If you ever think to yourself “Gosh, I’d really like to go to an astrology conference that is steeped in history” then Perugia, Italy is your place. The Associazione Cultural Jayavidya holds its annual conference in June every year. It’s a one day conference, leaving you with plenty of time to explore magnificent and near by Rome. Or to just spend time exploring Perugia. Or to just soak in the culture and eat glorious food. Aside from astrology, Perugia is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture. Beautifully organised by Nunzia Meskalila Coppola, this is a conference I highly recommend if you are craving a weekend away from the ordinary with a focus on astrology.
For these reasons the Associazione Culturale Jayavidya conference gets my “Glorious Setting” award.
After landing in Rome, I spent a fun evening quaffing Prosecco with new friends who encouraged me to speak in English even though I tried to communicate in French (this appears to be a recurring theme in my life). Inspired after seeing the Colosseum in the middle of downtown Rome, I wanted to try to be as cosmopolitan as I could. I guess we knew this wasn’t going to work.
In the morning, I took one of those touristy bus tours (as I usually do) to get a sense of the city. I knew I would love Rome because I loved Venice and Florence but I thought Rome would be like any other big city. I usually
hate being wrong.
I didn’t have time to visit the Vatican and follow through with my plans to raid its archives a la The DaVinci Code but I did get stuck into some authentic lasagne near the Fontana di Trevi. Yes, I threw a coin.
Oh and I met a boy. But I digress.
Perugia is a 3 hour train journey from Rome. Being used to British trains, I was not looking forward to this journey. I expected a long queue to buy an expensive ticket and a grumpy ticket salesman who would be pissed because I only knew a few basic Italiano phrases. I also expected a packed train and a dismal journey through a ruined countryside.
Wrong again. This post might be painful.
To my surprise, the train was clean, not packed at all and once we got outside of Rome, the countryside was absolutely beautiful. There were all these little towns on the hills that glowed from the setting sun. I think it was the nicest 3 hours I’ve ever spent on a train. But maybe that also had something to do with how inexpensive the ticket was: a fraction of what it would cost in the UK. The very nice ticket salesman in Rome even gave me some advice about getting off at the right Perugia (there are two stops with the word “Perugia” in them).
I am always pleased with myself when I don’t get lost in a new city (this is mainly because I get totally panic stricken when I think I’m lost). I found my hotel with no drama and was sipping limoncello with a new boy in no time at all.
It wasn’t long before we were joined by a few of the other conference speakers. Franco Soulbody who I met at SOTA in 2014, David Perloff who I met in Portugal (and also saw at UAC a couple of months before) as well as a few others. Franco speaks beautiful Italian and so does David so I had to listen very carefully and ask for translations frequently. This also helped my new companion who spoke about as much English as I spoke Italian.
After saying good nights, I went to my room to retire. I hadn’t looked outside when I dropped my bags off so I thought I’d take a peak. I opened the curtains and uttered a little omg: my window overlooked the city and that was beautiful enough under the nearly Full Moon. But when I looked up, I saw the stars as I can’t see them in London–as well as Saturn, Jupiter and Mars.
With the gods all in place as they should be, I could drift into a restful sleep.
I left the curtain open so I could see them again if I woke up in the middle of the night.
In the morning I came down for breakfast and to meet everyone else. To my surprise, the boy I met the night before had left a pain au chocolat for me. I felt a little guilty that everyone else was tucking into plain old croissants but not enough to offer to share.
We were within walking distance of the venue and again, I was wrong (I think I need a painkiller) in my expectations . I expected a modern venue. What we got was a centuries old building complete with its own fountain adorned with astrological symbols.
The area we were in was in the vicinity of Placidus de Titi was born. The interior of the venue (Sala dei Notari) was nothing short of stunning. We were surrounded by beautiful
paintings on every surface. If I felt I had missed out on The Vatican, I got over it pretty quick. Being in this beautiful place made me feel valued as an astrologer. I felt like I was being given a place of honour to speak here. As I was kind of gaping at everything, I bumped into Aleks and Lea Imsiragic who were there as trainers for the ISAR Consultancy course.
