Overview

Awaken the Heart
Yoga Retreat with Vicky Gray-Clark 
Wednesday, October 30 - Wednesday, November 6, 2019 

Autumn in Italy is a feast for the eyes and the palette. Breathtaking fall colors can be seen from vineyards to olive groves to the mountains, and the weather is mild. The Awaken the Heart yoga and sightseeing retreat is a 7-night/8 day tour to Tuscany, Italy, October 30 – November 6, 2019. The retreat is open to 8 guests.

The cornerstone of Awaken the Heart will be beautifully energizing and restorative yoga classes lead each day by Vicky Gray-Clark, RYT 200 Yoga Alliance instructor.

Awaken the Heart is also an immersive travel opportunity highlighted by activities connected to the fall harvest in Tuscany that inspire beauty, energizes the body and uplifts the spirit.

Villa Poggio di Gaville, about 35 miles southeast of Florence, will serve as a tranquil home base for the seven-night duration of the tour. Restored in 2004 to its original splendor, the 18th-century villa lies deep in the hills just outside the charming town of Figline Valdarno, in the Chianti and is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.

The villa offers indoor and outdoor spaces for yoga practice. Guests will stay in beautifully appointed private rooms with bath featuring terracotta floors and exposed wood beams and free Wi-Fi. The locale offers an ideal point of departure for day trips to explore the rich ambiance of nearby hill towns and cultural centers, shop or to enjoy great country walks.

We’ll eat the majority of our meals at the Poggio di Gaville restaurant (open only to retreat guests) with food prepared by proprietor and award-winning international chef Jamal Amin. The cuisine offers both traditional Tuscany cuisine as well as creative Mediterranean dishes and an extensive selection of wines. The retreat will also offer opportunities to explore local cuisine.

The Practice: The Awaken the Heart retreat is designed around two daily practices, a morning, energizing Hatha vinyasa-style yoga practice and evening meditation and/or restorative practice.

Leisurely paced, the Awaken the Heart itinerary encourages guests to foster an intimate connection with the Tuscany landscape and people with time to savor the food and wine, and discover the sights, language, culture and indescribable beauty of the region during harvest season.

 

Highlights

  • Small tour group, limited to 8 guests. This intimate group size will allow us to move more freely and experience the Tuscan region in a more authentic way.

  • Seven nights accommodation at Villa Poggio di Gaville just outside of Figline Valdarno (35 minutes from Florence) featuring private, beautifully appointed apartments with private bathroom, furnished in updated Tuscan country-style furnishings. Guests can leisurely enjoy the natural surroundings including walking paths and trails and to nearby Lake Santa Barbara. 

  • Yoga class each morning of the retreat and a late afternoon or evening yoga or meditation session led by certified yoga instructor Vicky Gray-Clark. (all levels of yoga practitioners are welcome on the tour!)

  • Italian buffet breakfast served each morning at the villa.

  • Four lunches served at the villa, one lunch provided off-site.

  • Four dinners served at the villa, including one cooking class. Guests will learn to cook a traditional Tuscan-style dinner dish with Villa di Gaville proprietor and internationally acclaimed chef, Jamal Amin, that will emphasize seasonal ingredients culminating in an authentic style harvest dinner shared by guests. (dietary restrictions considered)

  • A day to tour the Firenze historic center (centro storico), the exquisite capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, and home of Renaissance art and architecture. Spirit of Italy Tours will provide a suggested itinerary so that guests can explore the city at their own pace. Mainly closed to commercial traffic, this is a compact city easily explored by foot.

  • Winery tour and tasting at Cantalici Winery in the heart of the Chianti.

  • Olive picking at Casa Falcioni. Guests will collect olives by hand in the heart of Tuscany on the breathtaking 10-acre Casa Falcioni olive grove in Cavriglia (guests take home olive oil from hand-picked olives). Lunch and hospitality provided by the Falcioni family featuring typical Tuscan fare, and local wine. [Note: the Falcioni family's extra virgin olive oil was recently voted third best in the region!]

  • Special evening yoga class at the Shanti Marg ashtanga yoga studio in Figline Valdarno.

  • A visit to the historic town of Arezzo known for its museums, monuments, and churches to enjoy its monthly open-air antique/flea market, considered one of Italy’s oldest, and finest.

  • All ground transport – including round trip group transport to/from Florence airport on October 30 and return to Florence airport on November 6. Group transportation will be provided in a comfortable minibus with a local and experienced driver. Transport is provided to the sightseeing and activities listed in the itinerary within the Valdarno region of Tuscany to explore towns including Firenze, Cavriglia, Montevarchi, Arezzo, Gaiole in Chianti, Figline Valdarno, San Giovanni Valdarno, and others.

