Yoga on the Italian Island of Ischia

February 01, 2013

The fun began the moment I arrived on the Italian island of Ischia and was greeted by my driver, Giovanni, a charismatic man who sang old Neapolitan love songs with all the passion he could muster while simultaneously maneuvering his way through winding dirt roads, past vibrant bougainvillea, and endless views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. We were knee deep in our impromptu duet when we reached the unassuming gates of Villa Lina, the place I would call home for the next week.

As I entered the gateway I was transported to another time and place. My thoughts filled with childhood memories of my grandmother’s home in southern Italy until the enthusiastic barking of Vito, the property’s friendly mascot, got my attention. What lies beyond the gates of Villa Lina can only be described as a utopia of organic living with its lush vegetation, olive groves and earthen paths lined with rosemary bushes perched above the Mediterranean.

Family owned and operated, the villa is run by Nicola, a kind soul who affectionately cares for the property and his guests with the same love a Shepard cares for his flock.  He is committed to sustainable and environmentally-sound practices and picks fresh herbs and vegetables from his garden to prepare the daily meals - some of the best I’ve ever had!

The original rustic style of the villa and the land is honored throughout the property. My room had all the necessary amenities; a bathroom, queen size bed, wooden desk, armoire and a terrace with beautiful vistas. The one thing it did not have is a TV, phone or any of the other technological wonders we are accustomed to. I questioned how I would ever survive an entire week without them, but what I later discovered was that letting go of all distractions gifted me with heightened self-awareness and a sense of serenity.    

The main house is made up of a kitchen, where we often found Nicola and Magdalena preparing our daily meals, and a great room lined with family photographs, old books, magazines and the only TV on the property. Adjacent to this is a large dining room with wall to wall glass panels to not obstruct the panoramic views that lead onto the deck where we would relax, read, meditate and enjoy gorgeous sunsets. There are two yoga areas; one a room with sliding glass doors and views of the sea where we would practise our morning yoga, and the other an open pavilion where we enjoyed evening restorative yoga while looking out onto the endless horizon. The property also boasts two pools, an outdoor one filled with the island’s famous healing thermal waters, and an indoor pool in a cave of pumice filled with warm sea water. This was the location of our late night gatherings to relax and discuss the trials and tribulations of life. There is great solace in discovering how different yet similar our lives are; each of us bearing our sadness and joys with a smile and positive outlook on the future.

Our host and Yoga instructor, Erin, is a beautiful woman with delicate bone structure and a subtle elegance that reminded me of a modern day Audrey Hepburn, and from that day forward I would refer to her as just that. Her love and passion for yoga is evident in the caring way in which she guides each guest, beginner or intermediate, into the day’s poses and practise. She made each experience a pure delight.

The retreat is open to both men and women, though we had a group of 9 extraordinary women. Each unique in their own way with complex lives and experiences, qualities that would make for a fine wine to be savored slowly to capture the rich complexities, beauty and flavors. Our group varied in ages from 24 to 69, all from different cultures, professional backgrounds and walks of life. It was an eclectic array of women that lit up every room with their laughter and joy. And together, every day was a new lesson in discovery of ourselves and each other, as we challenged one another to new heights, to embrace change, and to appreciate life in all its glorious hues.

Each day began with morning yoga and a delicious breakfast before embarking on a new and exciting adventure. We hiked to the top of Monte Epomeo (789 metres high) to enjoy breathtaking views of the island and ocean beyond. We spent a day at the Thermal Spa Negombo where we sunbathed and swam, had spa treatments and enjoyed the many thermal pools. We explored Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle built on a rock near the island in 474 BC.  We enjoyed wine tasting at Casa D’Ambra, the island’s oldest vineyard, as well as shopping, delicious meals, and everyone’s favorite excursion – boating around the island, diving into the Mediterranean, and swimming into a grotto.

What I discovered during my week long Yoga Retreat is that no matter how successful, beautiful, smart, funny, young or old, we are all sisters in our quest for a happier life, and if we are open to the possibilities of change, we will continue to evolve. I have learned that we are only limited by the limits we set upon ourselves and hence been given renewed hope that the best truly is yet to come!

As one guest stated, “Something changed in all of us that week. I don't think I'll be able to find the words to describe it. It was so subtle, yet so strong. Like Woodstock, it was an event that cannot be replicated. But there can be many more happy times, each wonderful in their own uniqueness.” And it is with this thought in mind that I look forward to the next retreat.

For information on attending a Yoga Retreat in Ischia, Tuscany, Marrakech or Provence, please visit and mention Travelista73 or email me at

A special thank you to the lovely Gina at for providing many of the images in this post.  

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