In the shadow of Mount Diablo, with an eye-popping view of the San Ramon Valley, sits an extraordinary villa and gardens. It’s sweet irony that this heavenly refuge shares such a dramatic landscape with the “devil mountain.”
Since 1961, people have been making retreats to San Damiano. The colorful gardens and mission-style buildings offer the perfect place for quiet reflection, long healing hikes and surprisingly good meals. Set on 55 acres of tree-studded hills, San Damiano is the antidote to the toxic stress of Bay Area living. Its chapel, fountains and meandering footpaths allow visitors to do something almost unheard of in this day and age—spend deep, restorative time alone.
It took turning 50 for me to completely understand the power of this place. As I drove through the quaint town of Danville past lush green lawns and million dollar homes, I hoped to come to peace with this sudden advancement in age. The gray hair, the wrinkles and the constant barrage of AARP invitations in my mailbox were a powerful catalyst for a mid-life meditation.
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