About the Renaissance Retreat

Join me for an enchanting seven-day getaway at the La Moscadella, an historic Tuscan structure originally built as a monastery in the 16th century, 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 original library of monastery, 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 pool, exploring the mysteries of the monastery, strolling through the gardens and discovering the secrets of the surrounding valley and the neighboring medieval town, Castelmuzio.

Sign Up for the Next Retreat

The next Renaissance Retreat at La Moscadella will be:


The maximum number of Painting Participants is 7 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 a Past Retreat

Video Highlights Archive

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 locations, 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 at La Moscadella!


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

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.

About La Moscadella

Your host, Isabella Barlocher

La Moscadella, a former monastery in the countryside near Castelmuzio, is Isabella Barlocher’s latest project or shall we say “labor of love”.

This historic Tuscan structure was originally built as a monastery in the 16th century. In 2013 Isabella purchased it and with passion and patience has overseen a remarkable renovation.
Each of the rooms and common areas pay homage to traditional Tuscan style, while incorporating modern Italian design and flair. It is charm, elegance, comfort, and ease rolled into one.

The combination of Tuscan antiques, modern furnishings, and beautiful art will introduce you to her sense of tradition and love of eye-pleasing esthetics. They serve to please, educate, and offer a window on life in Tuscany.

The Food & Wine

Chef Giancarlo selects food for the day’s meals

Farm-to-Table Freshness

La Cucina is a farm to table restaurant, which means our ingredients are produced locally, and seasonally fresh. Fresh herbs are used from our organic, on-site herb garden. You are guaranteed home-grown clarity of flavors that are true to the season.

Authentic Tuscan Dishes with a Gourmet Twist

Meals at La Cucina, prepared by our exceptional Chef Giancarlo, are works of art for the palate and the eye. His mastery of Tuscan cooking combined with his own creativity results in scrumptious tastes with a delightful “twist” you’ll not find anywhere else. Everything is made in-house including all pastas, breads, and desserts.

One of the excellent staff members assists in the cucina

Excellent Table Service and Wait Staff

In addition to our excellent chef, we have excellent and friendly wait staff who are delighted to take care of your dining pleasures and needs. They are caring and attentive, and welcome your special requests.

Special Dietary Needs Accommodated

Please let us know if you desire vegetarian options or are gluten-intolerant.

Special Activities

Michelin-Star Chef Roberto Rossi

Learn to Make Pasta and Dine with Michelin-Star Chef Roberto Rossi

Friday evening is a special pasta-making lesson with renowned Chef Roberto Rossi.  Coming to us from his restaurant, il Silene, in Pescina, he will delight you with his cooking prowess and Italian charm.

Guests pose with Chef Roberto Rossi after a cooking lesson at his restaurant Il Silene

Wine Tasting at the Brunello Winery

Nostra Vita is a tiny, family-owned estate that produces Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino wine. Nothing at Nostra Vita is a result of mass production. Everything is done with passion by Annibale Parisi and his wife, Elena, and their daughters. This is an extraordinary opportunity to meet a family of dedicated wine makers.

Dine in Pienza, the Ideal City, and Visit a Private Archeological Site Called the “Romitorio”

Pienza – the City of Pius. This pleasant city, situated in Val D’Orcia’s heart (near Siena, in Tuscany), is considered to be the incarnation of a Renaissance utopia and an ideal city. Having obtained recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, today it continues to show off to the world its refined and sophisticated Renaissance urban plan: its spaces and perspective onto its 15th-Century piazzas and palazzi are organized according to the era’s ideals of rationality and humanism.  – from the Italian Agency of Tourism website.  Read more about Pienza.

The courtyard of Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza

The “Romitorio”, which belongs to the Moricciani family, was first built as an Etruscan tomb. In the Middle Ages it was used as a hermitage. In World War II it was used for hiding and protecting the partisans.

The “Romitorio”

Testimonials from Previous Retreats at Other Locations

… 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.

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.

Our Studio &Rooms

La Moscadella has graciously agreed to let us turn the library of the monastery, now the yoga room, into our painting studio. The rooms total seven and are all located on the second floor (primo piano).  Below are some pictures of the studio, rooms and bathrooms.

The 8-Day Renaissance Retreat Schedule and Painting Program

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

Day 1


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

  • Transfer to La Moscadella. Estimated time of arrival: 13:00


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch

14:00 – 15:30: Free Time

  • Swim / Relax / Rest

15:30 – 18:30:

  • Orientation of La Moscadella
  • Introduction to the Painting Course


19:00 – 20:00: Activity for all

  • Wine Tasting at La Moscadella

20:00 – 21:30: Dinner at La Moscadella

Day 2


8:00 – 10:00: Breakfast

10:00 – 13:00: Painting Program

  • Blocking in the Portrait


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch Buffet

14:00 – 15:15: Free Time

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

15:30 – 18:00: Activity for All

  • Visit to ________ ?


