Back in 2002, wandering around Italy in a camper van,
our one year old twin boys in the back,
we were, in a rather leisurely way,
looking for a bit of paradise,
to park our van, to renovate a farmhouse, to welcome people to our retreat centre.
When we were told there was a WHOLE HILL for sale,
in a protected and wild valley near the renaissance jewel of Urbino, with two abandoned farmhouses,
we strapped the boys into their child seats and headed into the hills.
And to that one particular HILL in particular.
As we drove onto that Hill, along a rough track, entering the pine woods that cover the whole Hill,
and we RELAXED.
It was something that we both felt.
We spent the next couple of hours exploring what we could of this abandoned haven.
With 100 acres of woods, with the trees growing into the derelict houses.
And we just felt so good being there.
The boys too were happy. Fairly new to walking, they were taking their earliest steps on land what would be their home.
This was a veritable PARADISE that had been lost, and we felt like we were the privileged ones to find it again.
Two years later, in 2004, we opened the (farmhouse) doors of ‘The Hill That Breathes’.
Within a year, we were full every week for the long, sunny season.
Guests loved the wildness of the place (with the nearest neighbour 15 minutes’ walk away),
they loved the simple style of the restored farmhouse, with the plaster on the walls echoing the sandy colours of the dry earth.
They loved that the large sea-salt panoramic pool was not sitting next to the main farmhouse, but perched on a promontory, at the end of a walk through the woods…
They loved the healthy but utterly scrummy food that the chef conjured up.
And we heard so many times the same line,
from the many guests who stayed with us over those years,
and even from locals who’d come to visit this hill they’d heard about or played on when they were kids, decades before…
THIS IS A PARADISE.
We adored and still adore the Paradise Found of The Hill That Breathes.
Even after we realised that we preferred running retreats to running a retreat centre, and closed The Hill to guests,
we still lived on that Hill for 5 years, the laughter of the four of us going a long way in the gentle breeze.
But a Dutch family, the Marsis, had also heard of this Hill,
and made their own trip into the woods.
They felt for the Hill like we had,
And had soon taken over from us doing what they love most, running a holiday retreat,
in a place they too had fallen in love with.
And since then, with our home moving elsewhere in Italy, and now back to Blighty in Hove,
we have returned to The Hill a couple of times a year, to run retreats,
and let chef Sandor Marsi cook his delicious food for the guests and Christa Marsi be there for us all with her lovely smile.
And our next trip there is June 29th to July 6th,
when the weather is delicious, warm during the day, but not hot at night (because we’re up in the hills),
to learn, with Gaia and me how to be FULLY OURSELVES,
with Gaia’s ‘Being Me Therapy’…
Gaia’s beautiful and radical idea, expressed in this Therapy over the last 5 years,
is that we can resolve ANY ISSUE by simply being more ourselves.
This is because the twists and turns of character that we’ve made over the years,
the ways we’ve ‘adapted’ ourselves for this or that reason,
are the root of our issues.
So, to be ourselves again, tends to resolve those issues.
It’s a beautiful, liberating therapy, taught by the originator of the therapy, Gaia, and me, John.
And you’ll get to learn how to be yourself in the PARADISE of The Hill,
amongst new and lovely friends,
swimming in the panoramic pool,
seeing deer in the woods,
visiting the astonishing Urbino and its medieval alleys and renaissance art.
Do come and join us at this Paradise Found,
well you’ll most likely find yourself again,
and experience the true power of Being Me Therapy,