Perhaps I have watched Under the Tuscan Sun one too many times or maybe it was the fact that I was craving pasta and wine. Regardless, I couldn’t stop thinking about Italy.  After endless searching on the internet, I came across Eat.Pray.Move. This group focuses on boutique, curated yoga holiday retreats around the Mediterranean and beyond.  “EAT amazing cuisine, PRAY in mindful contemplation and MOVE through powerful poses.” The trifecta!

I immediately emailed Erin, the founder of EPM, with multiple questions.  She could not have been more helpful or kind in her response, regardless of how silly my questions may have been.  

I decided that while I was in Tuscany it would be silly of me not to take advantage of seeing what else Italy had to offer.  For heaven’s sake, Modena, the foodie capital of the country (and home to the best restaurant in the entire world) was only three hours by train and I was flying into Rome.  Between those three options, I felt like I had chosen some quality destinations.

Off I go!  BNA> ORD> FCO.   After a delayed flight out of O’Hare, missing my first train to Chiusi and missing my subsequent train due to the fact that I didn’t speak Italian, I was thrilled to arrive in Chiusi, Italy.  As a heads up: I am not a completely inept traveler.  The female attendants at the train station aren’t the most eager to help a blonde headed American in a panic. Oy.

Julian, one of the lovely hosts of the retreat, saw this poor blonde girl dragging her suitcase step by step up to the central part of the train station and immediately knew it was me. I know he was shaking his head in disbelief.  This girl is only staying at my villa for a week? It looks like she is moving in! Kindly he  grabbed my luggage and off we went.

As we pulled up the driveway lined with cypress trees, I was awestruck. I had never seen anything this gorgeous before in my life, except in Town and Country.  Erin quickly greeted me at the villa and showed me to my room.  Finally, I had a moment to catch my breath, get settled and meet my roommate!  Ironically enough, she was from Chicago. I’ve said it a million times, but I have a remarkable connection with Chicago. Funny how the universe works?!

 After we completed our brief orientation and welcome, we sat down for a family style dinner.  This was one of my favorite parts of the retreat.  Everyone goes around and introduces themselves and thoughtfully says what they want to get out of the retreat.  Honestly, I can’t remember what I said, but I am sure it was along the lines of make new friendships, eat amazing food and embark upon a new adventure seeing a new part of the world.  What I do remember is how lovely and kind each of the women were. While we were in different parts of our lives, we all had a similar purpose: explore, enrich and evolve.

As I recount my adventure in Italy over the next few posts, I am so grateful that I took a chance on myself and Italy.