the Experience

Join us where exclusive villa and vineyard luxury meets wellness, adventure, and the ultimate Italian vacation. Sicily is known to many as an enchanted island somewhere off the coast of Italy. Its legacy is defined by its amazing food, stunning blue waters, and the classic Sicilian hospitality. Many only dream of visiting this magical and elegant place, let alone on a private vineyard!  

Days will be filled with yoga and meditation, delicious home cooked Italian meals and wines, eco-adventure, and cultural delights.   


When: September 13-19, 2016

Destination: Sicily, Italy 

Included: 6 nights/ 7 days shared accommodation Barone de Villagrande
3 spectacular locally inspired Italian meals (some paired with wine)
Daily yoga practice
Day of stand up paddle board on the Ionian Sea  
Hike to Mt. Etna volcano national park
Day trip to famous village of Taormina

Cost: airfare not included

$1980 Shared Room
$2750 Private Room

Required Deposit: $1000



Co-founder of Hanuman Festival, Life Coach and Yoga teacher, Valerie D’Ambrosio’s passion lies in guiding individuals to connect with the emotional, physical, and spiritual body. By blending movement, breath, and meditation, along with self-inquiry, she believes the practitioner creates a doorway to deepen their intuition and profound self-love.

It is her honor to guide others on their journey, help them find their inner truth and light, and then step into the world shining brightly. Valerie holds retreats throughout the year locally and globally. For more information go to her website:


Life is full and fast, which can cause us to make it about the to do list, rather than creating conscious connection.  Immerse yourself and exhale, fully present with yourself, your partner and nature, as you drop into the romantic essence of Italy.  

This retreat marks a pivot point.   A moment to stop, feel, integrate, and consciously propel in a new direction.  We will use the physical practice of hatha yoga as a catalyst to crack open the rough exterior of mind.  Our goal is to temporarily arrest the flux of emotion and feeling that keep us convinced of personality and habits, so that we may have a new experience!

This is available to all skill levels.  Whether you are new to yoga, or a seasoned practitioner, there will be an opportunity to grow.  To truly receive there is only one open mind and heart.

THE Accommodations: Villagrande Wine Resort 

At Villagrande Wine Resort, we are delighted to offer hospitality to visitors in the context of our renowned Wine Estate.

For those who appreciate good wine, Villagrande Wine Resort provides an unforgettable opportunity to enjoy the flavours and culture of the famous Etna region, combined with a generous portion of our proverbial Sicilian hospitality.Situated on the east slope of the volcano within the Etna National Park, the Wine Resort is surrounded by woods and vineyards and overlooks the wonderful coastline of Taormina.

It is the perfect place for a relaxing holiday far from the usual tourist destinations.

The Resort stands at 700 metres above sea level, giving visitors the chance to enjoy an incredible view over the countryside and out to the blue Ionian Sea.

Our polite and professional staff will help ensure that you have an unforgettable stay. 

The Resort can organize various tourist services for its guests, such as excursions on mountain-bikes or by jeep, boat trips, fishing expeditions, and cookery courses.


The history of the Barone di Villagrande Estate is indissolubly tied to the Nicolosi family who can be traced back to the 18th century.

Arriving from Aci at the end of the 1600s, after the concessions of the Church, together with other families with the mandate to systematically organise the transformation of the territory from a “horrid and uncultivated place to a delicious garden” (Domenico Sestini), and to facilitate the stable settling of the people, the Nicolosi family forever tied their existence to the new land, blending the Etna’s sciara (lava flow) and smoke*.

It was June 29, 1726 when Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (King of Naples from 1714-1740) with a decree considered inspired, according to the ancient scholars, from that eternal and inescapable law which regulated and dominated without contrast the life of the universe gave Don Carmelo Nicolosi, the oldest son of Don Pietro, who carefully - with love and dedication - restored the vineyards and production of a prestigious wine, the title Barone di Villagrande and a series of related privileges. Called a royal decree, as read in historic manuscripts, it was registered and executed by the Royal Secretary on July 22 of that same year.

Paolo Nicolosi, in 1869 completed the new winemaking and maturation cellar. This new structure was realised with cutting-edge materials and techniques.

But the real news was the double wine-making line, which allowed the separation of white grapes from the red grapes. Before that time, on Etna, and in the major part of Italy, white and red grapes were together made into one wine. We can irrefutably prove that Etna Bianco Superiore was born here.

In 1948 Carmelo Nicolosi Asmundo, certainly among the first in Sicily and in Italy, bottled the first reserves of Etna Rosso into 0.75 litre wine bottles to be placed on the market.

