Sicily Writing Intensive: Fiction, Creative Nonfiction & Mixed Genre

November 10–17, 2018

Led by Kate Moses 

Volcanoes and Baroque architecture, puppetry and flamingos, temple ruins and a treehouse overlooking the sea: Sicily is a study in tensions and longing, a place gifted to a goddess and conquered again and again – an island of the sacred and the profane, home to two thousand years of stories. Make your work in progress one of them--

Spend a week within view of the Ionian Sea and Sicily’s most pristine beaches, writing in the company of a small group of likeminded, supportive peers under the guidance of acclaimed writer, editor, & mentor Kate Moses. Let your muse take over as you absorb the intense flavors, colors, and history of Italy’s most unique region from the vantage of a stunning contemporary villa located within the Vendicari Nature Preserve, known for its protected, undeveloped coastline and migratory birdlife. In addition to writing, craft tutorials by the pool, and readings over cocktails, take part in excursions to nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites such as lovely Baroque Noto, Siracusa with its majestic Greek theater, or Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano. Designed to make the most of your writing time while feeding your imagination, this writing-intensive retreat will prepare you, guide you, and inspire you to take your writing project to the next level.


This guided writing intensive offers participants a manuscript reading, 2-hour assessment conference, and a targeted plan for their work-in-progress prior to the week-long retreat, to take full advantage of writing and processing time at Villa Vendicari. This is not a group workshop for which you review peer manuscripts, but an intensive writing-focused and generative retreat for writers who need experienced analytical feedback; dedicated time to focus on their projects without competing responsibilities; and the creative energy of writing in community to renew the drive toward completing a manuscript. Throughout the retreat Kate will offer practical support, encouragement, and individual consultations while also providing a respectful low-key social structure with daily options for rejuvenating: beach walks, swimming, and explorations of nearby architectural and cultural treasures, as well as lively literary meals at the Villa and local trattorias. 


The retreat will take place at Villa Vendicari, a stylish and secluded contemporary villa 1 mile from Sicily’s Ionian Seacoast, located within the boundaries of Vendicari Nature Preserve, widely known for having the most beautiful sand beaches in Sicily, with crystalline clear, warm seas – even into mid-November. Sicily is essentially a desert climate with little rain and an average temperature of 68 degrees F. Fall is prime birdwatching time at the Preserve, with the arrival of  flocks of flamingos on their way to breeding grounds in Tunisia.

Villa Vendicari is surrounded by 5 private acres of garden, fruit trees, shaded terraces, a swimming pool, and the aforementioned treehouse. The roof terraces overlook the sea and offer spectacular sunset and sunrise views; the edible garden features dozens of aromatic herbs, and the dozens of fruit trees (olive, almond, carob, persimmon, fig and more) create numerous shady areas for reading and writing outdoors. Inside, the Villa has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, with two additional outdoor showers. The treehouse provides additional space for sleeping, resting, and writing. With two living rooms there is plenty of interior space as well.

Noto’s historic architecture and excellent restaurants are just minutes away, and the beautiful Duomo Square of Ortygia in Siracusa is forty minutes away; Etna and its vineyards is an hour away, and the Roman mosaics of Piazza Armerina about 2 hours. A number of wineries are just minutes away. Catania’s airport is less than an hour’s drive.


This retreat is ideal for writers who are already working on a literary fiction, creative nonfiction, memoir, or hybrid form manuscript at any stage of the project,  and think it would benefit from a fresh perspective, professional guidance, and concentrated attention. Attendance at the Sicily Writing Intensive is by application – not to be elitist or intimidating, but simply to make sure that your project is something that Kate feels she could help you to improve (“a good fit,” in other words). Email Kate if you have any questions about whether this retreat would be helpful for you!

To apply, use the "APPLY" button below to find an online application form with instructions for sending a sample of your writing and returnable application fee of $50. Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis, first come, first served. Accepted applicants must submit a 50% non-refundable deposit to hold their spot. A full manuscript will be due by October 1, 2018 with the remaining balance. 


  • $2950 for Retreat w/ private room & shared bath
  • $900 for traveling companion of participant sharing room

A limited number of double-occupancy spots may be available for a reduced fee on a first-come-first-served basis.  


Enrollment in the retreat includes:

  • A pre-retreat annotated manuscript reading & evaluation,* consultation, & action plan for the retreat, plus hands-on support and guidance during the retreat.
  • Catania airport pickup & drop-off
  • 7 nights/6 days lodging; all breakfasts, lunches, and 5 dinners prepared using local organic foodstuffs whenever possible. (Two dinners will be no-host during excursions to Noto, Siracusa, or Etna.)

*Up to 200 pages. Longer manuscripts for additional fee of $5/page.

Please note: Sicily Retreat fee does not include airfare or other long-distance travel costs, which must be arranged and paid separately by the participant. An FAQ for travel and retreat preparation will be provided. 


Kate Moses is the author of the internationally acclaimed Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath, published in sixteen languages, and Cakewalk: A Memoir, chosen by National Public Radio as one of their favorite memoirs of 2010. Recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Best Fiction by an American Woman, an American Book Award, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a Poets & Writers Debut Fiction selection, a Prix des Lectrices de Elle, and residencies from Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Headlands Center for the Arts, Hedgebrook, Karuna, Lighthouse Works, and the MacDowell Colony, Kate is also co-editor of two bestselling anthologies of essays on motherhood, Mothers Who Think: Tales of Real-Life Parenthood and Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race & Themselves. A founding editor and staff writer at Salon, former literary director of Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco, and former senior acquisitions editor of North Point Press, Kate has taught writers at two dozen universities in the U.S. and U.K., the Key West Writers Seminar, Gotham Writers Workshop, and Hedgebrook's VORTEXT; through Birds & Muses she currently works with writers in a dozen countries and fifteen states. Learn more about Kate’s books and mentoring at