  • Full-time services of Vicky Gray-Clark who will facilitate yoga and meditation classes and along with local Italian hospitality professionals will help guests cultivate an authentic and safe travel experience.  

 

TOTAL TOUR COST: $2400.00 USD per person

Pricing does not include:
  • International airfare to and from Italy

  • Airport departure taxes, if applicable driver (suggested, not mandatory)

  • Personal expenses

  • Two (2) additional lunches and three (3) additional dinners on certain days when we will be out meandering and sightseeing. 

  • Wine with meals at Villa Poggio di Gaville is an extra cost

  • Gratuities for driver, optional.

 

Note: This tour outline is tentative. There may be some changes made to the itinerary based on weather (for example, it is not possible to pick olives in the rain), and to take advantage of local recommendations and events we hear about closer to the dates of travel that would make the tour even more spectacular! Please contact Vicky Gray-Clark, Spirit of Italy Tours to register at vicky@spiritofitalytours.com or 408-318-1980.

Itinerary 
October 30 – November 6, 2019

Day 0

October 29

Travel to ItalyWhen traveling to Italy from the United States, plan on arriving the next day. As you make your travel arrangements, this is a time to consider traveling in advance of, or just after, the tour to explore other areas of Italy or Europe on your own time.

Guest arrival, Benvenuti in Toscana! Welcome to beautiful Tuscany and Villa Poggio di Gaville

 

Arrive at the Florence International Airport (Firenze Toscana Aeroporti) in Tuscany, Italy where Vicky Gray-Clark will greet you and escort you by minivan to Villa Poggio di Gaville  about 35 minutes southeast of the airport in the town of Figline Valdarno in the heart of the Valdarno region of Tuscany. Spirit of Italy Tours will offer one pick-up time. (Specific time TBD based on collective guest arrival times.) 

The tour begins with time to settle into your private rooms at Poggio di Gaville, home base for thweek where we will be practicing yoga and getting acquainted with the sights, culture and incredible landscapes the region offers.

Villa Poggio di Gaville is personally managed by owners Samira and Jamal Amin, who will welcome guests and give us a tour of the property. A welcome lunch will await you after your long journey. You can take time to explore the villa premises or the surrounding lush green hillsides, vineyards and wide-open spaces, or just take time to relax and settle in. You’re on Italian time now, no need to rush.

 

In the evening, we will come together in the yoga space for a grounding meditation and a short restorative practice to recharge from the long day of travel, firmly root us in our new surroundings, and prepare us for the seven wonderful days to come.

 

Awaken the Heart tour guests are invited to enjoy a sumptuous welcome dinner by Jamal at the villa’s restaurant, open exclusively to retreat participants. Dinner will give us the chance to become acquainted and discuss the itinerary for the week.

Meals – lunch and dinner

Day 1

October 30

Day 2

October 31

Yoga, olive picking at Casa Falcioni (Happy Halloween)
 

Buon giorno! We start each day of the tour with an energizing yoga practice to connect with our community, our hearts, and to prepare for the day ahead. An Italian-style breakfast buffet featuring bread, pastries and biscotti, jams, pecorino cheese, cereals, coffee, milk, tea, juice, and more, will also be provided each morning.

 

After breakfast we will be transported by minivan over to the exquisite Casa Falcioni property nestled in the nearby medieval town of Cavriglia to pick olive groves. The property features an olive grove comprised of 600 olive trees. Proprietors, Tanya and Silvano Falcioni, will greet guests and provide an overview of the olive picking process; olive rakes and gloves will be provided. A warm Tuscan lunch featuring seasonal, hearty autumn fare, prepared with the Falcioni’s award-winning olive oil and Chianti wine varieties will be served on the premises. (Later in the week, the Falcioni’s will provide each guest with a complimentary bottle of your self-picked olive oil to take home.)

We will then head back to Poggio di Gaville for a guided meditation and pranayama breath practice.

 

Following, guests can dine on an authentic Tuscan meal.

Meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3

Nov 1

Yoga, visit to Cantalici Winery in Gaiole in Chianti

 

Early morning yoga. Following lunch, we will head to Gaiole in Chianti, one of the central towns in the heart of the Chianti region to the acclaimed Cantalici Winery for a tour of the vineyards and barrel area. There will be ample time to taste a selection of the varietal wines produced on the estate. The property also boasts a cellar kiln dating back to the 1580’s that is part of the tour. Following we’ll head into the central part of town where guests will have time to stroll and dine at a local restaurant on our way back to Poggio di Gaville. (Restaurant TBD).

