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7 Days Cooking Holiday & Nature Yoga Retreat in Italy

Cooking Vacation, Meditation, and Yoga Retreat Italy

Join Yala Collective for an unforgettable journey where you will get in touch with nature and explore the rich culture of Tuscany, Italy. Re-connect to the earth during a week that mixes together the art of yoga and meditation with the art of the Italian cuisine. This is a week full of activities to deeply understand the fundamental role of nature in human life. Celebrate with locals the special season of harvesting and be part of Italian families.

Meet the instructors

Francesca, Carolina, & Maria
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  • Daily yoga classes
  • Creative workshops
  • Pranayama and meditation sessions
  • Vegetarian cooking classes with fresh local products
  • Spend an afternoon at the thermal spa of Bagno Vignoni
  • Village and farm tour, cultural visit, and trekking
  • Daily vegetarian brunch and dinner
  • 6 nights’ accommodation


7 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: French, Italian, Spanish, English
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During the retreat, you will be accommodated at Il Roccone, a secular farmhouse in the natural reserve of Pigelleto, well-known for its big chestnut forest and wild fauna. Il Roccone is located in the Podere St. Francis, which was built in 1859 and completely restored in 2010, using only natural materials and respecting the traditions of the local buildings.

The property covers an area of over one hundred acres. The stay at Il Roccone is a true immersion in pure and uncontaminated nature. You will not hear other noises or sounds than those of wildlife.

The farmhouse is surrounded by a garden and rich vegetation. On the ground floor, there are the wood-burning fireplace and the sofas, the dining room, the spacious and well-equipped kitchen, the laundry area, a bathroom, and the private consecrated chapel. On the upper floors, there are seven big bedrooms and four bathrooms.

Next to the farmhouse, there are a 50 square meter loft for different activities (with a maxi screen, a video projector, and a bathroom), an old sheltered wood oven, a large barbeque area, and a big pergola to eat outside in the summer.

To enjoy the panorama standing in the water - also in cooler months - there is an ecological wooden tub for seven people. The hectare of land that surrounds the farmhouse is completely enclosed and includes a secular chestnut wood which offers its fruits and delicious mushrooms in autumn.


During this week of yoga, meditation, creative workshops, and vegetarian cooking, you will visit some Italian local organic farms to better understand their local world and the work hidden behind the products everyone delights with. You will also be in contact with the local producers who are ready to share their love and passion for this land.

You will spend an afternoon harvesting the chestnuts and mushrooms that you will learn to cook thanks to the cooking classes of the vegetarian chef Maria Ramirez. Maria, the chef at Quixotic in Paris, has prepared a special menu to delight your palates during the week and she will teach you how to prepare healthy and balanced meals with the organic local products.

Francesca Lo Cascio, designer and yoga teacher, specialized in the body energy, will guide you during your yoga and meditation practice together with Carolina Daza, the fabulous Yala Ashtanga yoga teacher.

Every morning, you will start with a detox ritual starting from a meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques) and bioenergetical class guided by Francesca. After this internal body cleansing, you will join a two-hour yoga Asthanga or Vinyasa class with Carolina Daza, with a particular attention on alignment.

Beyond this daily routine, you will enjoy Francesca’s teaching during three evening Yin yoga classes, created to deeply relax and stretch your body. The classes guided by Francesca and Carolina are mainly held in English with the possibility of classes available in other languages according to the participants’ needs (French, Spanish, or Italian).

During your outdoor visits, you can observe the quietness of local life and the hospitality of the inhabitants of Orvieto, known for its cultural heritage, fascinating traditions, and an exciting lifestyle, and Piancastagnaio, where you will participate in the most important celebration of chestnuts harvesting in the country, dining in a typical wine cave, and enjoying the traditional local vegetarian meals.

