Arnell Ando Tarot Tour – Italy 2012

I am reprinting the following with Arnell’s permission . This is a marvelous opportunity to visit Italy and see Tarot history!

Dear friends interested in the Tarot art & history tour of 2012:

Good news! The first tour (which ended a few weeks ago) was a great success and Facebook is still buzzing with Tarot travelers posting great photos and sharing happy memories. We are already hard at work organizing the 2012 tour. You can see the pictorial itinerary with an outline of planned destinations and events here: although some details and surprises are yet to be revealed. I apologize for the long e-mail but wanted to give you as much info as possible.

Having this first tour under our belts, we now have an even clearer understanding of the entire experience (what to add to 2012 tour or do differently) and we believe we can offer you an even better experience. For one thing, this trip will be extended an extra two days to give you more time in favorite places (extra time to explore places like Ferarra, Florence and Siena). We also have a better understanding of actual costs (as close as can be estimated with the Dollar to Euro fluctuation in these uncertain times) and realized we calculated the tour package a bit too low last time, (unaware of Italian taxes and additional fees, etc.) And as mentioned, this is also a longer tour than Fall of 2011, by two days. While still keeping the tour extremely reasonable, and especially with all that it includes we are excited to share this wonderful adventure planned for you and hope that you can join us.

Tour Details:

Tour Dates: (14 Days) Hotel Check in: Sunday September 23rd – Saturday October 6th 2012 (Hotel Checkout: Sunday the 7th of October)

Tour Cost & Payment Due Dates: The tour package includes a week stay at a wonderful castle in Tuscany (the same castle we stayed with the legendary Brian Williams during the Tarot tour of 1999). The castle does not have single rooms; only lovely apartment suites (iow, all rooms are intended for double occupancy or larger). Therefore those who wish to have a private room on this tour will be offered two price options. If you want to have a private room during the full 2 weeks of the tour including the castle suite, the tour package price for you will be $3700. But if you can share a suite with a tour mate during the week at the castle but want to have a single hotel room for the other week, the price is adjusted down to $3400. For the solo traveler who matches up with a roommate for the entire tour, your price is only $3000 (per roommate). Same goes for friends traveling together as roommates, naturally. Couples tour package price: $6000. ($3000 for each of you as well).

A small initial non-refundable deposit of $150. is due by December 15th 2011 so that we may secure early deposits required in Italy. In the near future we may offer this tour in two packages (with an alternate luxury tour). This however is an ‘economy tour’ and extremely reasonably priced given all that is offered and therefore we need to gather no less than 25 travelers to make it financially viable. Only in the event that we do not receive enough December deposits of $150. will the tour be canceled and these early deposits refunded.

The 2nd deposit of 50% of the remaining balance is due by January 20th 2012. This amount in non-refundable as it is used to pay hotel and castle deposits to secure our lodgings. If you want to pay the entire tour amount at this time, you will be thanked with blessings and given a 5% discount on the entire cost of the tour package (we can do the math for you, if you like, just ask). You can pay me for the tour by personal or bank check (U.S. Dollars), Paypal or bank wire transfer (covering any and all fees). More details will be forthcoming in a future e-mail to those who contact me expressing an interest to join us on this fabulous tour.

The balance for the tour will be due by April 23rd, 2012 (5 months prior to the tour). …Remember tho, a 5% a discount to those who pay the full amount by January 20th 2012.

We can try to help accommodate single travelers who hope to find a roommate, (if you let me know your wishes to find a roommate, any special requirements and in so doing give me permission to share contact info with others who are also hoping to find a roommate).

More Details…
Tarot Tour Forum: Registered members of the tour will be invited to join a private forum. The forum will be updated with trip details, photos, dinner menus, lodgings, as they become known, as well as useful tips and a way to connect with other tour group members.

Food: On the Tour Forum you will be given a choice of set menus for most of the fabulous resteraunts we have planned for you. Typically these fine eateries will offer a menu which includes an appetizer or 1st course, a main course involving meat & veggies and then possibly a dessert or something in that realm sure to delight. A 2nd option would have just as much food to enjoy but be more of a vegetarian fare (keeping in mind its nearly impossible to avoid tasty cheeses and farm fresh eggs in Italy…and by Vegetarian they typically mean the meal has no meat or fowl).
A satisfying buffet style breakfast will be offered in the hotels and at the castle. At lunch time you will be on your own to break up into smaller groups if you like to explore the places we are visiting. Most dinners are included and will be at great restaurants (most of which are favorites from previous trips) featuring delcious local cuisines from that particular province of Italy. 3 of the 14 days you will be offered some free time to explore on your own and dine with friends. Generally speaking wine and drinks are not covered and are up to you to come out of pocket if you want them. Although in some cases a bottle of wine to share is offered (in other words, please don’t expect drinks to be included…its more of a kind gesture when it happens). Anything you order off the set menu is also out of pocket.

