About us - Ali MacArthur and Mike McLellan
We purchased the house and land in January 2007, following a holiday in June 2006 during which we found ourselves driving through the
Appennine mountains. We loved the area so much that we returned a few weeks later to look for a house with some land that we could buy. Casa Taddeo was the last place we looked at on
that trip, and we instantly knew it was the right place for us. Three months later it was ours, and we commenced restoration and refurbishment whilst still living in London. In August 2008 we
moved out here permanently.
Our vision was to create a beautiful place, not just for ourselves, but for anyone who needs a place of peace, a place of beauty and tranquillity, a place to rest or to heal spiritually, emotionally or physically; to be alone or in community with like-minded others.
I have practised yoga since I was a teenager, and in 2004 discovered Kundalini yoga, which I fell in love with. I now practise regularly, and also teach
it to others twice a week. I am a keen amateur musician, and particularly enjoy devotional chanting and singing. I also love sacred movement and dance (particularly
Gurdjieff's movements). I read poetry, and often Mike will improvise music on the violin while I read poetry aloud. I meditate regularly.
For 15 years I lived in spiritual communities, in the UK and America. During those years I helped to organise retreats for up to 300 people, in UK, Europe and Asia. Before coming to live in Italy I worked for 7 years as admin manager of a London primary school. My responsibilities included finance, personnel, residential school journeys in UK and Europe, first aid, and most importantly, listener and friend to both staff and children.
In 2005 my mother died. Her death was a profound experience for me, and led me to work as a ward volunteer in a London hospice. This work taught me much about the human spirit; it was a great privilege to be there, and I have continued to be interested in this area of life.
Now I am fulfilling my dream of providing a beautiful place in the mountains where others can come and experience respite from the hurly-burly of everyday life.
I am a keen practicing artist and musician, currently working on several creative projects including an exhibition of my pastel drawings and playing violin and keyboard with local bands, including having taken part in three local concerts of Pink Floyd's ‘The Wall'.
Throughout most of my life I have been interested in investigating the true meaning of spiritual life, after an awakening experience as a teenager. I have done spiritual practice in the Sufi, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist traditions, including a 3 month Buddhist retreat in a Thai forest monastery. In 2007 I completed an MA in Mysticism and Religious Experience at Kent University, Canterbury.
I have also worked as a carer for people with special needs, and studied and practiced music therapy.
For many years I had a vision of creating a place in the mountains for the purpose of community, creativity and spiritual practice. Here at Apennine Retreat I offer an energetic healing technique that balances the body's natural chi energy, plus music improvisation sessions and chanting. As an enthusiastic cyclist I also offer guided cycling trips in the beautiful Apennine mountains.