A Summer Writer's Residency in Italy

Summer Writers Residency in Umbria 2013

Spend 13 days strengthening your craft as a writer
of fiction, a writer of poetry—or both—in Umbria.

Dates: July 8-20, 2014  |  REGISTER NOW  (Instructions)
Course Code: EN375/EN475  |  Period: 2014 Summer II
Cost: $3,550 (plus tuition)

Highlights | Schedule | Course | Faculty | Accommodations | Registration

Stephen Mazzeo
Stephen Mazzeo '09M
talks about the quality workshop experience at the Writer's Residency in Umbria.

This exciting residential experience combines intensive craft workshops and small cohort sessions with excursions to some of the great historic urban centers and hill towns of the Umbrian Valley, including Assisi, Bevagna, Montefalco, Orvieto and Norcia—a mountain town and birthplace of Saint Benedict.

English 375/475, Umbrian Writer’s Residency is open to graduate students in the field of English, as well as to junior and senior undergraduates with demonstrated prior experience as creative writers, who are looking to earn academic credit for the experience.

Program Highlights

Cost for the residency is $3,550, and includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare from Philadelphia International Airport
  • Accommodations and most meals at Bed and Breakfast San Marco
  • Craft lectures led by Dr. Richard Wertime, Professor of English and University Director of Creative Writing
  • Workshops with on-staff writing coaches
  • Transportation to cultural destinations and points of interest led by a private tour guide
  • Entry fees to all museums and cultural sites
  • Space is limited. Students may enroll in the program for undergraduate or graduate credit with the additional cost of tuition.
  • Payment plans may be arranged through the University.

Graduate students enrolled in this course will receive 3 graduate credits from Arcadia University, which credits are transferable to other colleges or universities with the consent of those institutions. Undergraduates who enroll will receive 4 credits, and may similarly transfer those credits to other institutions serving as the students’ home schools. Graduate students will pay a discounted (by 15%) tuition cost of $1,800 for the 3 credits they receive, for a comprehensive price of $5,350 for the tuition and residency experience combined. Undergraduates will pay a discounted (similarly by 15%) tuition cost of $2,000 for a comprehensive price of $5,550.

THE COST OF THE EXPERIENCE WILL COVER a considerable number but not all of the students’ needs during the trip and the residency experience, and will afford participants some very privileged opportunities as visitors to central Italy. Here, first, is a general breakdown of what will be covered by the $3,600 fee exclusive of tuition:

