Trip to Florence
All participants travel independently to Florence and optionally arrive a few days earlier for a longer visit to the city. You are responsible for your own accommodation and meals. For those wishing to stay in the historical center there is ample choice of hotels and B&B’s. Since the first day of the trip is spent at the Psychosynthesis Institute (see below), some may prefer to stay at nearby Hotel Villa la Stella, which the institute recommends to its visitors and from which downtown Florence is easily reached by bus 7.
On the day before we start, we gather at 5:00 pm in the historical center of Florence, at the Museo Casa di Dante in Via Santa Margherita 1, where your guides welcome you with prosecco and biscotti. After a discussion of practicalities and a short introduction to the centro storico as known by Dante, we make a walk through the neighborhood en route to a festive cena.
Day 1: Florence: Casa Assagioli
We spend the first day of our trip, as guests of the Psychosynthesis Institute at Assagioli’s former home and office, Via San Domenico 16. The center is easily reached by cab or by bus 7, which leaves from Piazza San Marco.
The morning opens at 10:30 with a tour of the premises by a member of the staff from Gruppo Alle Fonti (At the Wellspring). A vegetarian lunch is then provided.
After lunch Catherine and Kees offer a workshop about Assagioli’s perspective on the Comedy. The workshop starts with a short presentation of Dante and his poetry by Kees, after which Catherine leads the group in experientially exploring the Comedy from a psychsynthetic perspective. The center closes at 6 pm, and the evening is free.
Day 2: Dante’s Florence
We dedicate our second day to visiting Dante’s hometown. All make their own choices from the many things to be seen in Florence.
Interesting options relating to Dante are Casa di Dante and Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, combined with a visit to the Baptistery, where Dante was baptized in 1265, and the Duomo, where he was present at the laying of the foundation stone in 1296. Also the Bargello is worth a visit, as Dante stayed here while he was one of the city’s priors from 15 June to 15 August 1300.
If you visit the Duomo, don’t miss the famous painting of Dante on its left side! It was made in 1465 by Domenico di Michelino at the occasion of the second centennial of Dante’s birth as a recommendation to the city of Florence to read the Comedy, the three parts of which – Hell, Purgatory and Paradise – are portrayed on the left.
Day 3: Over Vallombrosa to Romena
We leave Florence on Day 3 for a first exploration of the Casentino valley as a geographic and historical reality. Passing by the abbey of Vallombrosa (958 m, 37 km) we reach Monte Secchietta (1449 m, 8 km), one of the peaks of Pratomagno, where we picnic with the whole Casentino literally at our feet.
A long descent from the mountain leads us past beautiful Romanesque pievi or “peoples’ churches” typical for the Tuscan campagna, while we travel to the majestic Pieve di San Pietro a Romena, which dates from 1152. The church is part of a contemporary spiritual center, the Christian community Fraternità di Romena (Romena).
At Romena we also visit the ruins of the castle of the Guidi (621 m, 25 km). Afterwards, we ascend the slopes of the Central Apennines to the village of Moggiona (19 km), where we stay at the family run four star Resort I Tre Baroni.
Day 4: Camaldoli and Poppi
On Day 4, we gather after breakfast in the hotel-library for an introduction to the day. After having gained our first impressions of the Casentino and some of its spaces and villages, we drive through ancient woods to the eremo or hermitage of Camaldoli (1104 m, 9 km) in order to get in touch with the monastic dimension of the valley. We visit l’eremo and then walk down to l’abbazia or abbey (816 m, 3 km), after which we have lunch.
We spend the afternoon in picturesque Poppi (437 m, 15 km), where we visit the Castle of the Guidi, where Dante repeatedly was a guest and wrote several letters on behalf of the castle dame. After a walk through the town we return to Moggiona to dine and spend the night at I Tre Baroni (10 km).
Days 4 and 5: Through Casentino Towns to La Verna
In the afternoon of Day 4, we leave Moggiona. We pass over the battlefield of Campaldino near Poppi (where Dante fought in a famous battle against Arezzo in 1289) on our way to Borgo alla Collina (380 m, 15 km), where we cast an eye on the tomb and mummy of Cristoforo Landino (1424-1498), author of a famous commentary on the Comedy.
We then visit Porciano (12 km) and the characteristic towns of Stia and Pratovecchio (420 m, 5 km). Finally, we travel to Chiusi della Verna (952 m, 33 km), where we will be the guests of the Gabelli family in Hotel Bellasvista (www.albergobellavista.it) for two nights.
After the many different places seen during the past days, on Saturday 26 and Sunday 25 October we pause in the second spiritual center of the Casentino, the Franciscan convent of La Verna, built on the beautiful spot where Saint Francis was the first in history to receive the stigmata.
At your own pace and discretion, you are free to visit churches and chapels, climb the steep Monte Penna (1283 m), attend the Sunday morning service, eat in the Casa del Pellegrino and find time for silence, conversation and a group reading of Paradiso XI. Both nights we enjoy a homemade cena in Hotel Bellavista.
Day 6: Arezzo and Lucignano
On Day 6, we leave La Verna to visit the churches and squares of Arezzo (42 km), the beautiful rival of Florence. This is a free day, but be sure to visit the church of San Francesco with its magnificent frescos by Piero della Francesca (1416/1417-1492).
At the end of the afternoon we drive to Lucignano (30 km), a charming little town near Montepulciano. We stay at the Albergo da Totò, well known for the wonderful cuisine created by famous chef Lorenzo Totò (1930-2008), who contributed greatly to the fame of Italian regional cooking in Italy, the USA and Japan.
Here we hold our final meeting and enjoy a special dinner, prepared for us by Lorenzo’s son Boris, who continuous the family tradition of creatively exploring traditional Italian cuisine.
Day 7: From Lucignano to Florence
After breakfast on our last day, we travel back to Florence (100 km), where we say our good-byes and go our way at the train station.
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