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Thursday, March 28, 2024


 La Cittadella dei Sibillini has been our creativiy retreat for some eight years now. Although I'd first discovered it 25 years ago when I had decided to escape from Tuscany to a far off land on the other side of the Peninsula;...... Le Marche. 

    the restaurant at Cittadella

I'd made some new best friends and one weekend they invited me to join them for lunch at a secret venue in the Sibillini mountains, andto go walking there in the forests. But also to go to a country restaurant called Cittadella, and to meet the owner Silvio, whose guest house nestles in the valley, beneath the majestic Mount Vettore. As well as the Hobbit like restaurant, there was a wine cellar, stocked with an astonishing variet of wines and our host  invited us to join him for a lunch (which drifted into an extended aperitifs hour or more); a long afternoon of celebration about nothing in particular, except maybe it was simply of life itself, perched as we were on a mountainside, some 1,800 metres in the sky.

    Morning Ci Kung, by the pool

And I was smitten....

..........By the beauty of the landscape.

By tales of its fascinating history; of the Piceni tribes who lived here; a people whose origin has never been traced but whose art and culture was breathlessly beautiful

   Gong session with Giovanni

And they in turn conquered by those bullies, the Romans, who built cities and towns across the countryside as far north as the ancient Greek City of Ancona.

By the stories of fairies and witches who still abound here, and to realise that the ancient Nature Religions are still thiving here to this day

And then the seductive charm of Cittadella itself, of its enigmatic owner Silvio, who in his mild way, embodies the very essence of this part of the Apenines; the rivers, the forests, the mountains and their bubbling streams. As if they are embedded in his DNA.

  Art café

Writing this, I am reminded of what the American artist and teacher, Robert Henri, wrote to his students some 130 years ago, that 'The objective isn't just to make art, but rather to be in that state of mind where art becomes inevitable

   Morning get together

And yes, Cittadella is a state of mind. To excercise early of a morning by the side of the pool; to do Tai Chi and Chi Kung beneath Mt Vettore in the crystal clean air. To open our senses to the wind and the boundless sky, to the awakening sounds of nature, the birdsong chorus. And later, after breakfsat, walking in the forest; cupping our hands into a mountain stream and splashing our faces; to say good morning to life, to Mother Nature.

 Time to rest and contemplate

And indeed, this is where creativity finds us

It flows through us

And we experience the urge to create beyond ourselves, to make images, to make forest art, to write poetry, music; and to laugh together at our good fortune to be here, at this time, at this place.

To give life back to life,


For further information or questions about Michael's workshops, go to his website
Or you can mail him on

And for this week's GUARDIAN write up on Le Marche, read this

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