From the notes of Alfredo Maria Mazzei (Avellino 1895, Catania 1970), Director of the Italian Academy of Vine and Wine, written during a visit to Villagrande, we read:

“There is no doubt that this delicious wine belongs to the Italy’s most refined wine-making aristocracy, rather that of the world. It posses a high-grade of particular dynamogenic and tonic properties, inasmuch as the Volcano’s fire and the strength of the Cyclops is magically concealed in its molecules…” Catania, August 10, 1950.

In 1968 it was recognised as D.O.C. Etna - by D.P.R. 11/08/1968 G.U. 25/09/1968 - Sicily’s first “Controlled Origin Denomination”. Realisation volition and drafting were the work of Carlo Nicolosi Asmundo.

In all these years, and with more than 10 generations, the Nicolosi Asmundo family continues working yet today with passion and enthusiasm in loved Villagrande.


Four volumes, published by Veronelli Editore between 1986 and 1989, which relate (in Italian and English), through the words of Nichi Stefi and the images of important photographers, the story of the families who have made Italian wine great. We believe that the environment that surrounds us is the most precious heritage that we possess, and working with full respect towards its delicate balances has always been our aim. Our intervention is limited to assisting the plants, first, and then the grapes, in an emotional journey. The wines that come to life in our wine cellars are expressions of the territory, the vines and the vintage. We are likewise aware that mankind, with his work and his choices and by his skillful leading, is capable, with nature as his accomplice, of unique and delicious creations. In the elegance and fragrance of our wines, is concealed our experience, our land and our pride.

Discover Sicily

Sicily is the largest of the Italian islands, separated from the Continent by the Strait of Messina and surrounded by the Ionian, the Tyrrhenian and the Mediterranean Seas. It is one of the pearls of Southern Italy and can be discovered, understood and experienced through a series of itineraries dedicated to areas of interest ranging from nature to history and traditions.

Nature seems to have endowed all its wonders to this land: mountains, hills and above all the sea, with its incredible colors, its crystal-clear water and the beauty of its seabeds, in no way inferior to those of other seas. Here, the Mediterranean Sea, with its many little islands scattered around the coasts of Sicily - The Aeolians, Egadi and Pelagie Islands, Pantelleria and Ustica - offers unique and the intense sceneries, scents and flavors of uncontaminated nature. Last but not least, its great volcanoes are symbols of the irresistible beauty and vitality of this incredibly charming region. 

Fascination for this region grows with treasured archaeological sites that tell the story of the ancient origins of Trinacria (ancient name for Sicily).


Etna dominates the landscape and is ever-present in the inhabitants' lives here, even so far as to shape the tastes of the land. This active volcano and Catania itself - a bustling marvel of a city on Sicily's eastern coast - are closely linked. The coastal strip that is the Province of Catania looks out over the Ionian Sea, a natural boundary for the Province. 

Catania lies cradled amidst the splendid greenery of its surroundings, yet at the same time opens out to the sea, welcoming us with its grand piazzas, wide roads, and architecture in lavic rock. The city is full of attractions, offering historic and artistic wonders for everyone. Remnants of history prove that the various cultures that have left their mark; the people have absorbed the influences of their many rulers, as seen in the architectonic lines of the buildings, churches and monuments. 

Nature is by turns generous and benevolent, by turns biting and harsh. Etna is its icon.  High, impressive and silent, a self-made mount with its peak forming a great crater of fire, it looms and waits over the scene. Gardens and the bright colors of orange and lemon groves and vineyards interrupt (and benefit from) the lavic grey of the dark, fertile soil. Chestnut trees, nuts and oaks, pine trees and beeches make up the thick woods covering the mountain mid-way to its peak, like a curtain opening out to the oasis of colors that lies beyond. 

Once at the top, what awaits is an extraordinary view that extends to the horizon as far as the eye can see. Cobalt and crystalline blues, and other indescribable hues are the tones of the sea of Catania's coast. Pebbly but pleasant beaches, small bays alternating with dark tracts of black tuff, high cliffs a sheer drop to the sea, and endless golden coastlines seem to conspire to offer an array of sensations. 

But wherever one chooses to go, the sensation evoked by the gorgeous limpid sea is one not easy to forget. 


Catania Province's parks and natural reserves offer an infinite number of ways to enjoy your time and learn about this area's uncommon characteristics.

Etna, the greatest active volcano in Europe, is on Sicily's eastern coast and is one of the fundamental stops for those wanting to discover this region. Its spectacular eruptions have created unique landscapes over the centuries.

