Italy Retreat - October 2020
Fall in Love with Tuscany in October!
Join Lauren McClerkin for this retreat that will focus on Italian history and culture.
The Fall 2020 Retreat on Italian History and Culture will include experiences that challenge the mind as well as the body. A series of excursions will introduce you to some of the key elements in Italian history that have shaped it into the Italy that we love today. Our basecamp will be the beautiful completely restored medieval Villa Albizi in the picturesque village of Montefienali high in the Chianti hillside. Lauren will introduce the Conscious Strong wellness program that incorporates Pilates movement training with mindfulness that invigorates the body and calms the body and soul.
And what is a trip to Italy without Italian food and wine? You will enjoy superb fresh local cuisine prepared by our own chefs Sara and Linda who also will conduct a private cooking class for our group. Our villa has a private wine cellar with an abundance of excellent local wines, some included with your meals and all available for purchase.
Lauren’s philosophy is to provide excellent service to small groups of people with a keen interest in wellness and fitness. Her maximum group size is 12, which means individual attention to your goals and enjoyment of the retreat that often leads to lasting friendships among participants.
- Transportation on Thursday October 15 from the Florence city center or airport to Villa Albizi and return transportation to Florence airport or city center on October 24
- Welcome and Farewell Apertivo
- Accommodations at Villa Albizi include use sauna, gym, hot tub, pool table, media room with Netflix, washing machine, access to the kitchen and a whole lot of peace and quiet. Our group will have sole occupancy of the villa for the retreat.
- Guided and independent hiking treks along the old medieval trails around the villa and local villages
- Daily Breakfast and 8 dinners with wine, some lunches
- Housekeeping services daily
- Cooking class at the Villa; learn from our own expert chefs who cook for us daily
- Wine Tasting at the villa with local wine expert
- Daily group Pilates classes on the terrace; 1-2 individual private sessions with Lauren
- Italian language lesson that will be helpful with greetings, shopping and directions.
- Local guides and experts, support staff and support vehicle
- Airfare and trip insurance*
- Unscheduled transportation
- Wines or meals ordered “on your own”
- Gratuities for staff
- Excursion fees (listed below):
* Trip insurance is highly recommended. Proof of medical insurance coverage will be asked for. This can be your personal coverage that includes international travel or trip insurance with medical coverage.
Excursions and Fees
Etruscan and Romans Excursion: To learn about the contributions of the early Etruscans and the Romans that followed, we will travel to Volterra which was one of the twelve main towns that belonged to the Etruscan confederation; at the end of the 4th century BC, the 7300 meters long fortification walls were built up to protect the urban center, cultivated fields and pastures from foreign invasions. After the Frankish and Lombard dominions, Volterra passed under Roman control. After lunch (on your own), we will have a private tour for our group conducted by Alessandro, a local guide. The tour follows a chronological route, starting with the most important Etruscan sites and then the Roman theater, the Roman baths and the Cathedral and the Baptistery. A shopping experience will include the chance to purchase alabaster hand-made objects, for which Volterra is famous worldwide.
Trip with Private Tour $125
Trip without Private Tour $75
Medieval Excursion: Siena started as a major commercial center during the Medieval Period due to its location along the ancient pilgrimage route, the Francigena. We will enjoy a private tour provided by Costanza,an expert local guide born in Siena. After lunch (on your own), we will tour the historical center of Siena, visit the impressive Cathedral (Duomo) and its masterpieces, San Domenico Basilica where we will find the head of St. Catherine, and the Piazza del Campo, where the Palio horse race takes place twice a year. This is a competition among the 17 “contrade” (districts) into which the city is divided. To fully understand why the Sienese get so crazy about it, we will visit one of the contrada museums. True to its heritage, Siena remains a great place for shopping and you will have time to indulge.
Trip with Private Tour: $125
Trip without Private Tour $75
Agriculture Day: Italy has a long history of producing a variety of foods for which it has become world-famous. You can have a hands-on experience in Italian agriculture! Our villa has its own olive trees. Depending on the weather during the growing season, they may be ready for picking, in which case, we will pick the olives and take them to the local frantoio (olive press). It takes a lot of olives to make one bottle so we may just get taste but it will be the freshest extra virgin olive oil you will ever have! Hopefully olives will be ready to pick. If not, we will tour a farm, cheese factory or other local agricultural site and learn about the Slow Food Movement.
Fee: $20-$45 depending on activity available at the time
Historic Thermal Springs and Spas: Terme (tare-may) are natural hot springs common in Italy. Several towns have grown up around these natural thermal springs. We will travel to the town of Bagno Vignoni where some of the oldest spas, used by the Romans, are located. After a short tour of the town, we will go to the Adler Spa where you will receive a day pass (required) that gives you access to the thermal pools, fresh water pool, multiple types of saunas, the salt lagoon and the gym fitness classes. A massage is included in your package. Additional treatments may be reserved ahead of time. Visit the Adler Spa website for additional services and prices. Lunch is available at the hotel.
Basic Spa Day: $200
Renaissance Masterpieces of Florence: On the final Saturday, you will be transported back to Florence in the morning. You may opt to join us for a Private Guided Tour of the Ufizzi Gallery, the Academia Gallery to meet Michelangelo’s David, and a walking tour of the historic center concluding with gelato. Book your hotel on your own (we can provide suggestions) and our driver will drop you there. We will meet our guide at 1PM.
Cost of this 4-hour private tour is $80. Later, we will meet for dinner at a local restaurant. You can join us for both tour and dinner or either one.
Purchase of Excursions
After placing your deposit for the Retreat, additional notices will be sent to registrants regarding the selection and payment of Excursions.