Autumn in Italy is a feast for the eyes and the palette. Breathtaking fall colours can be seen from vineyards to olive groves to the mountains, and the weather is mild.
The cornerstone of Awaken the Heart will be beautifully energising and restorative yoga and meditation classes lead each day. Awaken the Heart is also an immersive travel opportunity highlighted by activities connected to the fall harvest in Tuscany that inspire beauty, energise the body and uplift the spirit.
Villa Poggio di Gaville, nestled in the hills outside of Florence is our home base for the week and offers both indoor and outdoor spaces for yoga. This splendiferous setting offers a tranquil haven to awaken the senses and will allow for moments to experience inner peace and heart awakening.
For anyone yearning to explore the Tuscany countryside in Italy, while enjoying daily yoga practice and meditation, with ample time off the mat for meandering through historic villages and towns, picking olives, visiting wineries and outdoor markets, and dining on the freshest homemade food prepared with love, than join me for this week of inspiration and exquisite beauty.
Each guest will stay in a private, beautifully appointed apartment with private bathroom, furnished in updated Tuscan country-style furnishings. Guests can leisurely enjoy the natural surroundings including walking paths and trails to nearby Lake Santa Barbara.
Day 1 – 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 you will be greeted and escorted 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.
The tour begins with time to settle into your private rooms at Poggio di Gaville, our retreat home for the week 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.
Day 2 – Yoga, olive picking at Casa Falcioni (Happy Halloween)
Buon giorno! We start each day of the tour with an energising 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.
Day 3 – 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.
Upon our return, we gather in the yoga space for a restorative yoga practice.
Day 4 – Yoga, Firenze – the crown jewel of the Renaissance
Early morning yoga. Following breakfast we will depart to the historic centre 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. T
here 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 centre 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 optimise 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.
Day 5 – 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 centre 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.
In the evening we have 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.
Day 6 – 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.
Day 7 – 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,
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.
Day 8 – Guests departure
We 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.)
The Awaken the Heart retreat is designed around a morning, energising Hatha vinyasa-style yoga practice and evening meditation and/or restorative yoga practice. All levels of yoga experience welcome.
The yoga classes are intended to be inclusive, catering to “every body”. The retreat is open to experienced yoga practitioners looking to mindfully travel and stay connected to their practice and will be modified for those new to yoga.
Spirit of Italy Tours was born out of company founder Vicky Gray-Clark’s love for all things Italian. Vicky’s early visits to Italy seeded an intense love affair with the country – the people, food, culture, landscape and history at every turn. Italy has a spiritual pull on her soul that continues to this day.
Passionate also about yoga, and a yoga instructor, the Awaken the Heart tour offers guests a hand-curated itinerary that blends Vicky’s personal and previous tour experiences she’s enjoyed to the region. The combination of yoga and sightseeing aims to provide tour guests the opportunity to travel beyond the superficial and make meaningful connections while mindfully taking time for self care.
Guests will enjoy the majority of our meals at the Poggio di Gaville restaurant (open only to retreat guests) with food lovingly prepared by proprietor and award-winning international chef Jamal Amin.
The cuisine offers both traditional Tuscan cuisine as well as creative Mediterranean dishes and an extensive selection of wines. The retreat will also offer opportunities to explore local cuisine. Dietary options: vegan, vegetarian, and others considered upon advance request.
Prices are in US Dollars
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.
Energising Yoga vinyasa 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 emphasise seasonal ingredients culminating in an authentic style harvest dinner shared by guests. (dietary restrictions considered)
A day to tour the Firenze historic centre (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.
International airfare to and from Italy
Airport departure taxes,
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.