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“A magical bubble of time spent and full of inspiration - simply charming.”
Review of The Retreat

The Retreat
Ranked #1 of 2 things to do in Force
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Retreat is an open artist studio offering relaxing and creative residential painting holidays in Italy's finest region of Le Marche. Courses include workshops and visits to scenic location with tuition on water-colour, oil, pastel and acrylic techniques, etc. The program is designed to suit all levels from beginner to advanced. Accommodation and full board, travel to locations is included in the price.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities
Reviewed June 22, 2016

To go on a painting holiday has always been one of my dreams and this didn't disappoint. In fact, it was beyond my expectations. From the moment I was met at the station ( after a long train journey all the way from London) by the lovely owner and painter, John, I was swept up into an environment of overwhelming beauty, kindness and excellent hospitality. The Retreat's location is breath-taking and the only noise is that of Nature. My bedroom was perfect with freshly cut flowers and I had the best nights sleep I have had in ages. John went out of his way to make sure that myself and my new painting buddy were happy and achieving all that we wanted to from the experience of a painting holiday. His tuition was excellent, encouraging and inspiring and I have now started painting again. I was able to say to friends on my return that I've been tutored by an artist who is exhibiting in Florence !!! (Bought a couple of his prints - couldn't resist them). We painted and sketched in fields, in a piazza and hill-top towns.
The food provided was delicious and expertly cooked by Jana (John's wife). All ingredients were locally sourced, organic and all dietary requirements considered. Jana, too went out of her way to make sure we were comfortable and happy.
Entertainment was sensitively gauged to our wanting. I had the pleasure of experiencing a 'Festa' at the local vinery with wine tasting and live music + painting, a lovely evening out eating fresh Italian Pizza, wandering the local hill-top villages and drinking the local wine (delicious). Some evenings were pleasantly spent just gently chatting and drinking the limitless local wine that was available. We even had a very silly Bingo night - great fun,
All in all, I shall take away some very special memories of The Retreat and its family ( including two wonderful children, a menagerie of animals, tree frogs and fireflies).
I'm torn between wanting to keep it a secret and wanting to tell the whole world what a fabulous place it is.
I shall definitely be returning next year,

2  Thank Jo T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"painting holiday"
in 13 reviews
"le marche"
in 7 reviews
"plein air"
in 6 reviews
"an excellent teacher"
in 3 reviews
"painting class"
in 2 reviews
"evening activities"
in 2 reviews
"great guide"
in 2 reviews
"nice person"
in 2 reviews
"local restaurants"
in 2 reviews
"loved every moment"
in 2 reviews
"once in a lifetime"
in 2 reviews
in 53 reviews
in 47 reviews
in 40 reviews
in 22 reviews
in 16 reviews
in 12 reviews

13 - 17 of 57 reviews

Reviewed June 14, 2016 via mobile

Overpriced and hardly a Retreat..more like A 2 star farm stay. Old "restored" farmhouse with squeaky bed, hard foam mattress, foam "off cuts" as pillow fill and washed out old linen. No arm chairs in bedroom or public areas to " sit and read book" quote from web. For this we paid £2,100 (€2,652 and AU$4,033)for 7 nights for one painter and one non painter!!

Charged single room rate when sharing with non painting partner..when queried, given fairly hostile reply that could have had full paying painter in room for higher rate than non painter!! Well there was only one other paying guest in our "group" of 3 so that argument didn't stand up....anyway I would not share double bed with full paying painter!Total misrepresentation of discount for non painter.
Web says laundry facilities..nothing mentioned about having to pay.....need to put laundry charges on web so there is no confusion for travellers.
Served flagon wine every night where in Italy good bottled wine is so cheap!!
Would have been better for the €306(AU$465)we paid per night( base rate including meals) to stay elsewhere and do art classes on daily basis especially as there was no nightly entertainment as advertised on web site.
I will never book a holiday like this again from web...next time only on personal recommendations

16  Thank ScammedinJune
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Skelcher, Manager at The Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded June 25, 2016

Before I respond to your review Virginia I would urge potential holidaymakers to look at ‘Scammed in June’s’ other reviews on Trip Advisor, before taking any notice of her review, then you will get a truer impression of her motivations;-)

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 11, 2016

I visited the retreat on May 2016 and it was one of my great choices for vacation. I admit that at first I was a bit concern about the age population, but its turn out to be perfect. This kind of vacation is fit for all ages.
The views are amazing and the whole place is peaceful. Better than the pictures. Although the other reviews, if you ask in the terminal about the bus station It is easy to get the place. Jena cooks an amazing food and john is a great guide, painter and person. We were a small group of 2 and we had a lot of fun. For me it was a good brake, and rich and full of expiration journey. I took the yoga and painting course and it was amazing. This is the time to mention that I had no experience at all in yoga and still the classes were fitted to us and the yoga teacher was one of the best I had ever known.
We traveled a lot and had some free time in every location. I learned many new paining techniques and got some new air and inspiration.
Everyone who need vacation, love painting, meeting new people and visiting peaceful places- I recommend with all my heart to visit on the retreat!
Have a great vacation!

