Walking & Meditation

Your Guides:

Ani Tsondru is a South African practitioner and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, who has led numerous retreats into the wilderness of Africa. She now applies her contemplative skills to enable visitors to connect more deeply with over 4,000 years of spirituality found in a range of centres of spirituality in Tuscany. Each morning will start with breakfast on the lovely patio and meditation of the nature and wildlife around Casa Quintino, before setting off to one of the following holy sites, which will be selected by the group.

The cultural visits of the tour will be arranged and led by Dr. Juliet Waterkeyn, Italian speaking co-proprietor of Casa Quintino, and driver will be Anthony Waterkeyn, who have both known in the area for over 30 years.

Please contact us for confirmation that these dates are still available: bookings@lovingtuscany.com

Provisional dates only, which may be altered according to bookings

3rd -  10th September

12th -  19th September

21st - 30th September         reserved until 17th Feb. 2020

The following options are suggested for Walking Meditation Tours:

San Vivaldo Monastery & Crusader Jerusalem: This monastery is a well-kept secret. The Monastery was founded to honour Sant Vivaldo, a hermit who lived in this remote forest in the 10th Century, with a beautiful Romanesque chapel dating from the 13th century. It is also an historic  ‘Medieval Theme Park' built by Crusaders returning from Jerusalem, consisting of a group of miniature chapels based on churches in the Holy Land, housing relics of saints and ceramic statues of biblical scenes, only opened by the monks on special request. Within the complex is a lovely local taverna with excellent traditional Italian meals.

Pilgrim path from Pancole to Cellole Monastery: Depending on the fitness of the group, you can either walk the 2-3 hours from Gambassi to Pancole, or go direct to this lovely Monastery, which is built on the site of a vision of Our Lady. A grotto of modern figurines marks the site where the vision took place. Catholic Mass is held on Sundays at 9am. Hard core pilgrims, can walk the one hour stretch through the forest to Cellole, where another mass can be attended from 10am. Meditation will take place along the route. 

Scramble  & meditate in a hermit’s Forest Cave: Completely off the tourist route, this is a fairly tricky forest path to a cave beside a gushing torrent, where Maurizio  a modern hermit made his life in the 1920's. He has sculpted the rocks and a feeling of deep spirituality imbues the area, a wonderful place for meditation. We will take local guides to show us the way.

Lama Tzong Khapa Buddhist Centre: Tuscany is not normally associated with Buddhism, but here lies one of the largest Buddhist Centres in Europe, providing continuous teaching in Tibetan Buddhist, associated with the Dalai Lama as well as a Master’s Degrees in Buddhist philosophy. The Centre is about half an hour from Casa Quintino, near the coast close to the lovely village of Pomiaio. Meditation in the grounds and access to the meditation room can be arranged. 

San Gimignano & Cloisters of San Agostino: The only English Mass in the area is held every Sunday at San Agostino, where a dynamic young priest (half English / half Italian) welcomes foreigners each week. Meditation in the cloisters after mass can be arranged. The Church is well known in artistic circles due to the famous frescoes of St Augustin by Bennozzi Gozzolli. We will then go through the busy tourist central piazza of San Gimignano Town up to the spectacular walled olive grove at the top of the hill for meditation and picnic.

Etruscan Tombs and Museum in Volterra: 2,000 years before Rome was even founded the Etruscans were the dominant tribe of the area stretching from their Capital of Volterra to the coast and the Island of Elba, where tin was mined. They were the most civilised of all in the area with a rich religion and traditions of burial in elaborate stone sarcophagi. To appreciate their culture theoretically we first visit the museum, which houses the largest collection of Etruscan artefacts in Europe, and then take a picnic to a quiet olive grove, where Etruscan tombs are still open to the public. Here we meditate on deep antiquity and out roots in Europe.

San Galgano Abbey & Sword in the Stone chapel: A remarkable ruin of a Cistercian Abbey built in the 13th Century, one of the largest Gothic structures of the time, which challenged the supremacy of nearby Siena, 35 kms to the north. The abbey has lost its roof but the visual effect of the ruin is outstanding and a wonderful place to meditate on the power of Gods influence on medieval man. It was built on the site of a hermit Saint Galgano, and the nearby chapel is a beautiful Romanesque round structure housing a curious phenomena, well known in Arthurian Legend, as the ‘Sword in the Stone’. It has attracted the man’s interests for centuries and many legends have grown up around its origins. 

Walking Meditation to Monteriggioni: The most attractive part of the Via Francigena pilgrim route is the stretch from the ruined church of Baddeo di Coneo to Monteriggioni, which is a picturesque miniature hill-top village as perfect as a film set. After lunch in the piazza, we meditate in the olive groves or tiny chapel.

Siena Duomo & Campo Evening PassaggiatoAnother lovely stretch of the Via Francigena for meditation runs from  Monteriggioni to Siena, passing some spectacular old castles along the way, where lunch or snacks are served. We aim to be in Siena in time for the evening passaggiata (evening walk about) around the picturesque cobbled streets and a sundowner in the lovely Piazza known the Campo, where the famous Palio is run each year. We also visit the spectacular Duomo and use the excellent marble inlaid floors as a mantra for meditation. 

Florence & Fiesole: It is impossible to see all of what Florence has to offer in a day, so we take you to only two of our best favourite places, the Church of San Miniato near the Piazza Michelangelo above Florence, which was the original site of the first saint to establish Christianity in the area long before the settlement became a Roman town. Secondly, we suggest the simple Monastery of San Marco, where the puritan Friar Savonarola lived, infamous for burning artworks and books of the Medici. From here we will wind up the hills behind Florence for lunch and wander around the original Roman settlement of Fiesole where an extensive Roman Amphitheatre and ruins are a lovely fresh place to meditate in peace.