Sunday, April 11, 2010

GeneGirl on Reading Retreats in Rural Italy

You've probably heard of writing retreats, but what about a reading retreat?

When my good friend GeneGirl told me that she was going off on one in Italy and offered to blog it the chance was too good to pass up, so here 'tis :
A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul, said Franz Kafka.

Break away from it all in rural Italy. At least that is what I did when I headed off to Castello di Galeazza to spend eight days at a reading retreat. The castle boasts over 3000 books, arranged alphabetically and in a library that begs you never to leave.
The castle itself is adorned with frescoes, gardens, goats, chickens and woods behind with an ancient ice house. You could laze about in the library reading; grab a book of the stairs in the kitchen (strategically placed beside loads of alcohol) or swing about on the hammocks outside.

I arrived with expectation of reading away after having checked out the reading list on but instead spent my time gardening, buying a goat, wining and dining and making new friends.

Clark Lawrence who started the idea of a reading retreat runs the castle and the retreat. He feeds, cleans, houses, entertains and will teach you how to garden, rear goats; speak Italian perhaps or anything else that may catch your fancy.
Besides, you may just be lucky and end up catching one of the musical concerts that Clark arranges in the castle regularly. I was bag piped away by the genius of a Gregorio Bellodi with his Irish pipes. He had decided that it was an instrument that sounded nice and went ahead and learnt it.
If music and books and the fantabulous amount of food and wine does not do it for you, saunter around the castle appreciating the art. Artists come over to the castle to paint and if you are lucky enough you may be able to purchase their work. A piece I wanted badly had already been purchased. Each bedroom carries the work of an artist which you would appreciate if not caught up with the stacks of books laying about.
There is an inscription over the door at the library at Thebes: Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul.

That is what Castello di Galezza did for me, salve with its medicine chest.

(Got a story about books or reading to share? Why not guestblog a post? Email me at


Unknown said...

Oooo I want....

Unknown said...

I would highly recommend it...really an experience and well, the reading is great too :) There are internships available and I would strongly encourage fellow young Malaysians to check it out!

bibliobibuli said...

thanks so much for this GeneGirl- the photos are lovely. am of course as jealous as Marisa.

Unknown said...

Sounds like Paradise!

Where do I find details about this retreat?

bibliobibuli said...

yes it would be perfect for you. here's the link