  • Round-trip air fare from Philadelphia International Airport, departing the evening of Tuesday, July 8, arriving Wednesday, July 9, at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport (Fiumicino) in the early afternoon. The return flight from Fiumicino will depart on Sunday, July 20, arriving back in Philadelphia the same day in the evening. Participants will be responsible for their own transportation to and from the airport at either end of the trip.
  • Transport by private air-conditioned bus upon arrival in Italy directly from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport to the Bed and Breakfast “San Marco” in Umbria on July 9. The bus will make a lunch stop at a major service area on the highway en route to the bed and breakfast that will give students adequate time to eat a good lunch and use the facilities.
  • Transport by private van the morning of departure from Umbria directly from the B&B “San Marco” on Saturday, July 19, by way of the great hill town Orvieto for a mid-day three-hour stop, to the Hilton Garden Inn Rome Airport for one night’s stay (double occupancy) prior the plane flight home the following morning. Complimentary shuttle service will take the group directly from the hotel to the airport the morning of Sunday, July 20, for departure to the U.S. Students wishing to spend several extra days in Italy before returning to the U.S. may make those arrangements through Arcadia University at the time they enroll in the course.
  • Double-occupancy accommodations with some sharing of bathrooms at the Bed and Breakfast “San Marco,” Montefalco (Umbria), Italy, a comfortable, hospitable, and impeccably maintained cluster of buildings situated in a beautiful farm valley some 20 minutes from Spoleto.
  • All breakfasts, many lunches, and most dinners will be provided by B&B San Marco during the residency period itself in its comfortable dining areas. Other meals—some lunches and one dinner during our tours of the area’s famous hill towns—will be at the student’s own expense. We eat outdoors at the B&B on a graveled terrace, or under a beautiful canopy of vines and overhead trees, when the weather permits. It often does! The Bed and Breakfast makes an abundance of fresh fruits in season, purchased from a local farmer, available to participants continuously throughout the residency. The cuisine is local and delicious. Strict vegetarian, vegan, and kosher dietary restrictions, however, cannot be accommodated.
  • Wireless Internet connection (all students will be required to bring a laptop or computer of their choice connectable to the Internet) and photocopying facilities for the exclusive use of the class. A tech expert will meet the group upon our arrival at the B&B to link each participant’s computing device into the high-speed photocopier. The B&B also boasts seminar space for class meetings; and outdoor terraces, gazebos, and lawn chairs for study and conversation. The B&B is also equipped with a private indoor theater where we will be entertained with some short films culled from a local short-film festival of international repute.
  • Virtually all entrance fees for prearranged visits to museums, historic buildings and sites, and other cultural destinations requiring a pass or ticket of admission.
  • A morning or afternoon workshop with a visiting writer, who will discuss the writing process and give a reading from his or her work.
  • Each student in the course will be covered at no cost by a University health-care policy covering emergency health needs and disastrous situations. For a nominal additional fee of less than $18, students may (and are strongly encouraged to) purchase supplemental coverage that will increase the medical care they are entitled to receive during the stay.
  • Transport by private bus to nearby cultural destinations and points of natural and historic interest on the following schedule (weather and other conditions permitting). A licensed professional guide will accompany us for all or parts of most of our outings to give us historical background on what we are visiting. 

Tentative Schedule

Tuesday, July 8. Evening departure on U.S. Air #718 from Philadelphia International Airport non-stop to Leonardo da Vinci Airport, Fiumicino, Italy.

Wednesday, July 9. Morning arrival at Fiumicino. Pick-up of group by the Remoli van rental agency from Foligno, Umbria, for transport in an air-conditioned bus to the Bed and Breakfast “San Marco” outside of Montefalco, Umbria. Leisurely stop for lunch at participants’ individual expense and use of rest rooms. Mid-afternoon arrival at the B&B San Marco. Welcome by the host family; participants are shown to their double-occupancy rooms and given time to unpack and rest. Late afternoon arrival of tech specialist to network participants’ laptops or IPads into the high-speed phococopier installed for the group’s exclusive use. Festive welcome dinner, informal orientation session and review of the plans for the residency.

Thursday, July 10. Brunch at 10:30 a.m., followed by group assembly for the FIRST WRITING WORKSHOP, jointly conducted by co-directors Richard Wertime and Michelle Reale. 3 p.m. departure by van for FIRST HALF-DAY EXCURSION to the ancient nearby town of BEVAGNA with licensed tour guide Francesca Sensini. Visits to medieval craft sites (paper-making and candle-making), Roman mosaics, historic theater, Romanesque churches. Return to B&B for dinner around 8 p.m.

Friday, July 11. Whole day at the B&B. Breakfast at 9 a.m., followed by SECOND WRITING WORKSHOPS in fiction and poetry led separately by co-directors Wertime and Reale. Lunch at about 2 p.m., followed by writing time and individual consultations with co-directors on participants’ individual writing. Festive dinner of delicious pizza and cold beer, courtesy of Arcadia University, at about 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 12. FIRST FULL-DAY EXCURSION to the important hill town of TODI in the morning, and the renowned city of SPOLETO in the afternoon, both in the company of tour guide Francesca Sensini. Breakfast at 8:30 a.m., departure for Todi at 10 a.m. Lunch at participants’ individual expense, whether we have lunch in Todi or Spoleto. Return to the B&B for dinner around 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 13. Brunch at 10:30 a.m., followed by THIRD WRITING WORKSHOP, focusing entirely on poetry and led by co-director Reale, from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Light fare at 2:30 p.m., followed by individual consultations and meetings of the cohorts. Evening wine-tasting and dinner at the country wine estate of Domenico Pennacchi, renowned wine-maker, at his estate, Terre di Capitani. Cost to participants for evening entertainment and dinner, 25 Euros per person. Return to the B&B late in the evening.

