Tuscany: Write, Travel, Transform... and Eat!

May 23-June 1, 2023

13 spots remaining
As of August 5, 2022

The Place

Tuscany:

Located in central Italy, Tuscany is home to stunning landscapes, world-class food, and the historic cities of Florence & Siena. It's a place of art, delicious local dishes, Chianti wines and charming hilltop towns.

Tuscany is famous for many things, but of all its qualities, the countryside is perhaps the most remarkable. Whether you are walking the vineyard trails, or driving a winding road to one of the hilltop towns, its hills, valleys, and cypress trees always seem to arrange themselves into an exquisite view. Each one more impressive than the next.

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The Villa

The retreat takes place at Villa I Bonsi, located 400m above sea level in the beautiful Tuscan hills, 45 minutes away from the magical city of Florence. Originally built in the fifteenth-century, the Villa estate covers hundreds of hectares filled with olive groves, vineyards, and forest.

The Villa belongs to a noble Florentine family who dedicated themselves to restoring it to its original glorious state after it was occupied by Germans during WWII. Between the rolling hills, the wild white peacocks strolling free on the grounds, and the air of Florentine history, there is plenty to inspire and awaken the senses.

Olive trees on the estate produce one of the finest olive oils in the world. Grapes from the expansive vineyards are used to produce delicious organic wine. The land also produces fine raw honey, seasonal garden vegetables, and its own "Vinsanto" - a delicate white dessert wine that is traditionally aged in oak barrels for at least five years. Simply divine!

Writing, Yoga and Cultural Exploration

There will be a writing workshop every day except for the two days we go on all-day outings. Laura Davis will help you sharpen your powers of observation and ability to write vivid description. You will learn to record your experiences and insights with clarity and depth, facilitating a richer travel experience. We will also use writing practice, developed by Natalie Goldberg, to discover our "wild mind" and tap our deep creativity.

Beginning and experienced writers are welcome, but since the material in the class builds progressively, this will not be a drop-in class.

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Imagine stepping outside into a beautiful Tuscan morning for an hour of yoga. We’ll begin each morning with a well-rounded practice led by Iyengar yoga teacher, Karyn Bristol. Our daily sequences will focus on three aspects of yoga designed to support the needs of travelers: balance, presence, and peace.

Beginning the day with a calm focus, connected to your own center, increases relaxation, receptivity, and your capacity to be flexible, essential qualities in a traveling community.

Newcomers to yoga are welcome. Karyn is a deeply experienced, trained Iyengar yoga teacher who can modify poses to meet a wide range of experience and physical conditions.

Most days we’ll have an hour-long yoga class and a 3-hour writing class, as well as time for relaxation, exploration and rest.

A typical day will look like this:

8:00-9:00 AM:     Hour-long Yoga Class with Karyn Bristol
9:00-10:00 AM:    Breakfast
10:00-1:00 PM:     Writing Workshop with Laura Davis
1:00-2:30 PM:       Lunch
2:30-5:00 PM:       Personal Time: Siesta, Journaling, Pool Time
5:00-8:00 PM:       Late Afternoon Activities (varies by day)
8:00-10:00 PM:     Dinner

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Here’s one of our favorite companions from the Villa. He loves to make a show of himself!

Who This Trip is For:

Although this is a trip designed with writers in mind, this isn't a retreat where you hole up and write for most of the day. Rather, this trip is designed for people who are looking for something other than an intensive writing retreat. Our itinerary features excursions and daily opportunities to actively explore Tuscany's natural, cultural, and culinary treasures. Writing and yoga are the tools that will help you integrate this relaxing, immersion experience.

Non-Writing Spouses and Friends are welcome to join our trip. They are free to use the hours of writing class for rest, relaxation, photography, painting, exploration on their own, unexpected adventures, or whatever else they enjoy doing while on vacation.

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Steps

Physical Requirements: This trip is designed for anyone in reasonable physical health, capable of walking at a relaxed pace for one to two hours at a time, able to traverse uneven terrain without the kind of assistance we take for granted in the US, like hand railings or standard step heights. The Villa is filled with stone steps everywhere!

To see Italy at ground-level requires walking, and we will walk on dirt roads or cobblestone at various times during the trip. Plan to wear sturdy and supportive footwear: tennis or walking shoes.

Just about everybody will feel sleepy during the day from the time change, which is why we include midday siestas in the schedule.

Food

Traditional Tuscan Cuisine

Taking time and enjoying 'slow' meals in community are invaluable components for aging gracefully, happily, and fulfilled. This is an integral part of this trip's experience - and Italians are not new to this concept!

