"I had a wonderful time and congratulate you, Rosa and Adam for your hard work, long hours, and dedication. Everything you did was aimed at our pleasure and you sure hit the mark...this trip was exactly right and I treasure every minute of it." J. Cohen
"You have a magnetic personality and a very calming presence. Your village and its people are absolutely amazing and inspiring. I predict the Earth and Spirit Tour will blossom beautifully. It certainly deserves to! We all had a fabulous time." N. Lovelace
We'll no doubt be joined from time to time by our neighbors: Carmella will give us a tour of her amazing garden, my cousin Anna will pop in occasionally and the fruit man will come by on a daily basis, tooting his horn from a truck laden with the freshest fruits and vegetables imaginable. Maria Rosaria and Michelina are our main chefs, and will not only serve us exquisitely prepared traditional foods and describe their preparation, but will also bless us with their sparkling personalities, stories and unique world view.
The Earth and Spirit Tour is intended to be a secure space where we can come into meaningful contact with our common, ancient spiritual history, culture and inheritance. It is a time to immerse ourselves in and hopefully resonate with the language, art, artifacts and customs of our Old World ancestors, still vibrantly alive and actively celebrated in Southern Italian culture. As the people here are fond of saying, in their deeply generous way: "This is not just Italian culture, this is human culture and belongs to all of us."
Our tour is limited to six participants per year. A $500 non-refundable deposit will hold your place for this once in a life time experience in southern Italia. Full payment for the fall 2017 tour is due on August 1, 2017 - if registering for the spring 2018 tour, your full fee is due by February 1st, 2018. You'll find payment links at the bottom of this page. You may prefer to send a check and that is perfectly fine.
1 - Departure USA - Arrival Italia! You'll probably want to rest and recuperate after all your traveling. We'll feed you a wonderful welcome meal and help you get settled in and ready for bed.
2 – We'll spend most of our first full day getting acclimated to our most amazing Medieval village, walking the cobblestone passageways, meeting village people, visiting gardens and shrines. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch, and then take a short drive to the Baptistery of St. Giovanni, an ancient sacred spring, for your welcome and baptism into our sacred lands. We'll probably gather a small amount of the most fragrant bay leaves imaginable from the hedges there, perhaps for pressing as a remembrance of this special place. Rosary and mass at Sant Giacomo church for those who choose in the evening, dinner at home with Maria Rosaria and Michelina.
3 - Paestum archeological site and museum where we'll see over 2,000 year old amazingly well preserved temples, walk the temple grounds and examine close up original Goddess images in stone and fresco preserved inside the museum. This is the home of Hera and Minerva. A visit to an ancient temple outside the Paestum walls, now an active Catholic Church. Dinner at home with Maria Rosaria and Michelina.
4 – We’ll visit Padula and the Certosa Monastery & Museum, which holds an outstanding collection of art as well as 5-7th century BCE artifacts uncovered from our immediate area. On the way back we will stop at one of my favourite rosemary bushes so you can do a bit of gathering. We'll do some traditional medicine making when we return home - perhaps you'll want to put up some rosemary oil or a make a tincture with what we've gathered. We'll have the jars, olive oil and alcohol ready for you. Dinner at home with the family.
5 - Today we'll spend the day in Teggiano, a nearby village, known as The City of Art. Teggiano was founded in approximately 600 B.C. It has an incredibly rich history and was once the center of Dianic worship for all of Southern Italy. This is where the king of our valley lived during medieval times. We'll visit the Museo della Erbe here which holds a complete ethnobotanical collection of local plants as well as animal parts and minerals and is laid out as a medieval apothecary. We’ll have the chance to explore traditional Italian folk medicine and the common uses of herbs in the home as well as for magic. We will also visit the ancient Aslepian Dream Temple and will take a walking tour around this amazing village, viewing frescoes, sculptures and churches and return home in time for a little rest before dinner.
6 – We'll take a boat ride along the Amalfi Coast where we will enjoy the most incredible vistas imaginable...we'll walk the cobblestone passageways of Positano, a haven for artists and intellectuals for thousands of years and where the shops are bursting with unique, homespun fashions, most of them hand made. It is here that we will visit and make offerings to the Black Madonna whose shrine sits atop the beach area. We'll have the opportunity to browse the shops and we'll eat dinner out at a fabulous restaurant when we return to our starting point.
7 – We’ll be staying close to home today, traveling up our mother mountain, Mont Cervati. The vistas will be awe inspiring, as will be all the gardens! We'll visit the ancient Grotto de Vallicelli (our local cave with several rooms, including a half round, hand carved seating arrangement the ancients used for councils, carbon dated to at least 60,000 years of habitation.) There are lots of etchings on the walls in here, and the better your imagination and background in ancient art, the more you’ll see. We'll probably enjoy lunch up on the mountain and on the way back down stop at our friend Giuseppe's farm for a tour and perhaps watch his brother creating marvelous cheeses from their fresh raw milk. You'll have the option of buying a ball or two of cacciocavallo, a cheese our entire valley is famous for, it is that delicious! Dinner at home in the evening.
8 - A visit to the world famous Gardens of Minerva, Europe's first medicinal herb garden, the one from which all others sprang. These historic gardens are located in Salerno, and were originally created as part of the first medical school in all of Europe. There are hundreds of medicinal plants growing here in the terraces that reach high up above the beautiful Gulf of Salerno. We'll have plenty of time to visit each of the terraces and discuss the plants and trees we find there. Before we leave we will visit the gift shop, which contains lots of lovely herbal creations and interesting botanical books. After the garden tour we will walk down into the village square of Salerno to have a look around, eat at one of our favorite little places, perhaps sit in the lovely park or do a bit of shopping. Dinner at home.
9 - Today is our beach day! We'll take an early morning trip to the Gulf of Palinuro and spend the day on one of the most exquisite beaches in this world! We’ll most likely bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the beach...bring your bathing suit as there is a very good chance the weather will be warm enough for splashing around in the waves. The arc of Polinuro is an ancient landmark, and has been known for its extraordinary beauty for millennia. Virgil wrote about the protected Gulf of Palinuro and its incredible arc in the Iliad. Dinner at home with the family.
10 – Our last day in the village! We'll viait the Museo Della Suolo where there are four long walls filled with beautiful herbarium samples of the plants that are native to our valley...you will be amazed by the incredible diversity of plants. There is a wild and cultivated seed display here as well, with hundreds of varieties of heritage peas, beans and grains that have grown in our valley for millennia. We'll have a closing ceremony together on the balcony around sunset. Our farewell dinner with Maria Rosaria, Michelina and the children, who usually help set the table and carry in our food-laden plates, will be somewhat bittersweet. We may be joined by some of the friends we have made here and you won’t want to leave this magical land!
11 - Traveling home day. Your plane leaves Naples in the morning and you'll be back in the USA by tonight.
"I had the most incredible, magical, life-altering trip. Thank you!" C. Perry
"We all agreed that the trip was the trip of a lifetime—no other way could we have stayed in the village without your family connections. To be so remote, without tourists around, and out in the hills and the very special Valley of Diana, was something none of us will ever forget. Also, we all agreed that you were the perfect guide to the sacred sites we visited—your enthusiasm, knowledge and delight were wonderful to be part of."
"The itinerary was perfect—I loved every place we visited, and the rhythm of it all."
"Rave reviews for the place we stayed…absolutely perfect! Rave reviews also for our chefs — though the portions were daunting, the food was exceptional in both preparation and the fact that it represented dishes they traditionally use. Wouldn’t change any of this experience!"
Explore the small villages that we share our valley with...all have ancient roots...via this website created by my friend Claudia Cardello.
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