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Unplug and Unwind itinerary and costs

Here's a draft itinerary for our inspirational Unplug and Unwind retreat: It will alter a bit, perhaps, because of the weather or the needs of the group. Please note: This retreat runs from MONDAY to Saturday (5 days).

Monday

  • Everyone is picked up at Pisa airport in the morning by air-conditioned minibus or car for the beautiful drive to The Watermill. Lunch (oven-roasted vegetables with feta cheese and couscous; spinach and ricotta tarts; fresh fruit) will be served in the dining room in The Watermill courtyard. All meals at the mill will be largely vegetarian. Omnivores catered for on request!)
  • The millstream
  • In the afternoon you’ll have plenty of time to settle in, relax, get to know one another and inhale the beauty outside. We’ll have millstream and riverside walk for those who want to come.
  • 5pm: introduction to the week followed by yoga session/relaxation at mill
  • 6.45pm: aperitivi on the vine verandah before a short minibus drive to the nearby walled Medieval town of Fivizzano for a welcoming ‘Introduction to Tuscany’ dinner, sampling the freshly cooked delights of the unique local cuisine. Local wines. (There will be lots of vegetarian offerings, but also local hams and a pasta with a meat sauce for those who like it.)

Tuesday

  • 8am: wake up- tea/coffee/juice and fruit available for participants
  • 8.30am: meditation session in the walled garden or the mill studio overlooking the river and the mountains.
  • 9.00am: yoga session at the mill Yoga session in the walled garden or the mill studio.
  • 10.30am: brunch at mill. Possible choices (all menus will vary according to the availability of fresh local produce): fennel baked in white wine, cream and parmigiano sauce, topped with fresh breadcrumbs; bean burgers with local bigliolo beans; panzanella al mulino, a traditional Florentine salad brought up to date by the watermill chefs: olive oil, bread, onions, tomatoes from the garden, capers, olives, fresh basil from the garden; sognino (lamb’s lettuce) topped with fresh nasturtium flowers and or borage flowers, with a honey and mustard vinaigrette; fresh fruit in season (possibly including Watermill figs). Local wines.
  • The flower market
  • 11.30am: Trip to the local market in the nearby walled Medieval town of Fivizzano: by minibus or car. Enjoy browsing around the local market stalls - merchants come with everything from local produce – cheeses, hams, mushrooms, roast chicken, fish, vegetables, flowers - to leather bags, clothing, and fabrics. Walks along the city walls. Minibus returns to the mill around 12.30pm (or some people might care to walk back: about 25 minutes)
  • Afternoon: Free time at the mill with optional massage/shiatsu sessions to be booked by guests
  • 5.15pm to 6.45pm: yoga/relaxation session in the walled garden, riverside gardens or the mill studio
  • 7pm: aperitivi on the vine verandah.
  • 7.30pm: Dinner at the mill Sample menu: farfalle pasta with a sauce of fresh vegetables; spiralised zucchini with a fresh marinara sauce; green salad with tahini dressing; home-made torta della nonna (made by our own Italian grandmother!)
  • After-dinner teas, coffee, digestivi and friendly conversation in the communal sitting room.
  • Extra at cost after dinner: Shiatsu sessions
  • 9.30pm: silent meditation, or guests free to spend the evening as they wish