Monday, July 14. Whole day at the B&B. Brunch at 10:30 a.m. FOURTH WRITING WORKSHOP led by co-director Wertime devoted entirely to fiction writing from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Light lunch at 2:30 p.m. Afternoon rest and writing time, individual consultations on participants’ writing with either co-director, meetings among the cohort members. Dinner around 8 p.m., followed by evening entertainment at the B&B arranged by the owners (e.g., visiting circus performers, group dancing and karaoke, a short-film viewing among the possibilities). It’s BASTILLE DAY!

Tuesday, July 15. SECOND FULL-DAY EXCURSION to St. Francis’s sacred birthplace city, ASSISI, in the company of tour guide Francesca Sensini. Breakfast at 8 a.m., departure by van promptly at 9:00 a.m. First destination: the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the famed “Porziuncola,” where St. Francis lived and died. Then the van delivers us to Assisi proper to see a variety of sites. Leisurely mid-day break. Participants responsible for their own lunch. Time to shop and wander the town. After lunch, we visit the great Basilica of St. Francis, which we tour with Francesca Sensini wearing head-phones inside the Lower and Upper Church. Return to the B&B for dinner between 6:30 and 7 p.m.

Wednesday, July 16. Full day spent at the B&B. Brunch at 10:30 a.m. Intensive literary workshops and individual consultations from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Light afternoon fare at 3 p.m., followed by meetings of the literary cohorts until 5:00 p.m. Rest and relaxation until dinner at 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 17. Breakfast at 9 a.m. 10:30 to 1 p.m.: PUBLIC READING BY STUDENTS OF THEIR WRITTEN WORK, accompanied by continuous refreshments! Light fare at 1:30 p.m. Afternoon departure at 3 p.m. by van for the FINAL EXCURSION to the nearby hill town of MONTEFALCO to visit the town’s renowned museum, take a walking tour of the medieval streets led by co-director Wertime, and have leisure time to shop in the town’s famous stores.

Friday, July 18. Full day spent at the B&B. Breakfast at 9:00 a.m. Final literary workshops and consultations, 10:30-1:30 p.m. Light lunch at 2:00 p.m., afternoon spent resting and packing for the trip home. Festive final dinner at 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 19. Breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Departure from the B&B San Marco by van at 10 a.m. sharp. En route to the Rome Airport, we will make a 4-hour stop in the hill town of ORVIETO to visit the famous cathedral there, have lunch at individual’s expense, and do a final shopping. Late-afternoon arrival at the hotel in Fiumicino for a final night’s stay. Rooms double occupancy (paid for by Arcadia), dinner at individual’s expense.


Course Description

EN 375/475, The Umbrian Writer’s Workshop, is a standard curricular offering among the creative-writing courses in Arcadia University’s program in English, both at the undergraduate and at the graduate levels. Its being offered in Umbria in this distinctive format obviously requires adaptation to the special conditions under which it will be taught. Below is a description of its distinctive features and the expectations which students will be required to meet.

Required texts. Students will be asked to purchase in advance and take with them on the trip a single paperback, 30/30: Thirty American Stories from the Last Thirty Years, published by Penguin.

Each student, further, will be equipped when we gather for departure at the airport on July 8 with a copy of the Umbrian Writer’s Workshop Handbook, compiled by the program director, Richard Wertime. It’s a rich, hefty spiral-bound volume that will serve as our craft handbook throughout our residency in Umbria.

