1711 Ti Sana Detox Retreat & Spa: The Art of Starting Over


1711 Ti Sana Detox Retreat & Spa: The Art of Starting Over

Embracing the ‘health-eatarian’ philosophy for active living

by Jessica Benavides Canepa

Global Living – Issue 9 | Novovember/December 2013

Approaching the tiny, 11th-century hamlet of Arlate, a short driving distance from Milan, I was really looking forward to a little relaxation – a brief weekend respite from my hectic work schedule. Having previously visited several so-called ‘detox retreats’, my expectations were modest: peaceful surroundings, spa treatments, vegetarian meals and a few yoga classes. At worst, I would have to endure a couple bland-tasting juices. But as soon as I checked into the Ti Sana Spa and received the itinerary for my 4-day program, I knew things would be a bit different this time.

The 1711 Ti Sana Detox Retreat & Spa (www.1711.it/en) opened its doors in 2011, following incarnations as a hotel with a gourmet restaurant and a nobleman’s residence. The grounds have been lovingly restored to their original splendor; exposed beams, stone walls and cobbled walkways all add to its provincial charm. It features 22 elegant but minimalistic suites of varying sizes and amenities, some with balconies, and others with garden views or breakfast patio set. Each guest is given a welcome kit consisting of a robe, slippers, toiletries and a tongue scraper – my second clue that I was entering a whole new world.

I had arrived late in the day via the spa’s comfortable minivan, available to all guests as an extra service, and had missed the morning walk led daily by the resident physical trainer, Mario. I was just in time for the evening lecture, however, and made my way to the assigned meeting room, following a brief tour of the premises. The speaker this evening was Amedeo D’Angelo – successful businessman, father of the spa’s director, Erica, and active ‘health-eatarian’. At first it seemed it would be the typical speech on the merits of good eating habits; instead, I found D’Angelo’s lecture quite impressive.

He was so passionate about his healthy lifestyle (he had lost over 66 pounds), and inspired by his daughter’s own diet, that he closed his hotel and restaurant and let her take full reins of the property as the owner of the detox retreat center. Intrigued, I turned in early to conserve my energy for the next day’s events – a full schedule of gym exercises, a long walk, fitness tests and relaxation techniques.

Photo by Daniele RIva

Photo by Daniele RIva

A Way of Life

The morning began with stretches and hypertrophic exercises designed to help with muscle growth. On the ensuing days, we tried rebounding (working out with a mini trampoline) – a surprisingly effective way to break a sweat. Afterwards, at breakfast, I noticed that we were mostly single ladies and a few couples taking advantage of the cozy suites and spa therapies. The couples enjoyed local fare while those of us on the detox program alternated between vegetarian recipes and juicing. The chef, I quickly learned, had worked a busy corporate life before leaving it all behind to follow her passion for organic cuisine.

What surprised me most during my first meal and throughout my stay was how tasty and filling the cuisine was. They offered no menus; instead, the server would explain the ingredients of every dish. It was not only a matter of what you ate; the time of day specific foods were eaten also played a part. The basic understanding was: fruit in the morning for energy, carbs in the afternoon for fuel and protein in the evenings for nutrients.

Soon after breakfast, we started on our walk along the banks of the picturesque Adda River. These invigorating promenades, which changed locations daily, became a highlight of the program. Miraculously, I found myself unconcerned about schedules or stresses. I completely adapted to the peaceful pace, coming to realize that this was not a set of mini-cures or temporary breaks. Instead, I was getting a glimpse at a whole new lifestyle. With a few changes, I could actually feel this good all the time.

Photo by  Silvia Chiodaroli

Photo by Silvia Chiodaroli

Spa Sensations

We were invited to walk freely around the gated grounds in our robes and slippers. Somehow this privilege added to the intimacy of the experience. Conversations effortlessly erupted over the kinds of treatments chosen or why we were there. Despite our vastly different backgrounds and ages – a young Canadian United Nations worker just returning from Afghanistan, a famous Italian actress, a retired Ukrainian business owner and an Irish retail assistant – we all bonded over our mutual goal to better ourselves.

I took advantage of this newly forming serenity to spend some time at the spa. Open daily to all guests regardless of program selection, the elegant earth-toned spa consisted of an infra-red sauna room, a Turkish bath, a steam room, a selection of shower options and a whirlpool featuring an assortment of jet streams. An adjoining room, complete with snacks, tea and alkaline water, was additionally available for quiet relaxation.

This area also provided guests with luxurious spa treatments. In keeping with their eco-conscious approach, only high-end natural products were available. From an extensive menu that included such diverse options as teeth whitening, stress tests and cooking classes, I selected two classic but effective treatments: a facial by French bio brand PHYT’S, and a body wrap plus massage treatment using products from the luxury organic company, Anika.

As with all services, the esthetician explained the ingredients of each part of the treatment before engaging me in two hours of gentle bliss. I left the spa area determined never to mistreat my body again.

Date with an Angel

The one thing I really wasn’t looking forward to during this adventure was the dreaded colonic. But Ti Sana proudly endorsed their system, a comfortable, hygienic apparatus aptly named, ‘Angel of Water’. Some of my fellow detox participants had already tried it and were enthusiastically singing its praises. So I took the plunge – and was more than a little glad I did. Upon entering the treatment room, the helpful staff took the time to meticulously explain the process before leaving me to my own devices. The whole experience was handled with grace and professionalism. Afterwards, I felt lighter and more energized that I had in years.

Photo by  Silvia Chiodaroli

Photo by Silvia Chiodaroli

All That Came Before

Before coming to Ti Sana, I was sent a medical history questionnaire to help them devise a personalized itinerary for me. On the second day of my stay, I was asked to present this form during my series of health tests. What struck me as most curious were questions related to my state of mind, now and in the past. Once again, I was being reminded that their approach was holistic in nature; your past is directly linked to all your present habits.

To keep us motivated and on track, the facilities provided a small library filled with books, magazines and pamphlets full of information on how to lead a healthier life. All guests were permitted to take any of the items to read in the privacy of their own rooms. At checkout, we were handed summaries of all the lectures, a light training schedule, a certificate of merit and a few healthy treats for the road.

I had come to Ti Sana seeking a little rejuvenation but would leave with something much more valuable: a renewed sense of the power within to become the best possible version of myself.

Comments (0)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Comments are closed.