Wednesday

  • 7.30am: silent meditation
  • 8.00am: Buffet breakfast in the Watermill dining room
  • Today we take a break from our daily schedule and take a trip together to the old city of Lucca, one of the treasures of Tuscany. You don’t need to worry about anything at all; all logistics are arranged so we can fully take in the day. The minibus will take you to the nearby station after breakfast and pick you up to bring you back in time for aperitivi and dinner.
  • Lucca
  • Lucca is our favourite Italian city, imposing dark red brick walls, wide enough to walk (or cycle: hire a bike) all the way round. The centre is wonderful with superb architecture, notably the San Michele church, the Cathedral, the medieval Piazza del Anfiteatro echoing the shape of the old Roman amphitheatre, the classical splendour of the Piazza Napoleone. And there are shops where you’ll find great shoes and leather goods, and there’s an elegant pedestrian shopping street, the Via Filungo. The train heads slowly from the station at Aulla on the single-track railway, meandering through the Alpi Apuane regional park, taking about an hour and 30 minutes to get to Lucca (and about one hour and 45 minutes back, don’t ask why!), but the journey itself is worthwhile not just for the great scenery (the impressive marble mountains, sparkling rivers, hilltop villages) but for observing Italian life.
  • Vernazza
  • The Cinque Terre, the Five Lands, are five Ligurian fishing villages nestling in vertiginous valleys terraced with vines, orange and lemon trees. Amazing views, colourfully painted houses, tiny harbours, fishing boats, wonderful cliff-top walks. The train from Aulla also leaves at about 0930 but takes just 45 minutes. The villages are called Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso, a roll-call of delight. Each has a slightly different character and everyone has a favourite: ours is Vernazza and what we like to do is to walk there for lunch from the furthest village, Monterosso. It's about an hour-and-a-half to two hours along the cliff path and it’s quite strenuous, especially the first half hour or so as you climb upwards from Monterosso. However, you can take another train back from Monterosso to Vernazza or, even better, walk to the harbour (about half a mile) and take the boat. There are regular ferry services linking the villages, with ticket stalls in the harbours. You’ll find a timetable there, too. The boats don’t run if the sea is too rough, and since the railway, too, is single track there can be delays, but it’s all part of the Cinque Terre adventure. After lunch in Vernazza, you might take the boat (or the train) to Manarola, the second village, and walk to the first village, Riomaggiore, not much more than half a mile, and fairly flat. (It’s called the Via del Amore, and lovers need to preserve their breath for other things.)
  • For lunchtime, we are very happy to give you the ingredients for a packed lunch, but most people seem to prefer to choose their own café or restaurant for lunch (we can make recommendations) and enjoy a leisurely Italian meal in the heat of the day.
  • 7.00pm/7.30pm: return to mill for aperitivi, then dinner at 7.45/8pm (Sample menu: gorgonzola soufflés; baked salmon with a pistacchio crust (a vegetarian option is available); fresh seasonal vegetables; pears braised in red wine.
  • After-dinner teas, coffee, digestivi and friendly conversation in the communal sitting room
  • Extra at cost after dinner: Shiatsu sessions
  • 9.30pm: silent meditation, or guests free to spend the evening as they wish

Thursday

  • 8.00am: wake up- tea/coffee/juice and fruit available for participants
  • 8.30am: meditation session in the walled garden or the mill studio overlooking the river and the mountains.
  • The Convento dei Carmine
  • 9.00am / 11.00am: yoga session at the privately-owned Convento dei Carmine
  • 11.30: brunch at the mill: Sample menu: black-eyed beans with hash brown potatoes; chick pea pancakes; frittata, an Italian omelette with fresh salads and tomatoes from the garden.
  • free time at the mill with optional massage/shiatsu sessions to be booked by guests
  • 5.15pm to 6.45pm: yoga/relaxation at the mill in the walled garden, riverside gardens or in the mill studio overlooking the river and the mountains.
  • 7pm: aperitivi on the vine verandah.
  • 7.30pm: dinner at the mill: Sample menu: avocado, cucumber and fennel soup; tagliatelle con funghi porcini (pasta with the ‘king of mushrooms’); home-made torta della nonna (made by our own Italian grandmother Mirella!)
  • After-dinner teas, coffee, digestivi and friendly conversation in the communal sitting room.
  • 9.30pm: silent meditation, or guests free to spend the evening as they wish

