Travel Writing Classes

TRAVEL WRITING TUSCANY

September 14-20, 2025

Travel writing, Food writing and Wine writing are some of the most appealing genres of nonfiction, calling on all of an author’s skills—dramatic scenes, character sketches, concrete detail, point of view, scene by scene construction—to compose compelling, engaging travel narratives.

The architectural jewel box of Pienza, one of the destinations of the The Writer's Workshop Travel, Food and Wine Writing Class.
The architectural jewel box of Pienza, one of the destinations of The Writer’s Workshop Travel, Food and Wine Writing Class.

In addition to learning these skills, you’ll dine at outstanding restaurants, visit some of the world’s best wineries, and explore fascinating historic sights during the travel writing classes. You’ll enjoy exclusive behind- the-scenes tours unavailable to the general public. Best of all, you’ll receive up-to-date story ideas from local industry experts that you can turn into finished travel, food and wine stories by the end of the class and submit to newspapers and magazines for publication.

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE

SUNDAY – 6:00 p.m. – Welcoming dinner at La Fortezza, the 14th century castle with wonderful wine bar and enoteca. Sample regional wines, cheeses, meats and specialties as you get to know the other participants.

MONDAY – 9 a.m. to noon – Introduction to the travel writing course, discussion of travel writing, genres of travel writing (article, essay, profile, etc.), story ideas. Noon to 2 p.m. – Lunch – 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Tour of Montalcino. Dinner at an authentic Tuscan restaurant featuring dishes like rabbit, guinea hen, pasta with wild boar sauce. (Breakfast and dinner provided.)

TUESDAY – 8:45 a.m. – Meet in hotel lobby and board bus to visit Pienza or Monte Olivetto for tour. 10:00 a.m. – Lunch at local winery – 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Tour of Brunello winery. (Breakfast, lunch provided.)

WEDNESDAY – 9 a.m. to noon – Lecture and discussion of scenes, scene by scene construction, characterization – Noon to 2 p.m. – Lunch – 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Free time – 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. – Cooking class teaching how to make fresh pasta, red sauce and other Italian delicacies followed by wine tasting and dinner. (Breakfast, dinner provided.)

THURSDAY – 9 a.m. – Leads: the Five Best Ways of Opening a Story. Nut grafs: How to Increase Readability and Comprehension in Travel Stories. – 10 a.m. – noon – Draft story.  Noon to 2 p.m. – Lunch. – 2 p.m. – Optional walk through surrounding countryside.  (Breakfast provided.)

FRIDAY – 9 a.m. to noon – Write, workshop stories – Noon to 2 p.m. – Lunch – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Discuss publication, writing query letters, course evaluation, reading of stories. – 8 p.m. – Class celebration at local restaurant specializing in tagliatelle and bistecca alla fiorentina. (Breakfast and dinner provided.)

SATURDAY – Have breakfast, check out of the hotel, alas!

Travel Writing Classes in Tuscany.
Salumi anyone? The Travel Writing Class introduces you the abundance of Tuscan cuisine.


UPCOMING TRAVEL WRITING CLASSES


THE INSTRUCTOR

Nick O'Connell, founder of The Writer's Workshop, leads the Travel, Food and Wine Writing Class.
Nick O’Connell, founder of The Writer’s Workshop, leads the Travel, Food and Wine Writing Class.

My introduction to the moveable feast that is Europe began during a junior year abroad program in Nantes, France. On weekends and holidays, I criss-crossed the continent with my rail pass, visiting Florence to see the Michaelangelo’s David and indulge in a bottle of Chianti with Bistecca Alla Fiorentina. The next weekend I’d board the night train to Madrid to gawk at Goya’s black paintings and drink way too much sangria. Then I’d return to Nantes to enjoy oysters with a bottle of Muscadet and the occasional splurge on a leg of lamb with a good Bordeaux. In completing my studies in French at Amherst College, I saturated myself in the continent’s language, literature, art and history. I returned to Italy, France, Spain and Germany many times since then, traveling all over the continent to savor its food, wine and culture.

This in-depth knowledge of Europe quickly led to writing about it. Today, I contribute to Newsweek, Gourmet, Condé Nast Traveler, Saveur, Food and Wine, The Wine Spectator, Outside, GO, National Geographic Adventure, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commonweal, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Westways, Sierra, and other publications. I’ve written the following books, The Storms of Denali: A Novel (2012), On Sacred Ground: The Spirit of Place in Pacific Northwest Literature (2003), At the Field’s End: Interviews with 22 Pacific Northwest Writers (1998), Contemporary Ecofiction, (1996), Beyond Risk: Conversations with Climbers (1993).

