Pian Dei Ciliegi Meditation Centre started in 1996, to host retreats and workshops inspired by Buddhist principles. In time its activities became more oriented towards the practice of Insight Meditation, within the Theravada Tradition. It now organizes silent retreats of Satipatthana Vipassana and Metta.
The retreat house is situated in Bulla di Monte Santo, near the small town of Ponte dell’Olio, about 30 miles south of from Piacenza, in the north of Italy. It’s surrounded by oak woods in a peaceful and silent environment at 600m a.s.l., in the Appenine foothills, just below a higher hill called Monte Santo.
The Center is open mainly during scheduled retreat periods, but also hosts experienced practitioners for individual retreats. Access to the Center is reserved only for people who wish to devote themselves to the practice, and it must be agreed with the managers. People who attend the Center are required to follow the internal regulations and to respect the dimension of silence - an extremely rare opportunity in modern society - or at least practice right speech.
Vipassana and Metta retreats are intensive, and all the time is dedicated to the practice of mindfulness, following the indicated timetable and respecting the noble silence.
The types of offered retreats are:
Formal Vipassana retreat: it is the classic retreat of at least a week, open to all (also beginners), with a Dhamma talk every evening and daily conversation with the teacher. The formal retreat can also be shorter, for example a weekend.
Private Vipassana retreat: some teachers who come to the Center for their personal retreats allow a certain number of people to practice with them (subject to their consent) for more or less long periods, taking charge of instructing them in the practice. During these retreats the Dhamma talks are given at the discretion of the teacher, the timetable is more flexible and the observance of the rules of the retreat is left to everyone's sense of responsibility.
Intensive Metta Retreats: Have the same characteristics as formal retreats, with the difference that loving-kindness (Metta) is cultivated throughout sitting, walking and daily activities.
Study and practice retreats: in these retreats the study of some texts of the Pali Canon (Abhidhamma or Sutta) is proposed, alternating study with formal practice.
Self-managed retreats: small groups of practitioners meet at the Center to practice without a teacher for more or less long periods; recorded Dhamma talks or readings can be used. Usually the Center admit only expert meditators who can deal with their own practice alone and meditators that we already know, especially for long-term retreat.