Imagine for a moment…
It’s late afternoon and you are gazing across the lake, lost in the moment, soaking up the majesty of the mountains and this tiny village with ancient cobbled lanes. The sun is getting low and the light sparkles across the water.
The church bell ringing the hour in the piazza breaks your reverie and you breathe deeply. The smell of coffee and the sound of the local’s chatting is in the air at the café bar where you are seated.
You aren’t alone in this beautiful place. You are surrounded by a small group of like-minded women, authentic women who, like you, are on a journey to get in touch with deeply buried dreams and to rediscover the guideposts to a life of meaning. To experience Bella Vita – the good life.
You’ve gathered here to absorb the magic of walking along the ancient lanes of the forest and mountains, to nurture your body and soul with fresh, delicious Italian food from the local area, to soak in the majesty of the setting while rediscovering what makes you feel alive.
Remembering why you are here you stretch and smile, take a deep breath and marvel again the magic of choosing you and smile with anticipation at what will unfold in the next week here in Varenna on the edge of Lake Como in Northern Italy.
Did I hear you sigh with longing?
Before I describe more of the delights you will discover on this retreat, let’s take a look at some of the reasons women like you take the step to come to this beautiful place.
Your life filled with busyness and your attention seems forever scattered. You feel like you are living on autopilot.
Well, it’s time to change that. Take a breath. This is time to focus on you. During the retreat you will be feeding your body, mind and soul with walks along forested tracks and through olive groves, delicious locally grown and prepared food and soulful conversations. Being present, experiencing life in a new place. That is anything but autopilot! You’ll be getting in touch with your inner you and reconnecting to what calls you and you’ll be mapping out a life that lights you up.
You feel like you’ve given up the ‘you’ you used to be everything to everyone else for years. You crave some time and space to enjoy life but then you guilt rushes in and convinces you you should still be taking care of everyone else first.
There are no piles of socks to sort, no lunches to pack on this retreat. This is time for you. Time to rediscover yourself, your dreams and desires. To work out what will add meaning and vitality to the years that lay out in front of you. Discovering what lights you up has a wonderful flow on effect to those around you. The happier you are, the happier those around you will be too.
Your life looks good from the outside but your vitality is flagging and you are looking at the years ahead with quiet desperation instead of anticipation.
The simple tools and exercises in the workshop sessions will help you uncover your deep desires and, as we tap into the power of nature and your longings resurface you will begin to map out a future that enlivens you.
Trying to find a way to feel enlivened seems out of reach. You’d give anything to close the gap between a life you love to live and the one that awaits every morning but you don’t know where to start.
You aren’t meant to do it on your own! With the support of a coach and like-minded, open hearted women you will discover how to step into the place of courage so you can break through your self-imposed limits and step onto the path of possibility.
You feel anxious about your future and worry about making good decisions.
We’ll be walking and allowing nature to work her magic easing you into presence and reigniting wonder and refilling your cup of inner peace. The magnificent setting for our workshops will also help you to reach deep and discover the choices that will bring you most happiness, vitality and meaning.
So, why should you join us?
For the beautiful setting on the edge of a lake surrounded by forest and the mountains of the north of Italy to start with. But to be serious, changing your location is a powerful way to change your patterns, whether they are in our thoughts or our actions. Why not make that change in one of the most beautiful places you can imagine?
You will take time out to reconnect with your self, to rediscover the power of presence which will flow into other parts of your life.
You will feel rejuventated, energised and excited about life. You will rediscover what lights you up, find renewed purpose and vitality.
You will experience walking through the most amazing countryside and mountains around Varenna and feel the calm that the forest and walking imparts. Your body and mind will relax and your inner longing will whisper to you.
You will learn techniques to quieten your busy mind that you will be able to use when your everyday life tries to take back over.
With each step you will feel yourself changing and blooming.
You will honour and nourish your body, mind and soul with good food, walking in nature and connection with equally big hearted women all in a beautiful location.
This retreat is for a small group of women. At most you will be one of 8 so there will be plenty of opportunity for individual attention and guidance.
Is it time to make time for you?