On most days, you will enjoy three daily multi-course meals during the retreat. Lunches will be served outside on the terrazza that overlooks the main garden. The dining room is located inside the main Villa - a seventeenth century room where you will feel like royalty!

The menu is filled with ancient Mediterranean flavors that Italian centenarians have enjoyed for generations.

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The dishes are a celebration of the Tuscan lifestyle. They strive for creating local traditional recipes - not following the latest fads.

They use organic, fresh, seasonal, and locally-sourced ingredients.

*Please note that grains and grain products, such as bread and pasta, barley, spelt, oats, etc. are important and prevalent components of Italian cuisine. Our team is able to make reasonable accommodations for gluten and dairy free options upon request. However, if you have a severe allergy to gluten or any other kind of severe allergy, this experience may not be the right fit for you. Please be sure to discuss your needs with our team before making your reservation.

Click to view a sample menu …and just keep scrolling!

Accommodations

Accommodations are held in charming apartments with double or single bedrooms and a shared living-room with a fireplace. Apartments are located in a seventeenth-century building attached to the main Villa, historically used as a convent. Its original structure has been meticulously and elegantly maintained for an authentic experience.

ALL 9 NIGHTS OF LODGING ARE INCLUDED WITH YOUR REGISTRATION.

Accommodations are simple with an old world charm. You'll feel like you've stepped back into the era of the "Grand Tour" with the beautiful period furniture.

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Livingroom

Participants will enjoy exclusive access to Villa amenities including the elegant gardens, stunning pool overlooking the Tuscan countryside and miles of olive groves and vineyard trails.

NOTE: We are limiting double occupancy to couples, family members, and friends choosing to travel together. We will not be assigning roommates to solo travelers as we have on prior trips. If you are traveling alone, you will need to book a single occupancy room, with or without a shared bath.

There are four accommodation options available:

1. SHARED
Double-Occupancy Room with Two Twin Beds and Shared Bath
Per person based on double occupancy. You can bring a spouse or a friend. For couples, the two twin beds are pushed together. European-style bathrooms will be shared with one or two other participants.

2. SINGLE
Private Room with Shared Bath
Per person based on single occupancy. Bathrooms will be shared with one or two other participants.

3. SINGLE PLUS
Private Room with Private Bath
Per person based on single occupancy. The private bathrooms are in the apartment, but outside of the sleeping area.

4. MASTER SUITE (there is only one)

Private Suite with Loft Studio Apartment, a kitchen, and stand-up shower (as opposed to a bath). A spiral stair leads up to the sleeping loft.

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Here's What Our 2022 Travelers Had to Say:

“So often a webpage prints a picture of perfection, but Villa Bonsi was even more beautiful that the beautiful pictures on the website. This trip provided more than I expected on every level.”

—Lucie Eggleston, Columbia, South Carolina

“I’d absolutely recommend this trip. It has everything: creativity, time, exercise, education, great food at an outdoor table in the twilight, and the chance to get to know your neighbor.”

—Toni Taylor, Santa Cruz, CA

“Villa Bonsi is magical. The food and staff are amazing. You will be transported to a deep level of beauty and life.”

—Derya Samadi, Boston, Massachusetts

“It was great to know that international travel was really possible during Covid.”

—Lucie Eggleston, Columbia, South Carolina

“I felt well cared for. I could relax into all the experiences we had because I was in such good hands. The organizers provided a great balance between intriguing experiences and down time to relax and wander.”

—Tamara Myers, Darwin, California

“I was delighted by how welcoming, lovely, open, and interesting our three leaders and all the group members were. That feeling of community was a precious opportunity.”

—Joni Mantell, New York City and New Hope, Pennsylvania

“This trip has the perfect combination of activities to fill your heart, soul, spirit and even your physical side. Everything about this trip had a real sense of ease and comfort to it. There was no pressure to be the perfect writer or yogi.”

—Kim Lanzillota, Los Angeles, California

“Laura’s trip to Tuscany provided just the right balance between free time, writing and excursions. It felt balanced, especially as a new writer and someone traveling alone. I never felt like I wanted more of one thing and less or another. And then there were also many extras: shared stories, the connections made with others, and a physical setting that filled my soul tank. The quiet that was available.”

—Gail Gorman, Belmont, Massachusetts

“Just go! Come to Italy ready to really feel the culture, the food, the olive oil and wine making. Visit neighboring villages. EAT EVERYTHING! Observe the little things…all the precious moments. Those special moments made up the fabric of this trip. Meditate…yoga…eat…write…rest…laugh…and REPEAT.”

