About the Renaissance Retreat at the Castello di Meleto

Join me for an enchanting seven-day getaway at the Castello di Meleto, a Medieval castle in the heart of Tuscany, to paint from life with the goal of creating an oil portrait in a landscape as exemplified in many Renaissance portraits.

All of our time with the model is spent inside our studio in the castle, while several afternoons will be spent painting en plein air the background landscape that we’ll put behind the model.

If you are enthusiastic about portraiture and landscape as a subject, and are a beginner or advanced painter in pursuit of adventure and community, this is THE workshop for you!

Time not painting is dedicated to special activities enjoyed by all painters and accompanying family/companions: learning to cook, tasting wines,  swimming in the glorious outdoor pools, exploring the mysteries of the castle, strolling through the vineyards and gardens and discovering the secrets of the surrounding valley.

About Castello di Meleto

The earliest record of Meleto dates back to the eleventh century when the castle belonged to the Benedictine monks of Badia a Coltibuono.

The name “Meleto in Chianti” is mentioned for the first time in 1256 in the Libro degli Estimi (Book of Estimates) of the Florentine Guelphs as a property of a local feudal family. Thanks to its strategic position close to the border between the territories of the Republic of Florence and Republic of Siena, the castle became a main Florentine stronghold of the area and later on one of the main fortifications in Terziere di Gaiole of the Lega del Chianti. This made the castle a coveted prize between the two contenders, although it never sustained serious damage.

To learn more about the Castello di Meleto, please visit their website.

Castello di Meleto: the Food & Wine

Learn to Make Pasta

One hour and 30 minutes with a chef to create different kinds of egg pasta. After the cooking class, guests will eat the pasta they made, in addition to bruschette and meat (salami, prosciutto) produced by the Castello di Meleto, all served together with wines from the castle’s own production. The experience will also include a guided tour of the castle.

Discover Wines with the Winemakers

Join the winemakers in the vineyards of the Castello di Meleto: a fun experience to learn everything about the vineyard secrets and a unique opportunity to find an answer to all the questions you might have regarding the grapevine cultivation.


The Castello di Meleto is located in Tuscany about 40 minutes North of Siena and about 1 hour and 15 minutes South of Florence.

Sign Up for the Next Retreat

The next Renaissance Retreat at the Castello di Meleto will be:

  • Monday, May 9th to Sunday, May 15th, 2022
  • Monday, October 3rd to Sunday, October 9th 2022

The maximum number of Painting Participants is 8 painting participants per retreat.

The maximum number total–Painting Participants + Non-Painting Companions–is 16 per retreat.

Register below

Should none of the above dates work for you and your group, Custom Retreats are possible.  Please contact me using the Questions form for details.

For any and all questions that you don’t find an answer to on this web page, please use the Questions form to contact me or send a message via WhatsApp: +39 347 263 1033.

—Timothy Joseph Allen
Your Painting Teacher and Renaissance Retreat Organizer

Video Highlights from Past Retreats

2019 – October
2018 – October

All the B & B rooms of Castello and Casa Canonica provide breakfast in the ancient Fattoria kitchen, located on the first floor of the Castle, in front of the large medieval fireplace.

As a guest of Castello di Meleto you have 2 options:

  • Apartment with One Bedroom – located in the borgo outside of the castle.
  • Apartment with Two to Three Bedrooms – located in the borgo outside of the castle.

The 7-Day Renaissance Retreat Schedule and Painting Program at Castello di Meleto

We strongly recommend that you arrive in Rome at least the day before the scheduled pick-up and transfer from Rome to Castello di Meleto… and schedule your return flight for at least the day after the transfer from Castello di Meleto to Rome.

Day 1


9:00 am: Meet in Rome.  Exact location TBA.

  • Transfer to Castello di Meleto. Estimated time of arrival: 13:00


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch

15:00: Apartments/rooms available

  • Swim / Relax / Rest

15:30 – 18:00:

