In Sabina review
Inspiring yoga holidays in rural Italy
The Quick Read: In Sabina is a serene retreat space for relaxing wellbeing breaks and yoga holidays hidden amidst olive and fruit groves in the lush, gentle Italian countryside an hour from Rome. It specialises in hosting yoga retreats by renowned teachers from all over the world – but equally you can just drop out of your everyday routine for a few days midweek to relax and unwind in a less structured way. Whichever you choose you’ll eat imaginative vegetarian food, packed with fresh fruit and vegetables from the retreat’s own garden. There’s no wifi, so it’s perfect if you fancy a digital detox. Fresh herbs and flowers scent the air, and there’s an almost constant soundtrack of birdsong. Family yoga weeks run once a year.
More on the private wellbeing retreats: Independent travellers are welcome mid week for stays of 4 nights or more for a lovely private wellbeing retreat, subject to availability. It’s entirely your choice how you spend your time – read a word from the queen on her stay. Either just relax in and around In Sabina, wandering through the grounds, dipping in the pool, finding a quiet corner to read, meditate or just breathe. If you’d like some structure to your days, in-house manager Carlene (who is also a yoga teacher and therapist) can organise a custom-made yoga and therapy programme depending on your needs. If, however, you get itchy feet, you can explore the local villages and towns. Carlene can organise excursions to hot sulphur springs, medieval sites or local festivals. Rome is less than an hour away, Spoleto and Orvieto an hour, and Siena and Assisi two hours.
More on the group yoga and wellbeing retreats: Tailor-made group retreats are aimed at all abilities and ages and tend to revolve around various types of yoga and meditation, giving you the opportunity to play, explore and extend your practice – or start a new one. Yoga teachers come from around the world for one or two weeks at a time, each teaching with a different style and emphasis. For example, Margherita Dal Pra blends anusara yoga and para yoga while Sue Chopping splices shadow yoga with vinyasa flow and Iyengar. Revealing Vajra lets you sample hatha yoga, Sivananda, kundalini, Iyengar, vinyasa flow and yoga therapy. There is usually a summer family yoga holiday on offer as well.
Most retreats offer two daily sessions of yoga – either in the impressive outdoor shala or, if the weather dictates, in a smaller indoor space. Morning sessions tend to be longer and more dynamic, while evening classes are more relaxing and restorative. Extra activities are usually included, such as workshops on meditation, ayurveda and mindful eating. Most retreats will include pranayama, chanting and meditation. Guided walks are often a common feature and groups tend to go out one evening to a local restaurant for a change of scene.
More on the inside: Most accommodation is in the two 17th century stone buildings which have been restored to create a calm yet comfortable environment. There are also simple yurts for those on a tighter budget. There are a few communal indoor spaces –a dining room area, a small library with a couple of places to sit and a yoga room for when it’s cold outside. But you’ll want to spend your time outside on the whole.
More on the bedrooms: The bedrooms at In Sabina vary quite considerably in size and comfort. Rooms in the main house have less natural light, and share bathroom and shower facilities. The second building (which contains the indoor yoga studio) has the best bedrooms –t hose overlooking the courtyard have light, views, en-suite bathrooms and lots of space. There are also basic yurts for retreats accommodating larger groups of people.
More on the outside: The architect-designed yoga shala is a real feature – open on all sides, hovering lightly on the hillside. The grounds offer a surprise at each corner – a natural spring here, a secret lily pond there, an original sculpture or cleverly crafted seat. Even the swimming pool has a surprise – with a refreshing waterfall shower. It’s a good size for swimming, and is surrounded by beautiful landscaping and traditional sun loungers.
The estate is large and there are plenty of nooks and crannies in which to relax, sleep or contemplate. It’s all been well thought-out with more than enough hammocks, beds, swings, seats and loungers for everyone – you wouldn’t feel crowded even in the largest group. If the sun gets too hot, there are plenty of shaded areas. Unusual artworks catch the eye, both inside and outside, bought by owner Giulia either on her travels or from local artists.
Food and drink: Most meals are taken around a huge wooden table outside surrounded by flowers and a small herb garden, with views of the hills around. Although the chefs at In Sabina vary according to the retreat, food is always vegetarian and based around a healthy, low sugar, low dairy diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and herbs taken directly from the estate’s garden. Breakfasts usually revolve around muesli or porridge, fresh fruit, bread, jam and preserves and coffee. Lunch might offer spicy bean burgers, hummus, baked seed crackers, beetroot and seaweed, raw spinach, garden salad and tahini. An evening meal could include sweet paprika aubergine stew with braised fennel, herby quinoa and steamed chard, with roasted red pepper. For desert you might be served forest fruit and mascarpone pots with granola crunch or chocolate brownies. Some retreat programmes avoid alcohol – if this is important, we can check for you. The estate produces its own high quality olive oil too (available for you to buy).
Fellow guests: In Sabina’s guests tend to come from all over the world, but the majority arrive from Europe. Singles, couples, groups and families of all ages come for mid-week independent stays. In general guests on the dedicated yoga programmes are professionals ranging from their twenties to fifties. Yoga abilities tend to be mixed – some complete novices, others more experienced in their practice – the vast majority of retreats can cater for a wide mix of ability, tailoring the practice to suit everyone. While In Sabina is comfortable, it is unlikely to suit those who want five star comfort and all mod-cons.
Costs: Independent travellers are welcome mid week for stays of 4 nights or more – twin rooms cost €330 (£283) per person if you are sharing or €400 (£343) per person for a room alone, including four nights accommodation and all meals. Private yoga classes are available for €70 (£60) per session. Contact us directly for quotes on special detox or de-stress programmes, as they will be tailored to your individual needs. Group retreat prices vary according to programme. For example, The Yoga Hall’s retreat starts at €750 (£642) per person for a shared yurt to €1,100 (£857) per person for a room alone in one of the main buildings. Price includes everything except flights, transfers, optional massage and one evening meal. Some retreats are fully inclusive (apart from flights) – contact us for further details.
What’s lowly: In Sabina needs more cosy comfortable indoor relaxation spaces for when the weather doesn’t play ball, particularly as some bedrooms are less than spacious.
Getting there: In Sabina’s nearest village of Torri, near Orvieto. It’s under an hour’s drive from Rome.
Reviewed by Ruth Rosselson
© Queen of Retreats
Mindful yoga holidays in Solvenia & Spain