Riomaggiore’s castle is a pretty special place. Not only does it offer commanding views over the village but it is also rich in history. In fact, the castle was already considered a relic in documents dating to the 1500s; historians believe the castle was constructed in the mid-1200s by the Della Turca family and that it’s primary function was to protect villagers from raids by sea. Now the castle serves a different purpose as a venue for special events (did I mention this is where I got married?) and the village’s ProLoco Association has a permanent exhibit on display detailing the agricultural history of the Cinque Terre.
As pirates are a non-issue these days, Riomaggiore’s castle now offers a different kind of refuge for both villagers and visitors alike: a wellness hub with holistic massages, Reiki sessions, yoga classes and wine tastings. Sound divine? It is.
I’m a big fan of local, grassroots initiatives and when I caught word of this relaunch I knew I wanted to write about it on Cinque Terre Insider. I messaged Paola Andreoli (a local who also happens to be an acclaimed Jikiden Reiki practitioner) for more details. She insisted that I try a massage and Reiki session so as to accurately portray the experiences offered. Let’s just say she didn’t have to twist my arm to accept!
I started my morning with a holistic, anti-stress massage by Chiara Pusceddu, a certified massage therapist. FYI: Both the massage and Reiki sessions take place in the privacy of one of the castle’s turrets.
If you’re the modest type, have no fear: Chiara is very professional and strategically uses a towel to only uncover the zone she is actively working on (I thought I’d mention this because we’ve all had one of those massages where all modesty is thrown to the wind!). Everything about the experience was calming, from the flickering candles and essential oils to the choice of background music. Chiara’s touch was gentle yet effective and I felt like butter afterwards!
After my massage was complete, Paola Andreoli entered for my Jikiden Reiki session. I had only experienced Reiki once before (many, many moons ago) and I had forgotten how tranquil and soothing the sessions are! If you are unfamiliar with this Japanese hands-on healing, read up on it here. One of my favorite parts was sharing a cup of tea and a little chat with Paola after my session. It was then that she revealed what she had sensed about my personality and my current state of being. It was all very calming and zen-like (with a good dose of self-reflection).
For all the yogis out there, Ashtanga yoga classes led by Gabriele Musetti are offered on Wednesdays on the castle’s upper terrace (weather permitting). If you’ve never taken an Ashtanga class before you might want to read up on it beforehand (word to the wise, you will break a sweat!). The cost is €20 per person and Gabriele holds the classes in both English and Italian.
Riomaggiore’s ProLoco has also introduced wine tastings on the castle’s upper terrace (with gorgeous views!) on Friday evenings at 6:30pm. For €35 per person you can learn about (and obviously taste!) three local wines and if you’re lucky you might receive a surprise visit from one of the winemakers!
If you’re interested in booking any of the above, here are the contact details (all numbers have WhatsApp so that’s a great way to text if you are outside of Italy):
+39 349 891 2457
Cost: €80 for a one-hour session
+39 375 526 7323
Cost: €45 for a one-hour session
+39 349 323 6896 or email@example.com
Cost: €20 per person for a one-hour class
+39 375 526 7323
Cost: €35 per person, lasts circa 1 1/2 hours