One Unsung Hero

Riccardo Truck ArrivesHe’s up at 5:30 every morning to load his truck with freshly baked bread from the local bakery, a neighbor’s garlic woven into braids, jars of local honey, fresh sausages, artichokes from Tarquinia, and anything else that an Italian woman might need to prepare her daily pranzo or clean her house. During these times of Covid-19, Riccardo Migno is an unsung hero as he travels to the tiniest villages in the most remote Italian countryside, bringing his supermarket-on-wheels to mostly elderly customers.

Riccardo is one of the many typical Italian alimentari that travel around Italy selling different goods. There’s the fruit and vegetable man, the baker – who these days arrives with the cheese bread popular during Easter, and the fisherman who usually only comes on Fridays. But unlike most, Riccardo is still operating six days a week.

“You are a warrior!” I exclaimed when he showed up at my front door as usual on Monday morning during the first week of lockdown.

Riccardo arrived armed with a mask, gloves and bottle of disinfectant. Plexiglas protected his vegetables which are usually on display in the open air. He had been delayed after helping elderly clients carry in their groceries, including heavy six-packs of bottled water. “It’s been very stressful.” he said. I guess he was smiling warmly (as usual) under the mask. “I have to wash my hands with disinfectant after serving each customer.”


Riccardo outside his truckWhen I first moved to a village in Umbria four years ago, I used to think it was a small miracle that someone might drive up to my front door with grapes from Sicily, cheese from Sardinia and meats from the local butcher. But as we struggle through the fifth week of lockdown, Riccardo’s traveling grocery truly feels like manna from heaven. Everyday, he serves 40 to 50 customers, keeping us all at home – where we belong.

“I’m getting a lot of new customers and people are even begging me to come on Sundays too,” he tells me while tallying up the bill. “But most nights now I’m not home until midnight, so Sundays I really need to rest.”

His mobile phone is ringing as he hands me my bag. Someone wants to order tender veal for the next day. While chatting away, he jumps off the truck, closes the wide doors shut, pats our dog on the head, and climbs up to the driver’s seat. “I better get going. Bruna is going to kill me if I’m any later. Her husband has to have his dinner on the table exactly at noon.”

Off he goes. A traveling hero. Unsung, virtually unknown, and feeding us all.

Thank you Riccardo and everyone on the front lines during this pandemic!

Riccardo with TP

Riccardo arrives with plenty of toilet paper!






The Plum Tree Under Lockdown

We are entering our fourth week of lockdown in Umbria.  And still… Spring is vibrating forth. Nature refuses to lock down. During these three weeks, I have observed Nature in all her glory through the single plum tree in front of our house.

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We’ve had glorious spring days when the bees have swarmed over the blossoms. We’ve had sudden flurries swirling and ultimately covering everything white in a still wonder.  Nature is surging forth with life. Nothing is locking her up. No one can lock her down.

Journey to Places of the Higher Self – 2020

We are happy to announce our upcoming Journey to Places of the Higher Self from September 21-27, 2020. We hope you can join us. For details, see Journey to Places of the Higher Self 2020.


Fonte di Clitunno, One of our stops during Journey to Places of the Higher Self.

Walk along the Franciscan Way

DSC00755You are invited to join us during Journey to Places of the Higher Self when we plan to spend one morning walking along the Franciscan Way through the Umbrian countryside to Assisi. After about 4-hour hike and picnic lunch, we will arrive at the birthplace and home of il Poverello, The Poor Man of Assisi.

Assagioli directs our attention to Saint Francis as a model for willful conscious choice of a higher good and qualities such as appreciation, praise and gratitude. He quotes the verses of Italian poet, Vittoria Aganoor Pompili (1855-1910), who wrote eloquently of an imagined dialogue between Francis and one of his followers.

“Saint Francis, I’m frightened that I can hear snakes hissing in the bushes.”

“I hear nothing but the rustling of the pine trees and the song of the birds.”

“Saint Francis, a terrible stench is coming from the overgrown path and from the pond.”

“I smell thyme and broom. I have joy and health for my drink.”

“Saint Francis, we are sinking, the evening is coming on and we are far from our cells.”

“Lift up your eyes from the mud, man, and you will see the stars blossoming in the heavenly gardens.”

Saint Francis’ type of optimism is not meant to be naïve or Pollyannaish, but rather implies the ability to appreciate the positive aspects of life despite any negativity around us.  Such positive attitudes make life easier and more joyful. Assagioli emphasizes this when he writes:

“Joy, mirth, and benevolence are magnetic”.

Come join us in our search of this joy, mirth and benevolence as we Journey to Places of the Higher Self, September 17-23. For more information, see the itinerary and other details.

You can also read a more detailed essay by Catherine about Assagioli’s reflections on St. Francis of Assisi, published in the Psychosynthesis Quarterly.


Roberto Assagioli, Per vivere meglio, Istituto di Psicosintesi, Florence, Italy, 1965, pp. 20-21.

The poem extract is Assagioli’s translation from the Italian, as published in Roberto Assagioli, Transpersonal Development, The Dimension Beyond Psychosynthesis, The Aquarian Press, London, 1993, p. 253. A typewritten copy of the Italian text can be found in his archives in Florence, ID # 9432.

The only way out is up!

Assagioli wrote the motto of psychosynthesis as:

000193 the only way out is up

Motto of Psychosynthesis: “The only way out is the way up…”

During Journey to Places of the Higher Self, September 17–23, we will be doing just that… As we descend into the Frasassi Caves, some of the largest in Europe, we will have no choice… the only way out will be the way up!

grotta di frasassi

Frassasi Caves, Italy

Assagioli often wrote about how mountain climbing can be a symbol of ascent to spiritual heights… And we promise to bring you to 1000-year-old mountaintop churches in the Apennines. But he also wrote about how caves can be a symbol for “going deeper, descending to the ‘bottom/depths’ of our being.” Don’t worry, we won’t be too long inside the Frasassi Caves, just long enough to “get ready to transform”! Not to mention the promise of a delicious picnic lunch in the Italian countryside afterwards.

Places are still available for this special Journey to Places of the Higher Self. Why not join us? If you have any questions, please contact Catherine at:

A Spring of Poetic Inspiration


Only three months before we embark on Journey to Places of the Higher Self. We will quietly spend one afternoon wandering around a truly poetic place (literally and figuratively) – Fonti di Clitunno near the town of Trevi in Umbria. This natural wellspring has cast its spell on poets throughout the ages – from Pliny, to Giosue Carducci (who won the Nobel prize for literature) to Lord Byron. Why not join us? We still have spaces left.

Byron paid eloquent tribute to this enchanting spot with these words:

. . . Clitumnus, in thy sweetest wave
Of the most living crystal that was e’er
The haunt of river nymph to gaze and lave
Her limbs where nothing hid them, thou dost rear
Thy grassy banks . . .

You can read about Fonti di Clitunno and its poetic magic in this this New Yorker article by Paul Hofmann:

“A Fountain of Poetic Inspiration”

For more info about this special journey from September 16 to 23, see  Journey to Places of the Higher Self.