—Kim Lanzillota, Los Angeles, California

“Laura’s trip to Tuscany was just the right mix of R&R, sightseeing and writing. I was surprised and delighted at how cohesive the group was, how safe I felt. I loved getting to the learn about this incredible place we were so fortunate to stay in. Learning that history made this trip extra special.”

--Dana Lerner, New York City

“The food was gourmet, every meal delicious.”

—Dana Lerner, New York City

“I was delighted by the friendliness and smiles of the staff. I loved the spaciousness of our accommodations. Getting to know Gigi, who graciously hosted us at the Villa, was so special. It felt like we were being welcomed into someone’s personal home rather than staying in a hotel.”

--Tamara Myers, Darwin California

“My accommodations were superb.”

—Donna McArthur, Vancouver Island

“If you go to Italy with Laura and Graseilah, you will have a rich array of experiences, taste Italian culture, be part of a safe, supportive writing class, and be surrounded by incredibly beauty in a historic Villa that is luxurious and offers simple elegance. Don’t hesitate. Sign up today!”

—Tamara Myers, Darwin California

Would You Like to Add an Adventure to the Magical City of Florence?

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Florence is one of the most charming cities in Tuscany – if not all of Italy. It is a place to immerse yourself in history, art, and architecture. Dubbed the birthplace of the Renaissance, it’s home to works by Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo at the world-famous Uffizi Gallery, and beautiful attractions like the Ponte Vecchio and the Boboli Gardens. We could write books about this city for eternity. Given its medieval and Enlightenment history, it’s no surprise there’s plenty to be savored, celebrated, and discovered.

There are so many things to see and do in Florence that visitors can find it challenging to decide which ones to visit, what to see and do. A month-long holiday in Florence wouldn't be enough to discover all its wonders. Because we won’t be touring Florence during our ten-day retreat, we have decided to offer our travelers this special dedicated time to explore this magical city with us after our time at the Villa. The tour of Florence will begin the morning after the main retreat ends.

Our wonderful and varied itinerary will include classic sights, less known treasures, and even an exclusive private palace tour. Experience Italy’s Renaissance capital by strolling around the historic monuments of Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria, cross the landmark Ponte Vecchio bridge, soak in the beauty of the opulent Boboli Gardens and the legendary Duomo. Browse artist’s workshops in the lively Oltrarno, join artist demonstrations, and enjoy the skip-the-line entrance to the Accademia to view Michelangelo's world-famous David sculpture. You’ll also have down time to shop, wander, and explore the city on your own.

Physical Requirements: This tour is designed for anyone in reasonable physical health, capable of walking at a relaxed pace for two to three hours at a time, able to traverse uneven terrain without the kind of assistance we take for granted in the US, like hand railings or standard step heights. To see Florence at ground-level requires walking, and we will walk on cobblestone streets and uneven terrain every day.

The hike to Piazzale Michelangelo on the last day requires an ability to walk and climb steep stone steps. It is an uphill walk of 10-15 minutes. However, there is no need for speed. We will walk at a slow and relaxing pace, taking breaks as needed. Plan to wear comfortable supportive footwear, like tennis shoes.

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Your investment: The cost for the four-day Florence extension is $1400 for a double occupancy room and $2100 for a single room.

This specially-curated, small-group tour is limited to 8 people, with a minimum of 4, ensuring a more intimate personalized experience. If less than 6 people sign up, there will be a small group supplement of $500 per person.

Double occupancy rooms will be limited to couples, family members, or friends choosing to travel together; we. We will not be assigning roommates to solo travelers, so if you’re traveling alone, you will need to book a single.

We hope you will join us for this rich exploration of the art, beauty, culture, and food of Florence.

Full Itinerary

A highlight of this experience is time shared with your new community of writers. Whether you walk in the vineyards or participate in our daily yoga class, you'll have the chance to relax, rejuvenate and share with others. Here are some of the wonderful opportunities we've created for you.

Note: All activities on this tour are subject to change. There may be unique opportunities we can take advantage of in the moment. Participating in one of these opportunities may preclude doing something that's already on the itinerary or change the sequence of activities. Weather may also cause changes to our itinerary. In case any activity must be canceled, another similar activity will be substituted if possible. There will be no refunds for any activities that participants do not attend. Anyone who leaves the tour itinerary at any time FOR ANY REASON will be responsible for their own costs and safety.

Your Guides

Laura Davis: Writing Teacher

The author of seven non-fiction books, including The Courage to Heal, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be and I Thought We'd Never Speak Again. Laura's groundbreaking books have sold more than 1.8 million copies around the world. Laura has also worked as a columnist, talk show host, radio reporter, radio producer, blogger, editor and speaker. Words have always been at the core of her work and her self-expression.

