Family garden and art hub in Umbria, Italy

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  • Letzte Aktivität: 16 Apr. 2024



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  • Beschreibung


    “First, the human animal, for [the great Italian writer] Calvino, is a storytelling animal, and if one means of expression is denied us we shall resort to another: the need to tell is paramount. And second, all the best stories have to be found, they are not just given to us.” (London Review of Books)

    And as Virgina Woolf said, behind the story -- underpinning its interest and meaning -- is a person in motion: "a self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living"; and we are interested in what it means to truly live.

    Our farm in the Umbrian hills offers plenty of scope to make your own story. It is structured enough to feel grounded, to learn and grow; it is relaxed enough to experiment, to be spontaneous, and to discover or rediscover all the excitement in a life led naturally, without obsessive control or anxiety; to see all the beauty that is in and around us.

    2023 was a great year. Overall we had our best group of guests to date. We concluded over 2000 visitor-nights. And we had a fantastic time. Workaway adds tremendous fun and colour, adventure and community to our lives.

    We successfully finished harvest time. Everyone, as always, seemed to enjoy collecting the olives from our trees on the slopes of the hill overlooking the valley as the mist rose and the sun dried the fields. This year was particularly mild, and the temperatures stayed pleasant during the day if slightly colder at night. The harvest started late and was short, but the olives produced more oil and the flavour was more intense. We collected around 3 tons of olives while the pressing returned over 15% oil.

    Early one morning we poured the first product from our olive harvest on some warm home-made sourdough bread, cracked some salt over it, and enjoyed the results of our combined labours: a vibrant green, full-bodied, youthful olive oil, cold-pressed, extra-virgin, piccante yet already showing hints of sweetness. No stage of the process depended on chemicals and the olives were entirely hand-picked. The result was something special, unique to the valley and to the year.

    In our case the olive harvest is a fairly relaxed operation, as we are not a commercial business. We have approximately 3000 trees, which in a good year at 20-25kg of olives (roughly one crate) per tree comes to around 70 tons. At a 13-17% return, this gives us about 10 tons of olive oil. However, we tend to pick less than 1 ton a week of olives at harvest time, not least because the weather is changeable. These olives are used for our purposes in the following year. Most olives go into the olive oil but some olives are macerated for eating and others dried for cooking.

    In the first half of 2023 with the help of Workawayers we put up a full-sized camera obscura (darkened house for painting), which will need to be finished. Also we assembled the final pieces for our green corridor through the woods, which ultimately will lead to a small chapel. We placed solar lights around the little lake and we assembled a fire pit next to it which we tried out one night, grilling vegetables in the dark of night under the stars. Nearby, we flattened some earth in the olive field for our picnic table, which looks down the hillside and over the valley, and we have now assembled a small natural stone wall and put down some tiles to make the picnic area more practical.

    We have acquired two Australian new-born kelpie puppies (Rusty and Sparky) to keep company with our older blue heeler (Bluey). Rusty does occasionally remind us of a wombat rather than a kelpie... Sparky is the rascal of the farm; a real chancer. Bluey just keeps his eye out for food and affection. We have put up a small chicken coop and we now have five chickens. If all goes well, we shall get a few more. As Alix says, with the arrival of chickens we are now a real farm. It took us some time because first we used the coop for our kelpie puppies. We have an older cat and just recently we have taken on three beautiful kittens. These kittens are still very young and need lots of attention and love.

    We did not manage to test plant any vines for wine-making, in part because we were still waiting for our agronomo to review the fields; which he did mid-March. Similarly, we have yet to get bees for our bee hives as we somehow missed the right timing. We did plant our soap trees, which with the saponaria plants will help us produce liquid soap. We made a little headway on getting prepared to enter our own olive oil as a hand-made single-estate organic product into the premier competition in NY, but fell down on the website design. We must now wait for 2025. (If someone has a good artistic sense and web design skills that might accelerate the process...) Around the same time, we intend to start using scraps from the olive-making process for heating.

    Workawayers who visited also did work in the garden and with the wood which provides all our heat for both the house and the water. We are not connected to the grid for heating or water, which comes from a spring under the hill, or gas (which we are phasing out) and if we do put in solar panels we will also remove ourselves from the grid for lighting; and so be completely off-grid. As the weather improved, we began a little spring-cleaning and organising the farm for the summer. Our guests had a fun time with cooking in the kitchen, whether meat, vegetarian, or vegan: especially cakes, waffles, or cookies. We managed every now and then to do some formal tasting of Italian wines; this time from Tuscany and Sardinia. I am wanting to try some Sardinian grapes here in the fields...

    In April-May we painted the camera obscura, finished the area beneath the oak tree where the outdoor picnic table stands, chopped wood for the boiler (off which the house runs), weeded the garden, pruned around the olive trees, tended the newly-planted trees, springcleaned, and walked the dogs. There was an extraordinary amount of singing in the meantime. We had quite the most musical group of Workaway guests to date. Also we harvested the fruit for preparation and eating on the spot; and completed the vegetable garden. We created a third orto, where we are test-planting potatoes and ultimately other root vegetables. It seems to be going well so far.

    We still need to set-up a sizeable metal-frame outdoor shed which will function both to keep machinery and to create a studio space for groups to pursue art, pave the floor for this shed, expand and develop the practical gardens, lay out plants around the camera obscura and picnic table, wire and place vines along the green corridor, finish the new plot for vegetables, get bees for the hives, perhaps get a goat and some feral pigs (Cinta Senese) to help manage the forest vegetation (about 60% of the overall property is wild, natural woodland), and weatherproof things as necessary. Also we plan to finalise a concept and necessary content for a website to showcase our olive oil. This we have started with the most recent group of Workaway guests.

    Probably we will aim to expand our truffle plantations using pine trees and develop another mushroom farm using wood pyramids under tree shade.

    We do as much or as little as makes sense in the context. For example, rain invariably brings outdoor activities to a halt… As does extreme heat! Everything will happen in its own time and ultimately, we believe, be the better for it. The important thing is to know how to take advantage of the down time, find pleasure and enjoy the moment, as much as the up time.

    The other fairly firm idea we have for the future is two weeks entirely dedicated to doing art around end-September to early October (assuming no rain). It won't really be a workshop. There's no teaching involved. Rather it is more for guests to come practice their photography and painting (or writing and poetry) at the farm. We should by then have both the camera obscura (about 3m x 2m) and the art studio (15m x 5m), as well as other outdoor spaces, up and running. These all overlook the valley.

    If you are interested in the art project, please do let us know. We think it should be great fun based on our experiences to date. The goal is twofold. The Workaway element would be to create pictures or words for our future olive oil (and wine) related website in the weekday mornings. The personal element would be to create your own work for your own purposes during the rest of the time (weekday afternoons, weekends; as you like). It's not impossible also to wrap in some art tours to make it all a well-rounded art extravaganza. Last year was the 500th anniversary of Perugino's death, the most famous artist to come out of Umbria and the teacher of Raffaello who is traditionally ranked at the top of Renaissance painters. We also live not far from where Piero della Francesca did a lot of his work around Sansepolcro.

