Retreat June 2011—Friends, Food and Inspiration!

30 wonderful friends

The 2011 inspirational retreat led by Scott Colglazier in the beautiful Tuscan hills, called “Rediscovering the Fire of Everyday Life,” was successful beyond our wildest imaginings. In fact, even when we thought it was over, it wasn’t really. The wonderful group of 30 who attended continue to offer memory pieces to help document the magic that was in the air that week under the eclipsing full moon. Significant new friendships were forged and insights gained, as we allowed ourselves to became pilgrims once again, seeking to get “in touch” with ourselves and each other in deeper and more meaningful ways.

Incredible Food!

Following are several videos, as well as access to the photo albums created by participants, documenting the spirit and magic of that week. We’ve collected everything together on this site for your convenience, so that you may relive those memorable moments of good friends, food and inspiration. But also, for those not attending this year’s event, we’d like to offer a glimpse into what took place. Other retreats will be available in the future, and we hope that you will consider making the commitment to join us for the experience of a lifetime—your unique lifetime!

Enjoy . . . and we will surely see you soon in beautiful Tuscany.

Photos: Click here for the group photo room where you can join in the fun with slideshows of a number of takes on the event thanks to those participants who shared their photos.

Video #1-5: These videos were created by Cecily and Jim Noelker of Seymour Indiana. Participants in the retreat, they were kind enough to capture and share their images of people, events and the Tuscan countryside.

The 5 short videos called: Dinner at Torre al Sasso; Tuscan Wonderland; Our Room With a View; Il Trebbiolo Relais in Fiesole; and Buon Giorno at Il Trebbiolo, are available on YouTube by clicking here.

Video #6: This video was created by Rocky (Rocco) and Linda Spalazzi, artists/owners of Bright Light Visual Communications located in Cincinnati Ohio. They also participated in the retreat, and created this wonderful overview of the time we all spent together.  (Use this link if you are using a pc)  (Use this link if you are using a Mac)

Italian Musings From Afar by R. Scott Colglazier: Read the personal comments from Scott following the retreat, and watch the summary video where Scott captures the essence of what happened during those Tuscan days and nights in June, 2011.

Local Inspiration!

Ciao for now,

Scott, Marti, Cheryl and Emerson

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Italian Musings from Afar by R. Scott Colglazier

Sunday morning in LA

Sunday evening in Los Angeles. The afternoon air is beginning to cool. The sun is setting. It was a busy day at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, where I serve as Senior Minister. My sermon this morning was titled – “Did You Get Healed?” Back to work. Back in Los Angeles. And gladly so. Yet, I find myself flooded with memories from Italy. So many thoughts. So many feelings. So many sweet pictures of people bouncing around inside my consciousness.

Wonderful people

I am filled with gratitude. When I am grateful, I am alive. When I am not grateful, I am already dead. I am alive today! I think of the people who participated in the retreat. Beautiful people. Amazing people. It was a convergence of many perfections. So much joy. So much meaning. How wonderful it is when people share a journey. Indeed, a community was born in Tuscany. Good people. Good friends. Unforgettable memories.

The Villa

Although there are too many highlights to recount, I will name a few . . . Wine and appetizers outside the glowing yellow villa of Il Trebbiolo. Sabrina’s smiling face. Our first dinner in the Atrium. Explorations into the “God who is in all things.” The God who “shares creative power with us.” The God “who is in all people.” The divine presence that is “deeply within yet always beyond. The Source, the Mystery, and the All in All.” And then living gratefully, mindfully and artfully. Risking our individuality with courage and faith. The grace of saying, “This is who I am,” without strain or defensiveness. Walks to the monastery. Real walks! Time at the pool. Morning stretches. Exploring grief and grievances. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons that become so large inside our minds. Recognizing that forgiveness is about letting go. Moving on. Forgiveness is about finding a way to go forward, even when life has gone very wrong. Even when we have been wronged, the way forward is forgiveness. Dinner at Torre al Sasso. The beautiful terrace. And laughter. So much laughter. A lunar eclipse. Yes, a lunar eclipse! More walks. Conversations at breakfast and lunch. A garden party at Emerson and Cheryl’s Tuscan dream house. And then dinner on the villa terrace. And another moon. A great burning citrus in the sky. We were moonstruck! Lunatics for a night. And of course, dancing in the moonlight with Van the Man Morrison. Do the turbulence! Ride the pony! Surf in the circle of dance! And then Friday morning. The mantra of the retreat – “Be who you are; Want what you have; Do what you can.” What do we take home? We take one another. That is surely the greatest gift of all. We take one another. Is there anything more sacred than when people share the stories of their lives with one another?

