Put an end to your coronavirus lockdown blues and come to wonderful Italy! Yes! The Italian countryside, olive trees, grape vineyards, medieval villages, and Italian cypresses beckon! It's beautiful! It's emotional! It's fun! It's the perfect, safe getaway from the crowded quarantine household. But please, vaccinated volunteers only.
We are Alex and David, a once-young couple who has spent the past 18 years fixing up a country house, raising two children, cultivating an organic garden, and caring for olive trees. The property is well-loved by everyone. The house always needs a little work and your contribution will add to a great, Workaway project.
The house and grounds are within an old estate ensuring privacy and providing swimming pools, tennis courts, playing fields, and wooded parkland. We're near Chiusi in Central Italy, halfway between Roma and Firenze, Assisi and Siena. We're close to the main north/south highway and rail service putting all of central Italy within reach.
Help around the house
When the work is over, there are plenty of sights to see which we can help you get to. We are very aware that this is a reciprocal arrangement, and will do what we can to reward you for a few chores. We are 10 minutes to a central Tuscan train station putting all of central Italy within easy reach. The city centers of Roma, Firenze, Siena, Arezzo, Orvieto, Assisi or Perugia can be easily reached by comfortable and inexpensive trains. You can walk to the bus stop in the morning and find the local cafe or bakery. The estate we live on provides many lovely walks through native woodland. There are even a few old racing bikes hanging around the cantina (although I need a hand replacing the tires and oiling the chains).
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
Eighteen years ago, we decided to leave California and London, respectively, and raise our children in an abandoned, Italian, farmhouse. Since we live in an ancient, restored (sort of) house with less than modern conveniences, all this can take a little more effort than one may be used to, but the deal for utopia never promised laziness.
Indoors, we need someone who can run a sewing machine, oil a window frame, do a spot of plumbing, or glue a chair together. Can anyone out there sew? Not like a total expert. Competent cushions and curtains would be fine.
And when that gets boring and/or the machine breaks and/or outside beckons on a beautiful day, you can take over digging, planting, and cultivating the vegetable garden. For anyone who likes wielding a chainsaw, there's also a ton of wood to chop and olive trees to prune. The building work is over (except for a tool shed), but the maintenance is forever. The gardening, tree pruning, weed-whacking, chainsawing, list-making, and head scratching must go on. As a special treat, we've suffered a forest fire three years ago and need to clear a couple of trees.
I recommend workaway volunteers plan for stays of not more than two weeks at any host. This gives both host and guest time to get to know each other without making too big a commitment. If you fall in love, you can probably extend. If not, there is likely a number of other hosts here in Italy that will be happy to have you.
You will have your own private room and bathroom with shower and a place set for you at the supper table. You'll be treated as a guest and friend with equal parts privacy and company. We offer free wi-fi and phone to the US and Europe.
Many people lament about rampant materialism, commercialism, processed food, consumerism, and the loss of touch with the 'real world.' But it's tough changing old habits and few do much about it. We've managed to find a small way to exercise our options and get back to the land. It's not a retreat, a hostel, a de-programming experience or an off-the-grid alternative lifestyle. It's just an old house in the country we're trying to improve and learn from at the same time. What we've learned so far is that it's possible to tip the balance back from consuming to producing. And it's fun, too. Maybe by volunteering, you can get some of this inspiration for free!
I've got a lot of respect for the intelligence and creativity of the Italian contadini who built these houses and cultivated this difficult but beautiful land. We've tried to preserve not just the original features and the natural aged character of our house and property, but also the frugality, efficiency and independent nature of the building. Wherever possible we have recovered and reused original building materials. Almost all of the work has been accomplished by us or Workaway volunteers, and everyone who visits remarks on the lovely effect. It is a real testimony to the quality of Workaway help. At the same time, we have sympathetically included some new-age plumbing, solar water heating, photovoltaic power, and underfloor heating installations. By now, most of the heavy work is finished; and we are in the midst of an endless amount of "finish work," landscaping, decorating, orchard maintenance, and gardening.
Our house is ancient, rustic but comfortable. The rooms are small, but there are a lot of them. Those used to luxurious, spotless accommodation, will feel more comfortable somewhere else. We are and will remain, an old Italian farmhouse. Our water is heated by the sun. We now have an air-conditioning/heating heat-pump running off solar-generated electricity. When the clouds accumulate, we revert to a more frugal style of living. There is a gentle, outdoor cat to keep everyone company.
We enjoy a friendly household. We're not running a business. We're not going to rely on you to keep us profitable. It gives me great joy in reading through my diary of Workaway volunteers. All of them have given so much more to our household culture than we can possibly return. Our first volunteer, Trisha Morgan, stayed with us fifteen years ago; and every visitor since then has brought support, fun, laughter, and worldly experience to the family. Please check the availability calendar, we get a lot of requests from volunteers, friends, and family. I'm afraid our calendar is pretty tight.
RyanAir.com flies from London directly to Perugia, which is a very pleasant hour's drive from us. The airports in Rome are about two and a half hours by car or train (these flights may have changed in corona's wake but we're very happy to look into flights or help you book your trip). Here in the country, it helps to have a car; but with excellent rail service, a car is not required. Car rentals are available at the train station in Chiusi.
We require no lifestyle restrictions. We don't smoke, but we do enjoy a fresh, local wine at supper. Our diet has moved from rural Italian to more purist whole vegetarian. We are patient with mature volunteers and we have room for pets and couples as long as the work allows. Please email us with your questions and your plans. If we have room for you, I'll send you directions, photos, and more details so you get a better idea of who and where we are.
Our sincere thanks to all our friends who have come to visit us. Your contributions have helped make our house comfortable and our family happy. Best wishes to all you travelers out there, we hope you love your Italian adventures.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
25 hours per week
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