    If the adventure goes well, then we'll aim to repeat and expand over progressive years perhaps looking to include sculpture, ceramics, and woodworking. We also think having a combined theme might be interesting, whether community, nature, identity, tradition and change; which could then be turned into a book for those who participate. However, these are just longer-term dreams at the moment...

    We have found that first-time visits to the farm most often work well for a period of 10-14 days. Shorter and our guests do not have time to acclimatise; longer and some, if not most, people become restless in the isolated natural setting. We are not set up to accommodate first-time visitors for more than 2 weeks. On the other hand, we are truly pleased and happy to welcome guests back on a repeat basis and indeed look forward to the opportunity.

    About 10% of our visitors are now return guests, some of whom have looked after the property in our absence, and we hope that the joy of welcoming back new friends will continue long into the future. Indeed some visitors have returned up to four or five times during their voyages. Each time it is a great delight to renew acquaintances, build on previous experiences, and undertake new endeavours often in a different season or with a different mix of people.

    Each Workaway group has its own special dynamic and rarely is there not a positive and unique energy in the air, often finding expression in laughter, games, music, dancing, or late-night conversations in front of the fire in winter or outside under the stars in summer. I believe a good number of workawayers visiting our farm have gone on to travel together and seek new adventures as a part of a tight-knit group; suggesting, it seems, that our location has indeed provided an opportunity for finding new friends and forging close bonds. The last time, five visitors became very close and continued to travel together as a group. At least one couple has forged a future together from time here at the farm.

    This is how it should be... Life has meaning, is given special value, precisely because relationships are created, sustained, and held important in some form or other, whether it is family, love, or friendship.

    If circumstances fit, visitors are most welcome to stay with us in our spacious, terraced apartment in Perugia. We have had a number of people stay with us here or visit just for a meal. Perugia is more like a homestay and so there is less privacy, which puts a premium on personal skills. The biggest advantage being in Perugia is that sightseeing or study of Italian (for example at the Università per Stranieri di Perugia) is more convenient. We commute as necessary between Perugia and the farm during the time outside summer.

    We have had such overwhelmingly great experiences with Workaway that we are happy to host travellers even for a day or two when we are in Perugia, if you need somewhere to break the journey or to freshen up. We don’t need so much notice perhaps just a day or two; though people have even contacted us on the day itself…

    I reply to all messages the moment I can. However, I seem to receive something like one to six messages each day from Workawayers (and at peak times it is more) so the response is not always instant. Meanwhile we can have up to 14 people on the farm at the same time, whether family, friends, or Workawayers, for whom I am cooking, working out logistics, or organising schedules and activities. We have accepted everyone so far where the dates work and the aspirations match.

    We are a family of three Australians trying to revive an old olive farm; not as a commercial business, but as a lifestyle… We aim to develop a place, a small corner of the countryside, where people can breathe, regenerate, live, and express their true spirit and creativity in tune with nature and its rhythms.

    In terms of the agriculture itself, we take inspiration from Italy's own “slow food” movement, started in Rome in 1986 (slowfood.com). The aim is not just to bring back to vibrant life a typical working Italian farm but also to promote now unused, historical plant varietals and to return lost knowledge about old species and forgotten approaches to cooking and eating. Ideas that you can find in unusual books such as ‘Profumi e sapori perduti: il fascino della frutta antica’, reflecting a fear that our relationship to nature and to food might now be wholly commodified; whether at the top end of the market or at the lower; whether it is glamping or Michelin stars or bestseller lists.

    There may be decreasing scope left for the natural, the local, the imperfect, the inefficient, the wayward, the eccentric, and so for the novel, striking, or serendipitous experience. As just one aspect of this commodification process, ultra-processed foods now make up over 70% of the US food supply.

    The farm is right up in the hills of Umbria at least 15 minutes drive from the valley road or a good 30 minute run along a dusty white, uncovered driveway. It was abandoned in the mid-1900s, and no one has properly run this land as a farm since then, partly because the conditions for modern commercial farming here are tough, if not impossible given the soil quality, the slopes, the micro-climate, and the surrounding forest. Also water is increasingly a problem.

    So it is a lifestyle choice. There is almost no one nearby and the sense of peace and solitude -- the feeling of being on top of the world -- gives our location its charm, rather than the ability to create business on the one hand or sightsee on the other.

    Projects have banked up over time since we arrived in 2019 and we lost two years to coronavirus, including all of 2020, most of 2021, and some of 2022. Regulations also seem to delay everything. A simple task can turn into a complicated series of time-consuming permit applications. The Amazon Prime documentary series, Clarkson's Farm, gives a sense of the various frustrations involved; although maybe a big, modern tractor might have helped us. That said, workaway activities are various and designed specifically with visitors in mind; with a goal that the projects are fun, interesting, or instructive.

    We have a range of activities in which guests can get involved if keen and willing, while, with a little bit of initiative, even more opportunities exist to participate in the everyday life of the farm.

    In general, as we have people arriving and leaving all the time, rather than at fixed points, our activities continue on a seven-day cycle to give scope for everyone to start something and pitch in; which means that we are out there -- joining in person -- with workawayers, whether recently arrived or more established, doing the work or cooking the meals each day without break. Workawayers are then free to manage their own week according to the motives behind their travel.

    I feel this approach works well, but it is least successful when Workaway means just we work and guests are "away", seeing no further than their own personal 'takeaways' from the trip. We hope that visitors will come with a generous spirit and contribute in a selfless fashion to the broader group.

    On the other hand, while we try to do our best and to offer a fulfilling stay, we are not perfect and things can and do go wrong. Life on a farm in the middle of the Italian countryside does have its ups and downs, much like anywhere. Without wanting to paint too dire a picture and scare everyone away, possible challenges may well include power failures, boiler breakdowns, water outages, and trouble finding transportation or accessing shops. A long day in the hot sun can also be tiring and repeated long days in the heat even more tiring. The internet, wifi, and cellular coverage work 95% of the time; the other 5% it is having a 'pisolino'. We are blessed if nothing at all goes wrong in the course of a typical season.

    In 2021 projects included: teaching the dog to hunt truffles (which is still not done, but maybe it is a lost cause), putting together some traditional mosaics, and experimenting with our classical outdoor pizza oven. The mosaics were designed based on classical Etruscan, Roman, or Byzantine themes using tiles on mesh. A photo shows one of our pizzas using zucchini flowers from our garden with mozzarella cheese on a tomato base, decorating a traditional kneaded live-yeast dough.

    We started with our first workawayers at the end of June 2021, two amazing, bright, positive, and enthusiastic women from Utrecht and it proved a fabulous summer exceeding all our expectations. Over the 2021 summer our farm welcomed more than 30 people in total. In this time we completed a range of mosaics, put up a gazebo, tended the garden, and harvested the lavender; all while trying to keep pace on the dinner table with the vegetable garden. A workawayer most kindly showed us all a great way to make pizza dough and our pizza skills jumped a notch as a result. In their spare time, everyone found the opportunity to read and write; or to do sport, exercise, and games including traditional "parlour" games such as the posting game, charades, the drawing game, and sardines, with one workawayer finding a particularly good spot amongst the fig trees. The dawns were beautiful and the evenings were relaxing.

