As many of you know, I was fortunate enough to join my yoga group at Aim High Yoga Studio just recently on a trip to the Amalfi Coast, Italy. Studio owner Anca Trofin had spent a good amount of time in Italy back in the day both as an academic student as well as a post grad travel adventurer. She dubbed our trip “Wanderlust 2014” with ambitions of hosting future excursions annually to explore other cultures and people. Although Italy is a great destination in of itself, Anca made this trip unique for us by choosing an itinerary that was devoid of the typical tourist trap clichés.
Our destination was a beautiful and spacious family owned boutique hotel with magnificent views in the small town of Scala. Everyone who worked at this hotel was either family or felt like it.
Anca also selected our trip excursions with care. With her diligent research, she sought out local entrepreneurs that would not only offer us a great daytrip, but to also get to know our event hosts personally. These people treated us like friends and family while we: kayaked in Maiori, cruised in a yacht around the Isle of Capri, had a wine tasting lunch at a family vineyard, and had an hours long cooking and dining experience in Ravello at the Mamma Agata Cooking School.
At Mamma Agata’s, husband and wife chefs, Chiara and Gennaro, have turned their 250 year old family compound (with a fairy tale back-story), into a unique cooking and dining venue. This day trip was my favorite. We were able to stroll their property to see their gardens, their game pens and to know that we would be eating fresh foods from their self sufficiency. It reminded me of conversations that I had in the past with my Italian grandmother who grew up on a farm not far from where we were that day. Taking the time to talk with Chiara in between course preparation was a reminder to me about the importance of the mind, body, spirit connection that we practice in yoga.
As we tasted the incredible foods that the couple prepared for us that day, we all commented on how much different their food tasted. The freshness and flavor was something that we were all missing from our daily diets, sadly. We talked about the correlation of food processing and cooking in today’s modern world and how it can literally be toxic to our bodies over time. It reminded me of all of the things that Dr. Marissa Weiss talked about in her crusade about the correlation of toxins in our foods and environment and the rise of cancers. (See my prior blog about this.)
Because my breast cancer is not hereditary, nor do I carry a gene for it, I am convinced that my episode was brought on by several compact years of severe stress that culminated with Lauren’s death. Combined with other life stresses and likely not taking care of myself adequately during all of this, deadly cancer was able to overcome my weakened and maybe malnourished immune system. Both Dr. Weiss and Chiara remind me of the importance of “getting back to basics” and to avoid unnecessary stress and toxins in my life.
Chiara gave us a nice takeaway of all of the recipes that she prepared that afternoon. And I am pleased to say that I already cooked one of them, her famous Lemon Chicken dish, and it was delicious! Not that difficult to prepare too.
It was truly a unique and wonderfully relaxing trip to Italy. Anca is already thinking about planning her 2015 Wanderlust excursion. I’ll be sure to share the details of it with you on my blog and FB page if you care to join us next year. Ciao!