We thank you!

Emerson and Cheryl were extraordinary hosts. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As for Marti, simply put, this retreat would not have happened without her. She is now considering the possibility of opening up her own Italian Taxi Service! And as for me, I came to Italy to help others, but the others I tried to help, wound up helping me. How can I be anything but grateful?

Some have asked: What’s next? I don’t have an answer to that question right now. But I suspect we will drink again from the glory that is Italy, and that someday our group will re-form, and we will again be pilgrims on a journey and not mere tourists on vacation. I love you all.


p.s. We hope you enjoy the following video we created to honor all of you and the special time we shared together in sweet Italia. May we never forget!

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Sabrina and Roberto

Only a few short weeks away from our long-awaited Tuscan retreat—we hope everyone is as excited as we are.

Since you will all be arriving at different times, we thought it would be nice to formally introduce the two people who will be at Villa il Trebbiolo to greet you when you walk through the door. That is, unless they’ve just stepped away for a coffee. In that case, you might see a handwritten sign saying torno subito, which of course means – I’ll be right back. Actually, that often-seen Italian note on the door will only appear IF you have missed the personal invitation, “Volete prendere un caffè, do you want to take a coffee?” In any case, the casual atmosphere will immediately put you at ease and in the mood to dream a little.

Sabrina and Roberto

You’ll find that the Villa proprietors, Roberto Bartolini and Sabrina Villani have boundless energy and they’re the ones who will help make everything happen—and we mean everything! The two of them seem to be able to do anything they set their minds to, since what they’ve accomplished together is truly amazing. This isn’t just any villa in Tuscany, but rather, a unique and ongoing labor of love—a work of art that has truly been created personally by the owners.

Possibility everywhere

In June of 2000, they opened the doors of the villa to the public and began their journey together. They saw a possibility that no one else imagined, and have been transforming their shared vision into reality ever since. Before acquiring the villa, they had worked in construction and design and knew how to make things real. Today, over a decade later, they’re well on their way, though it seems to be a perpetual work in progress. Every time we think we’ve seen the finished product, they begin realizing another surprising addition. Their progress and passionate restoration is now recorded in the history books alongside the centuries old stories about their beloved home. In fact, a couple of years ago, they worked with a local historian to write their own book, Villa Il Trebbiolo. This year, they are offering a second book, just finished, called Nature in Il Trebbiolo, documenting over 200 species of wild flowers that can be found on the grounds of the villa. The book includes a map of three walking trails.

Beginning of a new era

We first wandered down the cypress-lined drive on a late spring morning in 2000, curious as to what the place was all about. Of course, we like to think we were their first customers—but probably not. Little did we know that the villa and adjacent properties had been sold-off over the years.  Roberto and Sabrina stepped in to purchase and reunite them once again after years of neglect, into one grand estate. Although it had once been very beautiful, the buildings and grounds needed lots of love, years of hard work and money. Two dreamers who knew that they could recover this diamond in the rough, Sabrina and Roberto, shared the passion to make it all happen.

Our lunch that spring day was delightful, but only a faint glimmer of what was to come. We’ve watched them renovate the villa and recover the annexes (dependenze, as they call them) over the years. Painstakingly, step-by well-planned step, they’ve created what has become a surprising oasis destination for weary travelers, with a focus on fine dining, wedding celebrations, and now a transformative retreat.

New pool in the old olive grove

You will surely enjoy the new pool nestled among the 36 rooms—each one unique. They’re also interested in the environment and just finished a new central heating plant, fueled completely on sunflower seed oil—one of the first in all of Italy (Roberto might even let you take a look if you’d like). Oh, and by the way . . . the Il Trebbiolo olive oil is absolutely fantastic and worth waiting for. You might want to buy some oil from last November’s pressing to take home.

The magic of Roberto and Sabrina is grounded in their admiration and respect for one another, but also in their working partnership. They’re the perfect team, combining individual know-how, capability as master chefs, maitre’d’s, and whatever else has been needed. They have their own orto, vegetable and herb garden, and have been known to raise their own free range chickens as well. In the early days, they ran the villa by day, waited tables at night, ran the kitchen and nearly single-handedly rebuilt the buildings, as their vision grew. Now, they can relax a little (although they usually don’t), since they have added a wonderful chef, Gabrielle, as well as other staff to make sure things run smoothly.