Required materials. Each student must bring a laptop computer, which will get active use during the course. Students should also equip themselves with at least one good sturdy hardback notebook that can be carried around during our excursions to cultural destinations, since part of the course will require students to take notes on and write about what they experience in Italy. (Bring a good supply of pens!)

Advance homework and meetings prior to the trip abroad. Since our residency in Umbria is of such short duration and so filled with events, each student will be required to arrive in Umbria with a recently authored piece of his or her original fiction, in the 6-to-10-page range (double-spaced, please, and printed in 12-point type), or with the manuscripts of four freshly written poems. You can bring those with you in your computer, to be printed out on the photocopier at the B&B. These “first works” will prime our creative pumps at the outset of the residency, and enable all the students (and the instructors) to acquaint themselves with everyone else’s work. It is mandatory, not optional, that students be prepared and willing to share their writing with the instructors and their fellow-students during the residency. Anyone reluctant to share his or her work with others should not seek admission to this course.

Course expectations. Many of the mornings during the residency period will be devoted to intensive 3-hour workshops, to begin soon after breakfast, during which students will meet in a seminar setting to

(a) receive craft lectures by the instructors
(b) discuss common readings in the required text and in the instructor’s handbook
(c) participate in assigned free-writing and guided writing exercises
(d) work with the other members of their cohort on selective activities and stories-in-progress
(e) participate in formal critiques of other students’ works
(f) attend the presentation by the visiting writer

Barring unforeseen health problems, students will be expected to participate in all of the scheduled activities and complete all of the assignments. Selectively “opting out” will not be an option! Each student is assigned a place in a cohort of 4-5 students, and will work with the others in his/her cohort throughout the residency.

Certain evenings will be devoted to more informal group get-togethers in which students give impromptu readings of works-in-progress, discuss craft issues, and review our recent cultural outings.  Our hosts at the B&B will also be providing us with some delightful evening entertainment as well as serving us delicious dinners. Some of those dinners will last deep into the evening and evolve into warmly friendly festive occasions.

Body of student work to be produced in the course. Including the story that students will have written in advance and brought with them to Italy (which story students will be encouraged to revise and refine), each student focusing on fiction during the residency will be expected to have produced a body of 3 complete short stories, together with the assigned exercises that will have been completed during the residency period. The three short stories, cumulatively, are not to exceed a total page length of 40 pages, nor fall short of a minimum of 25 pages. Students interested primarily in working on poetry will be expected to have completed a portfolio of 15 pages of poetry over the length of the course. Students interested in working in both genres can make special arrangements to do so with the instructors in the course.

Presentation of written work at the end of the course. Since the whole trip to Italy encompasses a period of only 14 days, students will have until the end of August to submit in paper copy, either in person or by Priority U.S. Mail—not by electronic transfer—their final portfolio, for which a checklist will be provided. Following the group’s return to the States, the director of the program will be periodically available to consult with students about their work The end of August will be the firm deadline for the submission of the final portfolio for this course. 

Teaching Faculty

Dr. Richard WertimeProgram Director Dr. Richard A. Wertime, Professor of English and University Director of Creative Writing, holds a B.A. in English from Haverford College, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where he specialized in Shakespearean studies and focused his work on Late Medieval, Renaissance and Eighteenth Century British literature. He has taught at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA, since 1975. For many years he has served as Arcadia’s Director of Graduate Studies in English and the Humanities, and he also serves as University Director of Creative Writing. Initiator of Arcadia’s new MFA in Creative Writing , he regularly takes responsibility for organizing much of Arcadia’s annual literary season, inviting to campus the internationally renowned, the nationally famous, the up-and-coming—and former Arcadia students who have established solid literary reputations for themselves.