Daily schedule

Saturday, October 29, 2016

  • 14:30 Pick-up at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
  • 17:15 Arrive at Il Roccone
  • 18:00 Welcome circle
  • 18:30 Yin yoga
  • 20:00 Vegetarian dinner

Sunday, October 30, 2016

  • 08:00 Pranayama and meditation plus yoga and deep relaxation
  • 11:30 Healthy brunch
  • 14:00 Visit Santa Fiora village and olive oil tasting
  • 18:30 Yin yoga class
  • 20:00 Vegetarian dinner

Monday, October 31, 2016

  • 08:00 Pranayama and meditation plus yoga and deep relaxation
  • 11:30 Healthy brunch
  • 14:00 Creative workshop
  • 16:30 Yin yoga class
  • 18:00 Chestnut party in Piancastagnaio village, an immersion in Tuscany tradition

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

  • 08:00 Pranayama and meditation plus yoga and deep relaxation
  • 11:30 Healthy brunch
  • 12:30 Visit the town of Orvieto
  • 19:30 Vegetarian cooking workshop
  • 20:30 Vegetarian dinner

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

  • 08:00 Pranayama and meditation plus yoga and deep relaxation
  • 11:30 Healthy brunch
  • 14:00 Hiking and harvesting experience
  • 17:00 Natural cosmetic workshop
  • 19:30 Movie night

Thursday, November 3, 2016

  • 08:00 Pranayama and meditation plus yoga and deep relaxation
  • 11:30 Healthy brunch
  • 13:30 Bagno Vignoni village and visit to thermal spa
  • 19:30 Traditional handmade pasta cooking class

Friday, November 4, 2016

  • 07:00 Pranayama and meditation plus yoga and deep relaxation
  • 11:00 Goodbye brunch
  • 12:00 Departure

Please note that the activities in the program can change due to the weather.

Included excursions

  • Cultural visit to the wonderful town of Orvieto
  • Trekking in the natural reserve of Pigelleto for the chestnuts harvesting
  • Visit to local organic farms of olive oil and honey
  • Visit to typical Tuscany ancient villages of Piancastagnaio and Santa Fiora


Francesca Lo Cascio
Over the years, Francesca progressively refined her studies in Vinyasa yoga in India at Richikesh's Tattvaa Centre and in Paris with Mika de Brito and Gerard Arnauld, focusing her practice in a very strong Yang approach. During her travel to Bali, she followed a training on chakra balancing techniques with Jana Johnson. Moved to the US, she deepened her practice and teaching on Yin with Paulie Zing. Happy to follow yoga path, she currently focuses her attention and studies around psychology, bioenergy, and meditation.
Carolina Daza
Yoga Alliance RYT 500 (Ashtanga Yoga)
Carolina, also known as "the global yogini" is a multi-faceted artist and globe trotter. She completed her Yoga Alliance 500-hour Ashtanga yoga teacher training in Paris with Gérald Disse and Linda Munro at Ashtanga Yoga Paris and has been leading retreats for numerous years. Her teachers of pranayama, Ayurveda, and yoga philosophy are Sri OP Tiwari, Suddhir Tiwari of Kaivalyadhama Institute, and Smta Hansayi Jayadeva from The Yoga Institute in Mumbai.
Maria Ramirez
Maria was born and raised in Colombia, where she began her kitchen career. She arrived in Paris in 2003 to study at Ferrandi (École supérieure de cuisine française), receiving her “cusinier-restaurateur” diploma in 2007. At Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, London, New York, and Taipei, Maria had the chance to work alongside industry greats such as Ducasse, Robuchon and Gagnaire. Maria is currently the executive chef of Quixotic Projects, where she oversees daily food production, menu creation, product sourcing, and training for all venues.


This retreat will take place in Tuscany, Italy, near the natural reserve of Pigelleto. Tuscany, and in particular Pigelleto Nature Reserve, is the perfect spot to re-connect your body and mind to nature. The months of September and October are the sacred period for the inhabitants of this land because it is the harvesting time for the most-known Tuscan products such as chestnuts, truffles, mushrooms, grapes for the wine, and olives for the oil.

Frantoio Franci

Founded in 1958, Frantoio Franci is set in Montenero d’Orcia, a small hilltop town on the slopes of the Amiata Mountains, overlooking the splendid valley of the River Orcia. In that year, the brothers Franco and Fernando Franci purchased the famous Villa Magra olive grove proceeding to transform the old barn into an oil-mill.

The year 1995 marks a turning-point in the history of the family firm; it sees the beginning of the precious collaboration between Fernando, with his lifetime of experience, and his son Giorgio, who was to bring a new lease of energy and his modern business skills. Their main priority was to establish a place for their oil on the international market.

