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A Retreat in Tuscany


There’s something about Tuscany that instantly draws you in, the sunsets, the tall narrow trees and the zippy cars that nip around fast corners as you make your way through the hills. I can’t help but romanticise it. When Emma invited me along on her Nutrition Retreat at the beginning of June I jumped at the chance to be there and learn more about Italian food. 

The thing you should know first about Emma’s Nutrition course is that it is anything but a diet. There’s always a new fad to follow or a superfood that becomes the new trend. For Emma, a classically trained chef, food is to be revered and celebrated. That’s not something one can do while constantly restrained to measurements and rules. Her book is full of fresh produce, an array of spices and herbs and some seriously moreish desserts. 

The setting for our wellness weekend was nestled in between the pink painted hills of Siena, on a vineyard La Torre alle Tolfe. Only fifteen minutes from the city of Siena we even had an afternoon within the city walls, exploring and of course taking photos. We couldn't quite get over the colours that made up the cityscape. Down the road we had our local market, where Emma procured most of our food. Our olive oil was from the land we were staying on as well as the wine and some of our vegetables. In the mornings we went on brisk walks led by Mania, the property manager as baby lambs followed her stride. We learned about the history of Siena and the battles that were fought against Florence on the very hills we walked upon. The tower that is now a key part of the homes identity was originally a watch tower to alert the locals to newcomers. 

Mornings that weren’t spent walking, were spent poolside doing yoga with a local teacher. It was timed perfectly to end with the ringing of the local clocktower, which made me feel in sync with the area. Upon returning to the villa Emma would have a table full of food to choose from. Be it healthy flapjacks with fresh strawberries, local yogurt and honey or a light and fluffy omelette cradling an array of local vegetables and even a selection of tea's from Joe's Teas. It was all at your fingertips. 

Our first full morning in La Torre alle Tolfe we met with Elizabeth, an ambassador for Extra Virgin Olive Oil of Frantoi. She taught us about the importance of buying the freshest and highest quality olive oil and how we can spot the fakes. When purchased correctly you can use olive oil in temperatures of up to 200C, something unheard of for the average supermarket brand. She even recommended sipping a teaspoon of it daily to help keep you healthy. Bringing us a selection to taste we began to pour the eight different options into separate cups. Slowly we made our way through, tasting the peppery hints, sometimes more than others! In some, I could swear that I even tasted the sun!

In the afternoons we would separate for a time to spend at our leisure. This often led to us naturally congregating in the kitchen to watch Emma cook. She is a natural and moves with a quick elegance that can only be learned from countless hours in the kitchen. I smile to myself as she talks and gestures enthusiastically about the benefits to eating locally all the while rubbing the extra olive oil into her arms. “I hope you don’t mind, I’d just hate to waste it and it’s so good for your skin.” We didn’t mind in the slightest, in fact I made a note to do that myself while I’m cooking. 

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To learn more about Emma's program you can visit her site here or follow her on Instagram

Words & Photography | Ariana Ruth