“If you get pure beauty, you get about the best thing God has to give.”

The quote is attributed to an anonymous artist long ago, cited by the British writer, Charles Latham in his 1905 book, The Gardens of Italy. The sentiment sums up the intention of the Italian villa—pure beauty! And Villa Gamberaia, set in the peaceful hills overlooking Florence is certainly no exception. This incredible garden in the Tuscan landscape has been studied and celebrated by architectural historians and garden designers throughout the centuries. In fact, the painter may have been standing in Gamberaia’s garden when he first spoke those words that captured Latham’s imagination. (more…)

We decided to take a big walk!

Sometimes it’s helpful to symbolize life’s journey by creating a walk that challenges us with everyday trials, on our way to a special destination. It’s even more powerful when that path is one that’s served as The Way for millions of pilgrims over centuries of soulful walking.

The Way of Saint James is one of the most famous pilgrimages in the history of the world, and is made up of countless paths throughout Europe, all converging at Cape Finisterre, at the western coast of Spain. Finisterre means “land’s end,” and was definitely thought of in ancient times as the “end of the world.” What better destination to symbolize life’s pilgrimage? (more…)

At the visitor’s center in the small French town of Saint-Vallier-sur-Rhône, we asked the director, our new British friend Hillary what to do. We had taken the train from Lyon earlier that morning, with the intention of continuing by bus to the tiny burg of Hauterives, to visit Ferdinand Cheval‘s “Ideal Palace.” That was the plan . . . until we found out that the buses were really few and far between. The next bus would be along in 4 hours. A taxi was a logical second choice, but they’re hard to come by, and would be on the super high side of pricey. We were determined to see the Palace—hence our dilemma. (more…)

Why would anyone voluntarily leave Italy? Good question. But, that’s another story for another time. So . . . given that we wanted to “get out of Dodge,” we asked ourselves one simple question, “How can we most quickly and easily leave, yet still enjoy rolling hillsides of enchantment and inspiration, all the while, eating incomparable pastries, local cuisine and of course, a refreshing gelato now and again?”  The answer was obvious: Corsica. (more…)

We sat down on the perfectly placed stone bench to enjoy a quiet moment with nature. A rustling sound began somewhere nearby: perhaps two lizards playing, a harmless garden snake, or just leaves blowing in the evening breeze. However, the strange sound intensified and before we knew it, we were sitting amid rubble. Our sacred stone perch overlooking the valley had literally disintegrated beneath us. No one was even slightly injured, but our quiet meditation had been bruised rather badly. (more…)