    Subsequently in 2021 we started the practical garden and test-planted some older, medieval Italian fruit varietals. The practical garden has four sections: medicinal herbs, natural plant dyes, soap plants (in order to make chemical-free, natural liquid soap gentle on the body and the environment), and natural flavourings. In the orchard we are test planting apricots, apples, pears, cherries, white peach, and black figs. We also put outdoors, in a beautiful private section of the garden, a marble bath - what the Japanese might call a roten-buro (露天風呂) - so we can better enjoy the pure air and beautiful scenery. The bath is pictured in the photo section.

    In 2022 we started to get more of the farm in order, doing things that had been neglected for at least two or three years, looked at pruning the olive fields, put together some bee hives, and began work in earnest on olive farming. In total, we harvested about 3 tons of olives, but not in a very structured or intensive fashion -- just as weather and people allowed. We believe that up to 6 tons can be collected with focus in a good year.

    The recovery rate is about 13% to 14%. The resulting oil is produced down the road and not sold but instead used here. The flavour is quite different from commercial oil; in our case, a lot sweeter and thicker in part because it is picked earlier and by hand. We aim to enter our oil into the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition. We were too late this year; so it will be next year. Nearby farms have won gold in previous years.

    About half of our visitors have now tried the outdoor bath, both in summer and in winter, situated under a canopy of wisteria, the steam rising from the water and flowing over the white marble onto the mosaic floor beneath. At dawn from the bath you can see the light spreading from the mountains across the countryside in various shades of purple, red, and yellow; the mist slowly filling the valley on a cold day, like the vaporous tide of an immense sea. At night you can sit there with tealight candles all about and dream...

    The summer is hot, while the spring and autumn are variable. It can snow in the winter, with a risk of closing the house in. We have found that some Workawayers are not so used to the heat in summer or to staying outside for long hours. Please do think about your stamina if interested to come and help out. The days tend to be quite flexible, but our work is seasonal and there are times when more help is needed, such as around the harvest, and times when life is more relaxed. Please think carefully about joining us around harvest time if you are not interested to go out into the fields.

    We are keen in either spring or autumn to host an artist residency, for practising artists, and at some point to pursue a communal art project. I dream, a little idly, of developing the farm somewhat along the lines of Benton End, many years ago in England, which mixed together in a successful and meaningful way the creative passions of art, gardening, and cooking . We could host, I believe, up to eight artists, depending on whether some people were happy to share rooms or to visit as couples. In order to facilitate this daydream we will create an extended outdoor studio of about 5m x 15m with windows and removable sides overlooking the valley. (This would be in addition to the fullsize camera obscura.)

    Trina is always doing lots of painting -- so if someone wanted to get involved as an artist’s model whether in Perugia or in the Umbrian countryside, let us know! One model Trina painted will feature in an exhibition series at one of the national museums in Perugia. Overall, perhaps 10-15% of our guests have tried and enjoyed the modelling exercise. Trina is looking in particular for twins to photograph in the lead-up to a major conference where she is speaking.

    For 2024 we hope to develop the old-varietal orchard, perhaps undertake the delayed cooking and photo project (“kitchens along our road”), clear the hill-paths, start up the bee hives, introduce some more animals, and put into practice both the camera obscura and the outdoor art studio.

    A wonderful couple from Denmark enthusiastically supported the idea of an informal concert in the gardens, playing their own music inspired by the 1960s, and maybe we will do this. I hope so... Perhaps later in 2024. The audience, I imagine, are students from the Università per Stranieri di Perugia. Also we will look at the scope to offer next year some cooking lessons for Workawayers who happen to be here around summer, concentrating on traditional dishes from Italy but including cuisines from elsewhere. For example, we could look at typical meals from North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia with help from some of our friends.

    We intend to do another mosaic floor, this time for the picnic table area which is in the olive field. As inspiration we might look to the Villa Romana del Casale near Piazza Armerina, Sicily. We also have three building projects in mind. Two involve bricks: a small shrine and some garden walls to which we will attach the mosaics. Our third building project is the small chapel for the woods. We'll see how easy it is to put together...

    The timing always remains a little unclear for our projects in part because of our other schedules. Currently Trina is working on a painting exhibition with two local women, the theme of which is tied into local etruscan archaeology. Trina will concentrate on figurative paintings. The others will focus on still life paintings and on abstract work. This project will engage Trina's attention for much of the time now until late-2023.

    Some projects are more complicated than others. We have put together inside part of the forest a long green tunnel, which will be finished using vines and clematis for a cool passeggiatta under the trees in the summer. Ultimately, the tunnel should end in a tiny chapel. We also need to test-plant some grape vines, trained on a bush or gobelet system. It is still too early to think about creating any wine. Perhaps in 2026 or 2027 if we can make progress now. The goal is ultimately to create an easy-drinking red wine, for which I intend to try out a new small-scale experimental technology as well as rely on more traditional Georgian kvevri or amphora. We are also thinking of creating a formal “artist’s garden” which mixes landscape, planting, and artwork.

    Away from specific projects we keep ourselves busying maintaining the extensive flower garden, tending the kitchen garden and its mass of vegetables, making greater use of the existing harvests that we do have (vegetable, fruit, elderflower, lavender, chestnuts, olives, pine nuts, mushrooms), further developing the practical garden with its four plots and related plants, and harvesting the olives. We have put together a foraging map, which we'll try to make practical. All the while it remains necessary to look after the house and farm structures: cleaning and taking things out in spring; putting them away in winter. In spring we need also to repaint. In winter we need to saw, shift, and bank wood.

    In general our life and the work we do finds its own time or best moment in step with the nature around us and the seasons. We find there is an ebb and flow in the levels of energy and productivity across the year depending on how circumstances come together and how we or others tackle the day. We draw inspiration both from our setting and from our dreams rather than forcefully creating and driving through a schedule or imposing a relentless and perhaps uncontrolled desire for immediate action or instantaneous certainty. We are patient to let things happen rather than impatient for a guaranteed return.

    This is the slow life, which is reflected in ideas such as 'slow food', community, and conversation -- which we equate with 'the good life'; one less driven by ideals or pressures which may have little real link either with one's own, individual personality or with the cycles of nature. We would like to welcome everyone. Yet, I feel we do not fit so well with the Type A personality obsessed by time, details, lists, benchmarks, and display.

    A lot happens outside the farm if you have a car, or want to use our bikes. From June to September Cinegatti offers an outdoor cinema both at the Frontone park in Perugia (Frontone Cinema all’aperto) and in the cloisters of Church San Fiorenzo (Cinema Méliès). These cinemas offer a good film to enjoy, whether new or classic, almost every night in the balmy weather typical of summer evenings in Umbria.

