Travel to Italy. When 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.)