Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in Italy? To be able to eat the best meats and cheeses, pop to wineries and taste the country’s finest wines, indulge in truffle-infused everything? Well, I definitely have! I first went to Italy when I was around 8 years old, my best friend’s family would drive from England (yep, you heard me correctly!) to Italy, passing through France and Austrian en route. Each summer we would visit a different part of Italy, but I was definitely too young to truly appreciate it.
In my teens I backpacked through Italy sleeping in hotels, and in my twenties, I went with friends to the big cities for girls getaways, but now I am in my thirties Italy is all about food, wine and good company – three things that came in abundance when I joined Tara and Tom at one of their Conscious Experiences in Tuscany!
The itinerary for this Italian Conscious Experience included (lots of!) wine tasting, meals cooked by a chef who had cooked for the Dalai Lama, an afternoon in Florence and morning yoga to get our day started right!
- Day 1: Arrival at Torre De Sopra, welcome drinks and music by Serena Moroni & Riccardo Mori, followed by a Bolero wine tasting.
- Day 2: Morning yoga; Afternoon in Florence; Cocktails at Locale Aperitivo and dinner at Garga
- Day 3: Morning yoga; All-day wine tasting at the Slow Wine festival; evening party with locals and a DJ at the Torre De Sopra
- Day 4: Morning yoga; Herbalist workshop; Wine tasting at Cantina Antinori; Dinner and pasta making at the Torre with Chef Arturo Dori
- Day 5: Morning yoga; Natural facemasks pamper session; Dinner at the Torre with Cook Dusica Sinadinovska
- Day 6: Morning yoga and introduction to guided meditation; Goodbye Tuscany!
Torre De Sopra
Tom Sacchi is the heir to the Torre De Sopra, a 12th-century property in the heart of the Tuscan countryside that is just 20 minutes outside of Florence, making it the perfect location for our retreat. The property has been in Tom’s family since the 1970’s and was uniquely redesigned by his late-father – a talented architect and designer.
The Torre now combines traditional Tuscan villa style with a 1970’s modern feel. Since the property was redesigned much has stayed the same – but Tom has grand plans to add friends and family nightclub ‘Tom’s Place’ in the cellar which is sure to become one of Tuscany’s late-night hotspots as Tom is the most generous host.
The property itself is absolutely stunning and pulled right from a fairytale. We walked the grounds, admiring the on-site olive trees and hidden secrets. The pool is perfect for laying out with a good book, and each room has it’s own unique character. I was lucky enough to stay in the top floor tower room with a view over the neighboring gardens, which we aptly nicknamed the “Princess Room”.
Morning Yoga & Wellness
Every morning on the retreat we began the day with a 45-minute yoga session led by Tara, founder of Conscious Experiences. Having recently sustained a very serious knee injury whilst skiing I was nervous to join a group of experienced yogis and hoped my body would remember the time several years ago when I used to go to yoga and pilates every day!
I was delighted to discover I had nothing to worry about, damaged knee and all! Tara is an excellent teacher and, whilst the class was quick-paced with complicated balances and binds typically suited to experienced yoga enthusiasts, it was some of the most fulfilling yoga I have participated in! I find I can often become bored with the repetitive movements of a yoga class but that never happened with Tara!
Lauren Ciccone, an herbalist as well as a sommelier, joined us for the retreat, leading all of our wine tastings and also teaching a short herbalist workshop. She has a wealth of experience, particularly with the Italian red wines which are some of my favorites! The only downside is I now have a much more expensive taste in wine than before the retreat, though I’ll do my best not to scoff if someone offers me a 2018 Tesco Merlot instead of a 2012 Brunello.
Lauren also lead an herbalist workshop, explaining the benefits of various herbs as an alternative to other pharmaceutical solutions. She made us several different teas so that we could try the different herbs for ourselves! The best part of this was that at the end of the week she whipped up an all-natural facemask (which was similar to guacamole!) and we indulged in a bit of girls’ pamper time!
Wine, Cheese & The Best Italian Food
Eating, drinking and socializing are at the core of this Italian experience! This was perfect for me since summer was almost over so there was no need to worry about the bikini body and I could truly indulge in some of the best food I have ever eaten.
We started the week with dinner at the Torre, coupled with a delicious Bolero wine tasting from Filippo Bellini. The following night we ate at one of Florences best restaurants Garga and at the end of the retreat we were treated to a meal cooked by Chef Arturo Dori – who has even cooked for the Dalai Lama. One of my favorite meals was when we cooked pasta for ourselves, which is remarkably easy and tasted amazing!
The retreat presented a perfect mix of eating at the villa and out at local restaurants that I would have never discovered on my own. Every meal was delicious, with its own unique spin. Some meals were traditional family-style, while others were served over multiple courses. I thought the food in Italy was great before this retreat, but the food I ate during this week took my tastebuds to a whole new level!
Throughout the week we sampled lots of amazing Italian wine, often led by Lauren and her expansive wine knowledge. We had several tastings in the house, and also went to a local wine festival to sample some of the best local wines. Lauren mapped out the best wineries to try and I would have been completely lost without her! Tom also was an excellent host throughout the week, making sure no one even came close to seeing the bottom of their glass while at the villa.
Is This Retreat Right For You?
If I had to sum up this retreat and describe it to someone interested in attending I would say:
Conscious Experiences is like living the life of an Italian for 5 days. You quickly become an insider to the cool group of locals, eating in restaurants you would never discover with a simple search on Trip Advisor, drinking the finest wines you will likely ever taste, indulging in freshly cooked pasta, and meeting lots of interesting people who join the retreat for various dinners and parties throughout the week.
Do you like Italian food, wine, culture, and yoga? Then give Conscious Experiences a look when they open their new dates soon!
You can express interest in upcoming Conscious Experiences retreats here.
And finally, a huge thank you to Tom, Tara, Kiki, Lauren and Thomaso who were excellent hosts throughout the week!
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I was invited to join Tara and Conscious Experiences on her friends and family retreat. As always, all opinions expressed in this review are true to my own experience during my time in Tuscany.
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