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Short stays: one week - ten days
Bring us (if you can) some traditional food and/or plants and seeds from your area :)
Hi, my name is Guido and with my family we live in the area where Mount Etna is the closest to the sea.
This area is renowned for its unique soil and microclimate; inevitable conditions if you have a three and a half thousand metres volcano to less than ten km from the coast.
Our farm consists of a few plots, all of them a few km close-by one another.
My parents (Turi and Caterina), my sister (Chiara) and my grandma (Giuseppa-for everyone just “nonna”) live in one of these plots and the one we hang out at most: a chaotic country house in the middle of a 3-acre grove; an old lemon orchard that my father has transformed into a fruit garden. That is the place we commonly refer to and identify as “the farm”. Today, in that small piece of land, we hold something like 60 different edible varieties of plants and trees, half of which tropical and subtropical. The steady increase in biodiversity together with the non-entrepreneurial management method has in fact fostered the propensity to a number of virtuous aspects of agriculture leading us toward other closely related trends such as sustainable development and self-sufficiency. What had begun as a mere hobby, over time became a lifestyle. This also thanks to the many small farmer markets and purchase coops carried out in the area, where we delighted ourselves in raising our visitor’s awareness about the big issues of our time, drawing their attention with new and exotic products and in recent years also thanks to some international cultural exchange project. We are and have always been firmly against chemicals and all kind of improper practices, even before becoming certified. We have two friendly dogs (Jaco and Bianca) and some chickens. I see many of you want to come to learn or improve Italian, you couldn’t choose a better place! Lots of Italian and dialect gibberish in the house (don’t forget my grandma), not to mention daily traditional Sicilian gestures and body-language :)
I’ve also been a volunteer myself. I’ve spent several months in the UK and Ireland to loosen up my tongue a bit. My wife is from Hong Kong, we are okay with Latin-based languages and generally curious about all languages.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
Depending on seasons there will be always a variety of practical things to learn (grafting, pruning, wrapping, plowing, plucking, etc.), all imbued with a bit of scientific, philosophical and cultural background.
We believe 25 hours per week is a good match for room and board in exchange. Albeit generally in the morning, it is not rare to ask you to help us at a different time of the day or in different places. Our primary target of course will be everything involving the garden maintenance (weeding and cleaning, working the land, harvesting, maintaining and repairing, etc.). Some of our ever-going projects are the enlargement of our vegetable garden along with the improvement of the irrigation system and in our to-do list the start of a small plant nursery and greenhouse.
A reality check: help in the farm is not always easy. Helping us means being entrusted with a task on our behalf, allowing us to take care of something else. That is why helpers need to be reliable, self-motivated and independent.
Suggested clothing: long work trousers/jeans, shirts (long and short sleeves), old jacket/hoodie, boots (those for builders are perfect), hat, thick leather gloves.
Rain jacket for fall-winter time and solar cream/mosquitoes repellent for spring-summer time.
You will be staying with me in our apartment in the nearby hamlet of Carruba. The apartment is 4.5 km away from the main plot (the farm). We move together by car; when not with me you are provided with a bicycle to reach the plots. The way to reach the main plot is almost all flat except for the last 1.5 km which is uphill – it has already been defined “strenuous for the less experienced“, therefore be aware of it. You must know how to operate a gear system on a mountain bike. The way back will be pure fun. The time required to cycle is not included in the helping hours.
Depending on the number of people that come and go, you might be relocated in other rooms when necessary. Bathroom will be always shared. Wi-Fi, washing machine and the normal appliances and equipment needed for everyday living are available in case you are wondering. The apartment is on the last floor, surrounded by balconies and with a big terrace from which you may catch sight of the sea (just 15 minutes away) or tan yourself to a crisp under the sun.
Bus stop next door and train station a matter of minutes away on foot.
Food: it consists of all constituents of the Mediterranean diet whereas fruit and vegetables coming primarily from our land. Of all meals, lunch will be normally shared. Let us know of any animal/food allergies you have.
The main plot (the farm) is located in Giarre’s southern outskirts, less than a mile from the motorway’s (A18) exit and easily reachable by all buses covering the SS114 Messina-Catania. We are approximately 40 km from Catania International Airport, 35-50 minutes depending on connections between public transport – the train takes no more than 25 minutes to get to Catania Centrale railway station. The apartment is 4 minutes on foot from the train station.
A word of advice: dealing with the mysterious realm of our public services might sometimes be an “extraordinary” experience. Therefore, plan your connections carefully!
Being a densely built area, villages often come in succession, merging together (sometimes it’s hard to say where the one starts and the other ends), each with its own historic core - church, bars, piazza, etc.
The "Riviera dei limoni", a portion of coastline stretching from Catania to Taormina (Acicastello, Acitrezza, Acireale, Giarre-Riposto, Fiumefreddo, Giardini Naxos, and minor coastal villages/seaside resorts such as Fondachello, Torre Archirafi (not too far away from Carruba), Pozzillo, Stazzo, Santa Tecla, etc., offer a variety of cultural, historical and touristic attractions. However, excluding the biggest and most popular places, the remaining part is not otherwise subjected to foreign clout, which in my opinion makes it even more interesting.
My family might take a moment to decipher your words, my grandma transcends the need to, but they are getting better and better at it since we started.
Having been a helper myself, I have an overall idea of what it’s like to be treated and I will do my best in trying to make your experience as enjoyable and varied as possible. Apologies in advance for our possible lack of organization :)
See you soon!
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
This host has indicated that they love having digital nomads stay.
This host can provide space for campervans.
This host has said they are willing to accept those travelling with a pet.
25 hours a week
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