It’s time! Time for you to:
Explore your creativity • Break your routine • Connect with others
Surrounded by the beauty and history of Florence, Italy.
Get inspired, energized and transformed—join Jennifer Vigil on this creativity retreat October 24 -31, 2017.
As you take in the sun setting over the Arno river
from the middle of Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) surrounded by centuries old jewelry shops, you are serenaded by the songs of local musicians and the buzz of the busy bridge foot traffic. With a sigh, you soak up the last warm glow of the day’s sunlight and breathe in the crisp fall air rich with aromas of dinner being prepared at the nearby Golden View restaurant – fresh pasta, delicious sauces, and the enticing smell of roasted meats make your stomach grumble.
Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, is the ideal place to spend 7 inspiring days and nights exploring creativity, finding your muse, overcoming creative blocks, and connecting with the rich artistic traditions of Italian Renaissance masters.
Imagine coming to Florence and enjoying a creative rebirth with a small community of like-minded adventurers, where you all discover the power of the artist salon as you bond with your new creative colleagues, a relationship that extends beyond the seven days of our trip thanks to the magic of technology and our private Facebook group.
So why should YOU join us?
Simply, Florence is the perfect environment to learn to see the world in a different way under the guidance of your personal art history professor and creativity coach, Jennifer Vigil, Ph.D. Learn her secret ninja museum strategy to maximize your inspiration while avoiding visual overload. You will never look at museums the same way again.
The artistic synergy of Renaissance Florence has never been rivaled and owes much to the patronage of the Medicis (the family that ruled Florence for almost four centuries), and together we will glean its secrets while deepening our creative capacity.
Imagine walking in the footsteps of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Dante, and Galileo– channeling their creative energy. Together we explore their inspirational secrets and creative rituals and processes as we develop our creativity blueprints
During this retreat you will:
Overcome creative burnout and keep your wellspring full year round
Reach a flow state faster through developing creative rituals
Redefine your creative self and be creative on your terms
Banish your inner critic
Find inspiration in your environment daily
Explore Florence on your own and with the group
Florence (aka Firenze)–located in the heart of Tuscany and only a 1.5-hour train ride north of Rome–symbolizes the Renaissance and evokes images of soaring cathedrals, monumental sculptures (imagine Michelangelo’s David), famous paintings, and political intrigue. Old and new reside together in this magical city rich with the colors of Tuscany–deep yellow ochre, soothing beige tones, red terracotta roofs, and rolling green hills and vineyards set against azure skies.
We’ll be spending seven inspiring days and nights in the enchanting city of Florence enjoying charming Italian culture, embracing the slow food movement while we savor the flavors of Tuscany. Reveling in shopping at all the specialty stores (Florence is known for leather–purses, gloves, and shoes!– paper, stationery, journals, scarves, gold jewelry, and majolica ceramics), exploring museums and various neighborhoods around the city, and relaxing in our charming 4-star boutique hotel, Hotel Palazzo Pitti.
Just steps from the foot of Ponte Vecchio, our hotel is nestled in the Oltrarno section of Florence (the other side of the Arno river) known for its artisans and slower pace (and fewer tourists, so you will get more of a feel of how the locals live). Enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of the Duomo (the main cathedral) and Palazzo Vecchio (the old palace) during your morning breakfast in the rooftop restaurant. The neighborhood has many delicious restaurants, and there is an enoteca (wine bar) a block away that is perfect for a late afternoon glass of wine and savory hors d’oeuvres.
We are just blocks away from Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, Santo Spirito church, and its piazza (plaza) and a block away from a small grocery store where you can find quick snacks and anything you forgot to bring.
There will be plenty of time during the retreat to go shopping for special mementos of the trip, and I am delighted to be your shopping guide and help you haggle with the vendors in the open air leather market.
There is a reason that Elizabeth Gilbert traveled to Italy for the “eat” portion of Eat, Pray, Love. Italians have mastered the art of dining giving birth to the slow food movement. Dining is an event onto its self, a multi-course celebration of local delicacies. It is a time to savor the food, to revel in the company of friends and family, and to delight in the charming ambiance.
No worries if you have food sensitivities or preferences, we are happy to accommodate any dietary needs. Just let us know when you sign-up.
Our first night we will feast at I’ cchè c’è c’è, an intimate trattoria specializing in local, season dishes. Mid-week we will be turning our creative energies to the culinary arts, preparing and enjoying a four-course meal at a Florence cooking school. As a special treat, we will celebrate our last dinner together at the Golden View, on the Arno river with enchanting views of Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi.
A gourmet’s dream… Florence delights the palette as well as the eyes.
While exploring the rich artistic traditions of Florence, we also will be indulging our other senses. A morning trip to Mercato Centrale (the San Lorenzo indoor farmers’ market on steroids) will include tastings and exploring the bounty of Tuscany’s fall harvest followed by lunch in the market’s new chic dining area. Panini, gelati, biscotti, there is so much to taste and plenty of opportunities to do so.
