Just 30 minutes drive from Milan’s bustling business and fashion districts is an oasis so tranquil it is guaranteed to soothe your frazzled 21st-century nerves. The atmosphere at Ti Sana, a luxury detox retreat, is so calm it would make a Trappist monastery seem hectic.
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Ti Sana in the heart of the Italian countryside
Ti Sana means ‘to take care of yourself’ and the team is passionate about teaching you to do that. Owners Amedeo D'Angelo and his daughter Erica offer what they call education in 'lifestyle management', a totally new way to look at your health and fitness.
A hugely successful international businessman, Amedeo gets up at 5am, runs marathons, eats a mostly vegan diet and talks with fervour of his goal to "live until 105".
Gentle exercises classes get you moving
Based in a former nobleman’s home and surrounded by sweetly scented plants, the beautiful stone building dates from 1711. It has been lovingly restored by the D’Angelo family and the result is a pleasing blend of old world charm and contemporary chic. I almost cry with happiness when I am shown to my room, which is the last word in luxe.
The first inkling I get that Ti Sana is different is a few weeks before my stay when I receive a document called the 'pre-cure', advising me to abstain from sugar, dairy, alcohol, salt and anything else fun. At least, I think to myself, there will be meat. Turns out I should have read the fine print.
The rooms are gorgeous and spacious
When I am picked up from the airport by my driver, a silver fox type character who could show George Clooney a thing or two, he makes a point of showing me a restaurant near the hotel that serves meat.
I am puzzled and decide that I am having a ‘lost in translation’ moment due to my broken Italian. Then he laughingly tells me that at one point some Russian clients and ran off to the restaurant to have a meat feast.
Actually, the food turns out to be nutritious, filling and imaginative, based around organic ingredients grown in the hotel’s own garden or ‘Field of Miracles’. Meals include lightly steamed chard with a tangy mustard sauce, zucchini frittata and polenta cakes with a distilled vegetable broth.
There are lots of delicious juices filled packed with fruit and vegetables such as spinach, apple, carrots, kiwi, fennel and celery. At breakfast we are given treats like banana bread and date and oat cake. Amedeo explains that this type of diet is equivalent to giving your overloaded digestive system "a spring clean".
Take walks through the woods to rivers and lakes
However, most of guests, especially those on juices only do miss regular food to quite a comical extent. So much so that we end up talking a lot about food. When I mention at one point that I did certain activity with ‘relish’ one of my fellow detoxers seizes on the word and conjures up an entire menu plan based around ‘tomato relish’.
Ti Sana has lots of interesting therapies, including some wonderfully relaxing massages and colonic irrigation which is not for the faint-hearted but will leave you feeling less sluggish and bloated. However, it all starts with extremely thorough tests with some new agey equipment – one for body composition analysis and another to work out your stress levels.
The therapies are complemented by the exercise classes, which have quirky, scientific sounding names. There is rebounding – (a fun, trampette-based exercise in which I work up a surprising sweat) – the hypertrophic workout (a pilates-style routine), Qi gong (a gentle martial art) and yoga.
The luxury spa has three saunas, whirlpools and jets of water
There are also long walks through chestnut-filled woods to rivers and lakes. I spend most afternoons in the elegant spa, which boasts three different kinds of sauna, one hot, one dry and an infrared one.There is a pool for lounging with invigorating jets of water that have a massage effect on aching muscles.
After three days of this pampering I feel lighter and brighter. My skin is perfect, I have a spring in my step and plan to make it to 100 at the very least.