Sometimes in life a series of events sets off a chain reaction that results in an outcome that is beyond your expectations. This is exactly how I ended up spending 7 days at a yoga retreat in a centuries old Tuscan villa just outside of Lucca back in June. I got to spend the week with four incredibly beautiful and talented women who shared their laughter, life lessons and hearts with me. I got to spend the week in an amazing villa, surrounded by vineyards and luscious green gardens. I got to fall asleep daily in a hammock under the trees, or on a sun lounge by the pool. I got spoilt with delicious Tuscan food, vegetarian of course, and a cheeky glass of wine with dinner, made from the grapes grown on the property. The retreat was at the delightful Villa Benvenuti, which is also available for private hire, and consisted of all food, accommodation and twice daily yoga & pilates.
Our yoga teacher for the retreat was Lauren from 19r Yoga and Pilates, originally from New York and currently residing Florence. Lauren started us off each morning with an invigorating Ashtanga sequence in the dedicated yoga space on the top floor of the villa. Afterwards we would head downstairs for breakfast of home made muesli and toast with local jam and honey.
During the day we had free time for bush walking, a swim in the pool, a massage with the delightful Isabelle, or of course a sleep in the hammock.
In the afternoon we would head back up to the yoga room for about half an hour of ab-focused pilates, after which we would pick up our mats and head outside to the grass for some inversion practice and yin yoga.
Towards the end of the week we did a cooking class with the retreat chef Maria-Angela. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned how good the food is yet but it was ah-maze-ing, there was not one meal that I didn’t go back for a second helping. I think we were all trying to think of ways that we could bring her back to Australia with us. In our cooking class Maria-Angela taught us to make Gnocchi with pesto, over a cheeky glass of prosecco of course.
The town of Lucca was only 15 minutes away from the villa, so we spent a bit of time exploring the ancient walled city and eating some of the best Gelati we found on the entire trip to Italy.
The week was truly amazing and if you are ever looking for an unforgettable yoga retreat experience in Europe I can’t recommend Villa Benvenuti enough.