    In the second week of July there is the Umbria Film Festival in the medieval town of Montone, just near us. (The honorary president is Terry Gilliam and others to get involved have included Ghita Nørby, Rachel Portman, Chanya Button, Chloe Pirrie, Bill Nighy, Stephen Woolley...) In mid-July there is the Umbria Jazz festival, the biggest traditional jazz gathering in Italy, held outdoors in the Perugia stadium. Last year was the 50th anniversary edition and included Bob Dylan in the lineup. From 15 September to 17 September Perugia has its wine festival, started in 2023. In mid-October there is the Eurochocolate festival, held through the streets and squares of Perugia, the town being home to Baci chocolate. The Perugina chocolate factory is a fun place to visit as well.

    Perugia is also the home base for the Brunello Cucinelli and Luisa Spagnoli fashion brands. Both individuals have truly inspiring stories. The movie of Luisa Spagnoli you can see on the free RaiPlay app. Meanwhile, Cucinelli has built a philosophy and way of life into his business, like other famous Italians before him including Adriano Olivetti. (Cucinelli’s book, "Il sogno di Solomeo: La mia vita e l'idea del capitalismo umanistico", is a worthwhile read.)

    Perugia retains several traditional family craft industries; most interestingly a family atelier for stained glass and a family workshop for textiles. The town is featured in various of the film gialli, one source of inspiration for directors such as Quentin Tarantino; reflecting the fact that Italy has been at the source of several global movements in cinematography; including neo-realism, the film giallo, and the unromantic or spaghetti western, of which a recent example is Jane Campion's latest movie.

    Elsewhere in Umbria, Gubbio has a famous candle race mid-May and Spoleto has its celebrated festival of classical music and the arts late June. (Its sister festival is held in Charleston from late May each year.) Assisi is the home of St Francis and an amazing basilica. As a result, the little town now attracts something like 5 million tourists each year. There will be a series of events leading up to the 800th anniversary of St Francis's death in 2026. Elsewhere, Norcia is the home of St Benedict and is famous for its natural surroundings (in particular wild flowers from mid-May to early July) and natural products.

    Some monasteries in the general area welcome people who would like to experience for several days a life of meditation, prayer, and silence. We are happy to help our guests staying for 10-14 days to undertake this experience if they are truly interested. A handful of our visitors to date have shown a keen desire to participate.

  • Arten von Hilfe und Lernmöglichkeiten

    Arten von Hilfe und Lernmöglichkeiten

    Mithilfe auf einem Bauernhof
    Handwerkliche Arbeiten
  • Kultureller Austausch und Lernmöglichkeiten

    Kultureller Austausch und Lernmöglichkeiten

    It is an old neglected olive farm. We already make some fantastic higher altitude, dense olive oil for our own consumption. In spring small wild strawberries and thin wild asparagus grow near the edges of the fields and roads. We have wild cherry, mulberry, fig, plum, apple, and lemon trees. A wide variety of berry bushes surround the vegetable patch.

    In summer there is also watermelon and rock melon. Wild blackberries are found in the hills. In autumn (fall) when the trees become a mass of bright colours — reds, oranges and yellows — we enjoy rich persimmon and juicy pomegranate.

    The kitchen garden, or "orto", is full of fava beans, which you can eat raw in spring, ripe tomatoes, zucchini with their exquisite yellow flowers, which tumble across the plate, peas, eggplant (aubergine), artichoke, fennel, various types of garlic, sweet cucumber, horseradish, peppers (capsicum), swiss chard, and many salad varieties. Later we get radish, turnip, little cauliflowers, some broccoli, squash, pumpkin, sweet cabbage, various types of onions, and potatoes. We grow many herbs - rosemary, sage, flat parsley, marjoram, basil, various types of mint, oregano, chives, thyme, savory (which has a bold, pepper flavour) - which fill our meals.

    We greatly enjoy fresh teas with rosemary, sage, lemon verbena, lemon balm, siberian sage, wood sorrel, and mint leaves from the garden. Certainly we have many herbs that can be used for fresh teas with various suggested health benefits. And at some point we will also use these herbs along with our lavender and other medicinal plants for our outdoor bath laid down last year; somewhat along the lines that Suor Bernardina described in her forgotten classic, 'Guarire con le erbe'.

    At the right time we benefit from wonderful mushrooms, which we eat grilled or fried on their own or in grander dishes. If the dog is lucky enough to find a truffle - once we had one the size of a baseball - then we make truffle pasta. We had a lot of truffles this year given the favorable weather conditions. We collect chestnuts in autumn, which currently we turn into chocolate chestnut cakes (too many!) or other desserts. There are also pine nuts, good for pesto as well as desserts, but - like too many things here - we have yet to properly master.

    Workawayers (in particular our Danish visitors) have used the elderflower in our garden here to make syrups, cake, and tempura; the cherries to make crumble, compôte, and liqueur. They have combined the two, elderflower and wild red cherries, into a wonderful, fresh breakfast jam for bread or pastries. The same happens for mulberries, if they are not all eaten immediately, and the other fruit we have when late frosts don't get to them... In late summer we enjoy figs which we eat with cheese, bread, and our vegetables on picnics in the fields.

    We are keen to do more in terms of planting, especially of historical varietals, around which we aim to write some text focused on the great value and use of diversity in the home garden. We have already done a little work on past use of raw ingredients in Italy. It is clear after working through old texts that some of the particular flavours, combinations, and techniques for cooking natural ingredients have become forgotten over time…

    We are keen to explore products such as oils, preserves, pickles, dried fruit, as well as dried tomatoes and olives, honey, and beverages, as well as soaps and natural colour dyes. We have made a tiny start in this direction, for example in terms of bottling produce, drying our olives, and making liqueurs, but the virus stymied much of our progress. We have just now started to make some progress.

    Trina does a lot of art. She works now mostly on traditional oil painting at a professional level. As part of her training Trina copied a wide range of Caravaggio, baroque, and other realist or old master (1500-1900) artwork. In earlier, younger! days Trina had contemporary artwork accepted into exhibition in the US at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in DC.

    Trina won a rare scholarship to work with Arthur Boyd in Australia; and developed in Japan an art-school program which ultimately exhibited to members of Japan's imperial family. She is proficient in a wide range of visual art techniques: extending from the standard 'life drawing', through stage & set design and printmaking, to Chinese brush painting, having studied in the 1990s at the Nanjing Arts Institute.

    Trina has worked on painting and photographic commissions for a geographically dispersed mix of clients -- from America, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Chile, China, Egypt, England, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Scotland, and Singapore. These commissions include portraits, nudes, landscapes, still lifes, professional and modelling shoots, as well as the artistic equivalent of costume dramas. She has also featured on a podcast about wellness and transformation through the practise of art. You can find out more about Trina through her IG account and her website. She teaches painting on a private basis and provides compositions for artists to use in developing their technique.

    If you are interested, you can get involved as an artist’s model whether in Perugia or in the Umbrian countryside. An increasing number of guests have posed for Baroque-style photo portraits and a few others for classical inspired painting projects; perhaps 10-15% of our visitors have enjoyed the modelling experience. Currently Trina is putting together several coffee-table artbooks and so someone could help with these, especially if they have good skills in Adobe Lightroom. Also Trina is looking for twins to photograph in the lead-up to a major conference where she is due to speak. When the occasion arises, Trina likes to upholster and repurpose old furniture or (in days gone by) to make children's apparel.