Laura's newest book, The Burning Light of Two Stars: A Mother-Daughter Story, her first memoir, tells the story of her dramatic and tumultuous relationship with her mother from the time of Laura's birth until her mother's death. You can read the first five chapters for free here.

Laura has been mentoring and supporting writers for the past 20 years. It is truly the work of her heart: "I love teaching. I love watching my students find their natural voice and their rhythm. I love it when they find their true stories and discover the courage to put them on the page. I feel like a midwife as my students birth their stories, and I feel honored to witness their bursts of creativity and pure life energy pouring out on the page. Our writing circles are safe places where skills are honed, tears and laughter are welcome, and each writer is seen, heard and deeply known."

Laura leads weekly writing groups and retreats in the Santa Cruz, CA region and online, as well as retreats internationally. She has taken writers to Bali, Scotland, Greece, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Peru, and Italy. She documents these trips to the delight of many readers in her blog, The Virtual Vacation. You can visit Laura’s media page to read, listen, and watch her talk about her work.

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Praise for Laura

“From the outset, Laura’s guidance was clear and gentle. She is a very skilled and gifted writing teacher and mentor. I appreciated the holding structure she provided. I never felt the group was at any risk of losing its way.”

—Gail Gorman, Belmont, Massachusetts

“Laura is a seasoned writing teacher with a large set of tools. Her joy in poetry, writing and sharing was infectious. It was clear to me that she enjoyed all her students, even though we were all at different levels with different wishes and vulnerabilities.”

—Joni Mantell, New York City and New Hope, Pennsylvania

“Laura is solid, generous, thoughtful, and talented. She made me feel safe. I very much appreciated her patience and soothing voice encouraging us to take our time when we shared in writing class.”

—Derya Samadi, Boston, Massachusetts

“Laura’s teaching reaches me, supports me, and challenges me. That’s why I come back again and again.”

—Toni Taylor, Santa Cruz, California

“My goal was to start writing again after my mother’s death—and I did! My pen is now freed from being totally stuck in grief and the busyness I created to avoid that grief. The space and time this retreat provided were important ingredients in freeing my voice.”

—Joni Mantell, New York City and New Hope, Pennsylvania

“The primary reason I came to the retreat was to strengthen my writing and the most meaningful part of the retreat was the internal journey I took under Laura’s guidance. I answered questions I didn’t even know I had about where I am in my writing and in this chapter of my life. I now know what I will do with my writing when I get home and that brings me peace and joy.”

—Lucie Eggleston, Columbia, South Carolina

“Laura made the writing class easy to participate in. I didn’t know what to expect, and I walked in feeling anxious about the unknown. Those fears melted away with Laura’s expert guidance.”

—Lynn Kamp, Holland, Michigan

“My favorite part of the trip was listening to the stories of others in our writing class. My writing is still very young, unsure, and introspective. Listening to the writing of some of the others made me feel like I was listening to beautiful music.”

—Gail Gorman, Belmont, Massachusetts

“Laura is a supportive and very GENEROUS teacher. I have wonderful writing and publishing resources to take back with me. One of her very first prompts launched me into a new essay that I will relish writing.”

—Lucie Eggleston, Columbia, South Carolina

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Graseilah Coolidge

Graseilah's passion for creating enriching educational experiences has been as diverse as her interests and background. She has led and organized international conferences and retreats for over 10 years. She has hosted events for a wide variety of groups and organizations such as the United Nations, the US government, the University of California, and many other organizations in the defense and space arena. Graseilah is the founder and host of Epic Gatherings, an international community of health enthusiasts and adventurers who come together every year to enjoy culinary and lifestyle pleasures in Italy.

Graseilah has a Master's degree in International Policy and Bachelor's degrees in International Relations and Economics. She's also an alumna of the Global Startup Program at Singularity University at NASA-Ames.

In her free time, Graseilah acts as a Transformational Nutrition ambassador and is on a mission to help people live healthier lives. Graseilah is fluent in Italian, Spanish and English. She is also proficient in French and Portuguese. She currently resides in Santa Cruz, CA with her beloved husband and continues to travel the world.

Praise for Graseilah

“Graseilah was always smiling, organized, and articulate as she fulfilled her role of leadership. She was always one step ahead of our needs. I’m so appreciative of how she took care of all of us.”

—Joni Mantell, New York City and New Hope, Pennsylvania

“Graseilah is responsive and fun. She’s warm and approachable. She’s also rock-solid, unflappable, steady-as-a-drum, essential for someone in her job. I loved getting to know her.”

