Go within on Ananda retreats and pilgrimage.

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Ananda pilgrimage & retreats

Pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy and Segovia, Spain


Ananda Washington’s

Pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy and Segovia, Spain

April 23 – May 9, 2020


It has been said that Italy is the heart of Europe, and Assisi is the heart of Italy.

Join devotees from the greater Seattle Sangha in April/May 2020 on a pilgrimage to Italy to visit holy sites blessed by its great saints, and enjoy some of the greatest art and architecture ever created. And then continue on for the extension to Spain to visit the places of St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross. This pilgrimage is designed to focus less on the culture and more on the places made holy by the great Christian mystics Paramhansa Yogananda described as some of those who lived truly yogic lives.

The pilgrimage will visit Rome, Sienna, La Verna and Assisi – renowned as the birthplace of St. Francis, whom Paramhansa Yogananda called “his patron saint.” While in Assisi, pilgrims will be hosted by the Ananda Assisi international community, and we will meditate together daily in the beautiful “Temple of Light,” and in the bedroom where Swami Kriyananda left his body.

 The Blue Lotus Temple in Bothell is modeled after Ananda’s Temple in Assisi!

Your Pilgrimage leaders will be Zach and Hailey Abbey, inspired leaders of the Ananda Farm on Camano Island, and Nayaswamis Anand and Kirtani from Ananda Assisi. The pilgrimage also includes our professional tour guide (and Kriyaban!) Daniela Mugavera, and the overall travel coordinator is Nayaswami Arjuna. All have years of experience in meditation and leading pilgrimages, as well as a gift for friendship. Their warmth, humor, and deep appreciation of Italy’s rich spiritual heritage will infuse the pilgrimage with joyful adventure.

This pilgrimage will be an unforgettable journey within and without. As they say in Italian: “Benvenuti!” – We welcome you!

**In order to accommodate the schedules of a number of pilgrims, we’ve moved the dates from October 2019 to April/May 2020. We’ve also found a way to lower the price of the pilgrimage by as much as $790 in some instances!


As they say in Italian: “Benvenuti!” – We welcome you!




Main tour: 

(Please note: your international flight is NOT included in the price of your pilgrimage, and you will need to arrange your own flights, so please let us know if you have any questions that we can assist you with on this aspect!)

Most pilgrims will depart the USA on Thursday April 22, 2020, and arrive at the Rome (Fiumicino—FCO) Airport on Thursday April 23, 2020. (When we know we have the minimum 20, we’ll recommend flights that fit this itinerary best. Although you are welcome to use other airlines/flights if it is better for you).

Thursday-Saturday April 23-25: Arrival in Rome, proceed to monastery near Vatican: Casa Per Ferie San Emilia de Vialar

Orientation, outings, rest & sleep!

We’ll visit the the Vatican museum with the beautiful Sistine Chapel, and visit the great St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in the Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration, which was frescoed by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio and others. The ceiling is widely believed to be Michelangelo’s crowning achievement in painting.

The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter is a Late Renaissance church located within Vatican City. Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the largest churches in the world; it is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world” and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom.”

We will also the famous Pantheon, Trevi fountain, and other sites in the afternoon.

Sunday April 26: After an early breakfast, we’ll have an early departure for Assisi by fast train. Drive from the station to Ananda Assisi, and arrive in time for Sunday service.

Ananda Retreat Center

Meditating outside…

… and inside.

Assisi – painting of Saint Clair


Monday April 27: Assisi is an ancient, enchanting Umbrian hill town, founded in 1000 BC by ancient tribes, and settled by Etruscans and Romans. It is best known as the birthplace of St Francis, patron saint of Italy, founder of the Franciscan order, and one of the most popular Catholic saints in history. Yogananda called him his “patron saint.” It is also the home of St. Clare, founder of the order of the Poor Claires. One could consider it as the mystic heart of Western Christianity. Assisi has also had a rich tradition of art through the centuries, and is now home to a number of well known artistic works. With its winding medieval streets, Roman ruins, and sacred shrines, it has been a major pilgrimage destination for many centuries.

View of St Francis Basilica and Umbria countryside

We will visit the Basilica of St. Francis. Built shortly after his death, and consists of three levels, including his tomb (and those of his close disciples) where we can sit and meditate. The church is also well known for the beautiful frescos of St Francis’ life painted by Giotto, a famous 14th century pre-Renaissance artist. 

