Back when I started planning my Life Is Delicious Retreat in Italy, I knew a few things.
I knew that Italy was beautiful.
I knew that Italy was famous for its delicious food.
I knew that my retreat participants and I were going to have a great time.
I did not know that Italy was going to completely ruin my life.
Here are the top 5 reasons why:
1. The insane beauty.
I live in a charming small city in Indiana surrounded by cornfields and very pleasant shopping malls. I love my home. Home is great.
But OH MY GOD the rolling hills of Tuscany! Centuries-old castles! The peach-colored houses on the cliffs overlooking the sparkling blue ocean in Positano!
I have been completely spoiled and now looking at a TJ Maxx sign hurts my eyeballs.
I am ruined.
2. The ridiculously amazing food.
Not just the quality of the food — local, homemade, prepared with absolute love, usually by an elderly matriarch named “Mama” who comes out from the back of the restaurant to personally give you a hug — but the entire dining experience.
No rush. No distractions. No pressure. Long, lingering meals by candlelight with no cell phones in sight. A glaring TV hanging over the bar? Never. Ever.
Food is sacred. In Italy, you sit down and revel in every exquisite bite.
3. The coffee.
You guys. I come bearing bad news: we’re all drinking shitty coffee here in America.
Don’t even try to tell me that your morning latte at Starbucks (non fat, no whip, two pumps sugar-free vanilla!) is heavenly and totally worth the $5 you spend.
You don’t understand. There is another universe of coffee and its name is Italy.
4. The pace of life.
Italy operates at a completely different pace. Business meetings, emails, errands, meals — everything rolls at a sane, humane, pleasurable rhythm.
If you’ve been enjoying your dinner for, oh, say, an hour and you ask the waiter to bring the bill soon because you’ve “really got to get going,” he will look at you like you are insane with a facial expression that says: “What’s the rush, American psycho? Relax. Have some more wine.”
5. The physicality of life.
Italians move at a slower, more relaxed pace — savoring pasta, cheese, and Prosecco on a daily basis — yet virtually every Italian I met was svelte, radiant, and in amazing physical shape.
Why? Because they walk EVERYWHERE.
For Italians, movement is part of your everyday life — not just something you do for a brief interval between the parking lot and the escalator.
I walked 1.5 miles from my villa to the retreat venue every morning and 1.5 miles back again in the evening, up and down a steep mountain hill. I walked up and down stairs because many of the ancient buildings did not have elevators. I walked to the market. I walked to the shops. I walked everywhere because I didn’t have a choice. (No rental car, unreliable cabs, and limited public transit. Things are inconvenient in Italy — in a good way).
When I got back home, my personal trainer declared that I had obviously lost weight. I was like, “What are you smoking? I haven’t been to the gym in weeks and I’ve been eating pasta every night!” But he was right. My body had adapted to the physicality of life in Italy. Those Italians have got things figured out.
Basically, people, I am ruined forever.
I am unwilling to slip back into my old routines, here in the USA, but that’s a good thing — that’s the magic, transformative power of travelling.
You don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve tasted it for the first time.
And once you do? You’ll never be the same.
Italy: thank you for ruining my life, because now I understand how to create a new chapter of my life that’s even more delicious and meaningful than before.
For this? I forgive you. Ti amo.
PS. I am officially addicted to international travel and I have one more Life Is Delicious Retreat coming up later this summer: at an Irish Manor in Ireland! (Last retreat for the year.)
August 15 – 22, 2015. Horseback riding through the rolling hills of Kerry… a cheese and cider tasting… hiking through a 22,000 acre natural park… music and storytelling at local pubs… OMG.
I can’t wait to find out how the Emerald Isle is going to ruin my life even more.
I have room for 2 more women at this retreat. Mark the dates, read the details and make your deposit here. Come get ruined with me.