—Lucie Eggleston, Columbia, South Carolina

“Graseilah is a rare find—extra special!”

—Dana Lerner, New York City

“Graseilah is such a soulful, happy person. There is something grounding about her voice and presence that drew me in. Her deep appreciation and love of Tuscany was contagious.”

—Derya Samadi, Boston, Massachusetts

“Graseilah was both professional and kind. I could tell right away that she was confident and proud of Italy and that she loved sharing Italian culture with us. She hired the best staff and executed everything to a tee.”

—Kim Lanzillota, Los Angeles, California

“Graseilah is organized and able to keep us focused and on track as a group. She had great knowledge of the area and chose interesting activities for us. She responded fast and with kindness to any problems or questions that arose. And she always kept her cool and made the trip fun.”

—Maria Caponi, Los Angeles, California

“Graseilah confidently led us throughout our days, noticing energy levels, interests, and challenges. She made herself available at all times, and answered all questions, no matter how inconsequential. I always felt the trip was being in capable hands.”

—Gail Gorman, Belmont, Massachusetts

Karyn Bristol

When new students walk into their first yoga class, they often fear that they’re not fit or flexible enough. They worry that they don’t have the right body type or that they’re too old, that injuries or physical limitations will stand in their way. But yoga has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re young or old, large, small, or in-between, flexible or stiff, athletic or just starting to know your body, yoga can help you.

Let her show you how.

Karyn has been passionate about yoga for the past thirty years. She started studying yoga in midlife and it’s been transforming her life ever since. Her practice has brought her physical well-being, a deep connection to herself, and a growing relationship to her own spirituality.

Karyn says: “As an Iyengar yoga teacher, my greatest joy is watching students grow through the natural evolution of yoga in their lives, seeing it transform them in so many levels: increasing flexibility, reducing pain, healing mind, body and spirit, increasing joy, inspiring lifelong commitment to health and well-being.

Let me share the gift of yoga with you.”

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About the role of yoga on this trip

On our daily outings, we will be traversing a variety of terrain—uneven steps and pavement, irregular paths, and cobblestones. There will be surprises for our feet and legs at every turn. Bringing balance and awareness as we walk is essential to our safety. Yoga will strengthen our awareness and increase our ability to stay balanced and nimble.

Starting our mornings with the strong inner and outer focus of yoga will set the tone for being present all day. This will translate into increased mental focus and greater sensory awareness in the moment, enabling you to savor the pleasures of the day with your full attention.

Praise for Karyn

“Karyn is fabulous: centered, thoughtful, honest, funny, and very knowledgeable. She adds hope for the future of an easier body.”

—Toni Taylor, Santa Cruz, CA

“Karyn is a fantastic yoga teacher—the perfect teacher for this setting.”

—Dana Lerner, New York City

“Karyn was able to lead and demonstrate her deep knowledge of yoga to a group who couldn’t have been more yoga-challenged.”

—Gail Gorman, Belmont, Massachusetts

“Karyn cares deeply about sharing her knowledge and understanding of yoga and the body to help people heal from improper alignment. I love the way she customized her classes to meet everyone’s individual needs.”

—Tamara Myers, Darwin California

“Karyn was so careful and attentive as a yoga teacher. I felt very seen by her and came away with important advice on both yoga postures and how I carry myself physically.”

—Barbara Crofford, Los Angeles California

“The yoga class was one of my favorite parts of this trip because Karyn was such a kind, strong, excellent yoga teacher. She took care of each of us and our bodies to avoid injuries. It was worth getting up in the morning for her class, even for a night owl like me.”

—Maria Caponi, Los Angeles, California

Travel

Florence: Pick-up and Drop off: Our remote piece of paradise is not easily accessible by public transportation, which is why we have arranged a complementary shuttle service to take us to and from the retreat as a group. Our pick-up spot will be close to central Florence, but just outside the city center to avoid traffic.

Please plan to be at our pick-up spot by 2 pm on May 23, 2023.

Pick-up Location: In central Florence, exact location to be determined.

If you are coming from overseas, we suggest arriving in Florence the night before the retreat.

Round-trip transportation from Florence to the Villa is included in your registration fee. If you are unable to arrive at our pick-up spot on time, you'll need to arrange and pay for your own transportation to the Villa. In this case, please let us know as soon as possible.

On our last day, we plan to leave the Villa shortly after lunch. We should be back in Florence by 5 pm on June 1, 2023 (depending on traffic).

Drop-off Location: In central Florence, exact location to be determined.