Trekking and horseback riding itineraries are ideal for discovering the trails that spread out over the slopes of Etna, through the thick vegetation where many species of animals live. 
It is also the perfect place to engage in birdwatching. 
Sparrows, buzzards, pilgrim peregrines and golden eagles fly high in the sky above the volcano, while ducks and other aquatic birds live on the waters of Lake Gurrida, the park’s only water basin. 
The Simeto Delta is another excellent birdwatching spot. Here coots, storks, sea crows, falcons and herons build their nests to pass the winter. 

A very attractive sightseeing excursion awaits in the 200 grottoes of Etna Park, once built by man as a refuge and burial place. The most renowned are the Lamponi, Tre Livelli, Gelo and Palombe Grottoes.
The ravines of the Gole dell’Alcantara seep through the cracks of the lavic mass. 
Narrow trails run along high rock walls with the most incredible shapes, along which the clearest rivers run to form one of the most exciting and enjoyable sights nature can offer.
A land kissed by sunlight and lapped by crystal-clear waters is a dream-come-true for those who prefer seaside holidays. The innumerable localities of the Province are all well-equipped to offer a comfortable and relaxing stay. To crown it all, nightlife abounds! 

Activities range from scuba-diving in the areas between the land and the faraglioni (or sea stacks). 

Seawatching and snorkeling are better for those who would rather bypass the oxygen bottles and wetsuits. All the wind sports are possible, from surfing and windsurfing to sailing. 

This land’s mild climate guarantees a pleasant vacation all year-round. If you wish to put on your skis, come in the winter when Etna is covered with snow. You will not believe what you see. The skiing facilities ensure a sportive, enjoyable “white” holiday. Skiing with your gaze on the blueness of the sea below is an experience that only the Province of Catania can offer!

Our Included and Optional Activities

The strategic position of Villagrande Wine Resort allows guests to enjoy a whole variety of different locations and activities: by the sea, or in the mountains, sport or relaxation.  

  • Trekking & Excursions- INCLUDED
    The beautiful countryside of the sheltered Etna National Park, combining woodlands and lava flow, offers many opportunities for spectacular walks. On our guided excursions, you can explore in complete safety and serenity the beauty and magnificence of our great volcano. The trip up to the craters on the summit is one of the most popular destinations for trekking enthusiasts in the Etna region.    
  • Mountain Biking- OPTIONAL ADD-ON
    Starting from Milo, there are many well-signposted routes suitable for either beginners or experts.   There are a number of other routes you can cycle along, with or without a guide.  
  • Adventure Trails-OPTIONAL ADD-ON
    Just 2km away is the “Parco dello Scarbaglio” adventure park, with lots of thrilling adventure trails certain to please both adults and children. 
  • Food and Wine Tours- INCLUDED
    Wine cellars, olive mills, the production of honey, pistachios, and citrus fruit jams; visits to the Palmento (Millstone) Museum and the fish and fruit markets, not to mention the wonderful pastry-shops and the very best restaurants along the coast and in the mountains: we can help arrange your very own personalized wine and food tour! 
  • Boat Trips and SUP- INCLUDED
    To explore the beautiful coast, you have a choice between luxury vessels, sailing boats, comfortable motor-boats, rubber dinghies to rent with or without a skipper, and even little fishing boats.
  • Cooking Lessons- OPTIONAL ADD-ON
    Here on the estate, guided by our expert staff, you can learn some of the secrets of the famous Sicilian cuisine.
  • Fishing Trips- OPTIONAL ADD-ON
    Going out to sea with the local fishermen and taking part in their work, then cooking and sharing the fish you have caught is certainly a unique and memorable experience. This exciting adventure in a natural environment provides a good example of careful, sustainable tourism.  
  • Snorkelling and Diving- OPTIONAL ADD-ON
    Just a short distance from the Wine Resort you can enjoy some wonderful dives into the depths of the Ionian Sea, to explore the underwater nature reserves and abandoned wrecks.

Booking Your Flight 

Life Force Project can help you with booking information for the best travel and flight itineraries, hotels, restaurants, and activities during your stay.  Our pick up will be at the Catania International Airport in Sicily (CTA). Direct flights to CTA  on a handful of larger carriers such as United, Luftansa, Air Berlin, Air Italia and British Airways.

Life Force Project can help you with planning and details. For all the details and individual questions please email us at We will be sure to respond within 48 hours and supply all the information and guidance you need to make your journey exactly what you’re dreaming up.  

In preparation for your trip, please read our Travel Planning Guide for important tips and information.