In addition to working as a freelance travel writer, I moonlight as a winemaker, making a Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah under the Les Copains label. At one time I contemplated a career as a winemaker, but shelved the idea because I enjoyed writing and teaching too much. After completing my MFA in fiction writing and PhD in Literature at the University of Washington, I went on to create the university’s year-long program in Narrative Nonfiction in 1993, one of the first such programs in the country. After teaching in that program for a number of years, I founded The Writer’s Workshop, an online and on-campus writing program based in Seattle, Washington. This program allows me to indulge my passion for teaching small, personalized travel writing classes as well as introduce students to the incredibly rich history and culture of Rioja, one of the crown jewels of this beautiful continent. For more, contact Nick.

ABOUT THE TRAVEL WRITING CLASSES

Travel Writing Classes in Tuscany
Travel Writing Classes in Tuscany take place in beautiful Montalcino, Italy.

The Writer’s Workshop’s Travel, Food and Wine Writing classes have explored some of the best wineries, restaurants and cultural destinations in the world. The travel writing classes grew out of a visit to St. Emilion in 2004, where the food, wine and culture of the Bordeaux wine region inspired me to launch the travel writing classes in 2005, visiting First Growth wineries Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour, Lafite Rothschild and Chateau d’Yquems as well as dining at outstanding restaurants like Le Lion d’Or and visiting historic sites like the grave of St. Emilion.

After running the travel writing classes for four years in St. Emilion, I branched out to Provence, choosing Vaison la Romaine, an idyllic destination in Provence, home of a spectacular weekly market, wineries like Vieux Telegraph and Chateau Beaucastel, amazing restaurants like Oustalet and important Roman ruins like Pont du Gard.

Travel Writing Class on veranda of hotel overlooking Tuscan landscape.
The Travel Writing Class takes place on veranda of hotel overlooking Tuscan landscape.

Provence’s proximity to Italy inspired a visit to Tuscany where I discovered Montalcino, a wonderful town which became a destination in 2009, allowing me to introduce students to the pleasures of Tuscany, visiting wineries like Biondi Santi, restaurants and taking in fantastic cultural destinations like Pienza, the world’s first planned city, an architectural jewel box.

The class will take place in Montalcino, Italy in September, 2025, a captivating destination, with authentic Tuscan cuisine, outstanding wine and important cultural and historical landmarks.

PARTICIPANTS IN THE TRAVEL WRITING CLASSES

Participants in the travel writing classes are a self-selected group, some of the most interesting, diverse and motivated students I’ve had the pleasure of teaching. Many work as chefs, sommeliers, restaurateurs, public relations professionals, editors, authors as well as professionals in other fields such as medicine, law, teaching and engineering. Some have written books, others are new to writing, but all have appreciated the expert instruction and beautiful surroundings. Some have likened it to a summer camp for adults.

The class is ideal for those traveling with or without a friend or significant other. The self-selected nature allows participants to quickly bond, making friendships that have lasted a lifetime. Though  packed with activities, the schedule allows free time for writing, reflection, and the opportunity to explore the destination on your own.

GETTING THERE:

TRANSPORTATION TO MONTALCINO, ITALY

The easiest way to get to Montalcino is to fly to Florence or Rome. From Rome or Florence, you can take a public bus to Montalcino. It will take the better part of a day to do this, so I’d advise flying in a day or so before our class and then making your way to Montalcino.  If you’re on a tight schedule, you might consider taking a private coach from the Rome airport to Montalcino. These are faster but considerably more expensive.

If you have the time, stay for a night or two in either Rome or Florence. Both cities are simply amazing places, stuffed with art and history and stylish Italian culture.

Lunch at one of the many outstanding restaurants we visit as part of the travel writing class.

FROM ROME:

If you’re traveling from Rome to Montalcino, take a Sena or Sita bus from Rome to Siena. This costs about 20 euros and takes three hours. The buses run every hour. From Siena, you can take a Busfox to Montalcino. This takes 60 to 80 minutes, depending on when you go, and costs about 3 euros. Bus travel is less frequent on Sundays. For schedules, please take a look at the websites:

www.sena.it

http://www.busfox.com/timetable/

FROM FLORENCE:

Take a bus to Siena, then a Busfox to Montalcino. There are also hourly TRA-IN buses from Siena (1 hr.); a few require a change at Buonconvento. The bus terminus in Montalcino is Piazza Cavour, a couple blocks from Hotel Dei Capitani, where we’ll be staying.

www.sena.it

http://www.busfox.com/timetable/

PRIVATE COACHES

Here are two possibilities, though many companies offer this service. The key is splitting the cost by having more than one person share it. You may be able to coordinate with other classmates to make this happen.

www.chauffeurs-italy.com

http://www.airportconnection.it/

(tel. 05-547-821 in Florence; www.sitabus.it) makes two runs daily from Rome.

Travel Writing Classes.
Lunch at one of the many outstanding restaurants we visit as part of the travel writing class.

UPCOMING TRAVEL WRITING CLASSES