We’ll also visit the cell of San Giuseppe of Cupertino in the basilica. He was a famous levitating saint of the Franciscan order. Lunch in Assisi. After lunch we visit San Damiano. This is the chapel which the young St Francis restored upon hearing Christ’s words “Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.” This later became the sacred and beautiful monastery where St. Clare and her fellow nuns lived and prayed, before they moved inside the city walls. 

Basilica of St. Clair, Assisi

We will also visit the Basilica of Saint Clare. St Clair was the daughter of a noble family, who joined St Francis when she was 18. She renounced all for the love of God and lived most of her life in seclusion doing prayer, fasting, and meditation. Founder of the order of the Poor Claires. We will visit her tomb in the basilica of St. Clare and meditate in front of the cross which spoke to St. Francis.

Mornings at Ananda Temple: Energization and Meditation 6:45 to 8:45 am, breakfast.

Assisi – Porziuncola

Tuesday April 28: Visit L’Eremo and Porziuncula. The Porziuncula, is a small chapel within a huge basilica, about a mile and a half from Assisi. Legend attributes the name to the singing of angels which has been frequently heard there. It was in poor condition, lying abandoned in a forest of oak trees. St. Francis restored it with his own hands, and it became the spiritual heart of his mission. He lived there for many years with his brother monks; there, in the monks’ infirmary, is where he left his body on October 3, 1226. Many monks, nuns, and pilgrims through the centuries have prayed and meditated here and felt deep inspiration in this holy place. This is also where Swami Kriyananda had a deep experience of St. Francis’ purity, sweetness, and guidance. L’Eremo Hermitage above Assisi, used by hermits and made famous by St Francis and his fellow monks, when they wanted to pray and meditate in isolation. There are several caves, walkways, and churches that we will explore. When Yogananda visited L’Eremo in 1935, he said he felt Jesus walking hand in hand with him at that holy place. Return to Ananda after day’s activities, dinner 7:30. 

Wednesday/Thursday April 29-30: We will return to your favorite highlights in Assisi.

St.Francis preaches to the Birds

Friday May 1: We depart for La Verna. This is one of the holiest shrines of Christianity, where St Francis was the first saint to have received the stigmata (wounds of Christ). This holy mountain in beautiful nature at 4500 feet altitude is located about 2 hours from Ananda. It was given to St. Francis by a nobleman as a place for contemplation and deep seclusion. It became the favorite place of St Francis and his followers for long periods of prayer and meditation. He had many apparitions of Christ here. During his last visit in 1224, while he was absorbed in prayer, he had a deep vision and received the stigmata, which he carried until his death two years later. There are many caves, grottos, and little churches and walking areas where we can meditate and enjoy the natural beauty and God’s presence. We will be sleeping here in the monastery two nights to have a deep experience of this very holy site. We can have full vegetarian meals. Rooms are simple but barely heated (so bring layers!), with bathrooms. 

Saturday May 2: A second day to soak up the vibrations in meditation at the many holy sites in La Verna.

Church in La Verna

La Verna Cross

Sunday/Monday May 3-4: We travel to Sienna. This is the birthplace and home of St Catherine. We will lodge in the convent attached to her house, Alma Domus, the best place in the city with beautiful views. Other sites will include the church if St Dominick, where she prayed and where her relics are, and the beautiful Cathedra of Sienna.

Tuesday May 5: Those ending with the Italy segment of this pilgrimage will travel to Rome, overnight there and depart to the USA on Tuesday, May 6 flights.

Images of Segovia

Tuesday May 5: Those going on to the extension to Spain, fly from Florence to Madrid and bus to Segovia, Spain to overnight there.

Wednesday to Friday May 6-8: Segovia is the city where St Teresa of Avila, and St John of the Cross spent much of their time. He is buried in the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites, a spiritual highlight. We will also visit Avila, where St Teresa spent 20 years in the convent of the Incarnation, a spiritual power point where she and St John conversed and went in to Samadhi. He was the spiritual father of the convent for many years. She founded her first Reformed convent in Avila, which will be visited, and thereafter she founded 17 others.

Saturday May 9: We bus to Madrid in time to take flights to the USA which depart AFTER 1pm on Saturday, May 9! You will be booking your own international flights, so be sure to keep this time in mind: AFTER 1pm on Saturday, May 9.






Details for Pilgrimage to Italy and Spain

Accommodations, Meals, Transportation:

All hotels, restaurants, and menus have been personally inspected by our Ananda Assisi pilgrimage coordinators.


