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Sri Lanka: the island of serendipity

Thirty years of civil war and the terrible tsunami of 2004 have not overshadowed the gentle beauty of Sri Lanka. The pearl of the Indian Ocean offers its visitors varied and pristine landscapes, ancient cities and unique gastronomic and spiritual experiences, thanks in part to the deep-rooted culture of hospitality of its inhabitants.

It has as many names as the people who have passed through it. In Tamil Tambapanne, land of copper, Celiao in Portuguese, Sri Lanka, from Sanskrit Lamka, shining island, tear of India for the most sentimental.

Arguably, the most fascinating name is perhaps the Persian one, Serendip, from which derives the word serendipity and to arrive there by chance, the island in the south-east of India and its kind and hospitable inhabitants by culture are an unexpected and beautiful discovery. The political instability of the last three decades has actually kept Sri Lanka off the most common tourist routes, but since the end of the civil war in 2009 visitors have risen from 450,000 to more than two million in 2017 and are set to increase even more, with the country at the top of the list of must travel destinations in 2019 by Lonely Planet.

A holiday made of adventure and relax in Sri Lanka

Young and adventurous travellers are attracted by deserted beaches, giant surfing waves, inland rainforest and rich flora and fauna, making Sri Lanka one of the 25 most biodiverse places in the world. Yala Park, on the southwest coast, is the most visited and appreciated protected area, which also hosts leopards, elephants, alligators and more than 250 varieties of birds. And when you get tired of exploring, you can simply descend to the long sandy beaches, each with a different vocation; kiting and windsurfing, kayaking, yachting, water skiing, scuba, relaxing and surfing - Mirissa and Hikkaduwa above all.

Between ancient and modern

If you are an architect, interior designer or cook and you want to leave everything behind to rebuild your life in a tropical paradise, you don't necessarily have to open a chiringuito on the beach, but you can go to Sri Lanka. The capital Colombo, all reflected between the ocean and Lake Beira, is at the centre of a frantic modernisation, an urban evolution that has led in less than ten years to the birth of entire districts in glass and steel and the progressive decrease of traditional buildings.
The Ena de Silva house, designed by the founder of tropical modernism Geoffrey Bawa, was moved brick by brick in a city 80 km from Colombo, when the land on which it was built was sold to open a parking lot. Many of the recently opened boutique hotels still manage to combine the demands of modernity with the spirit and characteristics of typical island constructions, such as Fort Bazaar, a hotel built inside a 16th century fortress in Galle, a UNESCO world heritage city.

Well-being and spirituality

The recent wave of capital and investment that has involved the country has led many emigrants to return to the island to open new businesses, after studying and gaining experience around the world. This injection of new ideas and vitality has led the country to the enhancement of its gastronomic culture - from tea and coffee to traditional dishes - and to the opening of resorts and spas that offer guests stays dedicated to wellness and self-care.
At the heart of the treatments offered on the island is the union between Ayurveda, traditional knowledge of the properties of plants and meditation, interweaving elements that satisfies both travellers interested in pure relaxation and those seeking deeper spiritual experiences.

The quiet of the island inspires and protects and the traveller feels welcomed by a system that seems naturally built to safeguard the psychophysical balance.

The mindfulness culture of Sri Lanka is rooted in the practice of Buddhism, practiced by more than 70% of the population and which has in the country some of the most sacred places, such as the Temple of Kandy's Tooth, one of the main centres of devotion. After thirty difficult years, the country opens its beauties to the world and promises to consolidate itself as a destination of the heart for as many modes of travel as there are facets of its ancient culture.

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