Wertime regularly teaches one of Arcadia’s advanced fiction writing courses, as well as a wide range of courses in English and American literature, including a seminar on the major novels of Willa Cather. His short fiction (nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize) has appeared in such journals as The Hudson Review and Ploughshares; his articles on cultural subjects as diverse as modern Italy and Classsic Maya civilization have appeared in such journals as The Yale Review and Southwest Review; and his literary criticism has appeared in a wide array of publications. From 1972 until 1995, Wertime served as the senior Contributing Editor to Archaeology Magazine, to whose pages he contributed essays on a multiplicity of archaeological subjects. In the fall of 2000, Wertime published a memoir with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Citadel on the Mountain: A Memoir of Father and Son, which was the 2001 recipient of the James A. Michener Memorial Prize for literature. His was the first non-fiction work to be awarded that prize.

Michelle RealeProgram Co-Director and Poetry Instructor Michelle Reale, Faculty Librarian, is an academic librarian on faculty at Arcadia University. This summer, Michelle will conduct the craft workshops on poetry. She holds Master's degrees in English and Library Science. Her prose poems and fiction have appeared in a wide variety of publications both in print and online, including Nano Fiction, Smokelong Quarterly, Pank, Gargoyle, The Pedestal, elimae, JMWW and many others. Her work was included in Dzanc's 2011 Best of the Web Anthology as well as being included in other anthologies.  She is the author of  four collections of short fiction and prose poems.  Her collection This is Not a Situation in Which You Should Remain Calm is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press in the Fall of 2012.  She reads fiction for the Los Angeles Review and writes a monthly column for Flash Fiction Chronicles. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She travels to Sicily several times a year to work with refugees and asylum-seekers, and blogs about her  experiences with immigration and Migration  and Social Justice in the Sicilian context at www.sempresicilia.wordpress.com



Bed and Breakfact San MarcoPart of the national consortium of inns that spans all of Italy, the Bed and Breakfast “San Marco” is hosted by the literate, urbane Italian and French couple (husband and wife), Carla Romagnoli and Philippe Papapietro. Their engaging son Nicola speaks good English and, despite his youth, is the founder and director of the remarkable Montefalco World Short Film festival, some of whose entries we will enjoy in the B&B’s private theater. “San Marco” is a casale, a coherent, village-like cluster of buildings set amid graveled courtyards and lawns; well-tended vineyards and acres of sunflowers stretch generously around it. No industry or modern housing is to be found anywhere near the premises, which are tranquil and secluded—though a good main road is just hundreds of yards away. The B&B affords amazingly ready access to a dazzling array of magnificent hill towns—nearby Gualdo Cattaneo, Montefalco and Bevagna, Spoleto, Trevi, Foligno, the magnificent Spello, and, just farther north, Saint Francis’s hometown, Assisi. Norcia is less than an hour away. Smaller gem-like hilltowns dot many a steep wooded hillside in the region. The region is steeped in multiple layers of history that reach back through Renaissance, Medieval, and Roman times to a great Etruscan past and the area’s earliest culture, that of the Umbri. More information on B&B "San Marco".

Registration & Deadlines

Limited spaces still available. Contact Dr. Dick Wertime at wertimed@arcadia.edu.

PLEASE NOTE: Those interested in registering for the course may do so online through the normal registration process. Full payment for the residency experience of $3,550 must be paid to the university in full no later than June 15, with a non-refundable deposit of $700 due immediately upon registration. Any participant interested in registering for and participating in the program should contact Dr. Richard Wertime, at wertime@arcadia.edu as soon as possible.

Those interested in the program have the option of registering for the course for 4 credits if they are undergraduates (EN 375) or for 3 credits if they are graduate students (EN 475), with the cost of tuition—$2,400 for undergraduates, $1,800 for graduate students—to be ADDED to the $3,550 cost of the residency experience itself. And those interested in participating in the residency on a non-credit basis are also still welcome to enroll as "auditors" for a supplemental fee of $600 in addition to the $3,550 cost for the residency.

Each traveler must submit a photocopy of the photo page of his or her passport. The passport must not expire prior to January 2015.


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