During our retreat in Florence you will be delighting all your senses:
- Visually through the art, architecture, and charming Tuscan landscape
- You will breathe in the mouth-watering aromas floating from the numerous restaurants, coffee bars, bakeries, and farmers’ markets
- Feel the textures of the weathered stonework, the supple leather of exquisitely made gloves and purses, and the delicate surface of handmade paper
- You will be serenaded by the music of Florence. The unique harmony of the flowing Arno river combined with the lively chatter of pedestrians and the bustle of shops is broken by the hush of secret gardens nestled in the hills with silent centuries old statues–all against the backdrop of the romantic lilting of the Italian language
- You will taste the sweet tang of aged balsamic vinegar, savor the velvety tomato cream sauce and the delicate texture of fresh pasta topped with freshly shaved parmesan cheese, sample the robust complex bouquet of aged Chianti from centuries old family vineyards, enjoy the refreshing fruity flavors of the gelato, a never ending feast for your taste buds
We will wander the narrow streets discovering hidden treasures.
Italians are known for elegant design in everything they do. It is summed up in the philosophy of la bella figura (the beautiful figure) which essentially refers to making the best possible impression in everything one does — how one looks, behaves, and how one presents things to the world.
A concept that is part of the Italian psyche, beauty is revered in Italy and is apparent throughout Florence.
It is seen in the exquisite and intricate ironwork of street lamps, the elegant typography of store signs, in artful window displays, and in ornate door knockers. We will immerse ourselves in this culture of beauty, finding inspiration and filling our creative wellsprings. We will embrace la bella figura, bringing it into our daily practice and adding it to our consciousness to bring beauty to our everyday lives.
What can you expect if you indulge in seven magnificent days steeping yourself in the magic of Renaissance Florence?
Together we will explore creativity exercises that will retrain your brain and open up new pathways for problem-solving. Florence will be our classroom as we develop these new skills and practice our new techniques.
What would it feel like to know that you had proven strategies to overcome creative blocks and find a flow state more easily?
How would you feel if you returned home with a journal full of a life-time’s worth of inspiration?
Learn an easy travel journal sketching and watercolor technique to quickly capture your ideas and inspiration.
Come and journey through Florence with your own personal art history professor and creative mentor. Walk in the footsteps of the great Italian masters. Embrace the philosophy of la bella figura. Commit to living an artful life daily.
Join us for a transformative, inspirational retreat and return home recharged, inspired, and ready to utilize your new creative “toolbox” filled with empowering strategies, new techniques, and enduring memories of your time in Florence being part of a community of artists.
Not to worry if you don’t speak Italian. Many people speak English and are encouraging to those trying to learn Italian even if it is just practicing buongiorno. They delight in visitors making an effort to learn their cherished Italian.
Florence is a charming, safe, walking city. While there are buses and taxis, the heart of old Florence where we will be visiting is best traversed by foot with cars and buses sticking to larger thoroughfares. The slow pace of walking also affords us the opportunity to notice the exquisite details resulting from la bella figura.
Italians are welcoming to guests from around the world and take pride in showcasing their history, art, and culture. Don’t be afraid to ask locals for recommendations for where to find the best coffee or who makes the best gelato.
Jennifer will be your ambassador to her beloved Florence sharing her tips, favorite spots (she loves to capture the street art and can show you where to find the most unique examples), and favorite secluded gardens with incredible vistas.
- Ignite Your Creative Potential survival kit. A carefully curated bag of essential creativity tools and bonus items for your seven-day retreat
- Three morning (9-12 pm) and two afternoon (3-5 pm) creativity coaching sessions (one held at the Boboli Gardens) plus ongoing conversations during the week
- Two secret ninja museum strategy classes (at Galleria Palatina and Museo Nazionale del Bargello) with art historian Jennifer Vigil, Ph.D. and Alexandra Lawrence, Italian state licensed tour guide
- Guided walking tour and creativity exercise examining the impact of one artistic genius, Brunelleschi, upon the visual and artistic landscape of Florence
- Creative, sensual exploration adventure at Mercato Centrale
- 4-star boutique hotel accommodations double or single occupancy (the rooms are arranged with either two single beds or a king). Need a roommate? Just select double occupancy, and we will match you up with another retreat member
- Seven delicious buffet breakfasts in the hotel’s 6th-floor dining area with spectacular panoramic views of the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio
- Welcome dinner at Trattoria I’ cche’ c’è c’è and a farewell feast at Golden View
- A 4-course dinner cooking class at a charming culinary school where we prepare our meal in their beautiful classroom kitchen and then enjoy the dinner in their enchanting barrel vaulted wine cellar
- Priority admission to the Uffizi and Galleria dell’Accademia with Jennifer Vigil (we will be practicing our ninja museum strategy) plenty of time to ask questions and find inspiration in a new way
- Two lunches—Mercato Centrale’s chic dining area and another when we are out on the town
- Plenty of free time for you to explore Florence on your own or with the group
- Six optional evening passeggiate (leisurely strolls) in different neighborhoods
- Optional walk to Piazzale Michelangelo and walking tour of Oltrarno. Great panoramic view of Florence skyline from Piazzale Michelangelo
- Optional walking tour of San Lorenzo open air leather market—purses, gloves, wallets, luggage, bags, belts, etc. (Jennifer will be on hand to help you haggle if you would like)
- Membership in our private Facebook group
- Pre-trip video call with the retreat group members
- Information packet (sent when you register) with tips on packing, local customs, cellular phone access, currency exchange, information about Florence so you can start dreaming, and other necessary details for an enjoyable and stress-free experience
- When you arrive a welcome packet with useful information about Florence
What’s not included
- Your round-trip airfare and travel arrangements from home to the hotel in Florence (this includes any taxi or bus costs to transport you to and from airport to the hotel)
- Four dinners, five lunches, and any snacks are not included (During the two included dinners there will be a limited amount of wine provided, you may choose to purchase additional wine or alcoholic beverages)
- Other non-included items: souvenir and gift shopping, personal phone calls/ cellular service/ SIM cards (if you would like assistance in purchasing an Italian SIM card for your phone when you arrive, Jennifer can help you with that), taxis, admission fees to any other museums or landmarks not listed in the “What’s Included” section, laundry, bell-hops, and tips for your room maid (we recommend $1-2 USD per day per person)
- Personal, medical, or trip cancellation insurance (trip insurance is highly recommended)
Yes! I ‘m ready to ignite my
To join us, click the button and choose your room type,
then place your non-refundable deposit of $800 USD.
