If you stay one week in a low-altitude forested area with a suitable micro-climate, the positive impact on your body is immediate. Recent scientific research has proven this. More on that further below. Forest bathing or shinrin-yokyu is the activity aimed at reactivating the 5 senses; hearing, touch, smell, taste and sight, through walking in the woods accompanied by an expert facilitator, demonstrating specific relaxation techniques in a play, individual or group situation.
In addition to the luxury experience of 'taking in the forest', the tour includes culture, sightseeing, history, cooking-class, wine-tasting. Click on the itinerary-tab for description of the day-by-day activities.
In Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the impact on the human body of the inhalation of clean air and forest climate has been studied and documented for people with breathing problems (asthma) and anxiety. But forest therapy has a positive impact on many more health aspects,
The Japanese have known for years that spending mindful time in the woods is beneficial for body and soul. Western doctors agree. Forest bathing can have the power to counter illnesses including cancer, strokes, gastric ulcers, depression, anxiety and stress, boosting the immune system, lower blood pressure and aids sleep, when experienced in forests having the right micro-climate as suggested by more than two hundred studies. It is proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity, lower the
heart rate. It is a preventive medicine, not a treatment, says Dr. Quing Li, a world expert.
A Udine university team has mapped forests in Carnia, Tarvisiano and Natisone Valleys for their composition of tree-types and
vegetation, presence of water and by considering other quality attributes. Those plants and trees produce phytoncides, a chemical released to protect themselves from harmful insects and germs. The trees composing the forests in the region originate from the reunion of the Continental, the Balcan and the Mediterranean climates.
So what will we make you do in the forests? We start with an explanation of the history and science of ‘shinrin-yoku’ (森林浴), as forest bathing is called in Japanese. Then you will have some sensory exercises, to give your body and mind a chance to slow down and to tune in on the present and the nature around you. We will walk slowly in the forest and connect to it through our senses sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. You will hug and kiss the trees: to hug a tree is good for you, it increases levels of the oxytocin hormone which is responsible for feeling calm and emotional bonding. And the hormones serotonin and dopamine can make you feel happier.
What activities are foreseen? Forest walking, aroma (forest aerosol) therapy, yoga, cooking classes, Nordic walking, plant observation and recognition, breathing exercises, biking, wine tasting. Excursions in the area to the Matajur mountain that offers a 360-degree view, the Kot waterfalls, the important Sanctuary of Castelmonte being one of the oldest in Italy, the Mount Kolovrat open-air museum on the First World War, Cividale which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The standard hotel for this tour is a comfortable 3star hotel located on a hill in the forest with a very nice view. For closed groups, we may alternatively use a castle just outside Cividale that has been transformed in a 4-star hotel with all comforts, or a ‘scattered hotel’ (Albergo Diffuso) in Natisone. The scattered hotel was invented in this region some years ago and consists of one central reception serving accommodation in different houses in the village or area. This hospitality model received in 2008 an award by the United Nations
for its social inclusiveness and sustainability. In 2010, it won the WTM Award for the same reasons.
Beyond the good food and wine, why visit the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region? The small healthy region in the north-east of Italy is well-organized and has all that the country has to offer within short distances; sea, mountains, hills, historic villages, rich culture. And, it is free from overcrowded mass-tourism that you will suffer in many other places. A new area to be discovered and enjoyed. Have a look at the
tab about the Region on our website. Nearby Trieste is Italy’s most cosmopolitan, multi-cultural and newest city; it only became part of Italy in 1954. A perfect base to discover also Istria in Croatia, Slovenia and Venice.
There will be one of us, your ‘local friend’, sharing with you what we like to do and let you experience what the ‘do-it-yourself’ traveler most probably will not find on his/her own. Taking due account of each season. We are sure you will want to come back to this area, many times!
The tour exists in two versions, one with defined departure dates were the group is composed of you and other individuals or small groups, and as a closed tour for your group when and in the language you prefer.
TECHNICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF THE RESEARCH AND METHODOLOGY:
The woods in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia have been studied for the effects they produce. Before doing this, the levels of PM 10, 2.5 and 1 particulates in the air were measured, the paths most protected from the prevailing winds were identified,those exposed to the winds coming from the sea, about 40 Km from the Valleys of Natisone, in Friuli Venezia Giulia.
The volatile organic components (VOCs) of the forest (-pinene, d-limonene, camphene, myrcene, etc.) have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and neuroprotective properties. The most recent scientific literature review is contained in: Cho, K. S., Lim, Y. R., Lee, K.,
Lee, J., Lee, J. H., & Lee, I. S. (2017). Terpenes from forests and human health. Toxicological Research, 33 (2), 97.
Starting from 2007, both clinical and academic medical doctors at the University of Udine have quantified pulmonary performances of
asthmatic children both before and after low altitude climatic stays at the Eastern Alps exposed to winds coming from the very close Adriatic Sea basin. Those performances included Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second (FEV1), Forced Expiratory Flow during Middle Expiration (FEF25-75), and the fractional concentration of Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO), the latter representing a pulmonary inflammation marker, have been quantified. They found that almost all of those children showed significant increases of FVC,
FEV1, FEV25-75 while reducing FeNO (Da Ponte et al. 2007). Furthermore, those improvements lasted for one to three months, according to early studies carried out at the University of Udine.
