the wonderful scenes we are to encounter during our holiday. The church, which originates from the 8th Century, is very simple but full of atmosphere; its portal is beautifully adorned by little carvings of animals. One of the most interesting features is its main portal with columns supported by lions, each in a different pose.
Tuesday: Painting delightful Pienza and Montepulciano
Today we set off for Pienza, a charming village with Renaissance architecture and a lovely central square. In 1996 UNESCO declared this town a World Heritage site. Then it's on to Montepulciano, a medieval hill town with charming Renaissance palaces, ancient churches, elegant squares and delightful hidden corners. It has the most wonderful panoramic views over the Val d'Orcia and Val di Chiana valleys
Wednesday: Capturing Monticchiello and Chianciano Terme on our canvas
Today we explore the small villages and surrounding hillsides of Monticchiello and Chianciano Terme.
Monticchiello is an enchanting little medieval village with arches, stairs, lovely window sills and charming balconies. With a hilltop position, the views over Pienza and surrounding hills are outstanding.
At Chianciano Terme – a thermal town dating back to pre-Roman times - we trace its history back to the 5th Century BC and the Etruscans, who built a temple dedicated to the God of Good Health, close to the Silene springs where the newer quarter of Chianciano (the Terme section) stands today. The curative power of Chianciano's water became well known during Roman times. Present day Chianciano Terme has two distinct areas. Chianciano Vecchia (Ancient Chianciano) is located at the top a small hill. The Porta Rivellini, with its elegant Renaissance structure, is the main gateway into the town at the end of the Via Dante. Today, the Terme section is considered to be among the finest health resorts in Italy, with its parks, numerous hotels and especially its therapeutic water that is reputed to cleanse the liver!
Thursday: A free day to explore the stunning local area or to simply relax and enjoy the facilities at Hotel Albergo Palazzuolo
Friday: Sketching and sightseeing in Siena
After breakfast we drive to Siena, one of Italy's most lovely medieval cities and a World Heritage Site. Famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape, Gothic cathedral and the famous Palio, the iconic city sits over three hills.
At the heart of Siena is its central piazza, Il Campo, which hosts the famous Palio, the horse race run around the piazza. The city is divided into various wards or "contrade". Each Sienese citizen belongs to a particular contrada, participating in the life of their own contrada and passionately involved in the organization of the Palio. Following a spectacular pageant, the various contrade challenge one another as their daring jockeys ride bareback around the piazza; the whole event is a magnificent display of ritual and rivalry. Perhaps we might capture some of this history and drama in our work.
Saturday: Breathtaking panoramas and delicious detail at Montalcino
Today we first visit the classic fairytale hilltop town of Montalcino, where a castle overlooks the town, as it sits within a circle of fortified walls. We enjoy the spectacular views from its ramparts, overlooking all of the Val d'Orcia and the distant hills of Maremma. Closer inspection of Montalcino reveals enchanting stone pavements, narrow alleys with extraordinary views over the alley below and an array of charming shops, cafes and wine bars. We marvel at the Abbey, richly decorated with animal and vegetable motifs, and the frescoes within its chapel.
By the end of our exciting adventure in Tuscany, Claire hopes that each of us will have grown not only in our observational, drawing and painting skills, but also in our ability to interpret a huge range of views and subjects with more confidence.
What to bring
Paints – Lemon Yellow, Raw Sienna (or similar) Naples Yellow, Permanent Rose (or similar), Burnt Sienna, Red, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine, Prussian or Tropical Phthalo Blue.
You may wish to use some additional colours of your choice. Claire will take extra colours, so if we use anything else you can have a squeeze of hers !
Brushes – Recommended approx sizes:- No2 (detailer), No 6 and No 10 round. 1” flat or ½” if you have one.
Palette – suitable folding palette, with wells for colour and mixing
Watercolour pad 1/4 or 1/8 imperial with hard back recommended. Claire will using a 200lb weight paper.
Water spray – a mini spray is good, but any spray bottle you have will do.
Rucksack or small case on wheels to transport art materials to and from painting locations – remember that you will have to carry your equipment, spare clothing, lunch, drinking water, sunscreen etc from the coach to the place where you are to paint or sketch.
Lightweight folding chair/stool, if you have one. Alternatively a cushion, garden kneeler or plastic seat pad
A lightweight table / easel would be useful but is by no means essential.
Appropriate clothing, sturdy footwear (eg walking boots) and a wide-brimmed hat / plastic eye shade
Miscellaneous smaller items:
- 2 small water pots (non-tip pots best)
- 1 water bottle (for clean water)
- Paper towels / rag
- Sketching pencil HB for painting and B2 or B3 for pencil sketching is recommended,
- plus pencil sharpener, rubber and ruler
- One permanent pen – around size 02 is best, black or sepia recommended.