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Please do not book your return flight in the morning or afternoon of June 1st (or June 5th if you’re coming to the Florence extension.) If you do, you'll miss our final closing session, and will also be responsible for arranging for and paying for your own transportation back to Florence.

TIP: We recommend that you stay in Florence at least one last night after the retreat.

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Flights: Most airlines will have you stop over in a major European city like Frankfurt, Paris, or Rome before flying you into Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola (FLR)—the Florence Airport, also known as “Amerigo Vespucci” Airport. If you fly through London, try to avoid flying into Heathrow (LHR) and having to bus to Gatwick (LGW), which is 45 minutes away, without traffic.

Be sure to check on current covid travel restrictions and requirements for any country you’re considering transiting through.

We encourage you to book your flights and arrange your travel insurance (including required Covid insurance) with a trusted travel agent. We recommend that you work with our travel agent, Linda Schwedock, so that arrival times, departure times, and ground transportation are coordinated. Linda can also help you if you want to arrive sooner, leave later, or add other destinations onto your itinerary.

Linda is available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10:00 am until 3 pm Pacific Time:

Linda Schwedock
Pacific Harbor Travel
519 Seabright Ave #201
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

For now, email is the best way to reach her:
linda@pacificharbortravel.com
CST# 1014242-10

Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is required for this trip. It needs to cover any medical expenses that occur during your trip, including those related to Covid-19 and quarantining and should also cover trip cancellation, in case illness or injury prevents you from going on the trip. We ask that you register for our upcoming trip only if you are comfortable with our Covid-19 policies and procedures and agree to our responsible together commitment page.

Passports, Visa and Health: A passport is required, valid six months from date of entry. No special visas are required for US citizens. Stay up-to-date with Italy’s latest travel health requirements here.

The Impact of Covid on Travel

We understand that deciding when to travel next is a personal decision that comes with both excitement and reluctance, especially now. Our goal is to help you feel comfortable and supported during your trip to Italy. At the same time, there are inherent risks integral to travel. We continually assess and manage for risks, as we always do, yet some risks are in our control and others are not.

With that in mind, for the 2022 Tuscany trip, we continually monitored Covid-19 guidelines from the CDC and Italian health departments and adjusted our policies and procedures to stay in alignment with changing guidelines. We tweaked our rules as we got closer to the trip, erring on the side of caution, to keep our travelers as safe as possible. 

In 2022, we rented the entire Villa so there would be no other guests but us. We required all our travelers to take a rapid test the morning before we were scheduled to meet so they could provide evidence of a negative test. We then stayed masked whenever we were indoors until the morning of the third day when we tested again. Once everyone tested negative a second time, masks came off for the rest of the retreat.

We don’t know what spring of 2023 will look like in terms of Covid, but we will once again rent the entire Villa and apply the same attention and diligence to the 2023 trip.

We ask that you register for our upcoming trip only if you are comfortable with our Covid-19 policies and procedures and agree to our Responsible Together Commitment.

FAQ

How Many Participants Do You Accept at the Retreat?

We work on delivering an experience that is intimate, with enough time for quality interaction and support. We are taking a maximum of 16 travelers. The trip has a 12 person minimum.

How Many Days Will I Need to Take Off?

We've found that the sweet spot for the Tuscany Villa retreat is 9 nights. You will need to take off 10 days for the retreat and 2 days for traveling on either side, for a total of fourteen days minimum. If you are joining for the Florence addition, you will need to add an additional four days. If in addition, you prefer to travel outside of Italy, you can easily combine this retreat with other European destinations.

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How Much Does It Cost Per Person?

Pricing varies on your accommodation selection. Please see registration section for price details. NOTE: The cost is the same even if someone is not participating in the writing portion of the trip.

Do I Need to Put a Deposit Down to Secure My Reservation?

Yes. You may secure your spot with a $1000 deposit as part of your registration, and an additional $200 for the Florence extension. You may do this by clicking on your accommodation preference and selecting the deposit option.

Should I Plan to Spend the Night in Florence Before Pick-Up Day?

Yes. That's always a safe bet. The courtesy shuttle to the Villa leaves on Tuesday in the early afternoon. The date and time are posted in the travel section.

For those traveling a long way, we encourage you to arrive in Florence several days earlier to help you adjust and get over the jet lag, as well as give you time to warm up to a new culture.

Can I Get a Direct Flight to Florence from the US?

No, most airlines will have you connect to a major European city, like Frankfurt, Paris, or Rome. Please refer to our travel section for more travel tips. Please consult with a travel agent about Covid restrictions for any country you are considering transiting through.

