Gifts of Imperfection™️ Women’s Retreat in Italy

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An Experience of the Senses…

Join Susan on this special retreat for women in enchanting Tuscany for a soul-filling and heart-warming experience of the senses. Drawing on Brené Brown’s best-seller The Gifts of Imperfection and the inspiring beauty of your surroundings, you will:  

  • Reconnect with your essence
  • Contemplate and celebrate your gifts
  • Commit to your resilience and wholeheartedness

Named by Forbes as one of the “Five Books That Will Actually Change Your Outlook On Life”, The Gifts of Imperfection provides an evidence-based roadmap and guideposts for wholehearted living. Throughout the retreat, Susan will guide you in creating a brave, safe space to share with and support each other in exploring the ten guideposts including:

  • Letting go of what people think and cultivating authenticity
  • Letting go of perfectionism and cultivating self-compassion
  • Letting go of comparison and cultivating creativity
  • Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth and cultivating play and rest
  • Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to” and cultivating meaningful work

With DIG Deep journal activities (Get Deliberate; Get Inspired; Get Going), you’ll make commitments to integrate what you learn into your everyday life after you return home from Italy.  

Intentionally limited to 12 participants, the small group size is ideal for getting to know each other and intimate conversation.


A nature girl at heart, Susan threw in the towel after a successful executive career in banking and moved to Hawaii to reclaim her soul and discover her life purpose: creating opportunities for people to grow.  Since returning to the Puget Sound area in 1995, Susan met her husband, became a credentialed coach, got her dream job (more than once!), walked 15 half-marathons, and became a watercolor artist.

Through 1:1 coaching, workshops, and speaking, Susan helps people bring their humanity, hope, and creativity forward, aligned with their purpose.  A Certified Daring Way Facilitator™, Susan is a senior facilitator of the work of Brené Brown.  She and her husband love adventure travel and have seen every one of the world’s 18 penguin species in the wild.


  • Enriching daily group dialogues with like-spirited people, facilitated by Susan
  • Creative journaling to engage the right side of your brain (No artistic talent or experience required! Susan will guide you and provide most supplies. If you can draw a stick figure, you can do creative journaling!) 
  • Fun excursions to historic, charming hill towns: soak up the culture, explore cobble-stoned lanes, and shop for unique take-home treats 
  • A visit to a family-run organic flower farm, picnic lunch, and lesson in free-form flower arranging – plus, take your bouquet back to the villa to enjoy during your stay 
  • Quiet time for personal reflection and daydreaming 
  • Food, food, more delicious food and wonderful Italian wines


DAY 1 – Sunday, April 30: Villa Poggio alle Trese

  • Highlights: Arrival at Poggio alle Trese from Rome Fiumicino Airport, welcome tour, trip orientation with Susan
  • Aperitivo, dinner

Benvenuti in Italia! Upon your arrival at Rome Fiumicino Airport, sit back and relax as your private driver transports you to Villa Poggio alle Trese, and the spectacular Tuscan countryside, where you’ll be surrounded by the region’s quintessential olive groves, vineyards and cypress-lined lanes. Upon arrival at the villa, you’ll take a tour of the villa and grounds, followed by time to settle in and explore before meeting up with Susan for an overview of the retreat. Afterwards, enjoy an inviting aperitivo, followed by a regional-style dinner served up by the talented Chef Lorenza. 

DAY 2 – Monday, May 1: Puscina Flowers

  • Highlights: Puscina Flowers farm, lesson with Susan
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

This morning, after a delicious breakfast at the villa, it’s off to Puscina Flowers organic flower farm where sisters Mara, Teresa and Laura have created a flower-lovers’ paradise, set in the classic Tuscan countryside. Here you’ll take a tour of the gardens and enjoy an easy-going lesson on natural floral composition. You’ll even be able to cut flowers to take back to the villa with you! Afterwards, it’s time for a delicious, home-made lunch, prepared by Mamma herself, along with the family’s excellent vino.

In the afternoon it’s back to the villa for creative lesson time with Susan, followed by a friendly aperitivo and dinner, prepared by Chef Lorenza.

DAY 3 – Tuesday, May 2: Orvieto

  • Highlights: marbled paper, Orvieto, lesson with Susan
  • Breakfast, dinner

This morning, after breakfast, you’ll make your way to charming Orvieto, perched on a stunning stone bluff that overlooks the Val d’Chiana. First stop is our friend, Lamberto’s, workshop for a fascinating discussion on the history of paper, followed by a demonstration on making Renaissance-style marbled paper. Then it’s your turn! Grab an apron and choose your colors, as Lamberto guides you through making your own sheet of marbled paper. 

Afterwards, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the medieval avenues and alleyways of Orvieto. A must-see is the town’s majestic cathedral, that dates to the 13th century, and perhaps you’d also like to browse some of Orvieto’s chic shops that flank its main streets, or take a stroll through the excellent archeological museum. Lunch is on your own at any one of the town’s inviting restaurants.

In the afternoon it’s back to the villa for some time to kick back and relax, followed by a lesson with Susan. Aperitivo follows, along with a delicious, Tuscan-style dinner.

DAY 4 – Wednesday, May 3: at Villa

  • Highlights: lesson with Susan, olive grove walk and olive oil tasting
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

You’ll start today with a gentle yoga session (optional) followed by after another healthy – yet abundant – breakfast. Then settle in with Susan for a creative morning session. Lunch will be served here at the villa featuring one of Chef Lorenza’s favorite seasonal salads.

In the afternoon, after a bit of free time, you’ll join Susan for an afternoon session, followed by a walk in the nearby olive grove where you’ll learn about the many varieties of olives used for pressing, as well as why olive trees are considered a precious tree in Italy. Then it’s time for an oh-so-fun aperitivo, featuring a bruschetta-making lesson and olive oil  tasting. Afterwards you’ll enjoy a Tuscan-style dinner cooked alle brace – over wood coals. 