This creativity retreat is limited to 12 participants.
The balance is due August 15, 2017.
*If you select double occupancy, we will try to match you with a roommate. If a roommate is unavailable, we will switch you to a single occupancy room, and you will be charged the difference. (The earlier you sign up, the more likely we will be able to match you with a roommate. Your early bird rate will be locked in so if you are switched to a single the increase will be based on the rate you signed up at.)
A $800 USD per person non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a place in the retreat. August 15, 2017, (60 days before the start of the retreat) the balance is due.
For cancellations made 31 days or more before the start of the retreat, a refund of fees paid less the $800 USD deposit will be issued.
No refund will be issued for any cancellations made 30 days or less prior to the start of the retreat. No exceptions to this cancellation policy can be made for any reason. Consequently, trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended.
We reserve the right to cancel the retreat before its start. A full refund will be issued if we need to cancel the retreat.
Our retreat begins at 2 pm October 24, 2017. There are a couple of options for getting to Florence.
You can fly directly to Florence Airport (FLR) and take a taxi to the hotel. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous (or want to spend some time in Rome pre or post trip), you can fly into Rome’s airport (FCO) which is located outside of Rome in Fiumicino and take a train to Florence. If you choose this option, we can provide you with more detailed travel information for getting from Rome to Florence.
If you want to come a day early, contact us, we have reserved rooms for the evening of October 23, 2017, and we can add that to your package. Any room requests for the night of October 23 must be received before September 21, 2017. Other additional nights can be arranged directly with Hotel Palazzo Pitti.
Jennifer C. Vigil is passionate about art, travel, creating, and teaching. She has frequently traveled over the years for art historical research and her own pleasure. Appreciating the transformational potential of travel and immersion in different cultures, she was moved to begin leading small group creativity retreats in inspiring destinations. Retreats were an ideal way to merge her passion for teaching, travel, creating, and art history. She derives great pleasure from working one-on-one or with small groups of people who want to learn how to increase their creative potential.
She took her first art class when she was five at the Milwaukee Art Institute and has been creating art ever since. Pursuing an undergraduate degree in art history with a minor in ceramics and sculpture led to a job in the American Indian Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. She was drawn to teaching and curating so returned to school to earn a doctorate in Art History.
Throughout her career she has continued to make art, preferring ceramics and mixed media sculpture but always called to keep drawing and painting (her numerous personal art journals are a testament to that). She has worked as a curator, university professor, and is currently a research associate at the University of Arizona.
Being on graduate students’ MFA committees continues to remind her of the importance of thoughtful, constructive, critical feedback in the nurturing and mentoring process of artists. She has seen the profound impact supportive yet challenging creativity mentoring can have on the development of an individual’s creative potential. She brings this sensibility and experience to her creativity retreats drawing on her experience as an artist, art historian, curator, and creativity mentor as she helps individuals ignite their creative potential and develop strategies and processes that keep them inspired and able to access their creativity more quickly and consistently.
About Our Team
retreat assistant + official trip photographer
A university student majoring in photography, Mikinna’s unique gift is portrait photography. She loves working with people to bring out their inner spirit in the photos she takes. Mikinna enjoys traveling, exploring different cultures, and meeting new people. We are honored to have her on our team, capturing our special moments throughout our time in Florence.
tour guide + florence ambassador
Alexandra Lawrence is passionately enthusiastic about the past and present of her adopted home (for almost two decades now) Florence. An American married to an Italian, Alexandra has degrees in political science (comes in handy in the birthplace of Machiavelli and home of the Medicis) and Italian literature (with an emphasis on Dante’s Purgatorio). She is an Italian state certified tour guide and has an incredible depth of knowledge about the history, art, and architecture of Florence, and Italian culture. Alexandra was the managing editor of The Florentine news magazine and lectures on Italian culture at several American and British universities in Florence. Her passion and enthusiasm for Florence are infectious, and she is a delightful ambassador for the city.
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