THE PARI CENTER FOR NEW LEARNING
The Pari Center for New Learning was created by F. David Peat and Maureen Doolan with the support and assistance of the Center’s advisors, the energy and hospitality of the people of Pari, Pari’s village association Sette Colli and the support of the comune di Civitella-Paganico.
The Center is dedicated to education, learning and research. It fosters an interdisciplinary approach linking science, arts, ethics, community and the sacred. Above all the Pari Center for New Learning is dedicated to the principle of “the spirit of place”. Housed in a medieval village it becomes the ideal location in which to pause and think about the future and the values, meaning and direction of our contemporary society. The heavily wooded countryside and traditional farming methods of Pari’s inhabitants also remind us of the importance of ecological considerations in a world increasingly obsessed with progress and consumerism.
The Center favours a gentle approach to learning that emphasizes human interaction in simple, pleasant surroundings without the intrusion of unnecessary technology.
The Center’s activities include residential courses and conferences that reflect its philosophy. The Center offers an opportunity for scholars and researchers to spend extended periods in Pari. The Accademia dei Pari reflects on social values, future trends, education, implications of new technologies, economics and interdisciplinary connections. It operates by means of a combination of ongoing discussions and occasional round table meetings. The Center is also building a number of connections with groups and institutions in the United States and Europe.
The Center also offers activities in Italian including discussion groups, talks and workshops.
In addition to residential activities in Pari the Center also hosts Discussion Forums on its Web site. It is also possible to mentor with David Peat or other members of the Center’s faculty.
The Pari Center for New Learning is registered as non-profit in Italy.
The Philosophy of the Center
The Pari Center for New Learning is committed to excellence and creativity. It also respects a “sense of place”, for the key to the Center is the medieval village of Pari, a location from which to contemplate society and its future.
The Philosophy and Aims of the Center are as follows:
- To promote the integration of knowledge, arts, science, ethical values, community and spirituality within the ambience of a medieval village.
- To foster the social, economic and cultural development of Pari, the preservation of its traditions and values, and to offer possibilities and encouragement for the future to its youth.
- To provide opportunities for continued learning for adults by organizing courses, workshops and conferences of the highest standards facilitated by a faculty committed to excellence and creativity.
- To set in place a system for lifelong learning and mentoring.
- To provide a creative environment for artists, writers, dancers, musicians, environmentalists, scientists, philosophers, psychologists and other thinkers to work together to explore new ideas and/or to work independently on their own projects within the supportive environment of the Pari Community.
- To foster continuing research into art, science, psychology, education, religion, ethics and society.
- To foster the investigation and development of ideas currently being explored by F. David Peat.
THE VILLAGE OF PARI
The medieval village of Pari, 25 km south of Siena, is located on a hilltop with magnificent views of the heavily wooded countryside. The surrounding area is given over to olive groves, grape vines and small-scale farming. In winter deer and wild boar are hunted in these woods.
The Pari region has been occupied since prehistoric times. The Etruscans made use of the curative properties of the sulfur hot springs located below the village. In addition to burial areas close to Pari, the remains of a major Etruscan town can be visited at Roselle 40 km away. One thousand years ago Pari was a walled town of several hundred persons grouped around the central castle, the residence of the Counts of Ardengheschi. By the 14th century the region had come under the government of the Sienese.
In 1676 representatives from the Republic of Siena visited Pari. Their report of 16 October of that year reads: "Pari is a community well organized and in good health. It has been well maintained and there are no animals wandering on the streets, which have been paved in stone. Work in the fields, as well as the care of vines and olive trees, would seem to be the true vocation of the community. Pari's statutes give plenty of space to regulations concerning the cultivation and sale of wine and olive oil which is of good quality and constitutes an important part of Pari's economy."
Until the 1950s life in Pari had continued unchanged over the centuries. Moreover, it was totally self-sufficient for its food, heat, furniture, shoes and clothing. Wool, for example, was made from the fleece of the local sheep and a form of very durable linen was made from the ginestra (broom) plant. Mulberry trees surrounding the village attest to the use of silk. Very little money circulated in the village and its economy was based on a system of exchange and barter for goods and services.
Today the village continues in a remarkable state of preservation. With the coming of the industrial and economic revolution to Central Italy in the 1950s and '60s, Pari's population began to drop from 1500 to the present 250 as people left to find better-paid jobs in the cities. By using Pari as a conference and learning center, we hope to provide stimulation and new possibilities, particularly to the young people of the area. It is certainly an opportunity for them to meet people from many different places and backgrounds and to practise a little English. The Center also provides work for local people during its conferences, courses and events.
