As a world traveller this was only my second time in Italy. On this occasion I was invited to the wedding of a close friend held in Calabria, and after a weekend of celebrations it was time for some relaxation and yoga at the Sovereto Beach Yoga Holiday. I boarded a train from Paola to Lamezia where my host Pietro was waiting to collect me. After an hour in the car it felt like we were heading towards the end of the earth aka Sovereto. Sovereto is located on the eastern coast of Calabria, in between the municipalities of Capo Rizzuto and Le Castella. Directly on the beach and nestled in the pine forests is our tranquil retreat venue for the week. We were lucky with the weather as prior to my arrival there had been some heavy storms described a mini cyclones, and now the sun had decided to shine.
Organised by Pietro and his partner and yoga teacher Oz, this retreat is aimed at connecting you back with nature, deepening your yoga and meditation practice and having lots of fun. We had a small group of 8 people, a nice intimate number to share the week, the daily practice, meals and all the experiences with.
Each day began with a meditation at 6.30am and yin yoga class. The idea to start to wake and open the body up slowly. We practiced on a platform that looked directly out to sea where we could watch the sun rise and set whilst listening to the gentle sounds of the waves. One thing the Italians do very well is food and plenty of it, breakfast was served at 9am offering a Mediterranean delight of cheeses, breads, spreads, fruits and mueslis. There are no restrictions so I was grateful I could still enjoy my morning coffee.
The rest of the day is free to spend however you wish, the obvious choice being the beach, free of many tourists and my happy place of down time and a tad of sunbathing of course!
There are horses on site and a horse whisperer who teachers you how to really connect and communicate with the horse before riding it. I absolutely love horses and was a professional rider, owning two myself throughout my teenage years however I’d developed an allergy towards them and had to miss out on this experience unfortunately. It was beautiful to watch and you can tell how well looked after they are!
In the evening at 7pm there is a strong Hatha class for 1.5 hours followed by a healthy and delicious vegetarian dinner. Fresh fish is also offered twice during the week and wine is served which was always very good and organic wine. This was the daily format besides two excursions that were organised as part of the retreat.
The first was to a magical vineyard called the Ceraudo Estate with a Michelin starred restaurant. It’s a family ran business and the owner Roberto gave us a tour of his land on his tractor whilst he shared his story. A very happy, contented and charismatic man who nearly died while he was carrying out a chemical treatment in the vineyard, covering himself in pesticide. Risking serious damage on his skin, he realised how these substances could damage the vineyards too. Since 1988 the Ceraudos practice strictly organic agriculture, which makes them one of the most enduring organic wine farms in Italy – and gives their soil a unique richness that is passed on to their wines and oil. The youngest child Caterina is one of the most promising young chefs in Italy, as proven by the Michelin Star awarded under her direction to the family restaurant Dattilo. This is where we had the pleasure of dining on the excellent dishes a six course tasting menu each paired with a different wine.
The second excursion was snorkelling of a ship wreck in the bay of Torre Scifo, a protected marine reserve just a few minutes away from the archeological site of Capo Colonna where a relic, carrying marble and pottery from the Middle east was found. The wreck dates back to the 3rd century A.D., a period when trades between Turkey, Middle East, Asia and Greece (Calabria was part of the Greek empire at the time) were flourishing. During the snorkelling trip we were able to see the 54 blocks of marble that still lay on the sea bed.
Afterwards we were in for another treat as we were blessed with a yoga practice and clear skies on the day of the night of supermoon. Our taste buds were again delighted by a dinner served by the Agriturismo Torre Scifo consisting of everything they had grown themselves on their own land, the most succulent tomatoes I have ever tasted, drizzled in home made olive oil!
I was grateful for these special trips that really added something unique to the retreat. Pietro and Oz have really given their heart and soul to creating a transformational week and are very hands on to help with anything you may need. The yoga practice was also a highlight of the retreat. Oz’s style of teaching is great for both beginners and experienced yogis, with a holistic approach embracing the philosophical aspects of yoga as well as the medical and physiological ones.
She took the time to correct everybody readjusting the postures to any specific need of her students (we had a pregnant woman attending the retreat and specific adaptations were created for her) making sure everybody felt comfortable about their practice and safe enough to experience new things. I recommend this retreat to all level of yogis who want to spend a week in the sun, practicing yoga and going on some adventures.
Contact the retreat team for 2017 retreat details. Namaste!