THE VENUE.

QUERCETO

A MILLENARY HAMLET

Querceto dates back to the 11th century and, unlike many other nearby hamlets, Querceto does not feature on the tourist map, making it a rare jewel of its kind and the perfect place to retreat in meditationPreserved as a living hamlet by its owner, the Marquis of Ginori, Querceto is home to 35 permanent residents – an eclectic collection of farmers, writers, athletes, musicians and yogis!

AN OASIS OF PEACE

Querceto is perched on the rolling green hills of the Val di Cecina, on the edge of Tuscany’s largest national park, Monte Rufoli, and at the heart of the Etruscan Coast – where many UNESCO world heritage sites can be found. Surrounded by wild woodland, Querceto also lies just 20 km away from secluded beaches on the Mediterranean sea, making it an ideal location both for mountain fans and beach lovers.

EASY TO REACH

Querceto can be reached from the airports in Pisa and Florence. The closest town is Cecina, with direct train connections to Rome and Pisa, whilst Florence can be reached through a connecting train in Pisa.
We can organise airport transfers as well as pick-ups from Cecina train station. We can also recommend very affordable car rental from Pisa airport (ideal for those wishing to explore the surroundings during free time – see below for local attractions).

THE YOGASHALA(s)

The retreats take place within the hamlet’s walls, with the practice usually being held either within the renovated barn (for larger groups) or within the castle’s chapel (for smaller groups).

THE BARN: LARGE, SUGGESTIVE & SECLUDED

The hamlet is built in a spiral, which culminates at the barn that lays at the top of the hamlet, with breathtaking views of the valley below at sunset!
The barn measures 180 m2, making it an extraordinary space for a spacious and quiet practice.
The barn includes a professional kitchen, where the meals are prepared, a dining area, and three bathrooms, creating a contained space, ideal for groups work.

THE CHAPEL: SMALL, INTIMATE & SACRED

The chapel dates back to the 13th century and it beautifully frescoed.
It is located within the castle walls and has a very private and sacred feel to it – with wonderful acustics!
It can hold up to 8 people practicing yoga, or more if just sitting.

EQUIPMENT: ECOLOGICAL & SUSTAINABLE

The Yogashalas are fully equipped with the material necessary for meditation and yoga practice, including ecological yoga mats, organic natural cotton blankets (Iyengar size, hence functioning also as bolsters and meditation cushions), wooden blocks (made using sustainable wood), Indian cotton straps, and shiatsu-style mattresses.

ACCOMMODATION

All of the apartments have their own lounge, kitchen and dining areas, creating a very homely feeling and allowing guests to find their own space and privacy outside of the classes and shared meals.

OPTIONS FOR ALL BUDGETS: FAIR & INCLUSIVE

The participants lodge in the hamlet’s original and beautifully renovated apartments located in the hamlet’s picturesque square.
Apartments vary in size and costs, from 1 to 4 bedroom apartments, with single, double, twin and triple bedrooms. It is also possible for guests to rent a private apartment.
Most rooms have their own en suite bathroom, but it is also possible to rent cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms.
Through this variety of options we are able to suit most people’s budgets!

EXTEND YOUR STAY: FROM RETREAT TO HOLIDAY

It is possible to extend one’s stay in Querceto beyond the duration of the retreat. This allows participants to have a holiday and take advantage of all the wonderful things to do in the area (see below), which is often difficult during the retreat. This would be a particularly interesting option for those wanting to bring along friends, partners or family members. Private apartments are available for rent.

MEALS

FOOD: VEGAN, ORGANIC, LOCAL & SATTVIC

We work with a number of local cooks depending on the type of cusine required for the retreats. Meals however are vegan, gluten-free (or with gluten-free options), and we usually prepare sattvic yogic food inspired by traditional Tuscan/Italian cuisine.
Veganism is Healing in the Willows‘ understanding of the contemporary meaning of Ahimsa, the first observance on the Yogic path, given on the one hand to the uncontrollable production of animal meat and products, and on the other hand the ease with which a variety of healthy alternatives to an animal-base diet can be sourced nowadays in Europe.
Food is organic, seasonal and sourced as locally as possible.

