Hello! We are George and Sophie and our baby Caio from the UK. We work together to maintain two isolated farmhouses in a beautiful national park here in Tuscany and we need your help!
We are a young family (Sophie 25, George 30, Caio 1) passionate about living an off-the-grid lifestyle, building things, baking bread and having a nice garden. We enjoy the peace and slow pace of living in this environment close to nature and the commitment to the work involved in restoring and maintaining the beautiful off-grid farmhouses that we live in.
Using workaway has been life changing for us in many ways. The project is what it is today because of all the helping hands and amazing people we've hosted over the years. Not only because of the volunteers contributions through the work but also for all the good times and exchanges we've had - it's provided motivation and has kept the project alive and fresh. We met each other through workaway too so that's obviously been completely life changing! Also, we've both been volunteers ourselves so we try to apply our experiences being of 'on the other side of the fence' to make the bridge between hosting and volunteering merge as much as possible to make an easygoing communal environment for all of us to enjoy.
Outside of the work we like sharing good times together, going on walks, playing music, enjoying some good wine round a fire, chilling by the river, and baking sourdough bread.
Our project focuses on maintaining and renovating two farmhouses. We currently live in one while the other one, which is just 5 mins walk up the road, is in a state of complete renovation. So this is an ideal playground for the DIY enthusiast (preferably skilled!) and for anyone wanting to practice and learn more building/DIY skills. Any job related to house renovation needs doing here. We are committed to keeping the project off-the-grid so we're keen on anything to do with alternative technology and self-sufficiency. We have solar power for electrics and a hand-powered washing machine. We try to find as much time as we can to grow our own vegetables and keep a nice a garden so help is always needed here because it is a never ending task.
To finance the project we host groups in the summer and list a room on airbnb, and in the winter we usually pop back to the UK for a couple of months to work and see family. Our main events are the yoga retreats and capoeira workshops. During this time we focus on accommodating the guests so cooking, cleaning, shopping etc are the main priorities. However, depending on how many hands we have on board to help, we try to keep the construction projects going as well. The 2.5km road to the house is pretty bad so sometimes we might work on the road cleaning the ditches and filling holes etc. The road is only suitable for 4x4 vehicles, we have a 30 year old ex-military landrover defender which is our lifeline to the outside world!
About the place and your stay...
This is in an incredible part of Tuscany which is considered the 'Hidden Tuscany'. In contrast to the rolling hills, vine yards and the olive groves of classic Tuscany, here it is much wilder and mountainous and we are surrounded by lush forests.
The house is literally in the middle of the woods (just inside the boarders of a national park in the east of Tuscany). It is perched on the mountain side of a small valley and reached by an old stone road only accessible on foot or 4x4 vehicle. The house is fully off grid, our electricity comes from solar and water is sourced from a natural spring. Hot water is supplied from a wood burning stove. It is an exceptionally peaceful place of untouched natural beauty, we are without neighbours and there is no light pollution in the valley, perfect for stargazing and forest-walks. This is a very special place just to be and experience nature.
We cook, eat and live together like a temporary community. We usually host at least two volunteers at a time. In the house there is also a little library and a collection of instruments, which you are more than welcome to use. We welcome single travellers or couples into our daily routine and lifestyle.
Towards mid April onwards we need your help setting up the house and garden after a long winter of hibernation.
Projects at this time could be cleaning and decorating, building and repairing furniture, general DIY, painting things, chopping and collecting fire wood, general house renovation etc.
The garden also needs lots of attention at this time. Digging, weeding and preparing the garden beds are top priorities!
As a volunteer it is a really beautiful time for you to see the valley and watch it spring to life. It is also quite an intimate time at the house; colder weather means cozy evening fires in the kitchen, sharing stories, good food and good company.
In the summer time, we open our home completely by hosting groups and guests. It is an amazingly exciting and sociable time, and you will find yourself meeting many people and constantly learning. Our main role as a working group is cooking for guests and keeping on top of house work and washing. We are looking for volunteers who are confident, assertive and creative in the kitchen, who are confident to work as part of a team and independently at times.