3  Thank adiyanko200
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 19, 2016

I stayed at the Retreat for a week for a painting holiday in April 2016.

Its almost an hour (drive) from San Benedetto del Tronto. John came and collected us from the train station.

The Retreat is located in forche area amidst beautiful hills, lush greens and scenic beauty, there is so much peace around that one feels at home yet away from home! The villa where we stayed was extremely spacious and well made- separate rooms / dining area for us and lots of space to walk around. Mornings if weather was bad we were painting in the studio or outdoors with John. The hospitality we received from John and Jana was beyond any words- in other words we were blessed to be there for a week under such wonderful care and guidance. Their two wonderful kids were a joy to have around. They have 4 dogs, 2 cats, goose, a rabbit and many more. The swimming pool was not operational as it was raining and was cold.

The food served during the trip was beyond amazing and complete masterchef quality. Hats off to Jana for such amazing cooking for us– each day we had very well thought veg dish (i am a vegetrian and allergic to bell peppers) and evenings we used to relax having house wine / rose wine and dinner was followed with great food and awesome dessert (and do keep in mind that it was healthy and not calorie loaded. So calorie conscious people don't worry at all!). Overall food scene was extremely exciting! I cant stop raving about the food which I had for that 1 week there. The breakfast consisted of boiled egg/ bread/ juice/ yoghurt/ cereals / fruits and coffee. Fresh coffee can be brewed each day.

We were only two of us (the other lady Mona from Zurich was the other student). Even with only two of us, John was extremely patient, enthusiastic about giving lessons, taking us to new towns everyday and helping us in improvise our skill set. We painted landscapes both outdoors and indoors (in oil and watercolours). The one week just went by so quickly and I had immense satisfaction of learning the skills involved around painting. We completed 2 paintings in oil and several water colour paintings (mostly landscape). We learned the technique, colour mixing, cleaning the brushes, the shades to be made by John and he was always so optimistic despite us being lacking behind or slow or not able to follow. John overall was a great teacher, mentor and overall a great host who is extremely warm and friendly. Mona and me were beyond happy during our stay and were glad that we took out time from our respective hectic schedules and visited the Retreat.

We visited many interesting / cute/ quaint towns including Forche, rotella, Montedinove, amandola, Quinzano, ascoli piceno. The day before we had to leave, we went to this amazing town called Ascoli Piceno- we had coffee, shopped a bit and had delicious lunch with John and his family. We just roamed around and relaxed in this beautiful town.

I would recommend this to art / painting lovers and also to people who enjoy nature / calmness and some super Italian food! A must visit place. I will definitely love to come back here to get more guidance, travel mode and enhance my taste buds!

Things to remember:
1) Easiest way to reach the Retreat - I took a train from Bologna to San Benedetto del Tronto and it took me 3.15 hrs- much easier compared to travelling from Rome in a bus!
2) Don't bother carrying any eatables as the house has already a lot of food to offer. water and sparkling water also provided.
3) Carry cash (Euro) with you as small towns (like amandola) don't take cards and accept only cash
4) Even if booking the bus ticket on the last day (we travelled back to Rome to catch flight back)- do not be scared as seats are readily available
5) Local people don't speak English at all but are warm and friendly
6) Carry sunblock and hat while painting outdoors as it tends to be extremely warm

2  Thank Divs_Kataria
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 5, 2015

My friend and I have recently returned from a very enjoyable week at The Retreat. Our tutor, John, really made sure everyone had a good time and was constantly helpful and amusing. He was a very good teacher and we both felt we learnt new skills in a really beautiful environment.

I had a comfortable ensuite bedroom in their charming house which had a large studio on the side for tutorials. Most of the time we painted outside, however, which was made easy because John supplied everything and gathered it all together beforehand. This was a marvellous arrangement we hadn't come across before and it meant that we didn't have to bring any materials with us. This was especially good because it meant we only took hand luggage, a great advantage because it was a long journey to reach The Retreat. The home cooked food was very good and we ate out on three evenings at local restaurants.

John was excellent company and a great teacher and it was a really beautiful place with stunning views. We go on a painting holiday abroad every year, and this rates as one of the best.

4  Thank 499jean
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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