What actually happens when a stressed-out midlifer visits a hipster’s paradise

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Unlike many other swanky Alpine spas, it is not a white coat, starvation diet and enema kind of place. It offers an altogether kinder approach to wellness, more like a warm hug than a sharp slap. Besides, after the flipping circus we’ve all just lived through, isn’t a bit of earthy sensuality exactly what we need?

Take one of the Natural Wellness excursions you can book, which leads you deep into the forest for a meditation session to “cultivate our energy and our inner fire”. The therapy requires removing your boots and socks and trampling through fallen leaves and mineral ponds, feeling the squelch of nature between your toes. If you’d told me about this therapy pre-pandemic, I’d have dismissed it as hipster nonsense. Like oat milk. Or bamboo toothbrushes. Yet now, as I sip my morning oat milk latte with that gnarly toothbrush sitting by my bathroom sink, I say to all the tree-huggers out there: bring it on. 

Another day we started early for a foraging expedition in the Adamello-Brenta Geopark. We walked along deserted mountain trails lit with explosive autumn colours. Our guide Regina stopped to pluck baby beech leaves, wild berries, purple clover and mint as we talked about this Unesco-protected paradise which is still home to around 100 brown bears.

Hold on a minute – bears?

“It’s OK, they are very small,” Regina reassures me. “They are Italian bears, so they are kind of shy. Not like those angry American brown bears.”

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