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Can I Rent a Car Instead and Drive Myself to the Villa?

Yes. However once at the retreat, you will not need a car. If you are staying in the city center of Florence before or after the retreat, a car isn't necessary either. In fact, cars are more of headache given that most streets in Florence are for pedestrian use only. Renting a car for personal use is entirely up to you depending on what you plan to do before or after the retreat.

Can I Extend My Stay Beyond the Retreat?

No, it is not possible to stay at the Villa beyond our retreat dates.

I Still Have a Few Questions. Can I Talk to Someone?

Absolutely! We love hearing from potential participants and answering any questions you may have to see whether or not our retreats are right for you. Feel free to contact us.

Our Trip Includes:

  • Lodging for 9 nights at a tranquil charming Villa apartment
  • Round-trip transportation from our meeting point in Florence to the Villa. Please consult the schedule for pick-up and return info.
  • Writing workshops with Laura almost every day
  • Yoga instruction with Karyn every morning
  • Locally-sourced, traditional meals, freshly prepared by our Epic chef. Including:
    • A casual welcome gathering with aperitifs
    • Breakfast each morning
    • Daily lunches in the garden, except for two while we are out exploring the area (one is on-your-own)
    • Family-style dinners inside the elegant Villa or outside under the myriad of stars (weather permitting)
  • Access to Villa amenities including the elegant gardens and stunning pool overlooking the Tuscan countryside
  • Tour and wine tasting at rock-and-roll icon Sting’s gorgeous villa
  • Cooking lessons on Italian cuisine
  • A truffle hunt with a professional truffle hunter and his dogs in the hills surrounding Montespertoli
  • Villa history and garden tour
  • A day trip to Lucca, a picturesque walled town of historic significance in Tuscany
  • A tour to explore the making of organic, locally grown Laudemio olive oil
  • Local guides for many of the activities
  • Tips for activities and drivers included on the itinerary
  • A supportive, relaxed and nurturing environment
  • A wonderful experience of community and connection with a creative, adventurous group of fellow travelers
  • Multiple opportunities for deep relaxation, personal insight, pleasure, intimacy, adventure and joy.
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What's Not Included:

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  • Round-trip flight to and from Florence
  • Overnight accommodations in Florence, if necessary for your flight itinerary
  • Transportation from your airport to our meeting place in Florence and back at the end of the trip
  • One lunch
  • Personal, medical, or trip cancellation insurance.
  • Souvenir shopping
  • Personal phone calls
  • Bottled water, alcoholic drinks not included in the wine tasting or extra snacks
  • Extra taxis
  • Covid testing if required
  • Personal laundry

Our Florence Extension Includes:

  • Lodging for 4 nights at Loggiato dei Serviti Hotel in Central Florence
  • Breakfast each morning at our hotel
  • Three delicious 3-course dinners at local Florentine restaurants, house wine included
  • All activities described in the Itinerary
  • Aperitivo at Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Tour of Palazzo Budini Gattai Gardens and afternoon tea
  • Visit to the Galleria dell ’Accademia and the original sculpture of Michelangelo’s David
  • Tour of artisanal shops and demonstration
  • Morning visit and tour of Boboli Gardens
  • Tour of the inside of the famous Il Duomo
  • Tastings at a local Artisanal Gelateria
  • Guided walking tour of Florence's main exterior landmarks
  • Guided tour of Palazzo Vecchio
  • Sunset hike to Church of Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte
  • Sunset aperitivo at the iconic Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Entrance fees to all museums, buildings, and landmarks visited during the tour
  • Local guides for many of the activities
2 vertical Inclusions

Our Florence Extension: What's Not Included

1 Vertical
  • Airport transfers
  • Laundry or any other hotel incidental
  • Three lunches (meals range from $20-$35 each)
  • Optional tips for local guides
  • Personal, medical, or trip cancellation insurance
  • Souvenir shopping
  • Personal phone calls
  • Bottled water or extra snacks
  • Wine and alcoholic drinks outside of the three included dinners
  • Extra taxis. This is mostly a walking trip, but you may choose to take a taxi to a destination instead of walking with the group. This could range between $10-$40.

How Do I Sign Up For This Amazing Adventure?

Write, Travel, Transform... and Eat!

May 23-June 1, 2023

Your Investment:

Cost: $6650 for double occupancy based on two people sharing a twin-bedded room at the Villa. Accommodations are European style; if you're a couple and want to have one bed, it may be two twins pushed together. Bathrooms for the double-occupancy rooms are typically outside the bedroom, shared with one other room.

