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Sacred Travel to Italy with the Yuga Cycles of Time

“…and first my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and light you give us through him.”
—Saint Francis of Assisi

September 9-24, 2024 – Open to Everyone

Join us for 15 uplifting days traveling through Italy in a new way.  We’ll use the Yuga Cycles of Time to explore ancient Italian civilization while encountering thousands of years of spirituality.  Italy is one of the most heart-opening places to visit.  You’ll meet and commune with three very powerful saints who left their mark on the world—the remarkable Saint Francis of Assisi, known for his compassion and attunement to Christ; his contemporary, Saint Clare of Assisi who forever changed the direction for women in the church; and the mystical Saint Catherine of Siena, an activist and author known to levitate while in communion with God.  Throughout our journey together, our interactions with the Italian people, the landscape, the cuisine, and the towns and cities we’ll enjoy will deepen your love for the Divine and for others.  Your tour will include complimentary “Prelude to Italy” online class before we embark on our journey.  Also included in your 15-day journey is a 5-day, 4-night stay at the beautiful Ananda Europa yoga & meditation retreat in the Umbrian Hills above Assisi.  

3 nights Rome
3 nights downtown Assisi
4 nights Ananda Europa retreat center
4 nights Florence
1 night Rome
(Includes tours to Cortona, Perugia, Siena & Orvieto)

(Some of us will arrive in Rome a few days early, where we’ll stay at a Rome City hotel before embarking)



rome italy

Our tour of Ancient Italy begins in Rome, “the Eternal City” also referred to as the cradle of Western Spiritual Civilization. The Tiber River, once a major trade route for Romans, flows gracefully through the city and down to the Mediterranean Sea.  Rome is known for its Seven Hills, the Vatican City, and many iconic structures from ascending Kali Yuga like the Colosseum (80 AD) and the Roman Forum.

Rome Sites

sistene chapel in rome italy

Rome also features sites from early ascending Dwapara Yuga, like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, which took the artist four years to finish, completing it in 1512, at the beginning of the Renaissance, a time when consciousness was rising (ascending) after a long period of dark ages.  In Rome, we’ll tour the Vatican City, see the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Square.

Colosseum and the Roman Forum

roman forum in italy

We’ll view the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, and have a fun and unique “night tour of Rome” where we’ll wind through the picturesque streets of Rome from the Piazza Navone to the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and ending at the scenic Spanish Steps, overlooking the city.

From Rome to Assisi

cafe in florence italy

From Rome to Assisi, to Siena and Florence, the cafes of Italy offer an enchanting way to experience the country’s Mediterranean cuisine.


hotel room in rome italy

Our stay will be in a quiet, restful and uplifting monastery that will be a haven of peace from the very hectic, busy streets and sights of modern-day Rome.  From Rome, we’ll travel north to Assisi, home of Saint Francis, one of the most beloved saints of Cristendom, whom Paramhansa Yogananda referred to as “his patron saint”.

Saint Francis

statue of st. francis

Known worldwide for how his compassion and love tamed the wild wolf of Gubbio, Saint Francis is also revered for his ministry to the poor and underprivileged, his love of nature and animals, and for founding the Franciscan order.  This son of a rich cloth merchant lived in wealth and ease until God used a meeting with a leper to change his heart.

Saint Francis and Saint Clare

Assisi Italy

In Assisi, we’ll visit the main sites of Saint Francis and Saint Clare, and have time to meditate in the little chapels and holy spots that even today are still very much alive with the energy of these great saints.  Clare and Francis were staunch and loving friends until his death in 1226.  The spiritual love they held for each other was a manifestation of the deep and abiding love they shared for God. Our guides in Assisi will be members of the Ananda Europa community, who have a long spiritual connection with the sites in this area.

Saint Clare

Saint Clare

Saint Clare was the first woman in the history of the church to have written a rule for women.  Her example prompted many women throughout Europe to join Poor Clare monasteries.  She died in 1253, was declared a saint in 1255, and is widely considered a co-founder of the Franciscan movement.  We’ll visit San Damiano, the first monastery of the order of Saint Clare, the Basilica of Saint Francis, where his body is entombed, the Portiuncula in Santa Maria Degli Angeli, Eremo delle Carceri, where Saint Francis went for seclusion and prayer, and many other small chapels, shrines and sites of these two saints.

Piazzas of Assisi

Assisi alley

You’ll have time to wander through the picturesque streets, shops and piazzas of Assisi, attuning to what many view as the most charming hill town in all of Italy.

Outdoor Cafés

Assisi Cafe in italy

An outdoor café in Assisi, Italy.  In Assisi we’ll stay at a lovely hotel within walking distance of holy sites, shops and cafes.


Ananda Europa

From Assisi, we’ll take a short journey further up to the Umbrian hillsides and the Ananda Europa retreat center, 20 minutes from downtown Assisi.

Yoga Retreat

sunset view in umbria italy

Here, we’ll stay amidst a dynamic and uplifting European yoga retreat with stunning views of the Umbrian hills and beyond.  You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy daily yoga and meditation, take a personal retreat, artist retreat, visit nearby towns, or visit the distinctive sacred sites of this small spiritual community.

Vegetarian Meals

Dining Room at ananda assisi

You’ll be treated to three delicious vegetarian meals per day in the very loving, open-hearted energy of the Ananda Assisi retreat center.