Natural reserve of Pigilleto

The Pigelleto Nature Reserve is divided between the provinces of Siena and Grosseto. It lies in the borough of Piancastagnaio, on the southern side of Mount Amiata. Founded by the Tuscan Region in 1996, the area of the reserve was one of the main mercury mining sites of Mounta Amiata and two disused mines can still be found within the reserve.

The area is dominated by Poggio Pampagliano (969 meters) that together with Poggio La Roccaccia and Poggio Roccone, just slightly lower in altitude, form a curved ridge towards the north-east, that forms the watershed between the basin of the river Paglia and that of the river Fiora. The reserve protects a mixed wooded area, rich in plant species, among which the presence of silver firs as a spontaneous species is especially relevant.


Orvieto has a unique history that dates back to over several million years ago. Learn about the origins of the city, its ancient inhabitants, and the special characteristics that make it a magical place to visit today.

The origin of the Orvieto rock is most likely due to an ancient volcanic eruption. The geological setting that characterized the entire central part of the Italian peninsula was a large expanse of water that over the years saw emergence of land. This land developed into different volcanic systems and, in all probability, the thunderous action of some of them generated and scattered enormous masses of rock.

Orvieto has been a city of great prestige in several different historical periods. Beginning in the ninth century BC, the Etruscan civilization experienced a period of great splendor and importance. This was the most important town of the vast territory of Etruria. The Etruscans inhabited Orvieto until the third century BC, when the Romans invaded Velzna.

It took the Romans two years to conquer Orvieto, which is a natural fortress, with its cliffs on all sides. The Etruscans had dug an intricate web of caves and numerous wells, so they were able to defend Orvieto for a long time. Today, Orvieto is a city full of impressive monuments, churches, and noble buildings, where some are over 2,500 years old.


The charming village of Piancastagnaio in Siena province is the location of the famous chestnut festival that is celebrated here in late October every year. It is the oldest and most important festival in the Monte Amiata area and has been held in this lively little village since 1967.

Held in the main square of Piazza Belvedere, the chestnut festival originated because of the importance surrounding this staple food in the area. High up in the mountains, the ground was fertile but the climate was too cold for some vegetables and grains to successfully grow. Chestnut trees were perfectly suited to higher altitudes and so became a great source of sustenance to the mountain people.

The chestnuts were harvested peeled and often eaten raw or roasted in a pan over the fire. It was also ground into fine flour and made into delicious chestnut bread called “castagnaccio”.

Inside the village’s solid medieval walls which were called “Rocca Aldobrandesca”, this bustling festival offers visitors all kinds of delicious chestnut themed dishes and products to try. Taste typical chestnut street food like castagnaccio smothered with sweet homemade butter and marrone chestnut jam, or other delicacies like brodolose, monne, crostate, and suggioli.

Thermes Bagno Vignoni

The ancient village of Bagno Vignoni is located in the heart of Tuscany, in the Val d'Orcia Natural Park. Thanks to the Via Francigena (which was the main route followed by pilgrims in antiquity who went to Rome), these thermal waters were found and have been used since Roman times.

At the heart of the village is the "square of sources", namely a rectangular tank, of 16th-century origin, which contains the original source of water that comes from the underground aquifer of volcanic origins.

Since the Etruscans and Romans - as evidenced by the numerous archaeological finds - the spa of Bagno Vignoni was attended by eminent personalities such as Pope Pius II, Saint Catherine of Siena, Lorenzo the Magnificent, and many other artists who had elected the village as main holiday resort.

Characteristic of Bagno Vignoni, besides the thermal waters, is that its structure, despite numerous incidents of war, devastation, and fires that involved the Val d'Orcia in the Middle Ages, remains essentially unchanged since then.

Nearby places

  • Acquapendente, 15 kilometers
  • Bagni San Filippo, 15 kilometers
  • Bagni Vignoni, 50 kilometers
  • Bolsena, 44 kilometers
  • Castellazzara, 8 kilometers
  • Castiglione Della Pescala, 115 kilometers
  • Civita di Bagnoregio, 60 kilometers
  • Grosseto, 80 kilometers
  • Montalcino, 45 kilometers
  • Montalto, 80 kilometers
  • Montepulciano, 55 kilometers
  • Monteriggioni, 96 kilometers
  • Orvieto, 52 kilometers
  • Piancastagnaio, 8 kilometers
  • Pienza, 36 kilometers
  • San Casciano Del Bagni, 25 kilometers
  • San Galgano, 100 kilometers
  • San Gimignano, 120 kilometers
  • Santa Fiora Village, 8 kilometers
  • Saragiolo Village, 4 kilometers
  • Saturnia, 40 kilometers
  • Siena, 68 kilometers
  • Terme di Petriolo, 70 kilometers
  • Vitebro, 77 kilometers