Pari produces some of the best olive oil in Italy. The surrounding land is generally poor and rocky. There is a saying that, "The poorer the soil, the better the oil” and this certainly holds true for the local oil. The villagers still use traditional methods of cultivation and harvesting of their olives and grapes without using pesticides. A few families produce a little more oil than they can consume and are willing to sell visitors a bottle or two at a very reasonable price. Families today are still remarkably self sufficient in their supply of food. In addition to the production of oil and wine most families keep chickens and have a large kitchen garden and a few fruit and nut trees. Herbs are cultivated (and found wild in the countryside) both for cooking and for traditional medicines. One family produces honey for the village. A few families keep a pig for their annual supply of prosciutto. There are small flocks of sheep on the surrounding hills kept, not only for their wool and meat, but also for pecorino cheese. Porcini mushrooms are gathered in the fall and wild asparagus in the spring. The men also hunt wild boar, deer, pheasant, hare, etc. in the local woods. So, it is still possible to live off the land - and to live well!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR VISITORS
North American and other non-EC participants should have health coverage. Those participants from EC countries should bring a stamped Form E111 with them, available at post offices or local health offices throughout the EC. A doctor visits Pari several times a week. The area has an Emergency (ambulance) service that includes paramedics and a doctor on 24hr call. Those taking medication should being an adequate supply with them. The nearest pharmacy is a 20-minute drive away. Pari is a hill top village and is unsuitable for those with limited mobility.
Italy, along with the majority of EC countries, uses only the euro. (100 cents =1 euro.) Either bring euros with you or use your bankcard at the cash machines on your arrival at the airport. There are no banks or bank machines in Pari. For those with bank cards the Delta system can be used in Paganico, 20 mins away. Cirrus machines can be found in Siena and Grosseto. (Note that credit cards are used to a much lesser extent in Italy than in North America or the UK.)
Spring begins in early March and while the days begin to warm up the nights can be cool. This is also the season for rain. From June until the end of September the days can be hot. However because of the elevation (1000 ft) and the evening breeze, it is always cool enough to sleep comfortably. The weather remains pleasant until the end of October, with cooler evenings and the occasional rain.
Contact Telephone Numbers
Telephone cards for use in Italy will be mailed to each participant a few weeks before the workshop begins. This means that you will be able to contact us if your flight is delayed or there is any emergency.
The numbers at the Pari Center are:
Dialing from abroad 39 0564 90 88 20
From within Italy 0564 90 88 20
Mobile 349 4124371
The meals provided by the Center use traditional Tuscan recipes and the best of local meats and produce. (No problem if you are vegetarian, the local vegetables, cheese and eggs are of the highest quality!)
Accommodation varies. There is a small inn in Pari, the Locanda Il Cacciatore, that has three double rooms with private bath. There are a number of small furnished apartments and houses, also rooms with private bath. Since each type of accommodation is limited people will be housed on a first come first served basis. If you wish to bring a partner or friend who will not be participating in the workshop then there will be a reduced fee to cover the cost of shared accommodation and meals.
Pari is located a few kilometers from the main superstrada that connects Siena to Grosseto. Full transportation details (times of buses and trains etc) will be given to conference participants
individually after they have arranged their flights. We include a map and general travel information.
For those taking trains in Italy, tickets must be purchased and validated before boarding. Machines are located at stations and on platforms (bright yellow boxes). These machines stamp your ticket with the date and time - don’t forget to use them! Bus tickets must be bought before boarding – validate them by using the machine located on the bus.
Tourism and Entertainment
As well as being an ideal site for small meetings, Pari is also a perfect center for tourism. Not only can day trips be made to Siena, Florence, San Gimignano, Rome and Arezzo but also visits can be made to the many small medieval villages in the area as well as the abbeys of San Galgano and Sant'Antimo. The famous Brunello wines can be tasted at Montalcino, and the sea is only fifty minutes away. For those who enjoy walking, there are many unpaved roads that go deep into the valley or to the top of Mont'Acudo, the highest point in the immediate area. Don't forget your bathing suit - the hot sulfur springs are a walk away and certainly worth a visit, particularly for those suffering from problems with joints or skin conditions such as eczema. The associated medical center provides massages, inhalations and other treatments for a modest fee. While it is possible to get buses into Siena, Florence and Grosseto (two a day from Pari) anyone wishing to stay on and go farther afield should consider renting a car.
In addition to the bar/restaurant (for coffee, pastries, ice cream, an evening drink or meal), Pari houses a grocery store, a general store for newspapers (Italian only), postcards, cigarettes, etc., a hairdresser and a post office that opens in the mornings. Pari has opened a small library of Italian books for the local people. The Center already has its own English library with books on science, philosophy, psychology, religion, indigenous peoples, etc. The local hotel, Il Cacciatore, also has an excellent restaurant serving traditional meals (for those who wish to stay a little longer.) There is a pizzeria within easy walking distance and many good restaurants a short drive away.