    I know and like wine. (I have the WSET diploma and am slowly inching towards the Master of Wine qualification.) I have visited many of the world’s lesser known wine regions, including Georgia (the country), Moldova, Bulgaria, and India, as well as some of the better known wine regions in Australia, South Africa, France, and America. I also have an interest in whisky... At various points I have organised wine tastings and whisky events.

    We are both well-experienced and knowledgeable about Italy, art history, and Italian cinema. We speak multiple languages, even if some of them are a bit rusty. We have more university degrees and certificates than we know what to do with... It's a curse!

    Our view is very much in line with Mary Wollstonecraft, as summarised by Victoria Bateman, that true knowledge and virtue is achieved by immersing yourself in life and experiencing the world.

    You can see a university commencement day speech I gave in Italian, in front of the Italian Secretary for Foreign Affairs -- just ask me for the link. Similarly if you would like more photos regarding the farm or our lives, just write me a quick note. I have some short videos of the olive harvest here and other aspects the work. If you would like to discuss life on the farm and the workaway experience here then I can put you in touch with previous workawayers who are happy to chat about their time in Umbria.

    We have now welcomed over 200 visits in two and a half years from individuals ranging in age from school leavers to almost seventy. The most enthusiastic have already returned five or more times.

    We believe that Workaway can, in the best circumstances, help identify for those on life's great adventure when or where is that great tipping point between one life stage and the next.

    Many who visit us are on a quest. As someone wrote, “The difficulty is that many of the wounds and aches provoked by our current order aren’t of a sort that can be managed or life-hacked away. They are resolved only by changing one’s life, by becoming a radically different sort of person belonging to a radically different sort of community.”

    The answer, in such cases, is personal, the search is through seeking different experiences, right or wrong is not always obvious from the start, and the truth is often realised only when we encounter it.

  • Projekte mit Kindern

    Projekte mit Kindern

    Dieses Projekt schließt möglicherweise den Umgang mit Kindern ein. Mehr Informationen findest du in unseren Verhaltensregeln und Tipps hier.

  • Arbeit


    You must have a genuine interest in our lifestyle: nature, gardens, farming, foraging, second-hand stores, food markets, the visual arts, cooking, home products, family life. We also enjoy walking, cycling, and wild swimming when there is water. Living and helping the way we do forges a more intimate connection with and appreciation for our surroundings and the seasons.

    Or as Meg Jay said 'Life is the best therapist of all... it is affordable, and accessible, and right outside your door.'

    Indeed farming and art are two of the few professions in which everything is everything: history, identity, livelihood, sustenance, direction, purpose, community, culture, site of work, place of rest, constant source of unfinished business, and refuge of last resort. Farming is more encompassing only in that you can’t so easily eat the product of an artistic endeavour, the artwork itself…

    It would help if you can identify which of our projects appeal when writing. There is no likelihood at this stage, or maybe any stage given the farm's situation, that we will become a commercial operation.

    One useful thing for us is whether you are happy to share a room or to share a bathroom. This gives us more flexibility in taking on people at peak times and we find that Workawayers often like to be part of a larger group. On the other hand if you are happy to visit on your own then please do say because this can open up further dates across the year.

    We are doing Workaway because the ideal behind it appeals, rather than because it is strictly necessary, and we would like people to visit who share the same positive feelings. Though we have not done Workaway a long time I feel that our location does not suit all people, particularly those travellers interested just in sightseeing across Italy, who want a hotel experience, or who are digital nomads where the priority is on the computer.

    If we associate certain ideas with the farm it would be for example: the house, Benton End; the artist, Caravaggio; books like "The Enchanted April" (written by an Australian! and also made into a film) and "Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey"; people such as Derek Jarman and Roger Deakin; and the 1970s TV series "The Good Life". Another recent, interesting book is “Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us” by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross.

    Our idea of travel is a bit like the German film "im juli" or the American film "Before Sunrise". The Bhutanese film "Travellers and Magicians" also has insights into the sometimes counter-intuitive power of leaving home. Our idea of life is a bit like the Singaporean film "Forever Fever" or the Indian film "The Lunchbox" and perhaps a bit of "Living" with Bill Nighy.

    Journal articles that are interesting and relevant to our experience here include these ones. "The Insect Apocalypse Is Here: What Does It Mean for the Rest of Life on Earth?" in the New York Times (Nov. 27, 2018). "The Island Where People Forget to Die" also in the New York Times but originally the great International Herald Tribune (Oct. 24, 2012). And "At Last the Turner Prize Gets It. Artists Improve with Age", Martha Gill's article in the Guardian (Dec. 11, 2022).

    Two other articles of interest are "Veganism Might Not Be the Most Sustainable Diet" in the Atlantic Monthly (Aug. 21, 2022) and "Japanese People May Have Gained Longevity by Balancing their Diets" in the Economist (Jan. 16, 2021). Some of the themes here also run through the current Netflix series 'Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones'.

    The Independent also makes an interesting point: the wellness industry is 'more than three times larger than the worldwide pharmaceutical industry. So, if wellness is now just an everyday word, surely we must ask: is everyone feeling good? Are we all well? Unfortunately, as with many individual wellness fads and trends, the evidence isn’t looking good.'

    Or as Luca Page said in a different context, a focus on "loss in general strips people of joy, period. It asks you to shrink yourself, not only physically, but emotionally, eventually. When you’re able to find some joy in movement, it does the opposite. It expands your life in all these different ways."

    We have various short reels of mixed quality showing aspects of our life here: a commencement day speech I made at the local university, the organising of wood, the harvesting of olives and production of olive oil, the house and surrounding countryside viewed from a drone, the local valley from a time-lapse camera, the travelogue of a previous workawayer, Trina's podcast on art and transformation, the outdoor bath, the assembling of a mosaic. Once you are set to visit these might be useful to see as context.

  • Sprachen

    Gesprochene Sprachen
    Englisch: Fließend
    Französisch: Fließend
    Italienisch: Fließend
    Japanisch: Fließend

    Dieser Gastgeber bietet Sprachaustausch an
    We are interested to converse in various languages or swap stories about travel or see who makes the best version of a classic recipe… We also like word puzzles, card or board games, and the challenge of translating literature.

  • Unterkunft


    We have basic accommodation in a rustic setting amidst the rolling hills of Umbria. Every room has a shower or bath. Most likely, visitors share a room, with a maximum of two per room. Living space is divided across two adjacent houses. There is a small, basic additional kitchenette. However, we prefer eating meals together. There is no need to bring food or sleeping equipment or towels etc. You are welcome to bring alcohol. There is plenty of scope for indulging in outdoor exercise.

  • Was noch ...

    Was noch ...

    Essentially we are in search of an idea about what nature, art, and life can be together in the modern world.

    We are a long way from the road or from a town of size. If you want to explore the regions you will, in all seriousness, need a car or use one of our bikes.