The latest creation

By now, we’ve gotten used to their “constant re-do,” knowing there’s always more to come. They’re currently putting the final touches on the restoration of the last historic barn, creating 9 more rooms for your next visit, bringing the total to 45. Soon they will install stone columns and grand iron gates at the new entrance. Is this the final phase? Probably not. With only the help of a few others, Roberto and Sabrina will continue to make their dream a physical reality. All we have to do is sit back, relax and watch the progress—and of course, enjoy the results. What they’ve done and how they’ve done it is an inspiration to all who visit.

June 14th, 2011 Villa il Trebbiolo becomes our “home away from home” for reflection and transformation with the first retreat led by the one and only Scott. It’s our hope to be part of the continuing story, offering relaxing and life-changing experiences at this historic Tuscan site.

We hope that when you meet Roberto and Sabrina, you’ll not only feel at home, but will have a better understanding of what Il Trebbiolo is all about. It’s far more than just a retreat destination. It’s a loving work-in-progress that will lend its own magic and charm to the stories that we all bring to share, in addition to the one that we will create together during those inspirational days in June.

A presto, see you soon

Cheryl, Emerson, Scott and Marti

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Florentine Easter

Images of hope and rebirth

Traditions abound around the holiday. In the US, we dye the shells of hard-boiled eggs. Children await the Easter Bunny, who makes his rounds delivering baskets filled with colored eggs and chocolate bunnies. Both the egg symbol and the bunny remind us of birth and fertility, of hope and possibility. Just a glimpse of the brightly colored eggs takes each of us into the Easter story.

Easter in the Piazza

Easter in Italy is steeped with local traditions. Florence is a wonderful city—relatively small, infinitely walkable, overwhelming yet intimate. Many travel writers list scores of  activities and sights to see, but no event is more compelling than Easter Sunday in the Piazza del Duomo. Why? Because only in Florence is Easter celebrated with an “exploding cart.” You might ask, “What does that have to do with Easter?” The answer is: more than you ever imagined!

The Exploding Cart

Legend has it that this ritual began with Pazzino de’ Pazzi, a hero of the First Crusade in 1099. An almost mythic Florentine warrior, Pazzi is said to have been the first man to scale the walls of Jerusalem. For his daring, he was presented with flinty shards reported to be parts of the Holy Sepulcher. Upon his return to Florence, those pieces of stone were used to light a fire for Holy Week. The Holy Fire was paraded through the streets of Florence, pulled in a cart drawn by two white oxen. The Florentines lit their hearths by taking small embers from the Holy fire. This “Fire of Faith” symbolized community, commitment and hope. Thus began the tradition of the Scoppio del Carro, Explosion of the Cart.

Over time, the original legend has given way to an elaborate re-enactment. The delivery of the Holy Fire has become a dramatic event. Locals, along with hoards of tourists, pour into the Piazza to witness and participate in the annual festivities.

Fire of Faith Parade

Centuries later, the fire is still lit by the ancient shards of the Holy Sepulcher, a ritual that takes place in the Chiesa Santissimi Apostoli, a small church founded by Charlemagne. The flame is placed in the elaborately decorated 3-storey cart and then, in true Florentine style, the cart is paraded through the streets of the city in a grand procession, accompanied by celebrants and various Church and civic officials costumed in 15th Century garb.

When the cart reaches its destination of Piazza del Duomo, it stops between Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore, Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers, and the Battistero, Baptistry. But, today there are no embers distributed to the people. Instead, the celebrants are treated to fire of a different kind.

At the end of Easter Mass, the Archbishop of Florence lights a rocket that is shaped like a colombina, little dove from inside the Duomo. The dove “flies” out of the cathedral, along a wire, and ignites the cart, to which fireworks have been attached. After 20-minutes of fuochi d’artificio, fireworks, hope is re-ignited, prosperity guaranteed, and the rebirth of spring begins in earnest.

Florence awaits your arrival

This is the perfect celebration, preparing the way for our upcoming retreat, Rediscovering the Fire of Everyday Life. The embers of the nearly millennium-old ritual will still be burning bright with hope as we gather together to explore the everyday magic that animates our lives. We’re only weeks away from meeting in the heart of Tuscany. Godspeed in your travels, and we look forward to seeing you very soon!

Ciao, ciao,

Scott, Marti, Cheryl and Emerson

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Magic at every turn!

Our retreat, Rediscovering the Fire of Everyday Life, in beautiful and inspirational Tuscany is fast approaching. To get us all in the mood, we thought it might be fun to let our imaginations stroll through the beloved renaissance heartland of Firenze, Italia Florence, Italy.