19:00 – 20:00: Aperitivo / Slide Show

  • Renaissance Portraits and the Tuscan Landscape

20:00 to 21:30: Dinner

  • Dinner at La Moscadella

Day 3


8:00 – 10:00: Breakfast

10:00 – 13:00: Painting Program

  • Blocking in the landscape
  • Building lights on the model


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch Buffet

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 La Moscadella

Day 4


8:00 – 10:00: Breakfast

10:00 – 13:00: Painting Program

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


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch Buffet

14:00 – 15:15: Free time

  • Relax / Rest

15:30 – 19:30: Activity for all

  • Tour of Pienza and the Hermitage archeological site


19:30 – 21:30: Dinner in Pienza

Day 5


8:00 – 10:00: Breakfast

10:00 – 13:00: Painting Program:

  • First round of glazing…
  • What does it mean to paint a “skin tone”?


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch Buffet

14:00 – 15:30: Free Time

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

15:30 – 18:30: Painting Program

  • Landscape painting


19:00 – 20:00: Aperitivo / Relax

20:00 – 21:30: Extra Virgin Olive Oil tasting and pairing dinner at La Moscadella

Day 6


8:00 – 10:00: Breakfast

10:00 –13:00: Painting Program

  • Second round of glazing
  • Color in the landscape
  • A discussion on atmospheric perspective


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch

14:00 – 16:00: Free Time

  • Swim / Relax / Other

16:00 – 18:00

  • Wine Tasting at Brunello Winery


20:00 – 21:30: Buffet Dinner at La Moscadella

Day 7


8:00 – 10:00: Breakfast

10:00 – 13:00: Painting Program

  • Final touches & Final Critique


13:00 – 14:00: Lunch Buffet

14:00 – 17:30 Free Time

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


18:30 – 21:30: Cooking lesson and dinner with Chef Roberto Rossi

Day 8


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 and must be booked in advance.  If you are interested in these activities, please let us know in the Registration Form below.

What Does it Cost?

The Renaissance Retreat at La Moscadella is the most luxurious–and expensive–that we have to offer.  The total cost varies according to room choice and the number of people in the room.

The total cost for a single Painting Participant starts at €5,300.  If you add a companion who is not participating in the painting experience, that price starts at €6,300.

The prices above includes everything listed in the above program.

The cost does NOT include all the extra-curricular activities (marked with an asterisk *) like yoga or massage that you must book in advance 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 La Moscadella… and schedule your return flight for at least the day after the transfer from La Moscadella.

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 in the form below and here in PDF format.

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.

Location of La Moscadella

Should you choose to meet me directly at La Moscadella, please find below instructions on how to arrive:


If driving from Florence, take the A1 Firenze-Roma highway and exit at Valdichiana. Alternatively, if coming from the Terontola-Cortona train station, take the Raccordo Siena-Bettolle highway and take the Sinalunga exit.
Take the A1 Firenze-Roma highway, exit at Valdichiana. Alternatively, if coming from the Terontola-Cortona train station, take the Raccordo Siena-Bettolle highway in the direction of Siena, and the take the Bettolle exit.
Drive through Bettolle and follow the sign towards Torrita di Siena.
When you reach the center of town in Torrita di Siena, turn right and follow the sign towards Sinalunga.
After 3.8 km turn left and follow the sign towards Petroio.
Drive past Petroio, and in just 3 km arrive in Castelmuzio.
Follow the signs to Montisi for 1 km and watch for the signs for La Moscadella on your right.


Take the A1 Firenze-Roma highway, exit at Chiusi-Chianciano Terme.
After you pay the toll, follow the signs and drive through Chianciano Terme and then follow signs towards Montepulciano/Pienza.
When you arrive at Montepulciano, turn left and follow the sign to Pienza.
Drive 16 km, and in Pienza turn right and follow signs towards San Quirico d’Orcia.
Approximately 1.5 km after Pienza, turn right and follow the signs towards Trequanda and Sant’Anna in Camprena—this is the road to Castelmuzio.
After 7 km, follow the sign and take a sharp left turn into the little village of Castelmuzio.
Follow the signs to Montisi for 1 km and watch for the signs for La Moscadella on your right.