- Coloured watercolour pencils (optional, but they can be useful for quick colour reference and enhancing)
NO masking fluid - it smells AWFUL plus we need to learn to sketch & paint without it
Please note, on European holidays we are unable to provide A3 painting boards for guests to borrow.
Also please remember these are items that your leader recommends; you may need to be pragmatic about their portability and possibly having to pay extra if you exceed your luggage allowance.
An introduction to the area
The historic fortified village of San Quirico lies in the heart of the Val d’Orcia, in a wonderful landscape of green and golden hills for which Tuscany is famous. San Quirico is probably of Etruscan origin and is situated about 40km south of Siena, on the hills that divide the two river valleys of the Asso and Orcia. Because of its position in the middle of the main Francegen pilgrimage route, the town has long been a staging post for wayfarers, pilgrims and merchants on the way to Rome. Wandering through the narrow streets of the old town, you will encounter many historic sights such as the Santa Maria Assunta Church, the Collegiata, the Rose Garden, Cappuccini Town Gate the ancient city walls.
San Gimignano - A fascinating hill-town with a breathtaking skyline of towers. Upon arrival we can enter the town through the Porta S. Giovanni and then head to the Piazza del Duomo. The Duomo has an exotic interior containing fresco cycles of the Old and New Testament stories. It is worthwhile to visit the Rocca and ramparts which offer extensive views across the countryside. The church of St. Augustine is well away from the crowds and has frescoes on the life of Saint Francis.
On the return to San Quirico a stop could be made at the heavily fortified small town of Monteriggioni which was once the border of the Florence and Siena republics.
Assisi - This beautiful city is dominated by its Basilica and is famous as the birthplace of St Francis. The Basilica consists of the upper church which is the setting of the world famous Giotto cycle of frescoes on the life of Francis, the lower church with its frescoes by Lorenzetti, and below that the crypt containing the tomb of St Francis.
A visit to Assisi could be combined with a stop at Cortona a very fine hill top town with commanding views. A short walk could take you to the Piazza della Republica, then to the Piazza Garibaldi, from where there is an extensive view looking across Lago Trasimeno.
Both these options involve hiring a coach and there needs to be a significant number of guests interested to make the economics worthwhile. Alternatives include:
- Visiting the nearby Villa La Foce and its Gardens, made famous by Iris Origo’s book War in the Val d’Orcia – An Italian Diary
- Visiting the hot springs at nearby Bagno Vignoni on foot or on the local bus. These have been known since the Etruscan era and were developed by the Medici family.
Shops & facilities
There are plenty of shops, small mini-markets for picnic provisions and also several bars to visit on a stroll after dinner.
We recognise that everyone’s travel arrangements are unique, so all our holidays to Europe can be booked ‘with flight’ or ‘without flight’, giving you more flexibility and choice.
‘With flight’ holidays – the hassle-free option
Book your holiday ‘with flight’ and choose between Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham flights to Pisa airport. For flight times and prices please see the Dates & Prices tab.
If you choose this option we automatically include return transfers between the airport and the hotel. The coach transfer takes approx 2 hours 30 minutes to the Hotel Albergo Palazzuolo.
‘Without flight’ holidays – the flexible travel option
Alternatively, tailor your journey to suit you by booking your holiday ‘without flight’ allowing you the freedom to book your own flights from your local airport.
If you choose this option, transfers are not included in the price. However, below are some suggestions to help you reach your destination:
Transfers must be pre-booked. Please call 020 8732 1220 for more details
* Please note that HF Holidays is not responsible for your onward travel if you fail to meet the transfer coach
Claire works as a professional artist, exhibiting mainly in the south, southwest, Cotswolds, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and surrounding counties. She paints freely in watercolour, oil, acrylic and pastels, accepting commissions from companies, shops, galleries and individuals at home and abroad.
She is a national award winner for her “Art for Therapy”. She develops and runs courses for all levels of ability for students, from complete beginners through to more advanced and experienced artists, throughout the UK. Her gentle step-by-step approach enables students to produce first class finished paintings in just one day. She runs workshops on a regular basis, and painting holidays both in the UK and abroad during the year. Her paintings are now in homes, places of work and recreation throughout the world. .
She is a demonstrator for SAA watercolours and Winsor & Newton artist quality oils and acrylics.
Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
Prices are per person
- Double room for sole occupancy: from £15 per night
- Non member associate fee: £5 per person