Piazza Signoria

For those who have not been to Florence, you are in for a treat. Even if you’ve  been once or perhaps multiple times, you know that it will still be engaging because the city is different in every season, every month, and every day of the year. The particular angle of the sun glancing through Piazza Signoria can make it fresh and new as if it is appearing for the first time. It’s easy to be caught off guard by the beauty that sneaks up on you without warning. For example, the night lights dancing on the Arno in front of the famous Ponte Vecchio, Old Bridge, can elicit a spontaneous romantic mood from even the most reserved among us.

Sneak Up On It

In case you haven’t heard the news, in 2010, Piazza Duomo, Cathedral Square, and many of the streets and alleys leading into it were transformed from the bustling traffic of motorini, mopeds, autobus, city buses and taxis, to a delightful network of pedestrian walkways. Now, it’s easier than ever to casually wander around the magnificent Duomo – Santa Maria dei Fiori, St. Mary of the Flowers (with Brunelleschi’s largest brick dome in the world). Imagine Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Dante Alighieri creating incredible masterpieces of the Rinascimento, Renaissance. Before your very eyes, you will see their enchanting worlds unfold. Spend some time in the Uffizi gallery. It’s easy to overdo it, because there’s far more famous art in that one location than you can possibly absorb in a year of study.

Santo Spirito

Visit and marvel at the incredible creative genius of Michelangelo’s recently restored David in all its glory at the Accademia. Perhaps you might find yourself crossing the Arno to check out the unique church of Santo Spirito, or spend the afternoon meandering through the Giardino di Boboli, Boboli Gardens sprawling behind the Palazzo Pitti, Pitti Palace. Or even follow the trail on up the hill through the serpentine Bobolini, small gardens like pearls on a necklace. Take a picnic lunch and breathe in the afternoon scent of the historic cipressi, cypress trees that line the paths.

From San Miniato

If trees and winding roads are your passion, walk the promenade along Piazzale Michelangelo as it curves its way back around to the heart of the city. But, by all means, don’t forget to stroll through the gardens and historic cemetery behind the beautiful San Miniato al Monte basilica, where the views over the city with its red tile domes and towers are absolutely breathtaking. More than ever you become aware that Florence is really just a small town overflowing with delights.

Santa Croce

And of course don’t forget the other churches and piazzas: Santa Croce, San Marco, Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo with the vibrant outdoor market and the Cappella di Medici, Medici Chapel. On and on and on it goes. The parade of history is so expansive that you can begin to unravel only a few of its century old secrets during a single visit—but that makes the process more intriguing! Florence is a city that keeps calling you back for more, and most people continue to answer the call.


For those interested, a few of us will be wandering the old city streets in the afternoon following the retreat. Perhaps a stopover at a few lesser known yet equally fascinating places such as the cells where monks like the famous Savonarola lived and preached. We might stop in the artisan workshop of Renzo Scarpelli to see how they still make the inventive Mosaici Fiorentini, Florentine Mosaics. You can even buy a few, but remember to bring plenty of Euro in a small trunk, since the art is very labor intensive and costly! Maybe we will wrap the afternoon up with those interested, by visiting some of the more popular haunts, building our appetites for some good old Tuscan cuisine with a creative twist at Da Quei Ganzi, where Domenico and Matteo will once again work their Florentine magic with food.

Sweet Music At Every Turn

The fact is, that no matter where you go in Florence, or how you get there, you are opening yourself to the rich history of an ancient world as it entered the era of “rebirth.” The times were ushered in by masters of surprising creative genius. Every narrow stone street, stately palazzo and secret courtyard garden holds a magical story, whispered in your ear. All this, in the heart of Tuscany—magnificent Firenze.

We look forward to seeing you very soon at Villa Il Trebbiolo in the peaceful rolling hills just outside of town.

Ciao ciao,

Scott, Marti, Cheryl and Emerson

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Gardens, Gardens Everywhere

Welcome to Rediscovering the Fire of Everyday Life, June 14-17 2011—your personalized retreat in beautiful and inspirational Tuscany.

Welcome to Vincigliata Castle

On a Thursday afternoon, you may find yourself walking through heavy iron gates and behind stone walls to discover a private villa or an ancient castle. Catch your breath as you scan the courtyard, with its beautiful Italian garden opening to incredible views into the valley. You are suddenly transported to another place and time, as the soft breeze carries the fragrance of nearby flowers. This is just one of the many beautiful possibilities in the area around Villa Il Trebbiolo—our home away from home during the retreat.

A few years ago, we discovered a well-kept secret in this magical area. Garden tours. But not just any gardens, these are the Giardini delle Ville Fiesolane ~ Fiesole Villa Gardens. Included are some of the most historic castles and beautifully landscaped villas dotting the hills of Fiesole, just beyond Florence.