I’m happy to say I keep running into Aleks and Lea: they were in India, I was in Serbia for their conference, I saw them at UAC and now here they were in Perugia (I also saw them a few weeks later in London)! Alecks invited me to do some work for ISAR so I was extra glad to see them.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get better, we were all treated to a sacred Indian Dance as part of the opening ceremonies. Of course, it made me homesick for India.
After a morning of listening to speakers (well done Franco and David for doing it in Italian!), we had lunch at a restaurant a short stroll from the venue alongside the Palazzo de Priori. This gave me a chance to take in the environment and to get a sense of history. The architecture was stunning. It reminded me a little of when I first came to London: I was so busy looking up, that I kept bumping into people.
I was very pleased so many of the speakers were people I had never met before. They had much to offer and with a little effort and help from translators, I was able to follow along.
After lunch and another short stroll, it was my turn to
lecture. My translator, Michela dalla Zuanna was so bellissima and bravissima, she made me wish I could speak Italiano. In fact, I vowed to learn Italiano.
The lectures that came after mine were in Italiano. My brain was a bit full. I used the opportunity to excuse myself to have a look around the Palazzo. I liked the way people gathered on the stairs of the venue, drinking beer and laughing. In London, the cops get out the water cannons and tear gas. The weather was beautiful and just right for having a beer with friends. Probably just like they did centuries before.
For dinner, we were treated to a traditional Italian meal. I was expecting (you would think I would have learned!) spaghetti. Oh no, we had little breads, cheese and meats for starters, risotto and a savoury dish
made from barley. I thought it was magnificent. I was stuffed and didn’t think I could manage the promised cake.
Then the barbecued meats came out: lamb, steak, pork. I could do little more than sample a few morsels before having to concede. I would pass on the cake.
That lasted about 5 minutes.
The cake honestly looked too good to eat: it had the conference logo on it and was stuffed with cream, fruit and wafers. There was no way I could say no to that! I was going to have to be rolled back to the hotel.
Sunday was my day to explore Perugia in more detail. After breakfast, I wandered around the cobbled streets taking it all in. I passed a very dull looking building and
recognised the familiar sounds of Mass coming from inside. So I popped in to have a look. Again, I was surprised: this dull looking building housed the spectacular interior of the most gorgeous Church I had ever seen. I don’t know the name of the place or whether or not I was allowed to take photos. But I took a few anyway. ..to remind me not to judge the inside by the outside.
Associazione Culturale Jayavidya’s conference was a wonderful experience, full of surprises. The food is gorgeous everywhere, most currencies are strong and the English lectures I listened to were well worth my time.
Oh and I had a hot date. I’m not saying much except Limoncello, pizza and stargazing were involved.
“Così ci sono!” Dissi, indicando la notte stellata. “Giove, Saturno, Marte e la Luna.”
“Che meraviglia,” sussurrò, “Per vedere la luce e capire come ballano gli dei!”
(“So there they are!” I said, pointing to the starry night. “Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and the Moon.”
“How wonderful it is,” he whispered, “To see the light and understand how the gods dance!”)
Or at least I think that’s what he said. He may have told me I ate too much and needed to get back to the gym.
After a reverse trip back to Rome with Christiane Nastri (who is now an IVC 2020 speaker!), I returned to London and their nightmare train system. I missed the last tubes home and had to get a night bus that finally got me to my neighbourhood at around 2:30am. I was not impressed.
Get me back to Perugia!
This conference was the last one in my 7 month odyssey that took me to India, Cape Town, back to India, Serbia, USA (New York City, Chicago, Kalamazoo, Detroit and Denver). My tour definitely (almost) ended on a high note. Sort out those trains, London!
I’m back to travelling in December. First stop is Sedona Arizona, then India, Florida, Portugal and another US tour. But it doesn’t mean nothing is happening here in the UK! My full travel and lecture schedule is here.
Of course from 4-9 February 2020 is the IVC Conference in Kolkata India!
Here’s the video!