A Personal Note from the Director
Bel camino is my own variation of Buon cammino, a greeting traditionally shared by Italian pilgrims that means “Good walking!” or “Good journey!” I have refocused this phrase, increased its positivity by a few notches and made it Bel camino – “Beautiful journey” – because these words 1/ concisely sum up my view of life in general and 2/ provide a strong symbolic image of the sorts of values I wish to share with those who wish to participate in the program I have created in Siena.
I have first-hand evidence of the transformative power of walking. Having logged many hundreds of miles on roads across Europe, Asia, Africa, North & South America, I have come to believe that walking is the best way to come to know a place, its people and oneself. Being immersed in nature—temporarily unplugged from all things electronic—allows one to recharge and to reconnect – with nature, self and others, with body, mind and spirit. Traversing a landscape on foot provides a series of ever-changing perspectives – different ways of seeing the world – that stay with one long after the walk is done. For, unlike the effects of more rapid forms of transport, they have had time to impress themselves on the imagination. Walking slows the body and mind to a pace set by the body’s natural rhythms, a pace that prepares the organs of human awareness for keener observation and reflection; one becomes more present in the moment and more sensitive to beauty. Witnessing more beauty, one experiences more joy and wonder in life. For these reasons, a one-week pilgrimage is included as the centerpiece in every Bel Camino program.
Bel Camino also alludes to a wonderful Navajo concept known as ‘The Beauty Way.’ Simply put, this is a ceremony performed in order to bring the celebrant back into harmonious alignment with themselves and the world. My belief is that Bel Camino, the program not the phrase, if undertaken with awareness and a serious levity (!), can contribute to that same sacred intention in the lives of all those who come and walk with me through the medieval streets of Siena and the byways of the Tuscan countryside.
Founder & Director of Bel Camino