 

Upon our return, we gather in the yoga space for a restorative yoga practice.

 

Meals – breakfast and lunch

Day 4

Nov 2

Yoga, Firenze – the crown jewel of the Renaissance

 

Early morning yoga. Following breakfast we will depart to the historic center of Firenze (Florence) considered one of the most important cities in Italy and one of the crown jewels of the Renaissance. You will have the afternoon and early evening to explore and wander at your leisure. Firenze is a small city and is a veritable feast for the eyes. There is history at every turn and it is home to several of Italy’s best museums and landmarks —The Uffizi Gallery, The Academia (home to Michelangelo’s David), The Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio that crosses over the picturesque Arno River. 

Florence is also a shopper’s paradise. There are gorgeous high fashion (alta moda) shops selling luxury goods, department stores and the bustling outdoor markets selling everything from souvenirs to quality leather items. The city also boasts many of the finest restaurants and gelato shops in the country. The city center is best traveled on foot and allows you to easily reach all the significant points of interest.

Spirit of Italy Tours will provide guests with a suggested itinerary so that you can navigate on your own as well as offer tour and restaurant suggestions to optimize your sightseeing and dining experience. We will be traveling to and from by train, an easy 50-minute trip that takes us directly to the city center which is off-limits to cars.  


After a long day, we will head back to Poggio di Gaville to enjoy a restorative yoga practice and candlelight meditation.


Meals – breakfast

Day 5

Nov 3

Yoga, Arezzo Fiera Antiquaria di Arezzo and Cooking Demo

Early morning yoga. After breakfast, we head to Arezzo a small medieval Tuscan city steeped in history that provides the chance to see extraordinary monuments and art. Famous names such as Piero della Francesca, Giorgio Vasari, and Beato Angelico lived here and have made great artistic contributions.

Guests can spend the afternoon sightseeing while visiting one of the most prominent and longest running antique markets in Italy, the Fiera Antiquaria di Arezzo . In progress since 1968, more than 500 exhibitors come from all over Italy on the first weekend of the month offering a wide range of goods from valuable antique furniture to inexpensive curios and knick-knacks. This charming event takes place in the Piazza Grande in the historical center of town where Roberto Benigni’s Academy Award-winning film, “Life is Beautiful” was filmed. The market spills out and winds its way into the narrow streets and alleys of the city amidst restaurants and beautiful shops. This is a town where meandering and people watching takes on real meaning. For lunch we will dine at a local trattoria. (Restaurant TBD)

In the evening Spirit of Italy Tours has arranged for Jamal Amin, the proprietor of Poggio di Gaville and internationally acclaimed chef and wine connoisseur, to lead us in a cooking class and demonstration. Together we will prepare a harvest-inspired traditional Tuscan meal.

 

Following dinner we will gather in the yoga space for a group meditation.


Meals – breakfast, dinner

Yoga, Free time, sightseeing in Figline Valdarno and special yoga class at Shanti Marg Yoga Studio

 

Early morning yoga. Following breakfast guests can spend unstructured time relaxing in the villa, hiking the lush countryside surrounding the property or decide to do nothing at all.

 

Following lunch, in the late afternoon we will head to the town of Figline Valdarno for sightseeing, shopping, personal exploration. In the evening Spirit of Italy Tours has arranged for a special yoga class at Shanti Marg yoga studio for a 90-minute hatha style yoga class. After practice before heading back to Poggio di Gaville we’ll head to local eatery for a casual late evening dinner.

 

No evening yoga class provided at Poggio di Gaville.

 

Meals – breakfast, lunch

Day 6

Nov 4

Yoga, Unstructured time

 

Early morning yoga. This is an unstructured day for personal exploration and relaxation. Guests can opt to further explore the area surrounding Poggio di Gaville on foot or sightsee in the local area. Attention shoppers: the luxury Mall Outlets in Leccio are located minutes away. For those wishing to leave the premises, Vicky can assist in arranging for transportation to other towns for sightseeing, the mall, etc.

 

Lunch will be provided at Poggio di Gaville for those who stay at the property.
 

In the evening we will enjoy a farewell meal together at the villa restaurant where we will reflect on the experiences we enjoyed during the week and the new friendships made.

 

Following dinner, we will gather for a restorative yoga, closing meditation and intention setting practice.


Meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner  

Day 7

Nov 5

Guests departure - Arrivederci

Spirit of Italy Tours will offer one departure time in the early morning to transport guests by minivan to the Florence International Airport. (Specific time TBD based on collective guest departure times.)


