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Learning Together in a Special Place: Perspectives on Leadership

Mercatello sul Metauro, Italy
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The charming town of Mercatello sul Metauro, with a population of 1500, is located in the Marche region in east-central Italy.  Learning Together in a Special Place: Perspectives on Leadership is organized through International Study Tours, LLC, which was founded by Angela Ferrario, who works in collaboration with retreat facilitators.


Each retreat within the series offers small group professional development complemented by sightseeing excursions and encounters with local artisans and townspeople, taking you inside village life.

Session 2

June 29-July 4, 2024

Educational Leadership:
Embracing A Strong Image of Children and Adults

Andrea Sisbarro
School Director
Boulder Journey School

Alison Maher
Executive Director
Boulder Journey School

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The focus of this retreat is to challenge outdated leadership practices and systems within schools and to envision new forms of leadership that can help to re-shape the field of Early Childhood Education. The retreat will focus on personal, professional and political issues in our field and will offer time and space to innovate new solutions that stem from a strong image of children and adults.

During the retreat, we will socially-construct answers to the following questions:

  • How can giving voice to children challenge the typical power structures within schools?

  • What are the strengths of new teachers and how can we leverage these strengths? 

  • What is the difference between professionalizing teachers and engaging teachers as professionals?

  • As leaders, how do we resist teaching what we know and empower others to teach us?

  • What opportunities exist within schools for teacher leadership? 

June 22-27, 2024

Supercharge Professional Development Experiences!

Session 1

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Are you ready to rethink how you are designing and delivering professional learning experiences? Are you excited to embrace new techniques and strategies for actively engaging participants in their growth and development? This retreat provides fresh ideas for building learning communities where adults are inspired and motivated to be life-long learners. Each day will be filled with interactive experiences that will help you expand your repertoire of activities and practices to create and facilitate impactful professional development. 


During this retreat, participants will be active protagonists in group experiences and individual reflections that will guide them in:


  • Exploring fresh ideas for bringing fun, joy, and positive interactions into their professional development sessions, team and staff meetings, and parent events. 

  • Enhancing their ability to provide meaningful and engaging professional development.

  • Developing their capacity to implement concrete strategies and techniques for designing professional development that aligns with the needs of the participants.

This retreat is designed for individuals whose work focuses on supporting the professional growth of educators, including school leaders, curriculum coordinators, pedagogistas, coaches, and trainers. 

Susan will provide a comprehensive reflection guide containing a wealth of valuable resources, including information from her soon-to -be-published book – 101 Ways to Supercharge Professional Development Experiences!

Learning becomes a travel journey where:

  • Sharing ideas, challenges and experience is encouraged.

  • Educational exchange is balanced with time to pursue moments of solo discovery.

  • A comfortable retreat setting and outdoor environment bring energy to the dialogue.

  • Engaging with other participants and the local community engenders new friendships and relationships.

Educational travel designed for:

  • Emerging to seasoned leaders, who work or have worked in the field of education.

  • Those seeking an authentic and transformative program.

  • Travellers who appreciate the slower rhythm of small Italian towns.

What’s Included

  • Session One accommodations at Palazzo Donati for 5 nights from check-in on Saturday, June 22, 2024 to check-out on Thursday, June 27, 2024 

    Session Two accommodations at Palazzo Donati for 5 nights from check-in on Saturday, June 29, 2024 to check-out on Thursday, July 4, 2024 for Session Two

  • All meals beginning with lunch enroute from Florence to Mercatello on Saturday, June 22 for Session One and Saturday, June 29 for Session Two

  • All local excursions

Our accommodations overlook Mercatello’s main piazza where we will have exclusive occupancy at Palazzo Donati, a family owned historic residence with modern amenities.


EARLY BIRD RATE:   $2,600 USD per person

After March 1, 2024:  $2,800 USD per person

Based on shared accommodations in double twin-bedded rooms. 

Single room supplement available upon request. 

Register soon to secure your space. We intentionally limit the group size to 15 per session.

Registration closes on May 15, 2024 or when group is filled.

  • Daily meetings will be held in one of the large common areas at Palazzo Donati.