In the autumn the focus will be on renovation projects so we are looking for volunteers with good DIY skills for this time.
Babysitting / child care
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Helping with Tourists
We're looking for enthusiastic volunteers who are passionate about off-grid living, independent and hardworking and enjoy being outside and appreciate nature.
What you will do here greatly depends on what you're capable of doing. There's always new stuff to build and old stuff to fix and renovate and it's an ideal playground to the DIY enthusiast.
Depending on your skills such tasks could be....
Painting and decorating
General manual labour
General house renovation
Building dry stone walls
Making garden paths
Fixing tools and machines
The garden and house need constant attention and improvement.
From mid April until October we are looking for volunteers to help in and around the house with gardening and building/renovation projects and help with hosting guests in the summer months. Daily tasks are split equally between everyone, with mealtimes being a time for everyone to pitch in together.
Daily tasks can include...
Cooking (We mainly eat vegetarian but very occasionally eat meat)
Tending to and watering our vegetable garden
General cleaning and tiding
Doing the laundry
Collecting and chopping firewood
English, Italian and some German
You will have a private or shared room in the house. Camping is not allowed because the national park laws forbid it.
You will have access to whole house, use of kitchen, library and workshop. There is one shared flushing toilet and one hot shower/bathroom inside. There are also compost toilets and cold showers outside.
The house is off-grid with electricity provided by just a small solar panel system - not a problem in summer but it can mean we have limited electricity supply in the spring and autumn months. Our water, comes clean and natural from a nearby spring. There is internet, however it is not always connected, especially in the evenings when there is limited power because the sun has left and there's no more charge coming from the panels to charge the solar batteries. So usually the internet is on for a few hours during the day around lunch time.
Places to visit during your stay....
La Verna - the medieval monastery of Saint Francis of Assisi. Perched high on a cliff face at the top of the mountain this sacred place is surrounded by some of the oldest and largest trees in the valley in a forest known as the 'foresta encantata' (enchanted forest). It is here where the Saint retreated in his cave and communed with the wildlife and nature and eventually received his stigmata. It is clear to understand why even to this day many pilgrims still visit this sacred wild place for prayer and meditation... or perhaps for some, just simply to enjoy the view!
Next is the 'abandoned village' of San Silvestre. This once thriving village was deserted after the second world war and since then it has been left open to the destructive forces of nature and has slowly been eaten up by the wilderness. Here trees grow from the middle of the ruins and the only signs of life are the sheep loitering the old lanes and grazing the overgrowth. Although only abandoned this century, the village emanates a feeling of a 'lost civilisation'. Beautiful place for sunset!
There are several waterfalls and rivers big enough for swimming in the valley. Indispensable on a hot day, these can be reached on foot and will no doubt be visited during your stay with us.
Please be aware that we are isolated and hard to get to. The house is literally in the middle of the woods, it can only be reached by 4x4 vehicles and of course on foot. It is a place to immerse yourself into nature, explore forests and footpaths and to simply enjoy the peace. Fantastic for walkers. It is not a place to use as a base from where you can easily go on day trips to other tourist cities in Italy.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Although we are in Italy we're very isolated so it's not the best place for volunteers to come expecting a Italian cultural exchange. We are English. George speaks Italian and is trying to teach Sophie (but he's not doing such a great job at the moment!) so there could be the chance for volunteers to join in these 'lessons'... even better, wiling to teach!
We offer the opportunity to learn many life skills from cooking and baking bread to gardening and fixing the roof.
We live off-the-grid and practice organic gardening, self-sufficiency and alternative technology. So our cultural exchange would be an exchange of lifestyle and knowledge rather than an Italian cultural exchange ...although we'd be more than willing to teach you about drinking tea and baked beans!
5 hours a day maximum (max 25hrs/week)
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