Accomadations: You can check out the lovely castle we will be staying for a week while we travel the Tuscany region here:
All hotels will be conveniently located to our travel needs and are 3-Star or above with private bathrooms and breakfast included.

Your Travel to Milan: We recommend that you fly in and out of Milan international airport (MXP Milan Malpensa Airport) for those of you traveling by air, since that is where our tour begins and also ends, after having come full circle. The hotel we plan to stay on arrival and departure is puposely conveninet and within a short walking distance to the Milan train station and airport shuttle area. More details on that later.
Travel expenses within Italy during the tour will be covered (we plan to charter a private tour bus again) and most planned events and admissions to the various places on the itinerary too. However things you choose to do on allotted free time or that are not part of the planned curriculum are on you.

Our tour guide is none other than Morena Poltronieri, the director of Museo dei Tarocchi (Italian Tarot Museum); a lovely individual and dear friend, well versed in Tarot history, symbology and lore. (Fyi, here’s a mini site I created to give an overview of her Museo:

Tour Bus: As we did this autumn, we plan to charter a comfortable tour bus and will request the same driver Andrea, since he was spectacular. Although having a private bus makes the experience that much more enjoyable and relaxing; (not having to worry about over crowded mass transit and time lost waiting for such, etc.), it does not mean the tour does not still require a lot of walking and climbing stairs. Many of the ancient places we will be visiting require us to travel by foot some distance so if you have health issues that prevent you from walking a good distance or climbing stairs, you may find this tour too much of a challenge. Others may want to consider what Michael and I began doing several months before the tour; getting into the daily ritual of walking an hour after dinner with sturdy, supportive walking shoes.

At this time we ask that you please let me know by e-mail if you are still interested in attending this tour. If you can no longer make the trek, please drop me a note, so I don’t continue to bombard you with e-mail. Please let me know specifically if you mind that others are aware of your plans to join us on this tour. I trust that this will be an incredible adventure with many happy surprises and unique experiences that we will enjoy together and in the retelling for years to come.

We very much look forward to hearing from you and sharing more details as they become available. Please refer to the tour outline on this webpage which has photos. However I have posted a text only reference below in case you find it useful. Thank you again and we look forward to your response with great anticipation and to hopefully sharing this adventure.
Ti voglio tanto bene, ciao!
Arnell Ando along with Michael McAteer as well as our good friends at Museo dei Tarocchi

Highlights planned for this
14 day Tarot Art & History Tour of northern Italy:
September 23rd – October 6th 2012

In cosmopolitan Milan, we’ll visit the awe inspiring Renaissance fortress of the Castello Sforzesco, where the ancient Visconti Tarot cards were found in an abandoned well. We’ll bask in the beauty of frescoes by Leonardo da Vinci and by Bonifacio Bembo, the creator of the earliest known Tarot deck. We’ll visit with living Italian artists, publishers and scholars who are among the most prolific in the field. We’ll enjoy inspirational art showing how the richness of this culture fostered the Tarot. We’ll spend time with internationally renowned Tarot artist and publisher, Osvaldo Menegazzi and be mesmerized in his shop Il Meneghello And later dine with Osvaldo and family at one of Milan’s finest eateries. And we’ll revel in the beauty of Milan itself, with its incredible Gothic Cathedral: and famous plaza, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

In the charming Renaissance village of Fererra we’ll spend the night in order to pack in a full day of exploring this charming town full of character and intrigue. Highlights include Palazzo Schifanoia; a 14th century Palace, boasting frescos by early Renaissance painter Francesco del Cossa, that depict astrological paintings having a correlation to Tarot symbology. We will view the Massari Palace with its impressive Boldini exhibition as well as a lovely Romanesque Cathedral with Baroque style interiors. A leisurely walk around a cobblestone Jewish village is bound to inspire with its delicate beauty and unique architecture.