    It is quiet. Our two neighbours are Reschio (reschio.com) and Borgo Bastia Creti (bastiacreti.it) but we are not grand like these residences. Instead we are surrounded by nature: oak trees, cypresses, walnuts, hazelnuts, plane trees, and scrub; many animals including deer, rabbits, boar, foxes, owls, falcons, pheasant, squirrels, woodpeckers, hedgehogs, badgers, stoats, humming birds, and the occasional wolf etc. Being in the country we also have various reptiles and insects: paths on which lizards lazily lie, not unlike those in Caravaggio’s famous painting and, at the right time of year, lavender at day humming with bees and fields at night flickering with fireflies…. We have lots of chestnuts, pine nuts, and -- after rain -- mushrooms, including porcini and the very occasional truffle from our gardens. We are a wonderful location to go foraging at the right time of year.

    The location is not so far from interesting and famous sites like Cortona, Sansepolcro, Perugia, Assisi, Arezzo, Spoleto, and Lake Trasimeno, where you can visit the Isola Maggiore on which they made lace or the interesting museum about Hannibal. To experience Trasimeno up close you can travel along a 70km bike track which loops around the lake. Or if you enjoy hiking you can walk the Franciscan trail, for example from Perugia to Assisi, or visit Norcia and its fantastic natural surroundings famous in particular for wild flowers. You can follow the path of the great innovative Renaissance artist, Piero della Francesca. A trip to the hill-town of Anghiari is also wonderful on a clear sunny day, overlooking the site of a famous battle between Florence and Milan and inspiration for a celebrated but lost Leonardo da Vinci artwork.

    We are near famed Tuscan wine regions around Montepulciano and Montalcino, and not so far from various celebrated thermal baths. A bit further away is Florence, Urbino (home to Raphael), Orvieto with its amazing gothic cathedral, and Rome; also Viterbo, with its magnificent villas and gardens, such as the Palazzo Farnese. Near Viterbo is the 'Park of Monsters' outdoor sculpture garden, while the famous Tarot Garden of Niki de Saint Phalle is also within reach. The ghost-town of Civita di Bagnoregio near Orvieto is fun…

    Our isolated position in the Umbrian hills means it is not so easy to reach us. In general arriving on a weekday is best; either morning, lunch, or evening. Weekends, afternoons, and nights increase the risk of complications, particularly if buses or trains do not run on time and visitors miss their connections. A few visitors have ended up spending the night at a hostel or B&B in town before continuing on.

    Perhaps the best means to reach us on the farm from Rome Fiumicino airport is a direct bus from Fiumicino on Sulga bus lines either to Perugia or to Città di Castello. (The latter bus continues all the way to Ravenna, so don’t fall asleep unless you want to see the great Byzantine mosaics of the north and Dante’s tomb.) Sulga has various options to reach Perugia, including Sunday, but only one service to Città di Castello in the afternoon (2:30pm) six days a week: Monday to Saturday (except public holidays).

    The next best approach these days is the train or FlixBus to Perugia and then the train from Perugia to Umbertide. The train stops at Perugia Ponte San Giovanni (buy ticket online) and you change there for Umbertide (buy ticket at the station or, most likely, on the train). The FlixBus should stop at Piazza Partigiani near Perugia centre. You walk three minutes to Stazione Perugia Sant' Anna and get the train to Umbertide (again buy ticket at the station). The reason train tickets from Perugia to Umbertide are not available online is because the Umbria bus company operates this particular service.

    Meanwhile, a direct, nonstop overnight train connects Florence to Munich and Vienna, which with a single change then links up to the rest of Germany and Austria as well as other countries like Poland, Hungary, Czechia, and Croatia if you enjoy rail travel around Europe. And there is a fast train that links Milan and Frankfurt or Milan and Paris. You can find rapid trains at different times of the day from Paris into Italy. The fastest takes nearly 11 hours from Paris to Terontola-Cortona or Perugia with a minimum of one change at Milan. The lowest price I've seen for this particular trip is around 55 euros.

    Fast trains pass through Perugia connecting it either to Rome one way (and with a single change onto Naples, Salerno, or Taranto) and to Florence, Milan, and Turin the other way. Italy's northern trains then link to Switzerland. I find that the best site for train information and booking is 'thetrainline', which saves a lot of hassle whether at the station itself or with different country-specific sites. However, trainline does not always help with local tickets on the smallest trains. And sometimes you need to be careful whether to print out the tickets or not...

    We have come across two common challenges for travellers. The first is a tendency to miss the correct station in Perugia. There are at least four stations that start with 'Perugia': some are useful as an end or starting point; others are useful for changing trains. If you end up at the wrong station it can be 2-3 hours before the next train comes... Meanwhile, it is difficult to travel around Italy on a Sunday, particularly later in the day. There are few good options, and even fewer if you are travelling on a budget.

    In terms of planes, a direct flight connects London to Perugia all year round while it links other destinations, including Sicily (Palermo, Catania), Malta, Brussels, and Rotterdam, in the summer. A good site to confirm what may be possible is 'flightsfrom'. If you cannot find a plane to Perugia try (in order of convenience) the airports at Ancona, Pisa, Florence, or Rome.

    In terms of buses, FlixBus is useful. Many take it to reach southern Italy, especially Puglia. Curcio bus lines connect Perugia to the Adriatic one way and the south of Italy the other way. With a change at Orte you can also reach Tuscany and less easily accessible towns like Siena. Marino Bus is another good option, and offers tickets around 8 euros from Rome to Perugia. Marino Bus also usefully links Rome to Bergamo airport above Milan.

    The 'BlaBlaCar' app, in which you share a ride, helps connect up Rome-Perugia-Lago Trasimeno-Florence by car. It is not quite so good for towns in the immediate vicinity of our farm, but it is getting better all the time. Often now I can find a driver who is going to Umbertide or Città di Castello. Workawayers have used the app to go from Umbertide to Bologna, Milan, Pisa, and even Turin at a fraction of the already-cheap bus price. Frequently the driver is a university student crossing the country between home and studies.

    Many of our visitors go on to Croatia from here, using the ferry from Ancona. One kindly provided this update. "I found this really nice and local restaurant near the harbour. It is called Ristorante El Vigolo. If people are taking the ferry they must do a check-in with passport a little from the harbour/terminal (but there is a free shuttle bus between the two, but it might just take 1/2 hour extra), pluuuuus there is lugagge storage free of charge by the terminal :)" There are trains connecting Perugia to Ancona.

    The quiet location of our farm best suits people who like nature, outdoors, physical activity, cooking, writing, or artistic pursuits. It really doesn't suit those intent on seeing the major sights of Italy -- since we are not conveniently located in terms of transport for such endeavours; and lodging just for sightseeing does not match the ideal behind the Workaway concept.

