The adventure begins...
This epic trip began with a mini trip to Colorado to pick up the chef and see a beloved friend's new baby. I took the Boulder-bound bus from the Denver airport and remembered how much I adore being an anonymous traveler.
Rome in a day.
Honestly, that's all we really needed! Sasha and I walked and ate and walked and ate and saw the pretty things and commented how cool it was that at every turn there was some old ruin. Look! Another piece of history! It was amazing and delightful and there were lots of tourists. That night we met up with Janet and Frank (who recently transplanted from San Diego to Naples and helped us coordinate the retreats!) and a few friends for an amazing Roman meal in the historic Jewish ghetto.
The next day we took the train (that's what you do in Europe!) to Tuscany to scout out the town we'd be living in for the next two weeks. Cortona is a dream and when you're there it feels like you're in a movie. (Yeah, it's famous from the book and movie Under the Tuscan Sun, but watch this one instead). We lived like locals (thanks AirBnB), had wine with lunch AND dinner, purchased food from the local farmer's market for the retreat, and hiked up to the Chiesa di Santa Margherita and the Fortezza Girifalco.
Retreat Week 1: Casale Girifalco
The reason we came to Italy was finally here! We were blessed with glorious October weather and the week was filled with daily yoga, a tour to town, a cooking class, an art class, language instruction, lounging by the pool, and many joyous meals. We learned that Santa Margherita is the patron saint of those who wander, those who are homeless, and prostitutes. (I like her so much.) Each participant brought something special to the group and shared their spirits wholeheartedly. This retreat was especially special because my Aunt Jennifer came along as a participant!
Florence/Italy Road trip
For our day off before our next group of yogis arrived, we took an adventure to Florence. It was a rainy day and although beautiful and delicious (I'm pretty sure I had my best Italian meal there, but it's a toooough competition), it was a little bit of a shock to be amongst the hoards of tourists after small-town, walled-city living. My highlights were the train ride, the gelato (if you don't try it 1-2 times per day, HOW will you find the perfect scoop??), the area around the Uffizi Gallery, and singing loudly in the car on the road trip to drive back to Cortona.
Retreat Week 2: Maesta del Sasso
And just like that a whole new group of wide eyed yogis were here! Our second week's villa was down the hill from the first and it was very cool to look up at the town we'd just been in. We filled our days with daily yoga, an architecture tour of town, a cooking class, an art class, wine tasting, lounging by the pool, and delightful shared meals. We learned about the walled city of Cortona (and its 14 churches!) and that it was lived in/built by Umbrians, Etruscans, and Romans. This week was special because Sasha's parents joined us for the last few days! It was hard to say goodbye to this darling town and I'm forever grateful for our time there.
Unless you've also experienced the perfection that is pizza di napoli, I don't want to talk to you about anything that happened here. Well, Mount Vesuvius, wonderful hospitality, pizza.
Amalfi Coast: Nocelle
After the work of holding space and leading yoga (and doing dishes...) for two weeks, I scheduled in a quick solo trip to the Amalfi Coast for my last few days in Italy. I love solo travel! Before I made my plans I wracked my brain trying to decide between Venice, Cinque Terra, The Dolomites, and the Amalfi Coast...sigh. What choices! Well, I'm SO happy with my choice. I stayed at a darling bed and breakfast in Nocelle, 2000 steps above the town of Positano (which is freakin' expensive, btw). It was a heck-of-a-trek to get there (ferry-bus-bus-bus-hike...I bet rich folk helicopter in, but us regular folk haul our bags and feel sorry for ourselves and reward ourselves with (more) pizza and beer) but certainly worth it. I got to practice yoga on my personal balcony overlooking the sea, connect with other travelers (honeymooners from Vermont! gals from Georgia!), hike the gorgeous Sentiero degli Dei/Path of the Gods, cuddle with stray kittens, lounge at the beach, swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and practice my Italian with the locals. This place is as magical as everyone says and I dream of returning.
All good things must end...
And then I came home to California and ate pizza and pasta and burrata forever. Until next time...GRAZIE! CI VEDIAMO A DOPO! #lavitaebella