Saturday, October 19, 2013

Yoga and Wine on Italy's Amalfi Coast... with Essential Yoga Studio, Fernie, B.C.

Yoga & Wine on Italy's Amalfi Coast.....

View from Ravello, Amalfi Coast

Everyone said we were crazy to mix these two "opposite" activities on a retreat to Italy... But who knew?  Our 8 travelling yogis found that yoga and wine went VERY well together...   
Guru Francesca's lesson beside the Gelsomina Pool
The ladies at Vietri sul Mare

What a fun way to spend a week with other dynamic and like minded ladies from... Vancouver, Toronto, Fort MacMurray, Los Angeles, New York and our hometown of Fernie. 
 Francesca ter Poorten from Essential Yoga Studio in Fernie had been talking about doing a retreat together with VM Travel Adventures for some time.  Her focus, of course, was yoga, being a teacher of the practice for nearly 20 years.  I asked, "Can we add a wine component?" and the first ever yoga and wine tour planning had begun!   
This tour took us from Naples, under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, on to a little wine farm called La Vecchia Quercia.  Anna was our host for a cooking lesson with a focus on ingredients from Campania - she shared with us the recipes from her heart. We also tasted some very nice wines from Montevetrano Vineyard, right on the property of our villa, this time hosted by Sylvia, female winemaker and also Anna's sister - all of this female entrepreneurship was a perfect reflection of our group of women travelling, eating, drinking, practicing yoga and revelling in Italian culture together!  We got to spend a day near Avellino where Roberto from Di Meo showed us his family estate from the 1700's and took us through his array of whites from the region, Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino. After a flambeed lunch of orichiette pasta, we met Taurasi's most famous wine character, Antonio Caggiano.  He was so enamoured with our group of ladies that he even, ehum, turned on his bottling line for us!
Cooking in Anna's Kitchen

We said goodbye to Anna after three days spent conquering the Montevetrano Casltle in the Campania hillside, and jumped in the van with our driver, Giancarlo, who escorted us on to our next adventure. In our little van, we navigated the narrow path they call a highway through the towns that dot the Amalfi Coast.  We shopped, hiked the winding staircases, toured the Cimbrone Gardens, ate caprese salad and pastries....  all before getting stuck behind two large and locked busses that were heading in opposite directions.  Giancarlo got out to help the drivers negotiate the tight corner, but instead decided to make a break for the space between them with OUR van!  Grazie Giancarlo!  In his own words, "Driving the Amalfi coast at an easy pace takes one hour.  Driving the Amalfi Coast when you're in a hurry..... takes one hour."

Mount Vesuvius sunrise over the harbour

 Next on the agenda was a three night stay in Anacapri, the more tranquil side of the Isle of Capri, that had long been inhabited by emperors, prisoners, poets and currently, the super-rich.  At the Villa Ceselle we enjoyed morning yoga practices on the terrace and in the gardens while Francesca gave us 1 on 1 time to perfect our poses.  During the day we made our way around the island, first by boat where we dipped into the caves that await under the rocky precipices of the island.  Our boat captain, Fernando was VERY thankful to us for boarding his comfy boat that day, while we jumped off for a swim, jumped back on for sunbathing... and he was not surprised when we decided to swim in the mysteriously blue waters of the famous Blue Grotto.  I could not believe our luck when we swam through the small rocky entrance, just a few of us, into the prohibited cave that is lit from underneath by the sun hitting the azure water of the Tyrrhenian sea.
Karen and Francesca lounging on our private boat
The Grotto of Love with Mieke

Sarah likes the Taurasi wines
 We felt like queens while being escorted around the island in convertible taxis.  We took time to lunch, shop, get lost and found again... some of us took the Monte Solaro Chairlift to the top of the island for a view of the whole bay of Naples.  The weather was on our side, right up until our final meal outdoors in the Anacapri square where we shared a diverse array of antipastas, seafood and pasta dishes, not to mention a few bottles of Taurasi Mastrobernadino, 2006 offered to us by Paolo da Franco.  Again, we yoga gals received special treatment... guitar serenades, feather boa gifts and the nice prosecco that kicked off the best, however final, meal of the tour at Melos Osteria della Musica.

Tracey in the Castell del Ovo
Next thing we knew, it was time to board the 'aliscafo' hydrofoil back to Sorrento for some shopping and a stop at the Pizza University, the home of the best pizza Napolitana.  On to Naples where some of us went to the museum, and others got a city tour and coffees offered by Giancarlo.  Despite the stormy day, the pink sunset came out to say goodbye to us as we climbed to the top of the Castell del Ovo above the port. A stunning end to a stunning week!

Ciao bellas, and thanks for sharing your holiday with us.  See you next time for our next yoga and wine adventure!!

Life is too short NOT to have this much fun!
xx Natascha

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