Meal – continental breakfast

Day 8

Nov 6

Terms & Conditions

Spirit of Italy Tours (SOIT) is the tour operator for the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat 2019 taking place October 30 – November 6, 2019. Invoices pertaining to the tour are issued by Vicky Gray-Clark, founder of Spirit of Italy Tours.
 
Spirit of Italy Tours is responsible to the tour participants for supplying the services and accommodations offered to the participants as stated herein.

Reservations and Deposits
To reserve a space on the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat, send an e-mail to vicky@spiritofitalytours.com, or call us at 408-318-1980 for a registration form. A receipt of a deposit fee of $500.00, and signed contract (electronic signature or hand-signed) is required to hold your reservation. The balance of $1900.00 is due by June 30, 2019. Payments can be made by certified bank check or by credit card using PayPal.

 

Tour Inclusion
Spirit of Italy Tours is providing a land package that includes lodging fees, minivan ground transport, planned sightseeing and activities and meals as stated the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat itinerary and is not to be held responsible for any act, omission or event during the time. Tour participants agree that Spirit of Italy Tours has no responsibility or liability of any nature whatsoever for loss, damage, or injury to property or person resulting from the provision of minivan transportation or ancillary train travel.
 
The cost of segments of the tour lost due to missing a scheduled departure due to a flight or transfer by motor coach or train is the responsibility of the participant who is responsible to make arrangements for and to pay the cost of rejoining the group.
 
The planned excursions, activities and restaurants listed in the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat online itinerary will be adhered to if at all possible. On dates including, but not limited to religious holidays and national celebrations, some monuments and sites may be closed or undergoing renovation. On these occasions, the sequence of the tour may be amended, even after arrival. If circumstances force Spirit of Italy Tours to change an advertised venue, we reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary and will replace it with one of equal or better quality.
 
Accommodations
Spirit of Italy Tours has selected Villa Poggio di Gaville as the lodging establishment for the duration of the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat. The property features individually appointed rooms with private bathroom.
 
Room selection is at the discretion of the property's management and is on a first come, first-served basis. All Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat rates are based on Spirit of Italy Tours agreements with the proprietor and are not negotiable.
 
Meals
As specified in the itinerary, meals that are included in the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat are based on each establishment's set menu. In general, wine beverages are not included, unless specifically stated. Although Spirit of Italy Tours cannot make guarantees, every effort will be made to honor special dietary requests submitted in writing on the reservation form.
 
Ground transport/airport pickup
Minivan ground transport is being provided as indicated in the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat itinerary. Arrival pickup on October 30, 2019 will be provided at the Florence International Airport in Italy). Pickup time is guaranteed for up to 90 minutes from the scheduled pick up time designated by Spirit of Italy Tours in order to compensate for minor delays. Spirit of Italy Tours will not be responsible for flight delays, for any reason, beyond 90 minutes from this originally scheduled arrival time. In case of a delay, it will be tour participant responsibility to make other transfer arrangements such as by taxi or train to Villa Poggio di Gaville. Transfer costs are not refundable and any additional expenses will be the responsibility of the tour participant.
 
Currency fluctuation
Awaken the Heart Yoga retreat prices are based on current exchange rates as of January 2019 with the US dollar costing $.867 Euro currency and are subject to change without notice. If the US Dollar devalues by 5% or more, Spirit of Italy Tours reserves the right to increase prices accordingly in accordance with exchange rate fluctuation. We will send tour guests written notice of the difference of the adjustment. Accounts fully paid within 30 days of reservation will not be subject to currency fluctuations. In case of human or computer error, Spirit of Italy Tours reserves the right to re-invoice for the correct price or service.
 
Travel documents
It is the sole responsibility of each passenger to obtain the necessary documents for travel. A valid passport is normally the only requirement for U.S. citizens to enter Italy. Entry laws differ with respect to travelers’ citizenship. Please check with the Italian consulate office/embassy for further information as Spirit of Italy Tours is not responsible for providing this information or documentation.
 
Trip Insurance
Spirit of Italy Tours strongly suggests tour guests obtain travel insurance to cover any unforeseen events as a means of protection. Baggage, travel and emergency medical insurance are also recommended. Spirit of Italy Tours is not responsible or liable for loss, damage or theft of luggage and/or personal belongings, or for personal injury, accident and/or illness.
 
