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24th Settembre 2021 / Agriculture / Artist Residency / Eat / Explore / Feasting / Foundation / Our Tuscan Hood / Wellbeing /

Nourish and Preserve

Our Programme And Collaborators 

Join us at Villa Lena over the 15-18 October for a nourishing Creative Retreat celebrating the changing seasons, wild foraging and local crafts whilst Tuscany is at its most breathtaking and bountiful. Rest and reconnect in this Tuscan country idyll, close to nature and away from life’s bustle as the nights grow longer and we get ready to reflect on the energies of summer.

Daily workshops and food experiences are led by our expert collaborators and artists in residence along with movement classes with the Villa Lena yogi in residence. We spoke to our collaborators about their work, passions and of course why Tuscany in October is one of the best times of year to visit. 

by Martino di Napoli Rampolla & Guglielmo Profeti

Matteo from La Galleria, who will be facilitating a ceramics masterclass with his father, Salvatore as part of the retreat. 

Tell us about the history of La Galleria and its connection to Tuscany!

La Galleria is a family owned business that for four generations produces handmade Tuscan pottery. Situated in Montelupo fiorentino, a city known all over the world for its ceramic production, we make and ship our products all over the world.

The pieces are made by my father Salvatore, who has been creating ceramics with traditional techniques for 35 years using a wheel that he inherited from his father Sebastiano, a master potter.

Teaching and sharing the skills of pottery seems to be very important to La Galleria, what part do you enjoy the most?

At the core of the experience we offer is the discovery process of the material and tradition. Participants don’t just sit at a wheel and try to make a thing, they learn about the positioning of the hands, the “what-to-do” for centring a ball of clay and how to transform it into a shape. This is what I like about our experience, it helps them to understand this very ancient skill, and at the same time they get an understanding of the process so they can continue to learn and experiment in the future. 

Photo by Gina Spinelli

What’s your favourite thing about autumn in Tuscany ?

Autumn in Tuscany is one of the most wonderful things to see. I love to see all the nature that becomes orange, brown and yellow. But obviously, there is one thing that for me is above all: the Olio novo!

The two Rebel Rebel workshop will be lead by Pel over the creative retreat, she gets us excited about the flora and fauna around Villa Lena in October

Tell us about Rebel Rebel and its connection to Tuscany!

Rebel Rebel have had a close tie to Tuscany for nearly 30 years ago (longer than Rebel Rebel have existed!). Athena (one half of Rebel Rebel) has been coming to the Garfagnana with her family for years. Barga, where we are now based, is a town steeped in artistic history. Four years ago when a property came up for sale in the area, Athena and Mairead saw it as an opportunity to start a new side of the company , running a flower school and the odd wedding here and there. My husband Craig and I came out to steer the ship and before long we were inundated with requests for weddings and courses. Once we bought our field and got growing it became inevitable that this was going to be a full time and exciting business, and so Craig and I moved out to work here full time in 2020. The rest is history as they say!

We know sustainability and producing locally is important to Rebel Rebel, can you tell us about this and your top tips for sustainable floristry.

Floristry is historically a very destructive industry. With the carbon emissions in the growing practices World Wide, the shipping across continents, the plastic waste, the artificial fertilisers and herbicides, the water demands in drought stricken countries…the list goes on. Our belief is that the more local the better, always try to seek out a local farm, or a florist who sells local flowers. We also believe in making everything full circle, so we always use paper wrapping, hemp string, things that can be composted after use and returned to the soil to grow more beautiful flowers.

And lastly GROW! If you have the space, even if it’s just a small balcony, try your hand at growing as it’s both beneficial to you and the insects!

What’s your favourite thing about autumn and the changing of the season ?

My favourite thing about Autumn floristry wise is the change in mood. Everything is a little darker, the colours get richer, the flowers bigger and bolder. It’s also an amazing time to use other elements like hops, drying bracken and apple branches. Weird and wonderful shapes appear as the leaves drop and expose lichen covered branches. Its magic!

Photo by Gina Spinelli

The other thing I love about Autumn since moving to Italy is the dedication to each season. It like the clock strikes midnight one evening and the next day everyone has their coats back on, tans have faded and they are ready to forage.

The mushrooms, the chestnuts, the berries, the abundance of edibles to forage from the woods and get yourself stocked for the winter is amazing and I love that everyone takes it incredibly seriously. 

Marit Heinen will be our in-house Yogi the final residency of the programme from mid October to early November and will be helping us to feel grounded and connected..

Tell us about your background as a yoga teacher and the particular interests within your practice.

Ever since I can imagine, I have been really enthusiastic about movement. Whether it is playing field hockey, rowing, dancing, hiking or boxing. A few years ago I graduated from the Art Academie. In my studies at the Art Academie I researched how the interaction between people and objects affects human behaviour and how they (sub)consciously ‘move’ with each other. After my studies in art I decided to dive deeper into my love for motion. And became a certified yoga teacher.  

At Villa Lena we are in the middle of nature, it’s a space where you can really ground yourself and escape from the distractions of everyday life, what are you most looking forward to in terms of teaching and being at Villa lena?

I have been teaching yoga (on and off line) in Amsterdam for two years in different studio’s. In my classes I create a space where everybody can move, connect and play. Personality, creativity and spontaneity are key in all my classes.

The classes are a place where you can work on yourself, on your body, in a fun, creative, and safe space.

At Villa Lena I look forward to sharing my love for motion as described above and non-judgement. Surrounded by nature, away from the distractions from daily life. I want to invite others to explore and observe; towards themselves and towards the space around them. The surrounding nature makes this step of observing easier. The roughness, the delicacy, the rhythm, the details and all that surrounds us to observe. 

What’s your favourite thing about autumn and the changing of the season ?

And with that the change of season; of nature, of your mind and of your body. Autumn shows us the inevitability of seasonal change. Which faces us with the transience of life and that gives us an opportunity to appreciate the moment. The beauty experienced in it will never be the same. It will pass. It will end. And that is okay because as life changes, new beauty, perhaps of a different kind, will arrive. 


by Martino di Napoli Rampolla & Guglielmo Profeti

Find out more about the full retreat programme here 

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