The picturesque village of Varenna sits on the eastern shore of Lake Como, an hour by train from Milan. A sheer mountain of black marble rises behind the village with the ancient Castello de Vezio sitting on top. The village has ancient origins having been established by local fishermen in 769. It’s streets which are laid out in regular fashion are believed to have Roman origins.
These days Varenna retains elements of its quaint heritage with cobblestoned alleyways and stairs, and it’s colourful old buildings. There is just one road for vehicles through the village. Down the alleys restaurants and cafés are plentiful and the piazza is dominated by the Church of San Giorgio with its spire and bell. There is a smaller church at the back of the square dating back to the 1100’s.
We will be staying at the Villa Monastero, right on the edge of Lake Como. This
lovely old property was formerly a nunnery and a noble dwelling but is now an internationally renowned conference and museum set within a famous lakeside botanic garden. It is just 100m from the piazza in the village but once you are inside the gates it feels like another world. Wander the gardens with the many different areas, sit in the shade of magnificent old trees and enjoy the views across the lake or explore the museum.
Your accommodation is in shared rooms (single supplement is available). Each room has its own well appointed bathroom. All rooms look out onto the lake and across to the scenery around Bellagio so your first view in the morning will be across the lake. Some of the rooms are furnished in ancient décor, while some have more modern furniture.
Our workshop sessions at Villa Monastero will be held in the Polvani room, previously a library. It is a light and bright room with windows facing the lake and gardens. Some workshops will be held outdoors, either in the gardens or in the forest or beside Italy’s shortest the river Fiumelatte which is a short walk from Villa Monastero.
Walking is an important part of this retreat. It is an ideal path to presence and to hear the whispers of what you long for. You will be walking daily on the forest paths around Varenna. You’ll walk beside ancient dry stone walls, along leaf strewn paths under a canopy of oak and chestnut trees (yes there will be chestnuts on the trees when we are there). Wild flowers grow between the rocks and in the shade beneath the trees. Fig trees grow by the road side and in the gaps in walls (there may be figs ready to pick as we walk). Other paths, ancient mule tracks along the Il Sentiero del Viandante (The Wayfarers Path) will take you through olive groves and past ancient stone buildings. Some workshop sessions will take place on these walks.
Italy is the home of the SLOW food movement (sustainable, local, organic, whole food) and locally grown is the norm. You can taste the sunshine in the produce which is picked ripe when it is ready, the vast majority travelling only a short distance to your plate. Some comes from only as far away as the freshwater lake. You will indulge your senses with a range of delicious Italian food, experiencing traditional, peasant style and modern menus in and around the village.
You will experience the legendary lunch of Isola Comacina and participate in the preparation of our meal when you attend a cooking class in a nearby village another day. You will be able to enjoy traditionally prepared gelato as well as local cheese and wine and coffee. To be honest, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Breakfasts during the retreat will be at a local bar where you will join the locals as they start their day.
Being in a new setting, digging deep, supporting each other and connecting at a deep level with other big-hearted women will change your life. Stepping out of the everyday gives you not only time but also space, to grow.
Over the course of the week you will learn skills to help still your busy mind, rediscover what matters to you, remember what brings you joy and learn the power of small words. You will recognise beliefs that are holding you back from a life you love and learn how to disempower them. Between workshop session there will be time and space for you to process what you have learned.
You will also have a one on one coaching session available to you during the retreat which you might use for a deep dive into an issue that you feel stuck on, or work on a plan for the life you love. It’s up to you. By the end of the week you will feel like a different person and you will have begun to map out a future that enlivens you.
Our days will start with breakfast at a local café bar, sharing the counter with the locals as they too start their day.
Then each day will include Walk, Eat and Bloom – a walk, a workshop session and a shared meal. Most days this is dinner, although on two days this is lunch (and you are unlikely to need dinner those days).
There is also quiet time built into each day and 2 free afternoons where you can choose to explore near or far. Ferries travel regularly to the villages across the lake including Bellagio, a playground for the rich and famous, which is just minutes away. You might like to explore it’s alleyways and hidden restaurants, shop for silk or wander in the gardens of Villa Melzi.
