Just 60 km north east of Rome Casperia is a world away from the frenetic streets of the Vatican city. Nestled high in the Sabine hills this walled village is a medieval relic born out of necessity for the agricultural community’s need to defend itself from the Saracen raids in the 9th cenury.
The reason for my incursion was a four day Pilates retreat led by my wonderful London based teacher Suzy Mitchell. My temporary home was a renovated part of the 15th Century Forani Palace the former residence of the Count and Countess of Casperia.
Every morning began with a 90 minute pilates class with the car-free labyrinth of cobbled paths and stairways as an added work out.
I’m told that fewer than 350 live in Casperia but during my stay I only saw maybe a dozen locals. However, laundry left billowing from bedroom windows, strains of overheard effusive Italian banter, the chink of crockery and delectable smell of cooking drifting through the air hints at life behind closed doors.
The village was the perfect setting to try and get to grips with the manual settings of my DSLR camera and armed with an “idiot’s guide” with assignments at the end of each chapter my camera excursions enabled me to see my surroundings through very beady eyes!
The most surreal moment of the trip was during a hack organised by Sunflower Retreats in the local countryside, when we tethered the stallions to some railings in a supermarket car park in order to buy water. I have to say this didn’t sit with my London sensibilities and can’t imagine our four legged friends would still have been there if we’d done the same at Tesco Brent Park!
What an exhilirating ride we had and there’s no greater incentive to grip with your inner thighs than the vision of spending the rest of my time in Italy in A & E.
And what better to soothe the saddle soreness and aching limbs but with a few glasses of Prosecco at the Friends Cafe on piazza Umberto I or UK ex-pat Johnny Madge’s bar on Via Garibaldi.