Garden Courtyard

Visits have included Villa Maiano, where the movie, “Tea with Mussolini” and “Room with a View” were filmed, or Villa San Michele, which boasts a fantastic loggia designed by Michelangelo himself. There’s the Castello di Vincigliata, a wonderful medieval castle on a knoll overlooking Florence. And of course Villa Medici, where centuries ago, the famous Medici family escaped the bustle of Florence. These are just a few of the well-known locations, but there are also many lesser known beauties that open their doors and gardens as well, each unique and breathtaking.

Wisteria Window

These garden tours are regularly scheduled events in the spring and early fall. They begin mid-April and run through mid-June, resuming again in September and concluding around mid-October. A small group of 15 or so people convene at the site, having made reservations first thing on the previous Monday morning, with visits always scheduled on the following Thursday afternoon. (It’s a race for the few available tickets.) A glimpse inside one of those gems is a rare opportunity that very few tourists even know about.

Historic Italian gardens are just one facet of the unfolding magic surrounding Villa Il Trebbiolo. When the upcoming retreat begins, we want you to be there with us, in this incredible, thought-provoking and romantic location!

Garden with Panorama

The response to the upcoming retreat has been wonderful, with folks coming from a variety of interesting places. We are looking forward to engaging with such a dynamic group for a unique and transformative experience next June. To secure your place, please send the $250 deposit by October 15, 2010. Make your check payable to R. Scott Colglazier and send it to 2524 Canyon Drive Los Angeles, CA 90068. Subsequent payments are $250 by February 1, 2011, and a final payment of $350 by May 1, 2011. If you prefer to make a single payment, of course, we are happy to accept it. Registration must close on October 15th in order to take advantage of the “off-season” rates generously offered by Roberto and Sabrina at the villa.

Little Door

The daily schedule will be flexible, offering ample time for you to create afternoon outings, or simply walk through the beautiful Tuscan countryside. Arrive early and/or stay later and maybe you can even catch one of those secret garden tours. You never know! For additional information about the retreat, check out our previous posts or contact us directly:

But be warned! You may get swept up in the romantic, serene beauty of the area. Following the retreat, you might even decide to stay. Who knows?


Scott, Marti, Cheryl and Emerson

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Tuscany awaits your arrival

Welcome to Rediscovering the Fire of Everyday Life, June 14-17 2011—your personalized retreat in beautiful and inspirational Tuscany.

Ancient Stone Entrance

Imagine yourself walking the ancient stone road to the nearby monastery, Madonna del Sasso. We enter from the country lane just at the edge of the village of Santa Brigida. Within a few steps we are immersed in a pastoral scene of olive trees surrounding an old colonica, farmhouse. At the end of the road, between two carved stone columns, we enter and make our way onto the cobblestone road that winds its way over the brook and up into the hills. This was once the only access to the monastery. Enchanting, twisting stone walls lead to the top. There, we find the beautiful sanctuary perched on the side of the mountain, overlooking the entire valley below.

Afternoon Shadows in the Loggia

Madonna del Sasso holds a prominent position and is visible from almost anywhere in the hills surrounding Il Trebbiolo. On the side of the mountain, in 1484/85,  the Virgin Mary appeared to two local farmers at the site of a particular stone. During a 2 year period, she appeared 5 times. Then in 1490, to commemorate those sacred events, the decision was made to construct the santuario, sanctuary, which was completed in 1504. The church has been recently refurbished and is currently an active monastery. The beautiful grounds, as well as some parts of the complex are open to the public. Regularly scheduled services can also be attended. It would be great to see you there!

Guarding the Valley

We, the monastery, and more await your arrival. The beauty and peacefulness of the ancient valley with its many historical sites, creates the perfect setting for our shared journey into Rediscovering the Fire of Every Day Life, led by Dr. Scott Colglazier. You will be transported back into the timelessness of the valley—where every day is always old, yet new; simple yet multi-layered; peaceful yet exciting.

There has been significant interest in the retreat, and a number of spots are already filled. We realize that it takes some time to entertain the possibility of such an adventure, for full consideration and planning. Even though the deadline for registration is October 15, 2010 we encourage you to give us a call or send a message if you have any questions at all. We want you to have as much information as possible so that you are completely comfortable and happy with your decision. You can contact Scott directly to reserve your place, or to ask any questions that you might have at:

We look forward to hearing from you to secure your place within this diverse group of explorers. Please visit our two prior posts (listed to the right in the “archive” section) to catch up on the additional details of the retreat.


Scott, Marti, Cheryl and Emerson

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