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Italian Summer School


This 5 day summer school takes you through from conception, development and realisation of a project: in essence we follow the design process discovering and explore new textile techniques along the way.  You’ll have a completed textile piece and a bulging sketchbook to take home which will inspire further projects…not to mention great memories of a fantastic creative adventure in this wonderful region of Italy.

All 2017 dates are now FULL! If you have a small group of 5 or 6 I am happy to organise a specific week or weekend workshop : please get in touch and we can discuss it.

If you would like details of the 2018 Italian shenanigans please get in touch and I shall pop you on my list 🙂 Is there anything you’d like me to cover in these classes? I’ll consider all your suggestions 🙂

The workshop only price is £450. You are responsible for booking flights and accommodation, airport transfer 50 euros. 6 students per week.

You can see images from the recent Italian summer school by scrolling through my Facebook page HERE

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Summer School 2017 : Abruzzo, Central Italy with Dionne Swift

Location: La Vecchia Scuola, Colle Case 15, Torrareccio, CH 66046


Sunday arrival – you’ll be collected for Pescara [the UK flight arrives at 5.20pm..we can accommodate alternative scenarios on an individual basis] Its a 1 hour transfer to Atessa and your hotel, once you have freshened up everyone is invited to a welcome meal at the hotel.


This 5 day summer school takes you through from conception, development and realisation of a project: in essence we follow the design process discovering and explore new textile techniques along the way.  You’ll have a completed textile piece and a bulging sketchbook to take home which will inspire further projects…not to mention great memories of a fantastic creative adventure in this wonderful region of Italy.

Monday 19th June – Friday 23rd June 2017 FULL


Monday 25th September – Friday 29th September 2017 FULL

NEW DATE Monday 18th September – Friday 22nd September 2017 SORRY this is FULL too!

Each day to the workshop Mark or myself will pick you up at 9.30am at Hotel Al Duca and return you there for 5.30pm after a full day of creativity!  Evenings are free time for you to enjoy…

Day one 

Morning – Researching and collecting visual information.  The Abrussese coast line is dotted with spectacular ‘Trabocchi’ [wooden fishing platforms] – they are a truly special feature of the Abruzzo region & perfect visual stimuli! We shall enjoy lunch at a local restaurant near the beach.

Afternoon – Back at La Vecchia Scuola I shall introduce a textile technique to help you develop the images collected that morning.

Day two

Morning – Researching and collecting visual information.  We shall venture into the mountains and work ‘en plein air’ to capture the amazing vistas and landscapes of the Appeninnes: followed by a  traditional mountain lunch at a local Agriturismo.

Afternoon – Back at La Vecchia Scuola, I’ll demonstrate another new technique useful for developing that mornings images and incorporate yesterdays ideas and techniques.

Evening- Enjoy an aperitif and BBQ at La Vecchio Scuola and get to know your class mates a little better: by way of introduction, it would be fabulous if you could bring along a small piece [or image] of your own work to share and discuss.

Day three

Morning – Tornareccio, the nearest village, is known for its honey and its mosaics – we shall spend the morning investigating the latter through the small alleys, streets and piazzas of this pleasant hillside village: then its lunch at the local restaurant: Meditteraneo

Afternoon – Back at La Vecchia Scuola we shall look at incorporating further textile techniques into your new repertoire and discuss how you might move forward with your work.

Day four

Morning – Its market day in Atessa…. we shall make a late start so you can absorb the sights and sounds of the local town: There are numerous amazing Baroque churches, beautiful cobble streets and ancient arches & doorways to explore.

We’ll have a home cooked lunch back at La Vecchio Scuola

Afternoon – Time for some individual development and 1:1 discussion to help clarify your ideas

Day five

Morning – Developing and resolving images and ideas…

Local lunch…

Afternoon – This is a great time to consider different methods of finishing/mounting/presentation tactile pieces. You’ll have time to complete your work as well as review and evaluate [individually and with the group]…sadly its time to say goodbye….but not before one last meal together…an optional farewell meal in Tornareccio or Atessa in the evening.

Saturday departure.  We can collect you from the hotel in the evening for a departure from Pescara airport returning to Stansted

What workshop supplies will you need to bring? 

A hardback sketchbook – ideally ring bound A4 [or larger if you prefer]…something to draw in and collect information in when we are out and about.
Drawing/sketching media – pencils, graphite sticks, charcoal – whatever your prefer.
Something water-soluble would be most beneficial – pencils or coloured Caran D’ache type pastels

Small water container &/or refillable brush

Some means to carry the above whilst we are out and about.

Bear in mind it may be very warm – you may like a hat & suncream…

What supplies/materials/equipment will be provided for you at La Vecchio Scuola? 

