Arrived Happily in Monterosso, Cinque Terre

Monterosso from the cemetery

A beautiful view of Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre

Our group of beautiful women (le belle donne) have happily arrived in Monterosso at our first destination for my Italy Retreat to live la dolce vita, the sweet life!  We flew into Pisa International Airport from all parts of the world, spent a night in Pisa to rest up a bit. Then hopped on the train for a one hour journey to the beautiful Italian Riviera town of Monterosso al Mare, where we will live for the first four days of our adventure.

Our first night–full moon–dinner at Ristorante Ely, with bronzino (sea trout), squid ink curried pasta, minestrone soup, clams, trofie pasta with incredible pesto, local wine, and pistachio gelato. A day filled with surprises, lots of stories, and even more laughter.

Meeting at the Pisa Train Station!

Meeting at the Pisa Train Station!

Jennie and Lenora checking out the beach and the hiking trail in back of us

Jennie and Lenora checking out the beach and the hiking trail in back of us


branzino (sea bass)

branzino (sea bass)

After dinner, we joined the procession following the Madonna out of the small church down the street, and down to the beach as she was sent off in a boat, with thousands of candles floating in the ocean beside her stretching in an arc from the new beach to the the ferry dock in the historical center, where the Blessed Mother was retrieved, and brought back to the church serenaded with the local band.

Madonna procession

Madonna procession

A fitting tribute to the feminine on a super full moon night.

Full moon over Monterosso, candles sent out to see for the Madonna procession

Full moon over Monterosso, candles sent out to sea for the Madonna procession


Barbra and Judith at the gelato bar

Barbra and Judith at the gelato bar


Oh The Places We Will Go…In Italy


ITALY RETREAT for Women to Live La Dolce Vita 2014
September 8-September 17, 2014

Some Details of our 7-City Tour of the Italian Riviera & Northern Tuscany
Find more info about our trip on other blog posts on Italy Retreat For Women.

Shopping in Monterosso

Shopping in Monterosso

Prepare to be immersed in one of the greatest countries in the world–I can just taste the delicious food and fine wines, see the breathtaking scenery, smell the salt air of the Mediterranean, and feel the peacefulness of the ancient churches filled with marble and fine art.

Our travel plans include a seven-city tour in two of the twenty regions of Italy—Liguria and Tuscany. The Cinque Terre villages and Portovenere are port towns on the Italian Riviera, in the Northwestern region of ITALY, called Liguria.

In Italy we will live ‘The Sweet Life’, la dolce vita! It is all about enjoying an enriched life, changing limiting beliefs, and being happier–Unlimited La Dolce Vita! It means savoring adventure, making life at home sweeter, having fun with friends, cooking together, walking together, learning together–all in the spirit of the sweet life. The ultimate la dolce vita experience is to come to Italy with me!

Our mini 12-hour “Sweet Life Workshop” is spread throughout the trip as you learn and adopt practices that I have used for 23 years to free women from their limiting beliefs. This makes the results of being in Italy even more profound.

Remember, we’ll be doing lots of walking on hilly streets and climbing steps however, we will always take gelato and coffee breaks along the way!

ARRIVARE. Our journey together begins at the Pisa Train Station on Monday morning, September 8, 2014 and continues on to our hotel in Monterosso on The Italian Riviera, which is known for its scrumptious basil pesto sauce and breathtaking views. You won’t want to miss a dinner of grilled fish or spaghetti with pesto. Delizioso!

ITALIAN RIVIERA. The quality of the light in The Cinque Terre (five lands) makes everything sparkle like a jewel. Included on the Italian Riviera travel, we will visit four of the five Cinque Terre villages–Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, and RioMaggiore. Then we’ll travel by ferry to Portovenere, which is often called the sixth Cinque Terre town.

The five villages are picture-perfect. Houses are perched on the sides of Mediterranean mountains, colorful palettes that look like master paintings of village scenes. Locals are proud of their quaint stores where they sell their hand-made treasures made of olive wood and other local materials. They offer products like wine, olive oil, limoncello, honey and so much more.

Each village is connected by hiking trails. We will hike at least one of them to enjoy breath-taking panoramas, some of the best in Italy.

TUSCANY: On our second leg of the trip, we head for Lucca in northern Tuscany to stay in a Bed and Breakfast for six nights. As you may know, Tuscany is the most popular tourist choice in Italy. We visit and live right in the city center of enchanting Lucca.

On our first afternoon in Lucca, I have arranged for our own local professional tour guide, Gabrielle, to share his love for and historical knowledge of Lucca, its medieval streets, towers and lovely boutiques. We’ll visit enchanting Romanesque churches and piazzas (town squares) that invite us to experience Italy as the locals do.

