03.04.2019. Le Sirenuse
Emerging from the treeline, we wind up a rugged trail, past tassels of wild fennel and rosemary and sprays of yellow gorse and purple bugloss. We stop to marvel at the view – the rooftops of Positano glinting in the sun far below, the sparkling, wind-scoured sea, the distant coastline stretching all the way to Paestum and Punta Licosa.
Rounding a bend in the zig-zag footpath, our destination comes into sight: a sturdy stone refuge once used by Amalfi Coast forest rangers. Inside, a fire has been lit, and a simple snack awaits: wholegrain bread cut into thin slices, drizzled with olive oil and dressed with thin slices of Amalfi lemon rind and freshly gathered rosemary flowers.
This walk to the Caserma Forestale above Positano was just one of the scenic morning activities laid on for the intrepid group of sixteen who signed up for Le Sirenuse’s first Dolce Vitality fitness retreat in March. The idea was to use the stunning network of footpaths and mule tracks around and above the Amalfi Coast town as a natural gym. A team of four guides led by the hotel’s very own resident ‘Iron Man’, Giovanni Cuccaro, introduced us to trails that few visitors ever discover. And although we did a section of the famous ‘Path of the Gods’, we all agreed that some of the other routes we explored were equally spectacular – and far less crowded.
We came from Italy, the States, the UK and Mallorca, and we bonded over walks, afternoon workout sessions and the low-calorie Mediterranean menu chef Gennaro Russo had prepared for us. After a while we even forgot the food was Vegan: dishes like zucchini ‘spaghetti’ with basil and pine nut pesto, in which thin slivers of zucchini are twirled into a pasta-like tower on the plate, came to seem positively indulgent. As did the ‘cocktails’ served by barman Robert Wimmer on this alcohol-free retreat, like a memorable kiwifruit and ginger smoothie.
We discovered muscles we didn’t know we had (thank goodness for the afternoon massages…). We refocused our energies during yoga sessions on the terrace, lulled by the scent of lemon trees just emerging into blossom. We emerged trimmer and slimmer. Renewed and invigorated.
And if those waistlines start to expand again, if our new exercise-regime resolutions fall by the wayside, all the better. It just means we’ll have to come back in November.
Photos © Roberto Salamone
Thanks to Clara Paget, @clarapaget, for permission to use the opening photo