5 Surprises of Italy!

Bridge in Bagnon Italy

Every retreat I lead is full of magic and surprise, and the month we spent in Tuscany did not disappoint.  With the theme, An Exploration of the Senses, we learned about Italian history, art, food and wine, but we learned even more about ourselves.  I experienced the delight and wonder of surprise many times and here are five of my favorites:

1. Letting Go

On our first evening in Rome, sitting on a beautiful terrace overlooking the entire city, my partner of 12 years proposed!  I could not have been more surprised and was actually speechless until Neil finally asked after several minutes if I was going to say yes!  (I did).

I don’t always have to be in charge of everything and letting go of the control I think I have opens me up to the magic of surprise.   That moment is imbedded in my memory forever and so is all the thought and planning Neil did to create it.

2. Slowing Down

Dinner in Italy

The Italians put a lot of love and passion into their food with the freshest ingredients and conscientious planning, preparing and consuming.  The process gives slow food a whole new meaning with multiple courses and plenty of time to savor in between.

My rushing keeps my mind always on the next thing.  Slowing down and embracing not just the food, but where it came from, how it was prepared, and who I shared it with, became a rich experience, not just a quick way to get full. 

3. Appreciation

Holy Trinity Bridge Italy

Holy Trinity Bridge

I knew Italy was full of rich history and art but I wasn’t prepared for the constant surprise of beautiful views, medieval structures and historical ruins literally around every corner.   The Italians are very proud of their heritage and go to great lengths to preserve it, illustrated by the Holy Trinity Bridge in Florence that was destroyed in WWII and reconstructed by retrieving the original stones from the river.

La Duomo Italy

La Duomo

With all the change we are experiencing today politically, technically, and generationally, (just to name a few), it’s easy to dismiss our heritage.  I plan to appreciate the opportunities that surround me everyday because of the events that took place before me.

4. Authenticity

Elena in kitchen Italy

Elena in her kitchen

Many of the towns we visited were wrought with tourists, but the Italian men and women were easily distinguished, and not just because of their beautiful sense of style.  They carried themselves with an authentic certainty about who they were and what their mission was, embodied by lovely Elena, host and owner at Le Pianore.

We can get caught up in who and how we think we are supposed to be.  What if you created your own life-style, from the inside out, focusing on what matters most to you?  Choosing to live your most authentic self is surprisingly energizing and fulfilling.  

5. Connection

Bev wine tasting Italy

Bev at sunset wine tasting

The Italian’s energy, passion, and emotion are infectious.   The last night of our first retreat, as we  celebrated with a pizza party, Bev, a participant said, “If you had any space in group two, I’ would keep going!”.  We actually did have a last minute cancellation and Bev changed all of her travel and life plans to join us for the second retreat!

I think Bev not only connected with our Italian hosts and retreat participants, she connected with herself in a special way she wanted to continue.  She later said,  “This retreat filled up the senses in every way possible.  It was a love affair where I fell in love with everyone and everything”.  

Whether we are in Tuscany or Denver or anywhere else, we all need an exploration of the senses to keep us learning  and open to the surprise about ourselves.  I am happy to be home to process this rich experience and see myself and my life through new eyes.  I have my fiancée Neil, my adventurous retreat participants and the beautiful Italians to thank for this.  What a wonderful surprise for all of us!

Grazie Mille!


  1. Mary Margaret Jackson on October 4, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Congratulations Diane.

    • Diane Sieg on October 5, 2018 at 12:50 am

      Thank you Mary!

  2. Bob on October 4, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Congrats to you both!!

    • Diane Sieg on October 5, 2018 at 12:50 am

      Thanks so much Bob!

  3. Marci on October 4, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Congratulations on your engagement! He’s a lucky man and it seems like you are blessed too. I went on a Franciscan Pilgrimage in Assisi and Rome, Italy and it changed my life. I had a few experiences that I will cherish forever. Blessings to you for all you do for so many. Much love and respect, Diane.

    • Diane Sieg on October 5, 2018 at 12:55 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words Marci.

  4. Julie Hellweg on October 4, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Wow Diane! I have been tracking with you since you did a talk in Appleton Wisconsin around 2001 or 2 on your book, “Stop Living life like an emergency “. You have inspired me to be authentic, live simply and mindfully in so many ways! Thank you for your sharing and making a difference in my life and those of many others! Sincerely, Julie

    • Diane Sieg on October 5, 2018 at 12:49 am

      WOW Jule! Thank you for your kind words and following me all these years! I am happy to hear you are living an authentic life. Bravo!

  5. Karen Masell on October 30, 2018 at 1:38 am

    Congratulations, Diane and Neil! I just read this…………Dick and I are so delighted for you both! Your news brought a smile to my face and to my heart! xoxoxo

    • Diane Sieg on October 30, 2018 at 7:36 pm

      GREAT to hear from you Karen! I am still smiling too! xoxoxoxoxox

  6. Kate on November 6, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    What a great trip!! Congratulations! We are so blessed and grateful to have you as family.

    • Diane Sieg on November 6, 2018 at 8:59 pm

      Thank you Kate. I feel the same way.


  7. Ann on November 6, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    How fabulous!! I’m very happy for you & Neil. I wish you many, many more years of happiness together.
    Love, Ann

    • Diane Sieg on November 6, 2018 at 8:58 pm

      Thank you so much Ann and great to hear from you. I was just thinking about you and here you are!


  8. Jackie Attlesey-Pries on November 9, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Congratulations, Diane! What a great trip and thank you for sharing your insights.

    All the best,

    • Diane Sieg on November 11, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      Thank you so much Jackie! I hope you can join us for an adventure in the future.

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