LOCAL RESTAURANTS: AUTHENTIC & TOP QUALITY

If guests (or the group as a whole) would like to lunch or dine out one day, there is an excellent restaurant run by a very renowned chef in the hamlet. The restaurant serves predominantly local game dishes, although some vegetarian/vegan options can be prepared if booked in advance.
There are also very good restaurants in the nearby villages, including along the coast.

OUTSIDE PRACTICE SPACES

THE INFINITY POOL: SUBLIME & IDYLLIC

There is a beautiful infinity pool in the hamlet’s grounds, surrounded by olive trees and overlooking the national park stretching over the valley. There is space around the pool for groups to practice, and a changing room too. Hence participants can change into their swimming gear after the practice and plunge into the pool (or the other way round!).

THE PANORAMIC GARDEN: BREATHTAKING VIEWS

There is a private garden available for practice, and an ideal spot for meditation, as it also looks over the valley. There is some flat ground to practice on, as well as benches where to sit.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

A number of additional activities can be organised during free-time if there is sufficient interest. These can be booked separately by the participants and paid for individually, but they will need to be arranged with sufficient notice.

COOKING CLASSES: FUN & EXOTIC

We can organise cooking classes for groups a minimum 4 people (and no more than 8). Cooking classes range from Italian dishes (mainly home-made pasta), to vegan or sattvic dishes, as well as macrobiotic cusine.
Classes usually last around 4 hours and involve preparing the dish under the cook’s guidance and consuming the dish together at the end of the class. Prices vary depending on the type of cuisine and the number of people (typically €60 per person for a group of 4).

GUIDED TOURS: WHERE BEAUTY MEETS HISTORY

Guided tours of the area can be arranged with the resident tour guide in Querceto.
Querceto is located on the Etruscan Coast, with Etruscan ruins dating back to almost 3000 years – UNESCO world heritage sites. These can be reached easily by car and tours can be arranged either with our local guide or on the sites themselves.
Wonderfully intact medieval townships and villages can be found all around Querceto, like the famous towns of Volterra, San Giminiano, Bolgheri, San Gargano… amongst many others.
As well as being famous for their beauty, many of these towns are also known for their excellent wine, like Sassicaglia and Ornellaia which are produced in Bolgheri.
The price of the guided tours varies according to the location and the number of people, but typically it ranges between €15 and €30 per person.

WINE TASTING: QUERCETO’S SCENOGRAPHIC CELLARS

Tours of the hamlet’s wine cellars, which include a short tour of the hamlet and its history, and a wine tasting session, can also be arranged by appointment. The tour takes about 2 hours and costs vary according to the group’s size. Please inquire for a quote.

MEDITERRANEAN BEACHES: RESTORATIVE & SECLUDED

The Mediterranean Sea can be seen in the distance from Querceto itself. On a clear day it is possible to see not only the various islands laying just a few miles off the coast, but even Corsica!
The closest beaches are a mere 20 minutes away by car; long stretches of golden sand with dunes and pine woods for shade.

WALKS IN THE WOODS: WILD & SUGGESTIVE

Perched on a hilltop on the verge of Tuscany’s largest national park and reserve, Monte Rufoli, there are plenty of beautiful walks one can set off on from Querceto. Ancient woods filled with wild animals, including deers, wild boars, marmots, porcupines, and even wolves (in the depth of the forest)!

HOT SPRINGS: PURE BLISS

As the entire region is geothermal, many natural hot springs can be found a short distance away from Querceto. In Sassetta (half an hour’s drive from Querceto) there is a beautiful SPA with indoor and outdoor hot springs of various temperatures.

INTERESTED?
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