Total costs are shown below; they vary according to your choice of accommodations.

Special note: If you book a shared room and you or your roommate decides to change to private accommodations, BOTH of you will need to pay the single occupancy rate (provided another room is available, of course). Also, if you request a shared accommodation but there is no one to share with you, you’ll need to pay the single occupancy rate.

Please note: The prices quoted below do NOT include your international air, which you will want to book on your own. The minimum required for this pilgrimage is 20 registered pilgrims (not including leaders). Please register (you are considered registered once your registration form has been completed and submitted along with your deposit (or payment in full) as soon as possible. As soon as we know we have 20 registered pilgrims, we will let you  know, so that you can book your flights.

VERY IMPORTANT: The prices below are stated in USA dollars based on the exchange rate of $1.15 USA to 1 Euro. As international currencies can vary more frequently in recent years, your price WILL be adjusted, for current exchange rates on the date we receive your payment in FULL.  Accordingly, we will notify you of your payment due (based on that day’s rate) when you let us know you are ready to pay in full. Checks or cash only please. For credit cards an extra bank fee applies. Please contact Heidi in the Sangha office with questions.



In order to reserve your space with the regular price, please submit a deposit payment of $1000 with your reservation form. Your balance is due no later than February 2, 2020.

Early bird discounts for full pilgrimage: To qualify for the Early Bird Discount, please pay (for Italy-only please prorate):

  1. A deposit of $1,700 by March 31, 2019 (plus the complete single occupancy fee if you select a private room).
  2. Pay another $1,000 toward the balance by April 30, 2019.
  3. Pay another $1,000 toward the balance by May 31, 2019.
  4. Pay another $1,000 toward the balance by June 30, 2019.

Cancellation Policy:

If you cancel by February 2, 2020, your payment will be refunded, less a $300 cancellation fee.

After February 2, 2020, sorry but no refunds are possible.

Price Includes:

  • All ground and air transportation inside Italy and Spain, within the itinerary
  • Accommodations in each destination
  • Three meals per day while at Ananda Assisi and La Verna (not in Assisi town)
  • Two meals per day, usually breakfast and dinner all other places
  • Lodging at the Ananda Retreat complex, all rooms with bath and shower.
  • Shuttle from Ananda Retreat to main areas provided daily
  • Assisi transportation by vans.
  • All required tips and taxes
  • Professional local guides, and tour leaders from Ananda

Price does NOT include:

  • Flight to and from Italy/Spain; passport; travel insurance; excess baggage charges; most lunches; items of a personal nature – laundry, snacks, beverages other than those included with meals, room service, any transportation outside of group activities, hotel telephone or internet, medical care should you need it.
  • Any donations you may wish to make at shrines etc.


You will need a passport that is valid until December 2020. If yours expires before December 2020, you must renew it. If you need a new passport, or need to renew one, do so immediately by going to iafdb.travel.state.gov. You will find instructions there.




Retreats to the Heart of Silence

Ananda MEDITATION Retreat – November 13 – 15, 2020

Ananda YOGA Retreat – March 12 – 14, 2021

Our popular Retreats to the Heart of Silence each include BOTH yoga AND meditation, with the emphasis and amount of time in each differing: yoga retreat emphasizes Ananda Yoga, and meditation retreat emphasizes Meditation as taught by Paramhansa Yogananda.  Each retreat makes allowance for beginners and intermediate levels (whether in yoga or meditation).

Both retreats are held at Islandwood on Bainbridge Island (visit www.Islandwood.org),which is an environmentally conscious facility that offers the opportunity for us to be all together in one large lodge with sleeping and large meeting room all under one roof.  It is nestled on 255 wooded acres with walking trails that wind through a variety of natural habitats. 

In our lodge each room has a private bath and offers several bed combinations from one to four people.  Meals are served in a large, lovely dining room with tables reserved for our group and served family style. Meals are “chef’s choice” and are prepared with local, organic and sustainably sourced vegetarian ingredients. Many special diet restrictions can be accommodated if stated in advance. Coffee and tea are always available.

Each weekend retreat begins at 4pm on Friday and goes until noon on Sunday. Silence is maintained from after the Friday night orientation until later on Sunday.

Prices will include meals and an early bird special – To Be Announced When Available. 

Please contact nivritti@anandawa.org who will be happy to answer your questions.