I know Italy is not perfect, but I think George Clooney summed it up perfectly. In this article George Clooney simply said that moving to Italy has changed his life. Working hard in Hollywood, he didn’t care how his personal life was going.
When George Clooney purchased a villa in Laglio on Lake Como in northern Italy, he thought he’d be there a couple weeks a year. He soon realized how beautiful life was in Italy and it helped calm him.
I think the result of spending a week on my retreat in Italy does just that. The course participants will all agree that it ‘calmed their lives.’
Usually, the hiking trails I choose in the Cinque Terre are the tame ones. By taking a steep climb up the paths or steps you are instantly rewarded with jaw dropping beautiful scenery.
On the day we visited Riomaggiore, the southern most village of the Cinque Terre, the young women at the Tourist Information Center suggested we walk through the botanical gardens because it was a 25 minute walk and we’d end up back at the center of town, where we’d take a gelato break, and then do another 20 minutes walk on the famous Via Dell’Amore (path of love) to arrive for dinner in Manarola to watch the sunset over the Mediterranean. (Photo of the seven of us at Ristorante Marina Piccola.)
However, I forgot that when someone says something, especially in a different culture, it might have a completely different meaning to me. I love gardens and I had waited since last year to visit this botanical garden, but this was no ‘walk in the garden’. I did notice some signs describing cacti and trees by their Latin names on the concrete walking path.
However, none of us knew how difficult the trail was going to become, and then we discovered why no one else was walking it. It turned into a rocky uneven narrow trail, many times on the edge of a sheer mountainside, lots of stairs, and it was raining for part of the hike. There was a railing but it jutted out at a 30-degree angle sometimes or it was so loose you didn’t feel safe holding onto it.
One of the women in our retreat group was afraid of heights and I myself, felt a bit woozy if looked down all of the time at the sea below. Sometimes, we could see through the path to the sea below. In order to make it to the end, she had to walk sideways, face the mountainside, her back to the sea, and manage her panic.
It was breathtaking but it felt more like taking our breath away. *The top photo is taken from the height of the rocky path as we began our ascent to the center of the town toward the beach, and the last photo is near the end, so it’s much closer to sea level!
My courageous student later said that no one in her family would ever believe her when she tells them what she did. It was an epiphany for her to face her fears and her belief that she could never do this. That mountain is her metaphor for life now and her life will never be the same. For the rest of the workshop her victory was our symbol for change.
I did not plan this hike to force the course participants to face her fears. I thought it was a walk in the garden to add to our experience to live la dolce vita near the Mediterranean. My idea of facing fears is usually done in the Option Method Dialogue work that we do in the meeting room during the retreat– it’s gentle and you’re comfortably sitting in a chair! But, sometimes life gets organized for us, and we enjoy the ride.
Here’s to calming our lives and living la dolce vita (the sweet life) wherever we are!
Have you hiked the Cinque Terre trails? What is your favorite one? Want to join me next year in Italy for my Italy Retreat for women to live la dolce vita?
You are welcome to reprint, copy, or distribute Lenora Boyle’s article, provided author credit is included.