  • Orientation of the Castle
  • Introduction to the Painting Course


18:00 – 19:00: Activity for all

  • Wine Tasting

20:00 – 21:30: Dinner at the Castle

Day 2


7:00 – 9:00: Breakfast

9:00 – 12:00: Painting Program

  • Blocking in the Portrait


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch

14:00 – 15:30: Free Time

  • Swim / Massage* / Yoga* / Rest / Other

16:00 – 18:30: Painting Program

  • Landscape Painting


19:00 – 20:00: Aperitivo / Slide Show

  • Renaissance Portraits and the Tuscan Landscape

20:00 to 21:30: Dinner

  • Tuscan Style Dinner

Day 3


7:00 – 9:00: Breakfast

9:00 – 12:00: Painting Program

  • Blocking in the landscape
  • Building lights on the model


12:30 – 14:30: Lunch in Gaiole in Chianti

14:30 – 15:30: Free Time

  • Swim / Rest / Other

16:00 – 18:30: Painting Program

  • Landscape Painting


19:00 – 20:00: Aperitivo / Slide show

  • Technical examination of famous portraits

20:00 – 21:30: Dinner at the Castle

Day 4


7:00 – 9:00: Breakfast

9:00 – 12:00: Painting Program

  • Building lights on the model and the landscape
  • The case for unity


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch at the Castle

14:00 – 15:15: Free time

  • Relax / Rest

15:30 – 19:30: Activity for all

  • Guided tour to the city of Siena


19:30 – 21:00: Dinner

  • Dinner in Siena  

21:30: Return to the Castle

Day 5


7:00 – 9:00: Breakfast

9:00 –12:00: Painting Program

  • First round of glazing…
  • What does it mean to paint a “skin tone”?
  • Color in the landscape
  • Atmospheric perspective


13:00 – 14:00 Lunch at the Castle

14:00 – 16:00 Free Time

  • Swim / Massage* / Yoga* / Rest / Other

16:30 – 19:30: Activity for all

  • Cooking Class – Learning how to make pasta!


19:30 – 21:30: Dinner

  • Eat what you have made during your cooking class

Day 6


7:00 – 9:00: Breakfast

9:00 – 12:00: Painting Program

  • Final touches


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch at the Castle

14:00 – 17:00: Free Time

  • Swim / Relax / Other
  • *OPTIONAL: eBike tour of the valley


18:00 –  19:00: Activity for all

  • Wine Tasting

20:00 – 21:30: Dinner

  • Farewell Dinner

Day 7


7:00 – 9:00: Breakfast

9:30: Departure – Transfer to Rome. Estimated time of arrival in Rome: 13:00

Note: activities indicated with an asterisk (*) are extracurricular activities and are not included in the package price of the Retreat.  If you are interested in these activities, please let us know in the Registration Form below.

What Does it Cost?

The total cost of the Retreat varies according to apartment choice and the number of people in each room.  The list below illustrates a few examples of the cost per person:

  • 1 Painting Participant in a one-bedroom apartment = €5,659
  • 2 Painting Participants in a one-bedroom apartment = €5,109
  • 3 Painting Participants in a two-bedroom apartment = €4966
  • 6 Painting Participants in a three-bedroom apartment = €4,868

Final cost depends on availability of apartments.

The prices above includes everything listed in the above program.
The cost does NOT include all the extra-curricular activities like yoga or massage that you might request during the retreat nor does it include airfare and/or travel to Rome.

We strongly recommend that you arrive in Rome at least the day before the scheduled pick-up and transfer from Rome to Castello di Meleto… and schedule your return flight for at least the day after the transfer from Castello di Meleto to Rome.

Transfer to and from custom locations is possible at an additional charge.

How Do I Register?

Registration is a 3-step process.  Using the Registration form below, you can:

  1. Indicate the total number of people and the room category.
  2. Provide your Contact Information
  3. Confirm your Registration Information

Very important:

  • Payment is NOT due at the time of Registration.
  • After we have received and reviewed your information, we will send you a Request for Payment for a Deposit of 30% of the total cost per Painting Participant and Non-Painting Companion.
  • Once we have received the Deposit, your reservation and participation is secure.
  • The Deposit is non-refundable.
  • The remaining amount is due 75 days prior to the start of the Retreat.
  • All Terms and Conditions are indicated here.  Please take the time to read them carefully.

Questions Before You Register?

Please send us any questions you may have using the Questions form below and we’ll be happy to reply as soon as possible.

Oil Painting: The Portrait in a Landscape – What Can You Expect to Learn?

7 days work on a painting really isn’t that long, especially for a workshop intent on leveraging the full scope of oil painting: an oil sketch, underpainting, glazes, scumbles, etc..  However, there are ways to move things along in order to accommodate such a robust and ambitious endeavor, while also making it possible for you to have a sense of what steps could be taken in the future.

Working from a live model, our primary considerations will be:

  • Composition – setting the placement and scale of the subject within the landscape
  • Likeness – what does it mean to achieve a likeness in a portrait and what are the best strategies to do so?
  • Light –  management of light in connection to the specific subjects vs. management of light of the whole (the light pattern).
  • Glazes and Scumbles – how to use them and how each affects volume, space and atmosphere.

Meet the Painter and Organizer, Timothy Joseph Allen

Tim working on a recent portrait in his studio in Rome.

Greetings! My name is Tim.  I’ve been a figurative painter since 1992, I’ve lived in Italy since 1998, I’ve taught at The American University of Rome since 2006, and I have managed and directed my own painting school in Rome–The Painting and Drawing Art Studio of Rome–since 2010.