Friday

  • 7.30am: wake up - tea/coffee/juice and fruit available for participants
  • 8.00am: silent meditation
  • 8.30am/10.00am: yoga session in the walled garden or the mill studio overlooking the river and the mountains
  • The Local vineyard
  • 10.30: brunch at mill: farro salad; melanzane alla parmigiana: slices of grilled aubergine layered with fresh tomato sauce and parmesan, baked in the oven; torte all’herbe: local recipe tarts with fresh green garden vegetables; fresh fruit salad with home-make amaretto mousse ice-cream.
  • 2.00pm: Afternoon excursion – visit to local vineyard and wine tasting session!
  • 5.15pm-6.45pm: yoga/relaxation session in the walled garden or the mill studio overlooking the river and the mountains
  • 7pm: aperitivi on the vine verandah.
  • Supper at the mill
  • 7:30pm: Farewell dinner together in the Watermill courtyard dining room, celebrating local specialities. Sample menu: an amuse gueule of endive leaves with tuna, olives and a hint of peperoncino; a special homemade lasagne with a tomato and béchamel sauce, made by our Italian grandmother Mirella; local pecorino sheep cheeses, served with fresh pears and drizzled with Lunigiana honey, the only honey in Italy to be DOP – denominazione di orgine controllato; green salad from the garden; strips of zucchini fried in a light tempura batter. Mirella’s home-made tiramisú (to die for!)
  • After-dinner teas, coffee, digestivi and friendly conversation in the communal sitting room.
  • 9.30pm: A special words and music meditation.

Saturday

  • After breakfast we leave (08.30am/09.30am), for the airport by car or air-conditioned minibus. We hope that you will leave refreshed, renewed, rejuvenated, and nourished in all of your senses - and armed with inspiration and practical knowledge to help you carry your retreat experience into your daily life with you.

As we said earlier Everything is included in the cost of the retreat: workshops, accommodation (including all linen and towels), tours, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants), painting materials and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca).

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

Our policy is not to discriminate against people coming on their own by charging a vast supplement for single rooms. So, if you are coming on your own you will have your own individual bedroom. We would, however, like friends (and married couples) to share if it is at all possible and there will be a saving if you do so. And if you share with a non-participating partner he or she will enjoy a generous discount of £200 for the yoga retreat.

The mill is arranged as four self-contained apartments but, during a yoga retreat, it all comes together and we use the big reception room in our principal apartment as our communal meeting place.

Because The Watermill at Posara is a building of historic importance and listed by the Italian government, we cannot make major alterations, so some guests will have to share a bathroom with either one or two other people. BUT we do have four new bedrooms, each with en suite shower rooms for those who want their own bathrooms. These are called the Courtyard bedrooms (1 and 2), plus the double bedrooms in the Tuscan House (Bedrooms 3 and 4).

These are the bedrooms on offer, and their prices (including the yoga retreat):

BEDROOM 1

Courtyard en suite bedroom

De luxe bedroom with en suite shower room and large roof terrace overlooking the courtyard and gardens. Stunning views of the mountains. Double bed.

Price (5 days including yoga retreat):

  • Single: £1335 single occupancy
  • Sharing: £1185 per person sharing

BEDROOM 2

Courtyard en suite bedroom:

De luxe bedroom with en suite shower room and large roof terrace overlooking the courtyard and gardens. Stunning views of the mountains. Queen-size single bed.

Price (5 days including yoga retreat):

  • Single: £1335 single occupancy

BEDROOM 3

Principal en suite bedroom, Tuscan house:

Large, dual aspect bedroom with en suite shower room (Bedroom 3). Views over the courtyard and gardens to mountains beyond.. 'Super Kingsize' bed can be divided into large singles if required.

Price (5 days including yoga retreat):

  • Single: £1335 single occupancy
  • Sharing: £1185 per person sharing

BEDROOM 4

Double en suite bedroom, Tuscan house:

Large, double bedroom with en suite shower room (Bedroom 4). Views over the courtyard and gardens, and to the mountains beyond.. 'Kingsize' bed can be divided into singles if required.

Price (5 days including yoga retreat):

  • Single: £1335 single occupancy
  • Sharing: £1185 per person sharing

BEDROOM 5

Principal bedroom, above the 17th Century mill (part of the Mill apartment):

Double bedroom with dual aspect views overlooking courtyard and up to the mountains (Bedroom 5).

Price (5 days including yoga retreat):

  • Single: £1235 single occupancy
  • Sharing: £1145 per person sharing

BEDROOM 6

Double bedroom, above the 17th Century mill (part of the Mill apartment):

Large double room, overlooking river (Bedroom 6). 'Super Kingsize' bed can be divided into large singles if required.

Price (5 days including yoga retreat):

  • Single: £1235 single occupancy
  • Sharing: £1145 per person sharing

BEDROOM 7

Boudoir, above the 17th Century mill (part of the Mill apartment):

Single room with dual aspect views over river and courtyard (Bedroom 7).

