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In Tuscany there is unexpected magic around every corner…If you push the door open.
I have been leading and guiding retreats in Tuscany for 20 years now thanks to my dear friend, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, who encouraged and helped me bring Women’s Quest to this beloved and medieval part of the planet. I fell in love at first sight. In Tuscany falling in love is easy. As soon as get off the plane you can feel every cell in your body relax and open up. Everywhere you turn there is exquisite beauty.
One day after a tour we were taking a bike ride through one of my favorite towns called Monteverdi, where the Mucci brothers have the best deli on the planet! On this particular ride I was riding quite slow, as I normally due after a tour, from laughing so hard. There is a very special area on this ride. At the top of the mountain in Monteverdi there is an estate lined with cypress trees and holds a large special sculpture garden. I had been riding my bike by this area for years and had always wanted to stop and go up the LONG driveway to the villa at the top. I told my Italian cycling buddies that I was going to ride up this driveway and they thought I was crazy because you just don’t do that in Italy. But, I FOLLOWED MY HEART and it led me to one of the most magical people on the planet. When I got to the top I pushed open these HUGE HUGE doors to the driveway and I rode my bike up the dirt road to the Villa. Outside the sculpture garden was a man sitting, smoking a small cigar. In Italian he said “I have been waiting for you.”
I thought this man was the gardener, but it was the world renowned sculpture and owner of the whole estate, Rolando Stefanacci. We both hugged and cried and had so much to say (mind you, I do not speak Italian) so it was mostly intuitive. He showed me all the sculptures made of the most beautiful travertine. He explained the sculptures to me and dove into the spiritual connection and transformation they hold, along with how he gets his inspiration from many different religions. Little did I know I had run into the Eckhart Tolle of Tuscany.
We started a wonderful friendship that day and I am lucky enough to bring Women’s Quest to his home every year to eat lunch, (which is seriously the BEST organic food in Tuscany), to listen to him talk with words of wisdom, and to walk around his sculpture gardens and Villas.
At 88 years old Rolando is still a prolific artist in painting, ceramics, sculpture and architecture whose art covers the spectrum from small personal pieces to large commissions for sculptures and fountains in town squares across Italy and Europe. He is also a never ending student of alchemical philosophies and considered by many as an expert in the field of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Etruscan philosophies.  
Rolando does not see formal boundaries between his art and his study of ancient philosophies and the daily life of mankind. Rolando has studied the great cultures and philosophies of history, focusing on Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Etruscan philosophies that wind their way into all of his art, which is often as much scripture as it is aesthetic. It is the alchemical transformation all around us that permeates all of his activities. From his non-stop creation of art, to his work in his robust and beloved vegetable gardens, to his design and building of guest villas on his estate property including his travertine pool heated with geothermal water. The theme of composition and decomposition is always present. While this transformation is woven into everything he does, for Rolando the most important transformation is of humankind into pure spirit. Leaving behind the “theater of life” as he calls it. Rolando believes our path as humans is to become a pure connected spirit.