Some studies of the forest bathing impacts:
Asthma symptom reduction and prevention (Seo, 2015, …)
Cardiovascular and metabolic parameter stabilization (Li et al, 2011; …)
Poor human natural killer activity enhancement and low expression of anticancer protein improvement (Li et al, 2006;
2007; 2008(a); 2008(b); ….)
High normal blood pressure normalization (Kawakami et al., 2004; …); ….
Lowering of pulse rate, diastolic blood pressure lowering, components of heart rate variability (HRV) stabilization (Ideno et
al, 2017; Park et al 2009c; …)
Hypertension reduction (Mao et al 2012; …)
Chronic widespread pain reduction (Han et al 2016)
Mood stabilization, mental illness, recovery and relaxation (Barton & Pretty, 2010; Park et al 2011; Shin et al 2010; …)
Hostility, depression, and chronic stress reduction (Morita et al, 2007; …)
Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous activity suppression and enhancement, respectively (Yamaguchi Deguchi & Miyazaki, 2006;
Tsunetsugu et al 2007; …)
Environment-derived chronic stress reduction (Hartig et al, 2003; Morita et al, 2007; …)
Sleep quality improvement (Morita et al. 2011; …)
Relaxation (Tsunetsugu et al, 2011; …)
After arrival to the hotel, and check-in, you will meet your ‘local friend’ from Be As A Local
A short introduction to Forest Bathing, the Natisone Valley and this 'luxury experience' program.
After breakfast, the natural guide will help you to experience the forest and learn to recognize the various plants and trees. Including the herbs that can be used for your recipes. You will feel comfortable and start with some early exercises to awaken your five senses.
Trekking along the historic and naturalistic path Biacis-Antro and the Kot waterfalls, visit to the Castel of Ahrensperg and to the Cave of San Giovanni d'Antro. Lunch during the tour.
After breakfast, an introduction to Forest Yoga, You will open your senses to the forest aerosol, sounds, and colors, that the season offer.
Anti-stress gymnastic exercises, psycho-physic regeneration, recovery of the natural rythm.
In the afternoon a guided tour in Cividale. Cividale was the first Capital in Italy of the Longobards. It has preserved a strong medieval character, is known for the Devil’s Bridge above the Isonzo River, and the Longobard Temple which is in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Dinner in Cividale
After breakfast, we will have a slow walk in the valley, taking in the forest. And collecting spontaneous herbs and saffron. Visit to a company producing saffron. Cooking class teaching you local and Mediterranean healthy dishes, using also the herbs you picked.
Trained green-nosed clowns will help us lowering the shoulders, open up for impressions in the nature and between ourselves and have fun. We are collaborating with Mr. Italo Bertolasi on this: he is a worldwide renown person that spent 20 years in Asia exploring japanese, chinese, himalayan and shamanic cultures. He is considered among the inventors of Forest Therapy and experimental ecology and is today the President of Clown One Italy association, which is sponsored by the American doctor Patch Adams.
After breakfast, we will make a tour on mountain e-bike in the area depending on local weather forecasts and adapted to the physical conditions of participants.
The CastelMonte Sanctuary is rooted in very early Christianity. Some documents from 1244 talks about the Sanctuary as the most important place of worship in the Aquileia patriarchy.
The Passo Solarie - Zanuso Refuge forest bathing path and the Kolovrat open-air museum are a must to visit. It is a cross-border museum, being on both the Slovenian and Italian side of the Kolovrat respectively Colovrat mountain. In this area went the 3rd defense line of Italy and was fought some of the fiercest and deadliest battles of the First World War.
Trekking on the hills and forest of Cividale.
Visit to one of the many excellent wine-yards in the area, of course with a tasting.
Visit to the Museum of Natural Health of Biacis, the Casa Raccaro - the Forest Therapy Station-centre. Summing up the Forest Bathing Level 1 Experience and to give you some good advice.
Time to say “Ciao! A la prossima!” to Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Transfer to the airport.
Hotel with breakfast.
Lunch and dinner including drinks (1 small bottle of water, 1 large beer or 2 glasses of wine), coffee, tastings, where indicated in the program
Transfers during the program
Guides and your local friend (tour leader)
Entrance to attractions mentioned in the program
Rental of bikes or other equipment where indicated in the program
Courses and course material
FVG Card, providing free or discounted access to many attractions and more.
Transportation from the airport of arrival to the hotel, and for the return from the hotel to the airport. Be As A Local will book the transfer service, that should be paid onboard the minivan with a credit card.
Medical treatment if needed
Telephone and minibar in the hotel
Tourist tax, to be paid directly to the law as per law
Items not mentioned above as included, are excluded
A valid passport. A valid health insurance coverage. Comfortable clothes and walking shoes. A good appetite.
Suitable clothing for biking, a small back-pack, helmet, gloves etc.
Participants should be of normal good physical health.
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