Ananda Europa

artists at ananda

Being immersed in the uplifting vibrations of the Ananda Europa retreat you can participate in a one-day transformative arts painting retreat at the retreat’s studio overlooking the Umbrian countryside. (Your tour covers this one-day retreat experience.  Extra costs for massage, yoga or healing therapies are not included.)


ananda assisi

Enjoy a massage, yoga therapy session, artisan retreat, quiet walks in the hills around the community or time on your own to meditate, read or just relax.

Hermitage of Saint Francis in La Verna

pilgrimage to italy

On our way to Florence, we’ll visit the mountaintop hermitage of Saint Francis in La Verna, Italy. We’ll meditate in the chapel where Francis received the stigmata of Christ on September 14, 1224, 800 years ago.


Florence Italy is known as the cradle of the Renaissance—and it’s here that we will experience the many sites, art and architectural achievements that marked the beginning of early ascending Dwapara Yuga—the age of energy.   We’ll have the opportunity to climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s Duomo, visit some of the world’s greatest museums, stroll along the Arno River and visit the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), the Boboli Gardens, shop, or enjoy a traditional Tuscan meal.

Our Hotel

hotel room in florence

Our comfortable hotel is situated in a central part of Florence, within walking distance of all the places you want to visit.

Sites of Florence

Botticceli’s Venus

You’ll have free time to visit the many museums and sites of Florence, including the Uffizi Gallery to see Botticceli’s inspiring painting, the convent of San Marco where Fra Angelico’s last supper and other inspiring art is housed, or the Accademia Gallery, to look up at Michelangelo’s two-story tall David statue.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

View of the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) across the Arno River from one of the many cafes of Florence.


Italian view

From Florence we’ll take a day trip to nearby Siena, an eminent medieval city surrounded by a well-preserved 1,000-year-old wall, with a UNESCO-listed historic center. Siena is also the home of the church of Saint Catherine of Siena. Her miracles were not limited to the stigmata and visions: Catherine was seen levitating during prayer, and a priest once said he saw the Holy Communion fly miraculously from his hand straight into Catherine’s mouth.

Our Group

candles on our pilgrimage

Throughout our trip to Italy, we’ll come together as a group twice a day for energization exercises and meditation, and a chance to offer healing prayers for our group and for this planet, which needs the peace, calmness and inner light we offer.

Costs for Sacred Travel to Italy

(A $1,000 deposit is required to reserve your space)

Double room shared (two people)
$5,870 USD per person

Single room (one person)
$6,718 USD per person


  • All accommodations at 3 & 4-star hotels, 1 monastery stay and the beautiful Ananda Europa yoga and meditation retreat community.  Please note that there may be some room upgrades available at an extra cost for those who are interested.  Contact for questions.  
  • Transportation via A/C buses during the journey.
  • Entrance to all holy and ancient sites and museums on our itinerary in Rome (including the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel), Assisi and Sienna. 
  • Entrance fees in Florence, including the Uffizi, Fra Angelico’s San Marco, the Academe (David) and Boboli Gardens. 
  • 15 hearty buffet breakfasts and 10 lunches or dinners
  • All meals while at the Ananda Europa retreat center.
  • One day “Transformative Art & Painting” experience at Ananda Europa.
  • Online class on Yugas & Italy with Byasa Steinmetz, Nischala and Nakula, before trip departs
  • All expert guides for Rome, Assisi, Florence and Siena, Rome walking tours, and more. Our professional guide who will travel with us is a longtime devotee of Yogananda who lives in Italy. 

Cost does not include:

  • Your international flights to/from Italy.
  • Any extra nights at hotels before or after the trip.
  • Travel insurance that we require proof of.
  • Transportation from the Rome airport to our Rome hotel.
  • Any personal expenses, laundry costs.
  • Any medical expenses.
  • Meals other than the above. We do not cover drinks at meals we provide.
  • We suggest you plan your budget to include tips for the specialty expert guides we have contracted with at key trip locations.

Requirements for traveling to Italy

You should be reasonably fit, able to walk up stairs and walk throughout the day. The tour includes a few longer hikes, and walking on uneven surfaces, sometimes up hills.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our travelers and should be taken out at the time of booking. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, death, medical expenses and emergency repatriation with a recommended minimum coverage of US $200,000 for each of the categories of cover. We also strongly recommend it covers cancellation, curtailment, personal liability and loss of luggage and personal effects. You must provide proof of your travel insurance a couple weeks ahead of departure; you will not be able to join the trip without it. Here are a couple options:

Travel Documents for Italy and Europe

You must hold a valid National Travel passport with an expiration date at least six months after the end of your stay.  We will be updating this page for current visa requirements for Italy and Europe, as this is due to change late 2023.  Please contact us if you have questions,

Your Hosts

Nayaswami’s Nischala and Nakula Cryer have been leading tours for Ananda College of Living Wisdom for nearly 20 years.  They have led tours to Northern India, Southern India, Egypt, Greece, Peru, Italy, France, and England.  They are the co-founders of the Ananda College of Living Wisdom.  For 18 years they lived at the Ananda Meditation Retreat in Northern California where they managed the retreat and the college, and where they raised their son.  Nakula is a builder of sacred temples, creating the Temple of Light and Moksha Mandir at Ananda Village, as well as other sacred buildings.  Nischala is also an author of two books, Reflections on Living 30 Years in a Spiritual Community, and the Amazon best-selling, The Four Stages of Yoga.

Nischala and Nakula


We are available to Skype or Zoom with you for questions you may have.

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