Yoga Explorers, Italy
Country house retreat with yoga, gourmet food and Moorish spa in unspoilt Umbria
Yoga Explorers in Italy runs on set dates, usually in June.
From £925 per person sharing an ensuite room to £1375 per person for a room alone sharing a bathroom with one other including 6 nights accommodation, twice-daily yoga and all meals. Massages from 50 euros an hour. Wine costs extra.
Best for: Yogis and their non-yogi partners who want an authentic Italian experience
Not for: Yogis on a diet
In a nutshell: Set at Locanda del Gallo, a beautifully restored and peaceful boutique hotel in 28 hectares of gardens in remote rolling Umbrian countryside, this relaxing yoga holiday mixes twice daily yoga classes led bled by popular London based yoga teacher Jonelle Lewis with gourmet food and wine and pure relaxation. The house has pretty bedrooms, cosy communal areas, an elegant restaurant with views and a Moorish-style spa. There’s the option of a hand looming workshop during the week, and forest trails to follow through the surrounding valley.
The luxurious house in a back-to-nature setting. Jim and Khadine’s classes, which are light and fun but with an assuredness and depth that enables progression for yogis both new and old.
It’s in the middle of nowhere – a high for many, but it might not suit those who want to pop off somewhere else quickly and easily on their holiday. The two bedrooms in each of the three suites share a bathroom.
Twice-daily yoga sessions are mixed with ample down time when you can amble along the forest paths, hang out on a hammock, snooze on a lounger, swim in the infinity pool or book a massage at the spa.
Come join Jonelle in Italy where we will connect to the sweetness of life and slow down. The morning practices will be vinyasa/hatha based; full of things that will nourish and recharge the body as well as strengthen. In the evenings we will completely slow down with Yin/Restorative & Nidra to surrender into sweet relaxation. Classes are suitable for all levels.
There’s a lovely infinity pool on a large sun terrace, an outdoor jacuzzi and a little Moorish-style spa with a steam room, oil infused scented rain shower and treatment room for massages. Book once you arrive - treatments are at an additional cost.
The house is a mile from the nearest through-road and encircled by forested hills where deer and wild boar roam free, so it’s a wonderful place for a total digital detox. Mobile phone reception and wifi is available in the central areas of the property, so if you really must you can check in with the office from the terrace with a drink, but elsewhere it is patchy, which helps those who want to switch off.
Beyond the 28 hectares of gardens lie forest trails following streams and waterfalls through the valley that you can explore. There are also mountain bikes you can use, tennis courts that can be booked a 10 minute drive away, and a championship golf course 30 minutes away.
A pleasant ten-minute walk takes you to Renza’s hand weaving workshop. Here you can do a half-day course in the art of hand looming and dyeing fabric with vegetable dyes. Let the team know in advance if you’re interested.
Umbrian art, culture and architecture are divine, and you’ll have time to explore them on this retreat (hire a car if you can). The medieval hill towns of Gubbio and Perugia are both accessible via a scenic half-hour drive from the retreat. Assisi is just a further 15 minutes, with its majestic Basilica di San Francesco that contains frescoes by Giotto and others that mark a turning point in the history of Western art.
Bedrooms: The restored house has six pretty double or twin bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and three additional suites, each with two bedrooms that share a bathroom between them. Each room is simply, though elegantly, furnished, some with quite low ceilings, each with its own character shaped by antiques and one-off pieces handpicked by the owners from their travels, from hand carved four poster beds to wicker armchairs. Beds are comfortable with deep mattresses and good linen. There is no television to disturb your tranquillity. Bathrooms have deep baths and walk-in, glass-doored showers.
Bring comfortable shoes or sandals if you like to walk. Evenings in May can be chilly so bring a warm sweater or shawl for cooler times. Non-yoga partners are welcome. Come earlier and spend a night or two in Rome to enrich your holiday further – regular trains from Rome to Perugia take about two hours.
When to Go
Early June is a wonderful time to visit Umbria, when the countryside is garlanded in wildflowers meadows and the weather is usually balmy, warm and dry. It is also the prime time to witness La Fiorita: The Flowering of Castelluccio di Norcia, when an incredible mosaic of flowers paints the Umbrian landscape in yellow ochre, violet, red and white.
Breakfasts and four course dinners are served in the restaurant, an elegant light-filled building with huge picture windows and gorgeous vistas just steps from the main front door. Lunches are served on the dining terrace just in front of the main house.
Fabulous Mediterranean meals are freshly prepared by chef Pia from local and home grown ingredients. Organic tomatoes, salad leaves and vegetables come from the kitchen garden, olive oil from the olive grove, aromatic herbs from the garden, and there’s local yogurt, cakes and home-made breads.
Four course dinners may include a soup, a home-made fresh pasta dish and a home made Tiramisu. There are also fabulous home baked quiches, stacks of delicious salads and risottos. Meat and fish are available for those who want it but vegetarian and restricted diets can also be accommodated. Water, teas and coffee are included. Fine wine is available on a honesty bar system.
The 26 acres of land that surround the retreat compensate for excess CO2 emissions. The house uses photovoltaic panels, a solar thermal system and a biomass boiler to meet its energy and heat requirements. Yoga Explorers offsets carbon on all staff flights (something they also respectfully encourage their customers to do). They also support SOS Children, a charity that helps orphaned and abandoned children.
Locanda del Gallo, 06024 Gubbio Province of Perugia, Umbria, Italy
Transfer time: 30 minutes by car