Tall thin cypress trees, fields of sunflowers called Gira Sole which literally means to turn toward the sun, ancient stone villas dotting the landscape. This is the quintessential Italian countryside.
When I first arrived just 1 week ago, I decided to call our villa Gira Sole after the hillside of Sunflowers it rests on, but as I watch the butterflies (farfalle) dancing in the lilacs I think perhaps Casa di Farfalle is a more fitting name for this beautiful villa. Afterall butterflies are the symbol of transformation, and I feel so transformed here. In fact I can't help but notice how this place transforms everyone who comes to visit. Are they simply renewed from their personal reflection and growth? Or is it something more than that? We've been joking that we've discovered the fountain of youth here in the Tuscan hills because everyone looks 5-10 years younger at the end of just one week.
Even the characters that arrived with such frenetic energy from big cities like New York, are different from when they got here. The lines on their faces have softened, light has come into their eyes, new life has been breathed into their souls. It's beautiful to witness and be reminded of the first time I became conscious of that transformation within myself on my first yoga retreat in Tuscany many years ago. People had come from all over, some to heal their hearts from trauma and stress, others like myself to live a long awaited dream of traveling to Italy. I can still remember looking around at each of their faces as we joined together for our last group circle to share our experiences of our weeklong retreat and say our goodbyes. Everyone looked so vibrant, rejuvenated with new life, new love, and new friends that will affectionately remain in their hearts forever.
I used to think it was just us at that first retreat, that our group was special... but now I know this place has a way of making you come alive and those who are open to it can't help but be filled by the beauty and energy that comes from nourishing your soul. It's something sacred, a place in the hearts of all those who slow down enough to allow themselves to awaken in the beauty of all that Tuscany has to offer.
When we nourish ourselves with love, feed our bodies with fresh seasonal organic food, and bask in the warmth of human connection sharing ourselves with others, this is what transforms your soul. I've never felt so alive and happy as I have here in Bella Tuscany.