By: Leilani Franklin-Apted, Head of Experience, Unsettled
When we first announced that Unsettled would be heading to Tuscany this fall, both trips filled up in record time.
No one was surprised. Even for the most intrepid traveler, Tuscany evokes everything that's amazing, and also some of the strongest clichés about travel.
From Roman Holiday to Eat Pray Love, Italy has been burned into both pop culture and our psyches as the “travel destination of a lifetime”. Come bask in the Tuscan sun, fall in love with the sound of the Italian language (and a beautiful Italian man, or woman), gorge yourself on pizza and gelato while Italy works its secret magic on you… and everything you see on your Instagram feed.
To be honest, when we first chose Italy as a destination, I was skeptical. As someone who spends their working life hunting down ‘unexpected and real’ travel experiences, I had my doubts. It all felt a little too easy to me… like picture-perfect travel served up on a silver platter and “echoes of that well-worn genre".
I’m not alone in this sentiment.
Even Lonely Planet happily points out that Italy “groans under the weight of its cultural cachet” and is “a cultural conundrum as thrilling as it is overwhelming”. Not to mention all the people.
“Top 5 most visited country in the world” Google sang out to me.
So at Unsettled HQ, a question started to arise in our minds: How does one begin to rethink discovery in one of the world’s most explored travel spots?
If there is anything we like more than freshly made pasta at Unsettled, it’s a challenge -- especially when the solution is hiding in plain sight.
And so we set about to look past the obvious and do Italy differently...
...slowly - inspired by the slow-food movement founded in Italy in the 1980s.
...creatively - drawing on the inspired colors of a renaissance painting and centuries of flavor that go into a single spoonful of homemade pasta sauce.
...deeply - rooted in the soil of the olive grove that surrounds our villa and the historical stones that mark the Via Francigena path.
And, most importantly, together - inspired by the Italian concept of La Famiglia, ever expanding and wholeheartedly welcoming.
Peeling back the expectations, like the skin of a freshly picked tomato, we slowly uncover the unavoidable… that the root of Italian psychology and history is a dedication to living life well.
It’s in this that we found what we were looking for... a search that continues to evolve today. It’s not just that this is the fertile place where so much of what we know about culture was born, but that here we are going to get a chance to define our own culture as we spend two weeks exploring both the Tuscan countryside and what it is to live fully.
And so our Italian fever has returned! Not just because we will live well, but because we will question what that even means, in today's world, in a communal experiment set against the backdrop of nature's masterpiece.
Because it is in understanding the creative process behind the things we consume -- food, art, history, wine, and ideas -- that we can start to understand our own creative processes. Because nothing is more transportive than really being present where you are. And because, even to this day, the dinner table is where you go to be nourished with a newfound family close at hand.
Consider this your invitation to come take a seat at the table.
Want to join us in exploring La Dolce Vita? We’re heading to Tuscany, to live past the clichés, for our first Italian retreats this September and October (both sold out) and will be back in May and June 2019.
Sign up to join us before it’s sold out and the table fills up…