However, as to all services furnished as listed in the itinerary, including minivan transportation, on absence of their negligence, Spirit of Italy Tours its agents and cooperating organizations, expressly disclaim all responsibility or liability of any nature for loss, damage or injury to property or person due to any cause whatsoever occurring during a tour under their management.
 
Baggage
We encourage travelers to bring no more than one suitcase and one carry-on bag due to limited space in the minivan.
 
Safety
Yoga classes will be offered each day of the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat, which is an optional activity. For tour participants interested in taking class, we ask that you consult your physician before embarking on the tour. If you have any chronic or recurring conditions such as high blood pressure, neck or back pain, arthritis, heart disease, and so on, seek your physician’s advice before practicing. Spirit of Italy Tours assumes no responsibility for injuries suffered while practicing these techniques.

In addition, the pace of the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat may require mild but extended periods of walking and we respectfully request that participants be in good physical and mental health. While Spirit of Italy Tours encourages participation of disabled passengers, some itineraries and sites may not be accessible by wheelchair or motorized scooter. When reserving space on the retreat, please inform us of any physical disabilities and limitations so that we can help determine the appropriateness of the itinerary. If such limitations cause you to require additional assistance, Spirit of Italy Tours asks that you plan to travel with a companion that can provide aid.
 
Responsibility
Please be aware that during the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat certain risks and dangers may arise beyond the tour operator’s control including, but not limited to, automobile, or other means of transportation; the forces of nature, political instability or civil disturbances, and accident or illness in regions without means of rapid evacuation or medical facilities. Astour operator we will not have liability regarding provision of medical care or the adequacy of any care that may be rendered. It is understood that we will, however, use our very best efforts to ensure that adequate measures are taken.
 
Furthermore, Spirit of Italy Tours and its representatives abroad act only as independent contractors acting on behalf of neither the customer nor the suppliers and principals. Spirit of Italy Tours does not own nor operate the lodging establishment,minvan, olive grove property, or any other service providers, which comprise the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat. Spirit of Italy Tours shall not be in any way liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay, or irregularity in any vehicle or through the act of default of any company, or person engaged n conveying passengers, or any other person otherwise in connection therewith.
 
Although Spirit of Italy Tours has made every effort to insure high quality standards for every aspect of the Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat, the operators shall not assume responsibility for standards of quality, hygiene, cuisine, sanitation, diseases or viruses contracted during the tour.
 
Spirit of Italy Tours shall be held harmless from any and all liability in connection with the foregoing.
 
Pricing and Registration
The cost for the Spirit of Italy ToursAwaken the Heart Yoga Retreat is $2400.00 USD.  A $500.00 deposit fee is required to secure a position on the tour. The total tour fees are required by June 30, 2019. Please contact Vicky Gray-Clark at Spirit of Italy Tours at vicky@spiritofitalytours.com for a registration form or call/text 408-318-1980.

 

Tour Changes/Cancellation Policy
Spirit of Italy Tours will make every effort to operate as planned. Spirit of Italy Tours reserves the right to cancel the tour due to lack of sufficient participation or other unforeseen circumstances.

The Awaken the Heart Yoga Retreat is based on 8 paying participants by June 30, 2019. If the group falls below 8 participants the tour may be subject to cancellation or an increase in price may be requested of remaining participants. In the event that we cancel a trip, you will receive notification by email/phone at least 120 days prior to the tour’s departure and a full refund of all deposits and payments will be issued within 10 days of notification.
 
Spirit of Italy Tours does not give refunds of deposits or final payments for tours that commence as scheduled, except as follows below.
 
Cancellation Charges
In the event tour participant must cancel the land tour reservation, the cancellation will become effective upon receipt of written cancellation. Cancellation charges are based on the number of days from the time Spirit of Italy Tours is notified of your cancellation, to the start of the services provided according to the following schedule:

-- 4 months prior (June 30, 2019) --  $500 per person cancellation fee

-- 3 months prior (July 31, 2019) – 25% of total travel services per person

-- 2 months prior (August 31, 2019) – 50% of total travel services per person

-- 1 month prior (September 30, 2019 – 75% of total travel services per person

-- 14 days or less (October 16, 2019) – 100 % of total travel services per person


No refund will be made for any unused portions of the trip.
 
Spirit of Italy Tours will not be held responsible for any costs relating to the issuance and/or cancellation of airline tickets or visa fees. Voluntary cancellations due to political instability, acts of terrorism or government intervention will be subject to the above fees, provided the program is deemed by Spirit of Italy Tours to continue.

Vicky Gray-Clark

Spirit of Italy Tours - Founder |

Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

San Jose, California

408-318-1980 | vicky@spiritofitalytours.com

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