Wow, I can't believe we are nearly at the end of July, half the year has well and truly passed!
It's been a few weeks since I arrived home after SoulFit's first cycling & yoga adventure in Italy. I am slowly getting used to the Sydney winter, but the memories of the long balmy Tuscan days are keeping me warm.
I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you stories from the retreat and some feedback from the budding cyclists and yogis that I was fortunate enough to spend the week with.
Let me begin by telling you about the beautiful Villa Benvenuti, which was our base.
The property is located about 10 minutes out of the delightful Tuscan town Lucca and is set on a hill surrounded by forest. Lucca is a walled town and unlike a lot of the bigger tourist towns these days, it is mainly inhabited by locals who still live within the walls, allowing the town to retain a truly Italian feel. Apart from the luscious surrounds that make up the grounds of Villa Benvenuti, all you can see for miles is another villa on the hill opposite. All you can hear are the sounds of birds tweeting in the trees and water trickling from the water feature, which together make this special place ideal for our retreat.
The villa is family owned and was restored from its previously dilapidated self by its current owners in 1989. It has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, numerous sitting rooms, a pool, a secret garden with its own secret massage room, and an olive grove and vineyard. The vino was enjoyed by everyone (it was a holiday after all, not a detox) and the olive oil was used liberally throughout the week. I can attest to the high quality of both may I add!
We started each day with a beautiful yoga practise in the early morning, with our gorgeous instructor Lauren, before indulging in a delicious breakfast. We then set off on our bikes, heading in a different direction each day. We made many stops along the way visiting hilltop towns, the seaside, a frattoria on a working farm, an ancient Roman aquaduc and historical Lucchese villas. We tasted wines in a local winery and made frequent stops for gelati and cafe in between the odd puncture or 2! We pictured ourselves in the Tour de France – well not quite but one can dream...
We finished each days cycle feeling well worked but happy and with a sense of achievement. After a swim in the pool, a massage from Isabelle or a restorative yoga practise (sometimes all of the above), our evenings were spent on the terrace watching the sun go down and the fire flies play. We ate delicious Italian food lovingly prepared by Mariangela with the freshest of produce. Our wonderful host Siobhan looked after us during our stay.
Some members of the team hadn’t been on a bike for 20 years but revelled in learning how to ride all over again. Others had never done any yoga before and believe it or not, one of them was doing a head stand by the end of the week! This is definitely not recommended for most people, but he is physically strong and very capable.
Here's small sample of some of the feedback from the week. "Great combination of activities and a lot of attention paid to making sure everyone enjoyed the retreat, being flexible and making changes when necessary. Thank you very much for a wonderful week". Inessa Dvizova, London - italy, june 2012. Read more.
All up it was a trip to remember with lots and lots of belly laughs between new and old friends; we can’t wait to return next year. If you weren't able to join us this year and you are keen for some fun in the Tuscan sun, the dates for 2013 are 22-29 June and it’s never too early to book! A second date in 2013 will be announced soon.
Take a look at the rest our collection of photos by clicking here, as the old saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words.
I will finish on a more personal note to share with you one of many things I took away with me from this trip. Due to a couple of sad events happening in other parts of the world which effected people close to me, I was reminded that life is short. We must make the most of all the wonderful experiences that present themselves to us and remember always to love and laugh with those we are lucky enough to be around.
The next SoulFit adventure is coming up in October in Laos and there are still a few places left. For more information, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.
Until next time, Courage does not always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying "I will try again tomorrow". Mary Anne Radmacher