  • We will have access to the entire property, which includes two kitchen areas, one modern near the dining room and the other rustic with a charming open fireplace.

  • The entrance leads to a large walled outdoor area where we can relax or dine in the private garden. As you walk out the front door to the main square, you can enjoy a morning cappuccino or an evening aperitivo at the outdoor tables of the local café.

  • Around the piazza are the former palazzi of the founding families and the town hall and shops under an arcaded walkway.

  • There will be time to enjoy our immediate surroundings and wander around the small medieval streets of the town.

Our setting

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Daily Itinerary

Access to local places, artisans and regional cuisine is possible through a partnership with Nicoletta Amicizia, resident and tour guide along with local expert Luisa Donati, whose family owns Palazzo Donati. They are available to make sure our days run smoothly while introducing us to everyday life of the town and the surrounding area’s hidden treasures.

Itinerary may be subject to slight changes.


  • Transportation by bus from Florence to Mercatello on Saturday, June 22/June 29

  • Arrival at Palazzo Donati

  • Walking tour of the town

  • Welcome dinner at Palazzo Donati


  • 8:00-9:30: Breakfast

  • Guided hike and late afternoon lunch at local agriturismo. Those who do not wish to hike will be driven

  • Evening: Opening session

Mon, Tue, Wed

  • 8:00-9:30: Breakfast

  • Morning yoga in the garden

  • Daily group lunch and dinner

  • Blocks of time for professional development sessions, excursions and meetings with local artisans

7th Generation Fabric Printer


  • Morning Departure after Breakfast

  • Transportation by bus from Mercatello to Florence Airport / Train Station is provided on Thursday, June 27/July 4.

Getting to Mercatello

Participants are responsible for booking their own flights. Assistance will be provided.
From the U.S., Italy’s main international airports are Rome (3.5 hours from Mercatello) and Milan Malpensa (5 hours from Mercatello).
From inside Europe, airports with suitable connections to Mercatello are: Florence (2.5 hours) and Bologna (2.5 hours) 
All have car rental services.

Flight Arrangements

Ground Transportation between Florence and Mercatello is included in the Program Fee:

Transportation by bus from Florence to Mercatello is provided on Saturday, June 22 for Session One and Saturday, June 29 for Session Two

Departure time is: 12 noon

Pick up point is: Sanctuary B&B Firenze, Convent Guest House, Borgo Pinti, 15, Florence


It is approx. a 2.5 hour drive. We will stop for lunch enroute.


Transportation by bus from Mercatello to Florence Airport and Florence Train Station is provided on Thursday, June 27 for Session One and Thursday, July 4 for Session Two. 

Please plan your flight/train departure times carefully, allowing enough time before your flight or train + 2.5  hour drive.


Other Ground Transfers:

Any other ground transportation between Mercatello and airports or train stations is not included in the Program Fee. Arrangements can be made independently and we will provide price quotes according to individual requests.


Please Note: Mercatello does not have a train station. The train stations closest to Mercatello are Arezzo and Pesaro.

Required Documents

All U.S. Citizens require a passport that is valid a minimum of 6 months after their return date to the U.S.. (For example, if you are departing from Italy on June 1, 2024 your passport must be valid through December 1, 2024.) If you are applying for or renewing a passport, plan accordingly and apply well in advance. Non-U.S. citizens should check entry and visa requirements

I wouldn’t be the educator/administrator/human I am today without the serendipitous life lessons you facilitated during our time together in Mercatello. I am forever grateful and am confident our paths will cross again soon.”

Discover Mercatello sul Metauro

Mercatello sul Metauro is a comune in the Province of Pesaro e Urbino in the Italian region Marche, located about 100 kilometres west of Ancona and about 50 kilometres southwest of Pesaro.

It was the most applicable, life-altering, engaging and beneficial professional development I've ever attended and would highly recommend it to anyone in the field of Early Childhood Leadership!

Registration Closed
Registration Closed

We have reached full capacity for the 2024 Mercatello Leadership Retreats and appreciate the excitement about travelling to Mercatello sul Metauro for the Leadership Retreats.

Click the button below and add your name and email address to be the first to receive information about future Leadership Retreats. 

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