I spend my entire life working at keeping frequent travelers healthy on the road, and I spend a good amount of my own time traveling too. It might seem odd therefore that I elect to travel on my down time to take a group of people on a retreat to Italy. Isn’t that a busman’s holiday?
Not really. My biggest goal with clients is to address their relationship with food. First of all, I steer them away from processed and packaged foods to the real thing. Next, we look at other issues that might have them opening the fridge door more often than they would like, such as habits, environment and emotions.
If you’ve lived off fast foods and processed foods for years, there’s nothing like coming back to basics. In food terms that means getting as close to the source as possible. And that’s what we do at Cascina Papaveri. Most of the produce we consume is picked that day from the extensive organic garden. Any food that isn’t produced on property comes from within a 5 kilometer radius. Garden to belly time is minimal, taste factor is maximum!
Now consider how you eat. Are you always on the run, do you eat in your car, or do you scarf down fodder while you’re at your laptop? Do you give yourself time to register whether or not you’re full? We take all our meals at a long communal table, mostly on the extensive terrace so we can enjoy the fabulous views (on a clear day we can see the Alps). We prepare our dinners together using the freshest ingredients and cooking everything from scratch. Yes, everything.
“You’re making the bread tonight,” says Chef Gino. Pointing to someone else, he adds, “You’re going to make pasta. Andiamo!” Panic sets in for a second until you realize that you’re not being left to your own devices but you’re in the hands of a top notch chef who has great teaching skills and, most importantly, a sense of humour.
Are you gluten free? Dairy free? Vegan? It doesn’t matter. Gino is an amazingly talented chef and you will not be left behind in the taste stakes because of any dietary limitation.
All this real food is washed down with local wine. People who don’t drink red wine because of the sulfites have no issue here. Appetites increase, wine is quaffed and no one puts on any weight. Is this Utopia?
Actually we have a secret weapon. Cascina Papaveri has its own fully-equipped Pilates studio. We start every morning with a mat class on the roof overlooking the vineyards. After breakfast, duets and trios are taught on the oddly named Pilates equipment; the Reformer, the Cadillac, the Wunda Chair. There’s even a 12 meter indoor pool to enjoy.
Truth be told, my favorite activity at Cascina Papaveri is watching the world not go by. And that’s okay. You don’t have to cook. You don’t have to do Pilates. You don’t have to go on the excursions to Asti and Alba. You can just be. Or you can do. You can do it all or not at all. That’s why I love the place.
This year’s retreat is from September 9th to 16th. Limited space is available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re ready to jumpstart your way to healthy living.
Cascina Papaveri is in the town of Costigliole d’Asti in the Piedmont region of Italy. Milan and Turin are the most convenient airports. If you’d like to join me, you can select from a 7-, 4- or 3-night stay. email@example.com.