We will spend three exciting days within the city walls of historically rich and vibrant Bologna and take day tours with Morena Poltronieri. She will reveal early symbology inherent in Tarot found in the magnificent Saint Petroni Cathedral, as well as the church of Saint James and we will discover an ancient Temple of Isis with ties to Jerusalem. We will have time to visit wonderful museums, an elaborate open air market and to sample the local cuisine on our own as well.

Onward to Riola, where we will spend a day at the incredible Tarot Museum nestled in a small hilltop village, surrounded by majestic forests and mountains. An impressive array of original Tarot artworks from around the world, as well as an incredible collection of decks from the rare to the unusual and most popular awaits us. The 400 year old building of the Tarot museum so lovingly restored has many hidden treasures including tree trunks that open to reveal shelves of prized Tarocchi and tiny doors with lit windows hidden in stone walls that open to show off precious miniature artworks. The Museo folks plan to throw a special garden party for us with their artist friends…

Next we will travel to the enchanting Tuscany region, with its tidy lines of cypress trees, endless olive groves, and lazy sunflowers…like gazing into an immense painting. Medieval castles and villages dot the landscape adding to this picturesque scene. We will stay in a fabulous ancient castle of our own for a week in lovely suites while we travel the Tuscany countryside! The castle’s personal chef Alexander will grill a special barbeque for us and treat us to lovely buffet style breakfast each morning.

We will visit Florence with time to explore its great and gentle beauty and wonder at its incredible Duomo. You will be free to take in the Galleria del Accademia (home of Michelangelo’s David) or other equally intriguing landmarks of your choosing.

We’ll also spend an afternoon in the quaint, tiny Renaissance town of Pienza with street signs like titles of Tarot Trumps and an unusual Cathedral boasting an underground labyrinth, as well as enticing shops with flavorful cheeses, sausage and sundries.

We will explore the marvelous Medieval city of Siena which offers much to tantalize the palette and inspire the artist within; with its stunning B&W marbled Duomo di Siena, designed to fill the visitor with overwhelming awe. And see mosaics and frescoes with pre-Christian, Pagan imagery and symbology also found in ancient Tarot decks. Fabulous museums await with some of the greatest masterpieces of all time. Cobblestone paths spiral out from the Campo de Piazza offering wonderful eateries and unusual shops.

At the heart of our tour we will make a spiritual pilgrimage to the Tarot Garden of Niki De Saint Phalle. A breathtaking view of colorful sculptures loom large on the horizon as we draw near… Niki created this amazing magical place where all twenty two trumps welcome us to explore and play in sight of the Mediterranean ocean surrounded by a rocky landscape graced with olives and oaks. Unlike most museums where you’re not allowed to touch or even take photos, the Tarot garden invites us to interact with her art.

The tour will end where it began, in Milan (convenient for air travel) where we will savor a last supper while dining with dear Osvaldo Menegazzi and friends. And having come full circle, we can bask in the collective experience of a lifetime!
Our Italian artist friends await to make this tour very special and memorable. Please book early as space is limited for this extraordinary adventure.

Arnell and Michael went on both amazing Tarot art history tours with the late great Tarot artist, writer and scholar Brian Williams in 1999 and 2000 and we dedicate this tour, as always to Brian’s memory and legacy. Having visited Italy frequently we have become more deeply enamored with this wonderful country with each passing year.

A Little Info About Your Tour Organizers & Tour Guide:

Arnell Ando is a Jungian-based, Expressive Arts Therapist and has been passionately studying the Tarot since 1984. She has contributed to countless collaborative Tarot projects and has created 5 decks so far including, Transformational Tarot published by U.S. Games, and Hero’s Journey , which she has been handcrafting since 1994. Her latest offering is the Lucky Pack Tarot. Arnell has combined her studies in the spiritual and psychological realms to create her unique interpretation of the Tarot. She occasionally conducts art therapy and Tarot workshops. Arnell has two grown sons who she adores and lives in San Diego with her husband and best friend Michael McAteer (resident expert on logistics and our seasoned border collie for the Italy tour). You can view Arnell’s art, decks, and a line of custom made miniature occult shops, or read her various articles at:

Morena Poltronieri is the director of Museo dei Tarocchi; an internationally renown Tarot Museum, and the Hermatena publishing house, which she co-created with her partner Ernesto Fazoli. She has led tours both in Italy and abroad for many years and is an expert on ancient and Tarot symbolism, history and lore. Visit the elaborate Tarot Museum site here Or for a quick overview, this mini site –

(c) November 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

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