Single Room Supplement: There are three types of single room upgrades. The first is a single with a shared bath that costs an additional $600. The second is a “single plus”, with a private bath, that costs an additional $950. And we have one special private master suite that includes a loft studio apartment, a kitchen, and stand-up shower (as opposed to a bath) for an additional $1500.

Florence Extension: The cost for the four-day Florence extension is $1400 for a double occupancy room and $2100 for a single room. We will take a maximum of eight travelers and a minimum of four. If less than six people sign up, there will be a small group supplement of $500 per person. Double occupancy rooms will be limited to couples, family members, or friends choosing to travel together.

Roommates: We will only permit a limited number of shared rooms for those who are already coming with a relation or friend (pending availability). We will not be pairing solo travelers as roommates on this trip.

Size of Trip: This is an intimate vacation, limited to 16 people, with a minimum of 12. If the minimum number is not met, you will receive a full refund. The Writer’s Journey LLC will not be responsible for any additional expenses incurred, such as nonrefundable airline tickets or passport fees.

Payment Schedule: A non-refundable deposit of $1000 is due with registration, plus a $200 non-refundable deposit if you intend to join us for the additional tour of Florence. The final balance of $5650, plus any supplements will be due February 1, 2023.

Cancellations and Refunds: The initial $1000 non-refundable deposit  (or $1200 if you signed up for Florence extension) will be forfeited in all cases. After February 1, 2023, there will be no refunds. Exceptions to this cancellation policy cannot be made for any reason, including personal emergencies. Travel protection insurance will provide your only option for recouping your investment in the trip. Please read the cancellation and refunds section carefully so that you understand the policy.

We reserve the right to cancel the trip (due to lock downs, natural disasters, border closures, or unforeseen acts of God). We will notify participants a minimum of 40 days in advance of the start date and everything you've paid directly to The Writer’s Journey LLC will be refunded—minus a $500 administrative fee. We require this fee because arranging international programs is a complex process which requires us to make advance preparations and payments regardless of whether we run the trip or not. For this reason, we recommend that you purchase “Cancel for Any Reason” travel insurance coverage and always do your due diligence about what’s being covered. This can be included in the international travel protection plan that purchased through your travel agent.

Once you complete your online registration, you will be mailed a confirmation packet that includes releases and a medical information form that you will need to complete and send back by return mail in order to complete your registration.

Virtual Vacation Tuscany 2022

Here are the virtual vacation posts from our first visit to Tuscany - read through to get an idea of just how wonderful this trip is!

How to Lead a Writer’s Retreat in Tuscany During a Pandemic

Spend months in the summer of 2019 meeting with Graseilah, your tour guide partner, designing a dreamy ten-day writing retreat at a Villa in Tuscany, a place you’ve never been. Drool over pictures of the Villa you’ll be staying in: the gorgeous swimming pool, the beautifully set outdoor table, an albino peacock strolling through the …

How to Lead a Writer’s Retreat in Tuscany During a Pandemic Read More »

Going on Vacation in Tuscany While the World Goes to Hell

It’s a weird time to be going on vacation, especially an international trip to Europe. Of course, leading a trip and facilitating a creative retreat experience for others isn’t the same as taking a private vacation. But having led these trips for ten years now, there’s an unfolding in the lead-up to each new adventure …

Going on Vacation in Tuscany While the World Goes to Hell Read More »

Almost Ready to Go

It’s 4:00 PM and I just changed my outgoing voicemail message for the first time in three years. Because that’s how long it’s been since I flew abroad. When I arrive in Tuscany to lead my Write, Travel, Transform retreat, I’ll be buying an Italian SIM card and won’t be able to get calls on …

Almost Ready to Go Read More »

We Made it to Tuscany

An uneventful flight in cattle class. Flying internationally is one of the places my childhood training in dissociation comes in handy. I can sit in one of those squished seats overnight and nap and watch three movies: the new West Side Story, a documentary about a big wave surfer, and a father-son saga set in …

We Made it to Tuscany Read More »

Early Morning Walk Firenze

Despite a loud party going on outside our hotel window last night, .5 mg Ativan and my c-pap machine helped me sleep through the night. I woke up at 5:00 AM, which is pretty much when I’ve been waking up in Santa Cruz. I got up, checked the weather—60 degrees and heading up to 88—and …

Early Morning Walk Firenze Read More »

Traveling Without a Phone

I’m a phone addict. There’s no doubt about it. My laptop and my phone are extensions of my being and my fingers. My work life is entwined with them. My teaching is entwined with them. My home life is entwined with them. I write on them, communicate on them, blog on them, post on them, …

Traveling Without a Phone Read More »

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