Happy weekend everyone. Hope you're all entering the Tiny Devotions mala GIVEAWAY we have going on this week! We're hosting the giveaway in conjunction with our upcoming yoga retreat on the lovely Italian island of Ischia. If you haven't familiarized yourself with this amazing oasis off the Amalfi Coast of Italy, then you can catch up on some past blog posts here here and here. If you need some more temptation, read on...

First off, I'd like to introduce the guest blogger for today's post - my husband and partner in crime, Chris. He flew to Italy between the Tuscany retreats this summer to accompany me to Ischia to finalize some details for the fall retreat...here is his account of arriving at Villa Lina, the location of the retreat...

Just outside the small town of Panza...

...we drive off the main road, beyond small shops and occasional warehouses...

...down winding dirt roads to the unassuming gate of Villa Lina...

Entering through the gate reveals a large house surrounded by trees, blooming flowers, and other foliage. Pretty as it is, you won't lose your breath. Yet.

The gravel driveway continues to the right and then suddenly turns left downhill.  Just as I make the turn, the serene world of Villa Lina presents itself. Looking ahead, the descending terrace of the mountain on which the villa resides and another mountain to the left mildly encroach upon my periphery as the vast expanse of the  Tyrrhenian Sea  stretches out into oblivion. Perhaps it's merely the light, but I can't be sure exactly where the sea yields o the sky. This has rendered the horizon as a thick brush stroke of hazel instead of the sharp and deep blue pen stroke I had expected to see.

Continuing down the hill and to the right, Vito, the friendly guardian greets me with hearty barking. He's a spinone, an Italian breed said to have the eyes of a person. Having greeted him in return, Vito accompanies me toward the villa just ahead. As I approach Nicola, one of the villa owners, I take a moment to gaze into the dark waters of the pool on the main terrace. There are a couple of pools at the villa, but this one is unique as it appears turbid. The pool isn't filled with crystal clear, chemically purified water, nor is it backed with inner walls of blue to feign the appearance of the sea. No, this water is a mix of the mineral-rich waters coming from within the mountain and the calm, clear, salty waters from the sea.

We carry on to meet Nicola. There is a calming aura about him, reinforced by a gentle smile that won't support even a whiff of pretense. After a brief chat he excitedly offers a tour of the grounds. As we descend on a new path down into the earthen terraces, I realize that Villa Lina is much larger than I had imagined. Nicola leads us down the path towards the indoor yoga room, past thickets of rosemary and other foliage I can't readily identify. We stop at the indoor yoga room; it's spacious and well equipped with mats and a stunning view, but I'm eager to continue down the path. We carry on through trees yielding olives, and pears, stopping briefly at a plum tree from which Nicola gives us two deep purple plums. At each pause Nicola excitedly points out new blooms or fruits that are now in season, exclaiming “la natura e cosi” (“nature is like that”).

Eventually we arrive at a pen full of chickens eagerly awaiting their meal. I smile as Nicola feeds them sliced pieces of zucchini followed by seed. I smile as I notice that these chickens are much leaner than those you'll see find at commercial chicken farms. It's apparent that Nicola respects and cares for these birds, just as he does the sprigs of rosemary, the dangling plums, the young olives, and the gulls making nests on unreachable rocks on the edge of the mountain.

There is a purity in this place; a calmness fostered by a gentle caretaker who unceasingly tends to its wellbeing and is enamored by its beauty. 

After this walk we ended up enjoying a meal prepared from the vegetation gathered on our walk around the grounds. The rest of our days here were lovely and I can't wait to be back with the yoga retreat guests in Oct.

There are still spaces left...do you want to join us?