My name is Simone, 34 years old, half Australian half Italian video-maker and video-editor.
After being a work-awayer for over a decade pretty much all over the world, I'm now hosting travelers in my chestnut forest in the heart of central Italy.
2 years ago I came back home from my travels around the globe in order to take care of our family chestnut forest, unfortunately being abandoned for the last 40 years.
The decision came as test for me, to check if a lifestyle "out of the grid" or detached from the actual social system it is still achievable in a country like Italy, or if it is pure utopia.
My forest its a wild 7 hectares land, whatever it is remaining from an old chestnut farm, being overtaken by wild nature again. is situated in between 2 of the most iconic chain mountains in central Italy. the Sibillini and the Monti della Laga
The secular chestnut trees have been almost completely eaten by the weeds. and the new plants don't have enough light and strength to grow high.
There are obviously plenty of mushrooms, wild asparagus and cherry in spring, chestnuts obviously, but also some apple trees and olives and juniper and many other I didnt even discover yet.
My plan is to take care of the forest, as much as I can, trying to bring back to life the old chestnut farm.
There are no facilities what so ever!!
I set up already a basic (kinda boy scout) base camp with a fire pit for cooking, a few tents and hammocks, 1 caravan with solar panel for basic charging station.. and this is it for now folks!
I collect drinkable water from a near source.
10 minutes away from the forest there is a very nice river for showering in summer, or hot water springs for the winter.
It would be perfect for travelers who travel on their own camper-van! there is a road that can bring you right in the heart of the forest, surrounded only by trees and wild animals.
There is some intention of building sort of eco-buildings such as a small wooden cabin (mainly as a tool storage and roof in case of rain) or a shed for drying wood or also a natural toilet and why not a natural pool:):)
but everything on it's on time.. I don't need to rush.
obviously in my dream there would be also animals one day.. from simple chickens to goats and maybe horses who knows!
and don't forget the tree huts!
but yes... only by enjoying the process of what you are doing you can taste the good in every little step that you take so I'm sure things will develop by themself.
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
travellers can get a glimpse of what does mean to live out in a forest, sleeping under the stars and cooking on the fire.
they could learn the basic about bushcrafting and landworking such as pruning old trees.
As being a project that just started I would need all sort of helpful hands!! But ideas also, and sharing of experience and meeting good like-minded free people first of all.
the real "job" take places only during the month in October there are few tons of chestnut to pick up.. which its the fun bit also):)
the rest of the year it's really chill as I can manage to spread my duties during long periods...so it's open for creative idea to take place:)
During the winter months especially January and February there is some pruning job to do mainly for cleaning the big old trees from the dry branches.
So there will be also lot of wood chopping involved, a lot of burning fires to get rid of the small branches, which is just perfect for cooking or just warming up the water for coffes or teas for example and for warming up our self during the night obviously also.
I use to have fun trying to bring back to life some of the dry wood that needs to be cut down from the trees. So I experiment with different woodworking projects, building all that i need to stay cosy, such as benches to sit or lye down, , workbenches, handmade tools.... whatever i see in a piece of wood i try to make it happen, with many failures before achieving the desired goals:)
As I wrote before,l in my dream there all sorts of eco-buildings projects such as tree huts or small wooden cabin... or even just a shed for tools and drying the wood, but maybe also a natural pool or whichever idea comes to mind really!
for the rest of the year as in spring and summer all the work consist in cleaning the grass really. for grass being wild grass tho! So a lot of spikes from wild roses and stuff like this so that we can clear the ground and discover new trees being surrounded by wilderness.
being a creative mind and an artist myself, I would also love any artistic idea to take place in here.
it could be a perfect retreat area for artists and musicians who needs to find some more inspiration.
One of my ideas is to place a vertical piano on a base on top of a tree also, but this might just another dream, maybe!
Almost forgot the most important thing to do during few days at the beginning of spring is to engage the chestnuts plants with the marroni quality.
This is a kind of a botanical detailed and precise job, so any expert on this stuff my help me a lot also!
This host offers a language exchange
I wish to improve my Spanish. I would also love to learn the basics of many languages especially the ones i dont know at all like Japanese and Arabic.
for now there are 4 tents spread around the forest.
1 roulotte with double bed, gascooker, and water tank for washing up.
my plan is to build a little hut ( with some help) which could be handy during the heavy rainy days or when its' cold.
the nearest city is Ascoli piceno, only 15 minutes away by car. it's not New York, but it looks truly beautiful and there is one amongst the best squares in Italy.
there is all the stuff you will find in a city also, like bars, people, shops...
Few other really old looking small fortress town like castel trosino surround the forest in all directions.
And the there is the entire mountain obviously!
San Marco and San Giacomo which are truly beautiful holiday spot for mountain lovers, base of the skiing facilities, so great fun in winter, and with the typical family run restaurants where you can try the local recipes like olive all'Ascolana (fried olives).
You can find many hiking // bicycle// motorbikes routes passing from the mountain through the forest on the way up or down.
walking distance all around the forest there are many climbing walls also, already set up by climbers and usually quite busy.
10 minutes drive around the forest there are 2 swim-able rivers, the Tronto and the Castellano, that offer a fun site to meet people, chill, and dive from 6m waterfall into the clear cold river waters:)
20 minutes drive through west there are the natural hot springs! it's free access and with curative water for your skin! thats' where i shower most of the times in winter:)
30 minutes drive through east and you get to the Adriatic see. it also reachable by bus or train from Ascoli Piceno.
if you want to drive for an hour than the list could go on forever.
Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Unfortunately there is no WiFi yet in the forest. I could bring a modem and connect it to the power in the caravan, but I'm still not sure I really want one. Also because there is a banging 4g connection already picking up in pretty much the entire forest, which is perfect for basics data need.
There is plenty of space to park the van of any size inside my forest. getting to the forest might be a little more tricky for massive vehicles as the only road that bring you there it a typical countryside road with no asphalt for the least couple of kilometers up to the forest.
as many pet as you have are welcome. But maybe you want to consider if it Is a safe place for your pest first. being out in a forest into the wild with no fence expose your pet to all sorts of wild encounters, from wild pigs to deers and foxes and birds:) I had 2 pitbull in my life. One, the girl, was very good there as use to be very loyal, next to me and not too aggressive or defensive or curious, just a typical lazy pit and it would fit fine there. one the other hand the second pit, male, being more attached to me, more defensive and territorial, it could led to troubles with some of the inhabitants of the forest:) nothing major ever happen but there could always be this chance without paying attention
More than two
Maximum 2-3 hours a day, 5 days a week