Sewing machines [suitable for free machine embroidery]

Threads and embroidery hoops
Silk Screens, dyes and supplies

Basic range of fabrics for print and stitch

Basic auxiliary fabrics [ e.g. water soluble]

Getting there

The nearest airport is Pescara https://www.ryanair.com there are regular flights from Stansted, UK [there has been talk of a new route from East Midlands but this hasn’t kicked in yet]

If you prefer you can fly to Rome from just about anywhere – there is a bus that connects to Pescara [2.5 hours]


Hotel Al Duca in Atessa: Antonio is lovely and has agreed to offer a 10% discount on his B&B rates for my students [you would need to book directly with him via his email address:  info@hotelalduca.it   rather than via some of the online booking agencies].
I have had a tour of this hotel and it is perfect: its a small, well run hotel which has been recently re-modelled.  Its exceptionally clean and the restaurant is well regarded in the area – there’s free wifi and access to the local swimming pool a short walk away.  For guests, Antonio will also offer a set price dinner for 15 euros.
Rooms 201, 202 & 203 have balconies and view across the town to the sea in the distance.  302/303/304/402 also have views but no balcony. 403 has mountain views.
There are good reviews on Trip Advisor that are worth reading & I have a small flyer that I can send to you if you like. [their website is currently being updated – but other booking sites have imagery]
Single room 40/45 euros [less 10%]
Double 65 euros [less 10%][twin beds]
Double 65 euros [less 10%][double bed – ask for ‘matrimonial’]

Agriturismo Montagnola has a cottage to rent – it would be ideal for families or couples…you would definitely need a car!  https://www.facebook.com/Agriturismo-Montagnola-213619305317481/?fref=ts

La Fontana, Tornareccio : A boutique B&B in the local village – you would need a car to get about. http://www.2fontane.com


Independent travellers may wish to hire a car – Abruzzo is a rural area, the roads aren’t as busy as in other Italian locations, but a Sat Nav or Google Maps is extremely useful.
Car hire is available form the Airport and the Railway station: we often use Firefly [car hire can be booked via Ryanair when purchasing flights]

We can collect students from Pescara Airport on Sunday afternoon and return the following weekend in time for the Saturday evening flight back to Stansted [please let me know if you would like to be collected from the airport = 50 euros] – transfer of this nature is only feasible if your are staying at Al Duca in Atessa our suggested accommodation.

We will collect students daily from Al Duca for the workshop excursions: Al Duca is well placed in the centre of Atessa where there are a range of bars and restaurants all in strolling distance [Al Duca itself has a well recommended restaurant]

Non participating guests and partners are welcome to join in on meals and ‘extras’ yet would need to make their own transport arrangements. [Advance notice and payment would be appreciated]
We can suggest a range of activities and excursions to suit their interests: mountain walks and cycling are very popular…yet also a quick search in Trip Advisor for activities in the area will highlight many opportunities.

Please get in touch if you have any queries.


  • Dionne’s first Summer School has been a great success and an amazing experience visiting stunning locations with lovely companions and following a creative programme which inspired, motivated and challenged in equal measures . Dionne is a brilliant teacher and skilled communicator and this week has enabled me to develop an exciting repertoire for future work . I just can’t wait to return to continue this creative journey. Many thanks to Dionne , Mark and the friends I made at La Vecchia Scuola .

  • What can I add to Maggie ‘s review? She put it so well!
    A fabulous week in a truly lovely part of Italy. Dionne worked so hard to make it run smoothly along with help from Mark. From meeting us at the airport on our arrival, to a very special farewell meal and finally taking us to the airport I enjoyed every moment.
    We were made so welcome by the inhabitants of Atessa that we felt like locals by the time we left.
    Thank you to everyone in the group for making it such a lovely and creative experience.
    Thank you Dionne, it was a privilege to take part in the first of your Italian Summer schools!

    (verified owner)

  • I have never been involved in a workshop of this nature before but what a wonderful, inspiring experience it proved to be, I’m so pleased I took the plunge. It exceeded my expectation in every way. A comfortable, super clean Hotel with a charming owner who pulled out all the stops to make us feel at home. Atessa, great! Locals, super friendly .The scenery, stunning! And the cherry on the cake, a gifted artist/teacher who opened up so much for me in just one week. I returned home absolutely buzzing with fresh inspiration and direction, heck I’m even going to buy a new machine!!!!
    Thank you Dionne for all your hard work and for sharing your passion in such away that even a bit of a novice like me came away enriched.
    Thanks also to Mark, Dionne’s husband for all his help too, a lovely friendly chap.

    (verified owner)

  • I’m going to try to articulate just how magical an experience Dionne’s Italian Summer school was. I feel unable to do justice. My experience of sewing is limited. I have fiddled and self taught sewing creatively for the last two years with an occasional day course, (also with Dionne which was amazing). Italy was incredible. The food; the location; the hotel; the hospitality; the smells; the warmth; the atmosphere; the mountains; the beach; the Trabocchi; the gelato; the scenery; the fantastic company, the beautiful alleyways and vistas beyond but above all else the amazing teaching. Dionne has opened my eyes to a fresh way of looking and sketching. She has shown me processes to expand my creative work and generated added spark and excitement to my work. Dionne does this in such a skilled and accessible way that you often don’t notice, such is her mastery of empowering you creatively. I was reduced to joyous tears twice on this course due to being overwhelmed with such incredible company and new discoveries. Utterly, utterly wonderful. I have started a new love affair with Italy and cannot wait to return. Thank you Dionne.x

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