    The garden itself has many benches and chairs to sit and read, or from which to enjoy the flowers, the sweeping views along the valley, and the sun, particularly at dawn. If you get up early enough you can wander the ridge or the fields as the sky changes colour at first light, about 30 minutes before the official dawn time. (In all honesty no one but our very first visitors have managed to get up particularly early...) In terms of more physical outdoor activities there are lots of hill trails to run along or explore. We have numerous head torches, which you can use to do the same trails at night or to wander around the surrounding fields; particularly if you want to see the animals coming out under the cover of darkness. I occasionally run with the dog to Preggio, which is a nearby hilltop village with a lovely view. One time the dog did sit down and refuse to budge in protest... We have done this hike (about 23-24 km) with more than half our guests to date.

    We have mountain bikes (for which you could bring your own bike helmets), which can be used to cycle along the various dirt roads, to visit the nearby towns such as Umbertide or Città di Castello for a gelato, or to reach Lago Trasimeno lake and see the Hannibal museum or - by ferry - the Isola Maggiore island, at one point known for its lacemaking introduced from Ireland. Over the years, the more adventurous have cycled, besides to Umbertide for a gelato or Montone for its beauty, to Cortona (setting for the film version of "Under the Tuscan Sun"), Arezzo (setting for the film, "Life Is Beautiful", winner of three Academy Awards), Florence, and Rome via the fast train from Terontola-Cortona.

    We like doing as much as possible outside: meals overlooking the valley, picnics under the great oak tree in the fields, the outdoor white Carrara marble bath. Many workawayers have now experienced this grand bath hidden on a leafy natural terrace down in the gardens either early in the morning as the steam rises off the hot water or later at night surrounded by candles. It is hard to experience something more peaceful and relaxing, where you gradually feel one with the nature around you.

    The enjoyment is not dissimilar when we go wild swimming in the large natural pond - although it is possible only when the water levels are high enough and rain has been sorely missed these last two years. (If you haven't read Waterlog by Roger Deakin then it is an excellent, genre-creating book which reminds us about the wonder of nature and how far we have now removed ourselves from it.) Several groups of visitors have taken a liking to the pond and swum in its chilling but refreshing waters in the months outside the summer season; whether with or without the pink flamingo… Occasionally there are races across to the island on the far side.

    Beside the pond is a small open BBQ and some nights we all collect there to grill vegetables in the dark under the stars -- no pollution here to hide the wondrous sky -- gathered around the fire, gazing into the flames and smoke, faces red with the heat.

    Meanwhile, we do have a wide 20m pool open during the summer and a shared artificial grass tennis court, as well as outdoor games like table tennis, badminton, and basketball. Although we are not, in any sense, a yoga retreat we do have yoga mats, a yoga bench, and yoga cushions. We make use of simple but practical horse riding facilities nearby for those who like riding and want to enjoy the amazing scenery around the commune of Montone.

    Indoors we have shelves and shelves of books, and piles and piles of games: Rummikub, Latice, Sequence, Boggle, Pass the Bomb, Scrabble (and the Italian version, Scarabeo), Katamino, Tal der Wikinger, Pictionary, Bananagrams, Taboo, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, chess, draughts, cards, Monopoly, Jenga and backgammon. Trina and one of the guests have suggested that Tal der Wikinger is one of the worst games ever invented; Alix is not so sure and some guests agree with her that merit lurks somewhere in the prize-winning game. Meanwhile, I guess there are still one or two board games hiding in the cupboards. Recently, I found "the worst-case scenario survival card game"...

    We are blessed with open markets everywhere — depending on the day selling bread, fresh produce, or craft products — and either indoor or outdoor flea markets (“mercatino dell’usato”) selling everything from used items to antiques. We are happy to join in visits to these various markets. Many of our guests ride our bicycles down to the markets in Umbertide twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, to try the local food or to buy clothes, linen, and books; returning with bulging bags strapped to their back.

    We are a small family with a few animal friends. My grandfather celebrated our wedding in 2004 on a sunny new year's eve in Washington DC, after Trina and I first met in 2000 on the ballroom dancefloor. (The light always shone on Trina while she swung and danced the night away...) Trina was born in a small, remote outback town in the very northwest of Australia, where no one gets born if they can help it. I came from the other side of the country -- and we met there at Gilkisons Dance Studio in Perth, where later Jason Gilkison's mother, Kay, so kindly taught us both how to move around the floor with better technique and more style. (Jason Gilkison, one of Australia's great dance champions, is now better known as the creative director and lead choreographer on "Strictly Come Dancing".)

    My godfather most kindly baptised our daughter, Alix, in Rome in 2012 in the beautiful Oratory of St. Francis Xavier del Caravita, where Frescobaldi and Mozart are said to have played. We have a young blue heeler dog "Bluey" -- a breed sometimes described as a "land shark". By coincidence our dog is just like the one in the popular Australian TV series (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluey_(2018_TV_series)). We also have a gorgeous cat, even though I am not sure how much the dog and the cats like each other... For those who enjoy TV series, my alter ego appeared in Downton Abbey (downtonabbey.fandom.com/wiki/Samuel_Thawley).

    In our daily lives to date we have focused simply on our passions and quickly moved possessions along when no longer needed or central to our activities. We are fans of thrifting, markets, and barter; and overall we believe in removing unnecessary items and avoiding excessive waste. We live fully in the moment, if with a certain eye on the future, and at various points in time all our possessions could be packed into 2-5 large cardboard boxes. One time, someone kindly helped me move house in their old 1970s Toyota Corolla hatchback. It took only one trip, everything fit in the one small boot.

    To reduce my carbon footprint I have never bought or owned a car and I rely heavily on walking, public transport, or combining with others. At certain points in my life this has meant a daily commute up to 15km (9 miles) on foot. I am always amazed how we can - if willing - manage a lifestyle that minimises unnecessary movement and so focus simply upon what is important; and, in doing so, come to know better and appreciate more our actual surroundings, which I discover grow in meaning through the process. As the film director and writer, Werner Herzog, has often emphasised: 'the world reveals itself to those who travel on foot'.

    Our immediate surroundings, our family and our community, all gain from our attention and from our regular physical and emotional engagement with them in a manner that is concrete and constructive. And in doing so we benefit many times over, much like plants with large, deep roots in healthy soil. Seasons then offer a beautiful natural structure, like movements in a symphony, and a vital rhythm which pace our activities here in Italy, while the weather in all its variety provides the detailed accompaniment, sometimes magical in its permutations.

    We believe travel, international exchange, meeting new people, and understanding other cultures is a big key to knowing ourselves, and to understanding better what makes us happy. Doing new things and making these new encounters helps to refresh our spirit and stimulate the mind; it shows where our boundaries are, how we might pass through them, and what we might seek out longer-term.

    Talking of travel my favourite trips are: walking the shrines of Shikoku island, visiting the archeological sites along the west coast of Turkey, touring the national parks of the American south-west during December, doing a full circuit of Australia's wilder largely tropical north, and exploring Georgia (the country). We have gone off to dance (and perform) ballroom in the great American west and to undertake a traditional Japanese taiko drumming bootcamp among the mountains of Nagano, Japan. The course ended with my hands in bandages, much like "The Mummy"...