DAY 5 – Thursday, May 4: Montepulciano

  • Highlights: walking and journaling in Montepulciano, wine tasting in 15th century cantina
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

This morning, after breakfast, it’s off to the hill town of Montepulciano with its important, Renaissance palaces and world-famous wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Surrounded by sweeping vineyards and postcard-perfect panoramas, Montepulciano offers ideal nooks, crannies and winding alleyways for exploring and journaling – as well as shopping. Then it’s time to head to our friends’ 15th century wine cantina for a special wine tasting and light lunch. 

In the afternoon, it’s back to the villa for an afternoon lesson with Susan. Then, relax with your fellow travelers as you enjoy a friendly aperitivo, followed by another of Lorenza’s exceptional dinners.

DAY 6 – Friday, May 5: San Casciano dei Bagni

  • Highlights: Fonteverde thermal spa, lunch in San Casciano
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

After a lovely breakfast this morning, you’ll be traveling to San Casciano dei Bagni and the luxurious Fonteverde Spa to enjoy soaking in the hot, mineral pools. The waters of this area have been used for thousands of years for wellness and cures, and the pools of Fonteverde are built directly over the hot springs. Afterwards, it’s up to the village itself where you’ll enjoy a delicious lunch at our friend, Daniela’s, chic restaurant, nestled beneath the fortressed walls of the town’s castle.

In the afternoon, it’s back to the villa for a closing session with Susan, followed by time to relax and pack. Then enjoy a special apertivo, followed by a lovely, farewell dinner prepared by Chef Lorenza.

DAY 7 – Saturday, May 6: Departure

Early morning departure for Rome Fiumicino Airport.


Your accommodations are beautiful Poggio alle Trese, a 17th century villa, nestled along the border of Tuscany and Umbria, near the town of Chiusi (Tuscany). The villa boasts number living rooms, sweeping terraces for dining or lounging, swimming pool, elegant breakfast room and grand dining hall. Sleeping rooms are furnished with family antiques and offer either an ensuite bathroom or shared bathroom (max 2 guests per bathroom). Rooms options are made available upon booking. View photos of Villa Poggio alle Trese here.


  • 7 days/6 nights at elegant Villa Poggio alla Trese, situated in the picturesque countryside near the charming Tuscan hill town of Chiusi.
  • Group transportation to/from Rome Fiumicino Airport on arrival and departure dates 
  • Private transportation service for all excursions included in the itinerary
  • All breakfasts
  • All regionally inspired dinners with local wines 
  • 4 lunches
  • Daily lessons with Susan
  • The Gifts of Imperfection™ workbook 
  • High-quality blank journal for note-taking, memory-capturing, and creativity
  • Resource list with creative journaling tips, recommended books, and website links
  • Sharpie markers, crayons, and small watercolor paint set with brush
  • Washi tape and colorful stickers
  • Glue sticks for pasting things into your journal
  • Demo and lesson with marbled paper artisan, Lamberto, in Orvieto
  • Entrance to Fonteverde Spa and use of thermal pools
  • Bruschetta-making lesson
  • Free time for exploring
  • Evening aperitivo hour for chatting, sharing and relaxing


  • Private Facebook group for sharing and learning, before, during, and after the retreat
  • A lesson by Susan on creative journaling techniques, plus tip sheet and resource list 
  • While we’re together, we’ll crowdsource our best go-to ideas and practices for living authentically and wholeheartedly, with resilience.  At the end of the retreat, you’ll be given a PDF file of the compiled list to keep you inspired as you re-enter daily life. 
  • Susan’s husband Chuck Bergman will join us for outings and meals (not during workshop time and dialogues).  An award-winning photographer and author, Chuck will take professional photos on our excursions and around the villa.  At the end of the retreat, you’ll receive a thumb drive with about 50 high-resolution digital images of glorious Italy and the fabulous sights we see: yours to use for photo albums or wall art.
  • For those interested, Chuck will offer an optional evening discussion: “The Artistic Camera: Anyone Can Take Better Photos; Here’s How”

Not included: Airfare, ground or water transportation outside of that listed in the trip itinerary, alcoholic drinks, wines or meals ordered “on your own”, gratuities for drivers and villa staff

The Unexpected is Part of the Journey: Although we are weaving amazing, authentic experiences into this trip, sometimes unexpected things come up. If a site has an unscheduled closing, we improvise to include something equally as wonderful and interesting. The quality of the trip is never at risk, as our hosts at Strada Toscana are committed to excellence, along with their vast Italian connections.


  • Date: April 30 – May 6, 2023
  • 7 Days/6 Nights
  • $500 deposit is required to secure your space
  • 12 monthly payments available for a limited time (payments begin February 2022)
  • Trip Price (choose your room configuration upon booking):
    • $4,190 USD, single occupancy with ensuite bathroom
    • $3,950 USD, single occupancy with shared bathroom (max 2 women per shared bathroom)
    • $3,950 USD, double occupancy with ensuite bathroom


What Women Say About The Gifts of ImperfectionWorkshop with Susan …

“This course, the wise council of women, and the work of Brené Brown – really offered me a lifeline during the rough seas of the pandemic…the tools, support, and joy you have shared have been essential. Thank you, Susan!”

“This has been a wonderfully warm and thought-provoking series, which has taken me on a journey of the heart.”

“I will be forever grateful for my experience in our workshop. Huge thanks to Susan for providing the space and guidance for me to connect with myself, discover my creativity (who knew!?!), and meet all of you wonderful ladies. Your contributions gave me gifts and memories I won’t soon forget!”