The Hidden Treasures Interview

"Yoga always felt like home to me"


A yoga teacher since 2012, in an interview with The Hidden Treasures Stefanie Mandl reveals her personal path to yoga as well as the unique nature of The Hidden Treasures Yoga Retreats, which she co-organizes.

What does yoga mean to you?

Yoga has always felt like coming home to me – the mat as a place where I am completely welcome as I am. Yoga is an important companion in my personal development: it encourages me to look within, to be present and to recognize what is essential behind experiences and patterns. And of course, yoga is a tool for well-being and balance.

How did you discover yoga?

I started trying different styles of yoga out of curiosity in my 20s. From the beginning I felt that it was totally good for my mind and calmed me down. But it took me a while to find a practice that was also good for my body. Over time I came to Svastha Yoga, which is now my priority.

What is your main focus?

I have specialized in therapeutic yoga and basics for a sustainable yoga and meditation practice. For me, yoga is not only body work, but also consciousness and energy work, and I want to teach simple tools in this area as well. This is also how the combination with sound came about, which I find to be a wonderful enrichment. The most important things I would like people to take away from my classes are grounding and self-love.

What are the yoga retreats that you offer in cooperation with The Hidden Treasures about?

The idea is to combine a vacation with a yoga retreat and to offer the best of both: letting go, relaxation, reflection, learning, good conversations, inspiration, activities and new impressions – all this accompanied by people who are wholeheartedly committed to your well-being. All levels are welcome – no previous experience is necessary. The classes focus on basics and are therefore well suited for beginners. Plus: A vacation in Italy is always a good idea!


  • A new day begins for me… mostly with meditation and movement.
  • I became a yoga teacher because… I love to accompany people on the path to themselves.
  • To a yoga retreat I take with me… a journal.
  • Traveling means to me… inspiration.
  • This is what I associate with Italy… enjoyment and ease.
  • My motto in life is… Om Namah Shivaya.

Find out more about our Yoga Retreats with Stefanie Mandl:
  • Yoga, sound and a hundred horizons in Veneto
  • Yoga and il dolce far niente in Puglia

Italy in your kitchen: risotto agli asparagi

Italy in your kitchen: risotto agli asparagi


Spring is here and the asparagus season is just around the corner! In Italian cuisine, asparagus comes in many different forms, often with fresh pasta or as risotto. Therefore, we share with you our favourite recipe for a typical asparagus risotto. It is particularly important to pay attention to the quality of the basic ingredients – asparagus, risotto rice (e.g. Carnaroli or Arborio) and wine.


  • 500 g asparagus
  • 300 g rice (e.g. Carnaroli, Arborio)
  • 125 ml white wine
  • 1 l vegetable broth
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • parmesan
  • fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper


  1. Wash the asparagus and cut its woody ends.
  2. Cut the asparagus into pieces of ca. 2 cm and steam half of the asparagus for 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Melt the butter and add the minced onion.
  4. Saute the onion until softened, add the rice as well as the fresh (not steamed) asparagus pieces and sligthly toast everything.
  5. Pour in the wine and stir well.
  6. Reduce the heat and cook the risotto by adding some hot vegetable broth at a time.
  7. Stir occasionally and add more broth once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid until the rice is “al dente” (around 15 to 20 minutes).
  8. In the meantime, puree the steamed asparagus leaving a few of the spear-headed tips for the garnish.
  9. Add the asparagus puree to the risotto, remove it from the heat and leave to rest for some minutes.
  10. Taste the risotto and, if necessary, season with salt and pepper.
  11. Serve topped with some steamed tips, fresh parsley and grated parmesan.
  12. Buon appetito!

City of the month: Asolo

City of month: Asolo


Located in the north-eastern Italian region of Veneto, Asolo is a hidden gem that has been awarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Italy (“I Borghi più belli d’Italia”).

A place of refuge

The name Asolo comes from the Latin word “asylum”, meaning refuge. In this context, Asolo offers a retreat for those who would like to escape the hustle and bustly of everyday life and spend some relaxing days in the hills of Venento. This history goes back many centuries: already in Roman times, it has been a town with a theatre and a spa.

A hundred horizons

Characteristic of Asolo, called the “city of a hundred horizons” by Giosuè Carducci, are the gentle hills, magnificent churches, typical squares (like Piazza Garibaldi) and small streets but even more the ancient walls, frescoes and historic villas – a reminder of the town’s millennial history.

