I made it to Puglia, finally!
I’ve wanted to visit this region of Italy for years. I was excited to learn that Eat, Pray, Move had a yoga retreat in Puglia and signed up.
I wrote about my first yoga retreat which was in Tuscany. That retreat had an art component. This retreat had a Move + Manifest one.
We went on days trips to Alberobello, Polignano al Mare, Martina Franca, Matera, and Ostuni. We covered a lot so instead of writing the longest blog post on earth, this is more of an overview and I will write about some of the individual towns we visited later. There was free time built into the schedule so you never felt rushed. All classes and activities were optional.
We were a group of twelve women with most of us being from the States and one from Australia. It was a great group and fun to get to know everyone. Small world alert…I was speaking with one of the women and she made a passing reference to the university she graduated from. I told her that I was an alum too. We talked about our previous jobs and she mentioned a best friend, a Hollywood screenwriter, who also graduated from Syracuse University. Her friend was one of my former assistants and it was his first job in the industry. Random!
Michelle’s workshops were excellent and helpful. I’m slightly biased as I’ve worked with Michelle earlier this year. It’s one thing to open up one-on-one but in a group, not so easy. On the first day I was a little skeptical about the whole thing. By the end of the week, this was me:
I went to Puglia in late September. While we had some rainy days, I’ve heard from my Pugliese friends that it’s a great time to visit. The weather is still warm and it’s less crowded. Puglia gets packed in the summer with Italians coming home from other regions, and Italian tourists. It seems that for at least the last five years, there’s been a ton of press about Puglia being the “next” Tuscany. Alberobello and Matera had a lot of tourists but overall Puglia is still off the beaten path for most American tourists. It’s a shame as Puglia is a beautiful region and the food is off the chain. Seriously, I cannot stress how fresh and delicious the food was. Puglia’s in my top four along with Piemonte, Emilia-Romagna, and Sicily as my favorite Italian food regions.
Our base was the Masseria Fumarola. It’s an hour or so drive from the Brindisi airport. Thankfully, Alitalia wasn’t on strike and was still solvent at the time.
The Masseria (which is what country estate houses are called in Puglia) was perfection. It’s located in the heart of the Valle d’Itria area. The main farmhouse dates back to the early 1800s. Once a working farm run by the grandmother of the current owner, Masseria Fumarola was renovated by the owner’s architect father. He turned it into a beautiful boutique hotel without stripping the buildings of their original charm.
Love the stone floors. I was so busy enjoying the conversations and the food, I forgot to take photos of the dining room.
The Masseria is surround by six acres of woodlands that includes, olive groves, vineyards, several vegetable gardens, and orchards.
Each room/bungalow is unique. I loved how the trulli were incorporated.
The pomengranate tree outside our bunalow.
The meals we had were simple, outstanding, and very local. Most of the vegetables came from the gardens.
The one day it was warm enough to go swimming in their pool, we went to the sea. We appreciated the huge fireplace in the main building during the cool evenings. We would meet there for workshops, or a glass of wine (or both) and in the morning, there were fruits, tea/coffee available for us before our 8:00 a.m. yoga class.
I was a tightly wound ball of stress when I stepped onto the plane in Rome. I’m still processing everything I learned during the workshops but physically I feel much better.
I walked around the property at sunrise. I was greatful for the stillness, the scents, the freshness of the air, and the beauty of it all. My yoga has improved by leaps and bounds since the summer. This time my mind didn’t wander. While Erin’s classes sometimes kicked my butt (my abs were on fire the next day) I looked forward to that hour and fifteen minutes.
Rome can be a very difficult city and this year has really tested my perseverance. During my trip to Puglia, I was able to reconnect a bit with the main reasons why I moved to Italy in the first place.
I cannot wait to return to Puglia. Bari and Lecce are on my list.
Photos: Me and my iPhone, except for the pool photo from Masseria Fumarola.