  • Cooking classes
  • Horse riding
  • Hot spring
  • Massage
  • Mountain biking
  • Mountain walking/trekking
  • Spa


  • Dining area
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Kitchen
  • Lake nearby
  • Yoga studio


  • Laundry
  • Local market


During the retreat, you will be served daily vegetarian brunch and dinner. Vegetarian cooking classes with chef Maria Ramirez are also included in your retreat package.

Things to do (optional)

  • Archery
  • Bird watching
  • Forest bathing
  • Horse riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Sky watching
  • Suspended trails
  • Winery tours

Spa treatments

The region of Tuscany that you will be staying at is also very known for its water's thermal proprieties. You will learn how to prepare natural cosmetics with the products of this land and you will spend an afternoon in the picturesque village of Bagno Vignoni enjoying its five-star spa.

What's included

  • 1 afternoon visit to the five-star thermal spa of Bagno Vignoni
  • 1 cultural visit to the wonderful city of Orvieto
  • 1 dining in a local wine cave
  • 1 trekking excursion in the nature reserve of Pigelleto for the chestnut harvesting
  • 1 vegetarian cooking class with fresh local products
  • 1 visit to local organic farms of olive oul and honey
  • 1 visit to typical Tuscan ancient villages of Piancastagnaio and Santa Fiora
  • 3 evening Yin yoga classes
  • 6 nights’ accommodation
  • Creative workshops
  • Daily morning Ashtanga or Vinyasa yoga classes
  • Daily morning meditation and pranayama sessions
  • Daily vegetarian brunch and dinner
  • Participation in the chestnuts harvesting celebration
  • Transportation from and to tour destinations during the program

What's not included

  • Airfares
  • Airport transfers
  • Private massages or therapies

How to get there

Driving directions from north of Italy (Florence, Bologna, and Pisa airports)

  • Take the exit of the highway ‘Florence Impruneta’.
  • Drive along the Firenze - Siena superstrada (A road) and take the exit ‘Siena Sud’.
  • Follow directions to ‘Rome via Cassia’.
  • After about five kilometers, turn on the right to ‘Mount Amiata’.
  • Pass the village of Abbadia San Salvatore and as soon as you reach the village of Piancastagnaio follow the directions to Castellazzara.
  • On the way to Castellazzara, after five and a half kilometers from the Pietralunga junction, when you see on the left the directions to ‘Siele’, turn and drive straight on for two and a half kilometers along an unpaved road until you reach the farmhouse.

Driving direction from Perugia San Francesco d'Assisi – Umbria International Airport (PEG)

  • Take the road SS220 / SR220 following the directions to Città della Pieve.
  • After the town of Chiusi take the road to San Casciano dei Bagni and then get off on the road SS Cassia, following the directions to Piancastagnaio.
  • Arrived in the town of Piancastagnaio follow the directions to Castell’Azzara.
  • After around eight kilometers turn on the left to Castell’Azzara.
  • After five and a half kilometers, at the sign Siele, turn right and go straight for two and a half kilometers down a dirt road till you see the farmhouse.

Driving direction from Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO)

  • Take the exit of the highway Orvieto.
  • Follow directions to Lago Di Bolsena and then to Acquapendente.
  • After the village of Acquapendente follow directions to the village of Piancastagnaio.
  • As soon as you reach the village of Piancastagnaio follow directions to the village of Castellazzara.
  • On the way to Castell’Azzara, five and a half kilometers after the Pietralunga junction, when you see on the left the directions to ‘Siele’, turn and drive straight on for two and a half kilometers along an unpaved road until you reach the farmhouse.

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO). Transfer from and to this airport is available upon request. There is a private minivan service that will connect the airport to Il Roccone on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. The price depends on the number of participants using the service.

For the way back on Friday, November 4, 2016, the minivan will leave the venue at noon to arrive at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO) around 3:00 p.m.


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