Our second evening In Lucca, we get to enjoy a bird’s eye view from our big second story windows of the ancient traditional Luminaria Procession. The locals stream down the Via Filunga carrying four-foot tall candles, singing, playing musical instruments, and celebrating the Vin Santo. The windows and doorways of the entire town are lined with real candles to celebrate the three-hour long procession. See more about the Luminaria in my article in Italian Notebook.

During our Lucca days, we will walk, people watch, shop, eat delicious Tuscan delights, and ride bikes around the top of the 60 foot wide city wall. One of my favorite things is our evening listening to the Puccini Operatic Concert at San Giovanni Church. Different singers perform Puccini and Italian Mozart arias each night. There is so much to do and see in Lucca!

We will enjoy a day at the Spa which will include massages, Italian style thermal springs and caves of Monsummano, a 30-minute train ride from Lucca. Our optional adventure is a visit to a couple of beautiful Renaissance villas surrounding Lucca.

THE TOWNS. Here are a few things I’d like you to know about each unforgettable town.

1. Monterosso: Monterosso beaches are the best in the Cinque Terre. We are going to hang out a little on the free beach under Il Casello Restaurant near the trailhead, five minutes from our hotel. Our hotel, Hotel La Colonnina, is located in the historic center of Monterosso.

2. Vernazza: Small, but quaint. We will hike here from Monterosso for about 90 minutes, and enjoy lunch on the shore under colorful umbrellas, and shop on the small main street of town. I’ll walk you to a very special and majestic view of the Mediterranean. This community was formed around the year 1000 and there are about 500 residents during the summer months. Vineyards fill the mountainside beyond the town.

3. Manarola: A Shangrila-like village of colorful houses cascading on the side of a mountain. Its deep water swimming area can be reached from large boulders. Even if some of us don’t swim, we can sit and enjoy the view. We’ll reach Manarola by train if the hiking trail has not been re-opened. We will enjoy a sunset dinner on the veranda of my favorite local restaurant.

4. Riomaggiore: I’m excited to walk with you through the mosaic-lined tunnel leading to the Via dell’Amore. We’ll hang out here, relish the jaw-dropping views, take a group photo, and eat some delicious gelato.

5. Portovenere (Port of Venus): Often called the sixth Cinque Terre town, Portovenere is one of the most romantic, picturesque villages on the Ligurian Coast. Its narrow streets are filled with wonderful shops, and there are unforgettable views from the 16th Century castle on top of the cliffs.
Roman legend has it that Venus emerged from the sea here. You’ll feel a deep feminine presence that really is palpable.

We spend some time writing here just like the romantic poets Shelly, D.H. Lawrence and Lord Byron did. In addition, many women writers and artists today set up shop in Portovenere to work on their creative projects.
We will enjoy shopping, eating on the upper wall overlooking the Mediterranean, and writing on the ancient slabs of white rock overlooking the cliffs, breathing in the fresh salt air with the warm sunshine on our faces.

6. Lucca: Our B&Bs are right in the city center inside the Lucca Renaissance wall, so we are in the heart of this enchanting Tuscan town. As I said earlier, I have arranged for our own local professional tour guide to share his love for and historical knowledge of Lucca–it’s medieval streets, towers and lovely boutiques. We’ll visit unique stores, enchanting Romanesque churches and piazzas (town squares) that invite us to experience true Italian living. You’ll love the food at Pasquale’s!

7. Monsummano near Monticatini: We’ll join the locals at the thermal springs to enjoy the healing waters surrounded by rolling hills. Look forward to your Swedish massage, thermal caves, and the huge thermal pool for swimming or floating and Jacuzzi-like seats to revive and relax you. This is truly a day of la dolce vita.

8. Optional Trip: Villas of Lucca: Capannori, Tuscany. (An additional charge depending on how many of us go). See my article on The Italian Notebook blog.

9. Pisa: (Optional) All of you arrive early so be sure to check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Duomo next to it, on your own.

ARRIVEDERCI. On Thursday morning, September 18, we will say arriverderci to Lucca and return home with memories and friendship to last a lifetime.

Very soon we’ll be together on THE ITALY RETREAT-Where Living La Dolce Vita, the sweet life, is our birthright!

NowItaly Interviews Lenora Boyle

Lenora consulting her Italian dictionary in Italy

Lenora consulting her Italian dictionary in Italy

Over a cup of coffee, Liliana Rosana from NowItaly interviewed me as an Italian-American, dual citizen of Italy. She wanted to know more about me and how I began leading my Italy Retreats.

And the story begins….“The first time she visited Italy, in 2006, she felt at home right away. Since then, she has combined her passion for Italy with her passion for helping others to be happier and to live the ‘sweet life’. Her italianness does not need to be explained.”   Continued here… Continue reading