    Other adventures include driving around the magnificent coast of Scotland's highland country, rowing in a double scull on the Yarkon river, participating in a traditional Indonesian wedding on Java island, visiting the science museum in Tartu, and taking the night train from Catania to Naples in the middle of a ferocious electrical storm.

    In a hectic bunch of decades, I have lived in Canberra, Rome, Godalming, Broadstairs, Moscow, Melbourne, Kobe, Tokyo, London, Paris, Perth (Australia), Glasgow, Santa Monica, Hong Kong, and Perugia. I am familiar with big cities like Mumbai, Beijing, Los Angeles, and Shanghai, while I have family connections with Jakarta and Madrid. We got married in Washington DC. We briefly lived on a house boat where Alix learned to walk (not very straight given all the rocking). Perhaps as a result of all this movement and variety of lifestyle, I really enjoy international cinema and music, as well as the stranger, crossover regions of poetry and music which Leonard Cohen represents and Nick Cave (who, as a kid, would sing in my grandfather's church choir).

    In terms of diet, for those worried about eating, I do near all the cooking based around the natural ingredients we have from the orto and the farm. The ingredients are organic and no chemicals are used on any of our products. Even if the majority of the cooking that I normally do at home involves vegetables, fruit, legumes/pulses (including chickpea flour), rice (mostly wholegrain red, black, or brown rice, but also Italian white varieties), certain grains (polenta, spelt), herbs, eggs (usually for cakes or pancakes), and some seafood (shellfish), we do eat minimal quantities of meat, dairy (such as milk, pecorino, parmigiano), and wheat.

    Often we have pasta for the primo piatto. Occasionally we try to make our own pasta using wheat, spelt, or chickpea flour. Sometimes we buy bread either from the Italian baker or the amazing German breadmaker once a week at the local market in Umbertide. However, more often these days I bake sour-dough bread once or twice a day in the oven. We make our own gelato; although without cream. I make the occasional, delicately-coloured wild cherry or mulberry liqueur. I also prepare our own sauces, such as mayonnaise, various dips, like hummus, and spreads whether jam or peanut butter.

    Some family members have allergies to lactose and gluten. This has heavily influenced the cooking philosophy, and it also means we use olive oil rather than butter and there is no cream anywhere. We almost never eat processed food, processed sugar, or similar ingredients, other than what is found in dark chocolate. If anything, I would describe our diet as mediterranean in style. In the coronavirus period, when we stopped eating out, we each lost over 10kg, or over 1.5 stone, on this diet without a change in quantity (other than Alix!). At the time I hoped we would lose no more, otherwise we'd disappear...

    For those who would like to visit a church we have three nearby. These are within reach by bicycle. The first is 15 minutes away and has a service from 09:00am to 09:30am on Sunday. The second is about 25 minutes away, and its service starts from 10:30am and lasts more than an hour. The third is about 45 minutes away and is the oldest and most beautiful, as part of a working monastery.

    Useful places for car hire include Perugia airport and Arezzo, where a cheap option is usually the Fiat Panda manual transmission. Different car firms have different policies regarding age. A car is essential for any serious sightseeing.

    Items that travellers sometimes forget to bring include: water bottles for hydration when outside, hat, sunscreen or sunblock lotion, insect repellent, plug adapter, phone charger, shampoo or conditioner, Q-tips, pain killers, and antihistamines if necessary. Our location not being close to a shop, it is sometimes difficult to procure things at the last minute. On the other hand, we have two good washing machines and lots of clothes racks.

    We do hope visitors get involved in keeping the place clean and orderly, show willingness to be part of the group, and are suitably conscious of others in their activities. Therein lies the real secret of 'mindfulness'. This is a nice opportunity to help look after a house (setting tables, washing dishes, drying, sweeping, mopping the floors, opening and closing doors against the heat, making beds) if not properly attempted before! There is plenty of scope, also, to play around in the kitchen if you would like to cook... We have, in person, hosted around 2000 visitor-nights in less than 2.5 years and so have a reasonable idea of the overall Workaway experience, both the good and the surprising.

    We do have a disco-style karaoke machine and some microphones which is all great fun when the right moment strikes. A pair of Danish lads doing their favourite rap songs late into the night has been a highlight to date; even if an Australian guest singing Missy Higgins has been the most polished performance so far! "I somehow went to the same school with Missy Higgins", I declared, but sadly several decades too early. Anyway, karaoke is a wonderful way to explore the world and its cultures through song. Alix gives a great rendition of 'Bella ciao' and 'Think about things'. Alix and I aim to get to the Tomorrowland music festival before too long!

    As a final note, we feature on the maptrekking travel blog about incredible workaway experiences to try out. And the Australia-based Segmento magazine has featured Trina and her work at our farm. However, it is more about having good fun rather than an incredible experience. I wouldn't say everything is in place and perfect. It’s not always smooth going. Instead as Amy Tan suggested, “Everyone must dream. To stop dreaming—well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.”

    Well-known people who have houses in the area or visit regularly include Colin Firth, Ed Sheeran, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Robert Downey Jr, Johnny Depp (for Umbria Jazz), George Lucas, Liv Tyler, David Beckham, Meryl Streep, some ex-British PMs, some ex-Italian PMs, Elton John, Anthony Hopkins, and Hugh Grant. Several have chosen to celebrate important birthdays within walking distance of our home… Less frequent visitors to the neighbourhood have included Lady Gaga and Kylie Jenner, who arrived in a helicopter as we all headed off to lunch in the countryside.

    We look forward to catching up if you are passing near Perugia!

    A summary of things you can learn from a visit here:

    - olive pruning, maintenance, and harvesting
    - kitchen garden planting, maintenance, and using
    - assembly of facilities: eg shed, bee hives, chicken coop
    - weather-proofing and painting of outdoor installations
    - weeding and plant-bed maintenance
    - cleaning of indoor and outdoor areas
    - use and maintenance of wood boiler
    - mosaics
    - Italian language

    Other activities on a visit here include:

    - photography for websites, books, and journals
    - hiking
    - on occasion, visits to local towns; eg
    Sansepolcro, Orvieto, Perugia, Assisi, Città di Castello, Montone, Umbertide
    - cooking
    - looking after the animals: dogs, cats, chickens, and bees

  • Etwas mehr Information

    Etwas mehr Information

    • Internet Zugang

    • Eingeschränkter Internet Zugang

      Eingeschränkter Internet Zugang

    • Wir besitzen Tiere

    • Wir sind Raucher

    • Familien möglich

  • Platz zum Abstellen von Camper Vans

    Platz zum Abstellen von Camper Vans

    We are at the end of a narrow dirt track and there is not much scope to turn. So really we can only manage smaller vehicles that accommodate one or two people.

  • Kapazität - wie viele Workawayer maximal

    Kapazität - wie viele Workawayer maximal

    mehr als zwei

  • ...


    Flexible: about 25 hours a week

Gastgeber Ref-Nr.: 714653755328

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Help us with build a place for practicing meditation and Qui Gong and explore idyllic Acqui Terme, Italy
Help with my newly bought apartment in Trento, Italy