Price (5 days including yoga retreat):

  • Single: £1235 single occupancy

 

BEDROOM 8 & 9

Cascades apartment:

Exclusive apartment for two (including your own bathroom and sitting room) with double bedroom (Bedroom 8) overlooking the mill cascades and the river. If you prefer to have separate beds, the sitting room can be made up into another bedroom (Bedroom 9)

Price (5 days including yoga retreat):

  • Bedroom 8 Single: £1235 single occupancy
  • Bedroom 8 Sharing double bed (whole apartment): £1185 per person sharing double bed
  • Bedroom 9 Single: £1210 single occupancy

BEDROOM 10

Principal bedroom (part of Riverside Gardens apartment):

Double bedroom with dual aspect views of gardens and river (Bedroom 10).

Price (5 days including yoga retreat):

  • Single: £1235 single occupancy
  • Sharing: £1145 per person sharing

BEDROOM 11

Single bedroom (can be a small twin room) (part of Riverside Gardens apartment):

Single bedroom (but can be a twin room at a squeeze), with views over vine verandah, walled garden, with mountains in the background (Bedroom 11).

Price (5 days including yoga retreat):

  • Single: £1235 single occupancy

Deposit and balance

A deposit of £250 per person is required to confirm your booking.

The balance for your retreat is due eight weeks before arrival.

Please note our cancellation conditions set out below. (We recommend that you take out normal holiday insurance, including cancellation insurance.)

How to make your payment

We ask you to make your payment by direct bank transfer and we will give you our bank details for you to make this transaction.

If you are paying from outside the UK you might like to take advantage of Transferwise. In our regular transactions within Europe, to the USA and Australia, this company has transferred our money efficiently and speedily, and we have enjoyed excellent exchange rates and paid very low fees. Our guests say: “Wow what a great way to send money inexpensively.” “I'm amazed and impressed with how speedy it all happened.” “Totally impressed!” Just ask us for the link.

If you prefer to pay by credit card via by PayPal we can send you an invoice with a link for you to make a secure payment. You will find, however, that your exchange rate is less favourable (you will spend more in your own currency for the same amount in GBP) and, in addition, we charge an extra 3.5% on your payment as a contribution to the credit-card transaction fees incurred at our end.

Cancellations

A handling charge of £75 per person per course will be levied on all cancellations. In addition, if you have to cancel four to eight weeks before departure, a charge of 40% of the total price is payable; at two to four weeks, 60%; at one to two weeks, 80%; at less than one week, 90%. Once the course has started, 100% is payable.

We reserve the right to cancel any course at two months' notice and, where possible, provide you with an alternative.

For our UK guests:

You can book your own flights (there are good connections from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, East Midlands, Birmingham, Leeds/Bradford, Manchester and Bristol and an increasing number of other UK airports).

Or, to make life easier, you can use the services of our Personal Travel Adviser, Jan Handley, who will fix everything for you at very competitive prices. There is absolutely no obligation to use her, but if you would like her help, her UK phone number is 0844 8716162 (freephone) or +01964 626360 (local call charge) [From outside the UK. Dial +44 844 8716162 or +44 1964 626360] and her email address is jan.handley@co-operativepta.co.uk. We have found that many travel agents these days are not very helpful and are often tied to big tour operators. Jan will give you personal service.
 

For our USA and Canada guests:

We have asked Amy Furie, Director of Leisure/Travel Consultant for New Act Travel, Los Angeles, California, to act for us and our guests. Her office number is 1-310-201-0808 and her Direct Line is 1-310-284-5134. Her email address is Amy.furie@newacttravel.com Amy has been in the travel business for more than 20 years. She says: “I have traveled extensively over the years and continue to travel to extend my knowledge of our vast world we live in.”

We pick you up at Pisa airport on the first day between 10 am and 1 pm. Our departure times from Posara on the last Saturday are after breakfast, usually between 7.30 am and 9.30 am. (It takes between an hour-and-a-quarter and an hour-and-a-half to get to Pisa airport.) If you arrive or leave outside these times we can arrange transportation for you but you will have to pay for it.
 

Traveling by Car

You may decide to come by car. You can park at the mill and we'll give you full instructions on how to get there.