I’ve been doing the Renaissance Retreats now for over two years.  There is nothing quite like it: the castles, the landscapes, the people, the food, the wine and the painting all combine for an extraordinary experience.

I hope you’ll join me in Tuscany!


For more about Tim and his paintings, please visit his website.


Testimonials from Previous Retreats

… the Retreat and the renaissance portrait painting course, well… it totally exceeded expectations. The ‘devils in the detail’ they say. Tim went to outstanding lengths to ensure the ‘studio’ was equipped with everything we would need and with every comfort. Each morning two gorgeous life models, Sara and Erika greeted us in the most impressive authentic renaissance costumes and Tim would begin the session with a demonstration and continue with help to each and all.

Regarding Castello di Potentino (and its wonderful and awe-inspiring host Charlotte Horton) it was inspirational… as were the wine tastings, stories, histories, lodgings, meals, lovely-young-volunteers and surrounding vistas. Tim chose exceedingly well with this beautiful place on earth. All the extras were such a treat and yes we all fell in love with the Michelin Chef Roberto Rossi and his 5 star restaurant in Seggiano.
Honestly I could go on and on, I’m afraid I have already, but I cannot thank Tim enough for this life-changing experience

An experience I will never forget and a trip of a lifetime. It was wonderful to be able to take a week out of my busy life to reconnect with nature and my creativity. I learnt so much from Tim in a short time improving my painting skills dramatically. As I never had the opportunity to study art at a university level I feel that after what Tim has taught me I have confidence to produce more professional paintings. I couldn’t think of a more perfect atmosphere to paint in. From painting in a studio room of a medieval Tuscan castle with live models to landscape painting on a warm autumn afternoon in an olive grove looking over vineyards, forests and ancient villages. I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity.

Timothy Allen knows Renaissance art. With intelligence and humour he inspires his students to paint from life, fortified by the fabulous food and wine of the Castello. Under Tim’s guidance I actually produced a portrait, while living in a castle in Tuscany. It’s hard to convince myself that this really happened! But it did and I’ll never forget it.

The Renaissance Retreat was an experience of a lifetime. The castle setting was perfectly conducive to learning the techniques of the Masters under Tim’s excellent instruction and inimitable flair. It was immensely satisfying to see the quality of work achieved in such a short time. Tim put together a programme of intense study more than balanced with unique and memorable extra-curricular activities. I recommend the Renaissance Retreat highly.

Painting in Tuscany, in a Castle, with a live model, what more can be said! I’m still in awe that I had this experience of a life time. If you have the opportunity to take advantage and make it a reality, I can highly recommend it.

The Renaissance Retreat didn’t just meet my expectations, but exceeded them.  Tim went above and beyond to be accommodating, friendly, helpful and a great chauffeur as well.

If you are looking for an intensive and rewarding painting experience set in a storybook landscape, look no further than Art Studio Rome’s Renaissance Retreat.

Tim offers a week of learning to paint from a model and en plein air in a Renaissance style. That is the focus of the week, and it is an intense learning experience. I went to sleep at night thinking about what I would do next with my painting, and woke to thumb through photos of paintings by the Italian masters. Tim is a great instructor, and led us through the process of slowly building a painting. We had an excellent, lovely model and a beautiful setting for the backdrop to our developing portraits. Staying at the castle was like finding a little piece of heaven, and the food, wine and conversation were of the highest quality. Our restaurant outings were top notch. It was a week I will never forget.

The Renaissance Retreat was one of the highlights of my life, especially for two of my passions: painting and food. The castle and the landscape were beautiful. The food and wine plentiful and delicious. Tim provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn and apply renaissance oil painting techniques with inspiring subjects (live, costumed model and beautiful Tuscan landscapes). The opportunity to learn from a Michelin chef and from artisan local cheese-makers added so much to the experience. Thank you Tim!

I highly recommend this amazing trip to Potentino, with delicious food, divine wine and inspirational art classes!
Tim is an excellent and passionate art teacher who gently encourages his students to push forward! We received all the art supplies we needed, worked with a beautiful and professional model and painted plein air too! The time I spent at the castle with him and the amazing group of friends I made there, inspired me grew as an artist and also got me motivated to carry on with all of what I’ve learned.
I will never forget this magical experience. Thank you!

This painting retreat exceeded my expectations. There was an intense focus on painting and Tim was patient and instructive and always willing to answer questions and demonstrate techniques. The castle was the perfect setting … beautiful and inspirational…enhanced by its hostess, Charlotte, who created unbelievable meals with an emphasis on fresh, local products. All meals were shared at large community tables that provided an opportunity for us to meet other guests and a charming group of young volunteers.