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re·treat/riˈtrēt/ (part one)

1. The act or process of withdrawing, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant.
2. A place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security.
A second blog post somehow seems SO much more difficult and definitive than the first. What I choose to write about here and now will begin to shape and mould this story going forward. And so the word ‘retreat’ springs to mind.
Retreat  – often a well – deserved rest, carefully planned and thought out right to the last detail. This forced break we are on – in an unpredictable situation, has become a retreat, thrown together, with no planning and very little thought.  During all my years in Sydney I often found myself searching the web and scouring newspapers trying to find the perfect mini – break. Here and now, I’ve found it.
Whilst camped out in this little corner of Italy,  ‘ a la campagna’ to be exact,  I think of what it takes to make you feel at home and comfortable whilst on retreat.  It doesn’t always need to be carefully planned or organised, as my current situation has taught me. The makeshift bedroom we have created in this un-renovated farmhouse on a plot of land dotted with olive trees, has become my husband’s favourite room ever in which to awake. It seems ironic – the years I’ve spent trying to create the perfect environment with light and space and here we have done it, simply, with a couple of mattresses, an old trunk, some scarves and a jam jar of flowers – mother nature has played a strong hand in this one.
Each day is filled with the earth’s simplicities, and offers us a richness we have never yet experienced. Until now.  We enjoy the almost clichéd sunsets, the local wines and foods, all readily available to us on the newly created terrace and set out in a haphazard arrangement of glasses and bowls.
Whilst sharing my shower with a grasshopper yesterday morning, I realised that perhaps there is a lot to be said for enjoying a place offering peace and quiet minus all the 5 star luxuries. Creatures yes, creature comforts, not a chance. Here, who needs them?
To add just a little more irony to our situation, last week we went off from this peaceful little farmhouse… to go on a ‘retreat’.  A rest from a rest…….
We headed further into Le Marche to a little ‘agriturismo’ named Casa Azzura. Yet another renovated farmhouse offering a space for yoga and meditation, and run by the warm and welcoming Elia.  With only eight rooms, and a cosy yet worthy of a Michelin star restaurant, boasting views over the Sibillini Mountains, Elia has adopted many elements of Feng Shui in his design.
Every room houses a freestanding claw-foot bath, perfectly placed, and silk Indian saris are draped from the windows, creating a feeling of utter calm. I was amazed to find such serenity within such simplicity. To think of the hours I’ve pored over plans and sketches, trying to arrange a space perfectly in order to create a certain feeling and comfort.  Here you have it, a bath, a sari and a window. Done.
Two rooms…. within two weeks. Perhaps the simplest rooms we have both ever stayed in. And yet the most relaxing. I will remember this valuable lesson when I embark on my next project. Keep it extremely simple.
If you are ever in the area of Le Marche and looking for a five star spa with all the trimmings, then Casa Azzura may not be for you. However, if you would like to visit one of the most relaxing spots on this earth, then look no further.
The room at the farmhouse, I can’t recommend to you as highly unfortunately. That, we are keeping, just for us.
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