Your Guide to Yoga Retreats in Tuscany
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Tuscany, the cradle of opera, Chianti wine and the Italian language. Home to the most famous Renaissance artists, green landscapes and the best yoga retreats in Italy.
This region in central Italy has such an artistic and historical legacy that it could very well be considered the place with most cultural and scientific influence in human history. Indeed, there are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites just in Tuscany. To put it into perspective, there are 100+ countries with less than that.
So, no matter where you go, from the Apennine Mountains to the beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, there are tons of incredible options for a wonderful yoga retreat in Tuscany full of history and artistic feel.
A little bit of Tuscan history
Tuscany was the homeland of the Etruscans until around the year 100 BC. Ancient Romans used to refer to them as Tuscus, which derived in the name of the region that we know nowadays as Toscana.
All Etruscan cities were eventually absorbed by the Roman Empire and, by the Middle Ages, Florence, Pisa, Arezzo, Siena and Lucca were already powerful cities.
Florence has always been the jewel of the region and the capital of Tuscany. In the 15th century, the Medici family were the wealthiest aristocrats of the city. Lorenzo de Medici became the patron of Renaissance allowing literature, architecture and all forms of art to flourish more than anywhere else in Europe. This attracted artists such as Botticelli, Dante, Da Vinci, Brunelleschi Michelangelo and many others who called Florence home for many years.
This is why Tuscany has become arguably the most important cultural center in the world. With museums, galleries and artwork by the greatest masters of all time, it’s impossible to replicate the magic of such a unique destination.
Want to explore the rest of Italy? Check out our guide to yoga retreats in Italy!
Why choose Tuscany for a yoga retreat?
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You might not think of the Roman Empire as the most spiritual realm in history —and it certainly wasn’t. But there are some teachings on meditation in the Enneads, a collection of writings by Plotinus, the spiritual guide of Porphyry, Amelius Gentilianus, Castricius Firmus and several other members of the Roman Senate.
“If you imagine you’re different from God, you are not yet in the fully illuminated state. When you and he are perfectly one, with no sense of even the possibility that you could be two, then you have attained real understanding and true perception of your Highest Self, the Self that never departs from itself.” — Plotinus.
While there’s no evidence that the Renaissance artists in Tuscany ever performed a yoga pose, at least B.K.S. Iyengar was known as the “Michelangelo of Yoga” due to his big contributions to the practice. Or maybe a yoga holiday in Tuscany means that you can bring your best asanas to the birthplace of the “Iyengar of art”.
In addition to its vast history, Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves, which gives the region a breath-taking backdrop for any yoga holiday.
Top destinations for a yoga retreat in Tuscany
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You already know how enchanting Florence’s artistic side can be, but the countryside also has its charm with stunning views for a relaxing yoga retreat.
The holidays that you’ll find here will allow you to get a good feel of the culture in the Tuscan region. There are programs that will take you on a day trip to the city where you’ll learn more about its history, visit vineyards and try the local wine, go olive picking, and unwind after all the activities with a yoga session. All within a short distance from the city that transformed the course of art history.
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Distinguished by its narrow alleys, medieval brick buildings, cobblestone streets and the beautiful Piazza del Campo, Siena is a fabulous city that will make you fall in love with Tuscany. The Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta, the Piccolomini Library and the Opera del Duomo are all outstanding pieces of architecture you just can’t miss.
And how about combining yoga with a wine experience? Siena is the perfect place to go wine tasting. Nestled right in the heart of Tuscany and surrounded by the most important wineries of the region, Siena is a paradise for wine lovers. There are several retreats that will take you on a tour to try the best Chianti you’ve ever tasted, try some of the traditional Italian dishes and wash it all down with a yoga class.
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In Eastern Tuscany, Arezzo is one of the wealthiest towns of the region thanks to its goldsmithing tradition. Although most of the city center was destroyed during WWII, there are still plenty of landmarks that make it worth a visit. For instance, the Church of San Francesco features the History of the True Cross, an impressive series of frescoes by Piero della Francesca.
Due to its secluded location in the Pratomagno mountain range, it’s an excellent place for a laidback yoga holiday where you can relax, meditate and go hiking in the astonishing trails around the Casentino valley.
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Located in a plain near the Tyrrhenian Sea, Lucca is a good option to combine the classic atmosphere of a fortified Renaissance city with the option of a quick day trip to the seaside. There are options of yoga retreats for cycling lovers, hikers and Italian cuisine enthusiasts who want to combine the practice on the mat with these other activities.
Lucca is known as the city of 100 churches, which means that a yoga retreat won’t be enough to visit them all. But if you choose just a few, it’s still enough to taste the essence of this quaint little Tuscan town. The most representative ones are the Cathedral of St. Martin and St. Michael’s Church.
A few extra Tuscan options
Best time for a yoga vacation in Tuscany
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Can’t wait to book your yoga retreat in Tuscany? The best time to travel to this region is in the months of April, May and June, right before the heat of summer; and during September and October before it gets too cold. Summer is high season, which means that there’ll be more crowds, it’ll be more expensive and the temperatures can be quite high.
The early autumn is definitely the best time. Not only is the weather better, but it’s also the period of olive and grape harvest festivals. So, if you’re looking for a wine tasting tour, aim for autumn and bring a light jacket.
Ready for an unforgettable experience in the birthplace of Renaissance? There are plenty of short yoga breaks in Tuscany to spice up your trip around Central Italy!