For more information about what is planned for you have a look at the day by day itinerary.
- 7 nights in the historic Villa Monastero conference centre and botanical gardens in twin share rooms (single supplement is available)
- 5 dinners in local restaurants (you are unlikely to need dinner on the other 2 nights)
- Lunch on Isola Comacina
- Cooking class at Il Caminetto
- Breakfast daily in a local café bar
- Guided walking each day
- Guided workshop sessions, new strategies and insights
- All workshop materials
- 60 minute private coaching session with Derrin during the retreat
- Transport between the train station and Villa Monastero on arrival and departure, and as part of the planned events of the retreat
- Deep conversations and new friendships
- A few surprises along the way
- Farewell ceremony when you depart
What’s not included
- Travel – your round trip travel from home to the retreat location is at your expense
- Passport – it must have 6 months validity remaining at the date of your return travel to Australia
- Travel insurance – this is compulsory for attending this retreat
- 2 dinners (although you may not need them!)
- 5 lunches
- Alcoholic beverages and snacks
- Personal shopping and souvenirs
- Costs associated with activities in your free time.
The cost for this retreat in 2018 is $4395 (AUD).
If you prefer a room to yourself the single supplement is an additional $600 (AUD). If you book you place before the end of 2017 you can upgrade to a single room at no extra charge.
You can secure your place amongst the 8 women on this retreat with a non-refundable deposit of $500 (AUD)
But before you go any further, let’s make sure this retreat for you.
This retreat could be what you need if you
- know you need to stop, to find a way to listen in to what you really need to live a life you are excited about then it could be for you.
- are ready to live life feeling alive and know in your heart that it is something you can do but need some help to find the path.
- enjoy walking (but don’t want to walk across a country to find what you are looking for) and are willing to reflect and discover what you need to wake up excited about life.
- want more than a week in a beautiful spot, but a chance to grow and bloom as well.
If you want to be one of the 8, fill in your details here and I’ll give you a call for a quick chat to answer any questions and make sure we feel like we can work together before you pay your deposit.
After that call, the payment of the deposit will hold you place and we will work out a payment plan for the balance.
If you’ve got questions have a look here to see if they have been answered.
When I turned 50 I did something that most people who knew me wouldn’t have expected. I walked the Pilgrim’s Trail across Spain with my longest time friend. Those 900km changed a lot of things! Not just my outlook on life but also the way I worked with people.
All my working life has been helping guide people through change in one way or another. Now though it was time to move towards helping people create a life they loved, rather than manage change within the one they had. I began working with women helping them rediscover what makes them feel alive. In my work I draw on the many life lessons that unfolded during those 900km (and the almost 1000km of long distance walks since), as well as my experience as a teacher, a gifted education consultant, author and creative maker.
Walking forms a powerful foundation for my work with women, many of whom also discover at midlife that they have forgotten what lights them up. I promise you though that you won’t have to walk as far as I did to work it out what you need to feel truly alive and map out the next phase of your life. I will tell you though that walking can be transformative, allowing you to soak in nature and space.
Varenna is my favourite place in Italy and I have returned to the village many times since my first visit in 1989, often for a month at a time. I know the area well and have walked many, many hours on the paths through the mountains and forest of the area, enchanted by the stone walls, the trees and wildflowers as well as the sweeping views and insights into life of long ago. The food is pretty amazing as well, so are the people. It looks beautiful in the photographs, but it is even more spectacular in real life. The lake, the mountains, the forest, the gelato. I can’t wait to share it with you.
Here’s how she described herself :
Mother of two.
Sole soul business owner.
Organisational and Font Queen.
Lover of Italy and gelato.
Been on a path of self discover for the last couple of years and I’m totally committed to Derrin’s ability to help women.
What she didn’t say is that she is a PA extraordinaire with a great eye for design and details. She whipped up the Bella Vita logos. She lives close to the ocean, near Geraldton in Western Australia.
Carolyn will be making sure the details of the retreat are all covered and we’ve got tickets and bookings in hand for our daily adventures. She’ll also know where to find the best coffee and wine.