Something for every taste

The city of Asolo and its surroundings offer something for all tastes and interests: from history, art and culture in local museums, art galleries and theatres, to cycling in the hills of Veneto, enjoying a coffee in Cafè Centrale watching the town life, immersing into the rich local cuisine or exploring the nearby Street of Prosecco – Asolo offers everything that makes an enjoyable holiday.

Relaxation and "la dolce vita"

Curious to discover Asolo? If you would like to get to know Asolo in a particularly relaxed way, we can highly recommend our Yoga Retreats which also take place in Asolo. Together with the wonderful Austrian yoga teacher Stefanie Mandl we offer a combination of yoga and sound retreats as well as a full immersion in the dolce vita that Asolo has to offer. Find out more here!

Top 10 places to visit in Asolo:

  • Rocca di Asolo
  • Castello della Regina Cornaro
  • Mercatino dell’Antiquariato (antique market, every second Sunday of the month)
  • Piazza Garibaldi
  • Duomo di Asolo
  • Villa Freya Stark (amphitheatre)
  • Museo Civico
  • Teatro Duse
  • Convento Padri Cappuccini
  • Due Mori (restaurant with authentic dishes and fantastic views)

City of the month: Alba

City of month: Alba


Situated in the southern part of the Italian region of Piedmont, Alba is considered to be the heart of the vineyard landscape Langhe – one of 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy. Once of a polygonal shape, Alba remains to have some of its fantastic medieval characteristics.

Alba Pompeia

With archeological findings dating back to the Neolithic and the Iron Age period, Alba’s history starts before the Roman civilization. In the first century, Alba has been home to Celtic and Ligurian tribe settlements. Under its Ancient name “Alba Pompeia”, the city was situated in a strategic location along the important route beween Acqui Terme and Turin.

City of hundred towers

Back in the days, Alba was known as the city of hundred towers. Once as a measure of defense, some towers are still well-maintained nowadays and are considered to be the central symbols of Alba.

The capital of white truffle

Being the home of “tartufi bianchi” (white truffles), Alba is also a perfect getaway for foodies. Launched more than 80 years ago, the International Alba White Truffle Fair takes place on weekends from the beginning of October to the end of November and is the place to be for truffle lovers.

In vino veritas

Located closeby to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the vineyard landscape of Monferrato as well as lovely towns such as Barolo, Asti or Barbaresco, Alba is furthermore a great place for wine lovers. Some of its most famous wines include Barbera, Dolcetto, Barolo and Moscato. What is more, every year in April, Alba hosts the famous Vinum wine festival.

Top 10 places to visit in Alba:

  • Palazzo Communale (Town Hall)
  • City Towers
  • Cathedral of San Lorenzo
  • Church of San Domenico
  • Federico Eusebio Civic Museum of Archaelogoy and Natural Sciences
  • Michele Ferrero Square
  • Church of San Giuseppe
  • Church of St John the Baptist
  • Palazzo Mostre e Congressi
  • Church of Santa Maria Maddalena

Italy in your kitchen:
focaccia genovese


According to the tradition, focaccia genovese (in Ligurian dialect called “fügassa”), is both soft inside as well as crunchy outside and generously covered by extra virgin olive oil and salt. We don’t only share the recipe for focaccia genovese but also the secret ingredient: time. 


  • 600 g flour
  • 400 ml water (room temperature)
  • 40 ml olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 2 tbsp fine salt 
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 15 g yeast
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt
  • olive oil (extra virgin)
  • optional: rosmary leaves, cherry tomatoes, olives or sliced onions


  1. To prepare the focaccia genovese, mix the yeast with sugar and water and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  2. In a big bowl, mix the flour and salt with the yeast mixture and then add the olive oil.
  3. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rest for two hours in a warm place.
  4. In the meantime, put olive oil on the baking tray.
  5. Place the dough on the tray and let rest for another two hours.
  6. Put olive oil and coarse salt on top and create little dimples with the finger tips.
  7. Let the focaccia rest for another two hours.
  8. Heat the oven to 230°C and sprinkle the focaccia with a bit of water (for the typical colour).
  9. Bake the focaccia for approximately 20 minutes.
  10. Serve the focaccia still warm or at room temperatures and enjoy!