The silence has left me speechless. For days, I did not know how to describe the tranquility and harmony that I experienced in this magic place immersed in 3000 hectares of forest.
The idea of a digital detox break at the Eremito Hotelito del Alma in Umbria, a place with no TV, WiFi, or phone signal made it clear how much I had become to depend on all those things, especially on my phone. I realised how these objects have become a wall between reality and me, behind which I could hide and avoid spending time with myself. The idea of going to a place where I will surely have to meet my real self both fascinated and frightened me.I have an immense love for outdoors, can never stay away from the countryside for more than two days and, above all, cannot live without walks in nature with my dogs. However, I am never completely switched off from my commitments, from my watch that calls me to check it all the time and my head is always a busy road filled with thoughts. Eremito Hotelito del Alma changed it all. The hotel is an ideal place to heal your soul and rediscover your inner peace. Eremito’s owner, Marcello Murzilli, established the clothes brand “El CHarro” in the 80s, then sailed around the world in a re-conditioned 1937 Scottish cutter. Later he settled in an isolated part of the Pacific coast in Mexico, where he built and ran Hotelito Desconocido, one of the best eco-resorts in the world. If you ask him whether he misses the sea, he says “Why, no. Life is beautiful because you can always change it and try new emotions”. After travelling around Italy for a while in search of a special place, Marcello found this quiet place, an abandoned 13th century monastery. It took him four years to build Eremito and it was open in 2013 as one of the first digital detox hotels in Italy. Here respect for the environment, modern technology and spirituality come together. “I discovered the luxury that I want to offer to my guests in the past, when there was only moon and candles to illuminate late nights”.
Guests are asked to park under a huge oak tree and from there we were transported to the hotel’s entrance in Marcello’s jeep, which is more adapted for the remaining bumpy three kilometres dirt track. There are no other houses or roads, only nature around me. I felt a pleasant sensation: my body, a little uneasy at first, started relaxing. The guests here do not remain strangers, they know each other by name, shake each other’s hands and share meals at one table.
Inside Eremito anxiety of daily life vanishes. You can read a book stretching beside a fireplace, float in the indoor swimming pool, enjoy a hydro massage, walk in the forest or stay in your room and admire the view from the window. All rooms (celluzze) are single and designed to resemble ancient monks’ cells, where they found space for praying and reflection. Shortly after our arrival, the bell called guests to the dining hall where vegetarian and vegan meals are shared. During lunch we chatted with the owner and other guests but dinner was eaten in silence in the refectory lit by candles and a fireplace. At the start the idea of eating in silence worried me, however the silence around me made the experience and taste of food more intense. I managed to distinguish and taste every single ingredient, understand the care and attention with which the dinner was prepared.
At night, when I was alone in my room surrounded by silence of stars and the moon, I finished the inner journey that had started on when I entered Eremito. The journey that is inevitable, which I didn’t resist and which made me accept the words of Marcello: “Solitude is not something bad, it is a joy, an experience to share”.
By Lucia Paciaroni. This article was originally published in Italian on Con in faccia un po’di sole blog.