Autumn’s Adventures


My New Adventure – Farming in Italy!
June 15, 2010, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

So here I am, reviving the blog again for my next adventure — farming in Italy!  I tried to blog while backpacking in Europe but I was all over the place and it was just too hard to organize the millions of things I was seeing into coherent posts.  So onward we go, this new adventure is going to be awesome and well blogged about, so bookmark me!

For those of you who are totally out of the loop, this summer my younger sister and I are farming on a huge farm in a small town, Varese, in Italy in the Lombardy province on the border of Switzerland.  We will be here for 2 months doing random manual farm labor, helping out in the family restaurant and learning italian and how to cook.  We are able to do this almost for free (minus the flight and any random mini trips around Italy that we go on).  The farm experience was made possible as a volunteer exchange program that we are doing through an online community called Helpx.  There is a similar community that works specifically with organic farming called WWOOFING, which is more widely known.  Helpx provides a forum for people who are looking for helpers on projects and helpers looking for people who have projects.  Normally the people looking for helpers will provide food and shelter in exchange for the work.  This is how Amber and I are living in Italy for free and only working about 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week.

The farm we found is called Goccia d’oro Ranch and it is run by a big italian family that speaks very little English (yay for us!).  The farm is part of agriturismo, which is tourism on a farm, a new way of vacationing that is becoming very popular.  They have every animal imaginable on their farm from deer to ducks to ostrich to special chickens with crazy feathers.  They also love breeding Arabian horses, so there are tons of horses on the farm and Amber and I will learn how to ride.

Amber and I arrived yesterday, separately, as I came from Germany visiting my cute boify and she came directly to Milan.  Unfortunately, Amber’s flight was delayed FOREVER and instead of arriving at 12:30 in the afternoon she arrived at 12:30 in the morning!  Poor girl.  You can read her blog to hear all about it.

I arrived by train after 6 hours and entered Varese in the pouring rain, crossing the border into Italy by foot and running to the bus stop only to get soaked in rain and wait for a bus that didn’t come after 45 minutes.  Luckily, Barbara, the woman from the farm, and Robin, a farm helper from New York City, were able to come and pick me up at the border as I tried to dry off.

Robin is the only other helper from Helpx on the farm at the moment but more will be coming as the summer progresses.  There are Irish and British girls coming in July and some dude as well.  And I’m sure more will pop in randomly throughout the summer.  Some will camp outside and some will stay in our big bedroom, equipped with at least 6-8 beds (and a giant antique pool table).

When I first arrived to the farm we drove down this long, steep and stony driveway.  It reminded me of my dad’s driveway to his cabin — I expected rustic and I totally got it.  The farm is secluded from the town and has a fantastic view overlooking green pastures.  The hotel/farm house is huge and beautiful and I was greeted by an enthusiastic and friendly dog named Billy.  Robin showed me around the farm house and we chilled for the night until we went to pick up Amber.  I haven’t taken any pictures of the farm house yet because it was raining and when it wasn’t raining I was working on the farm…so pictures will come eventually.

So far everything is amazing.  The farm, Italy, the people, the food, the animals…I’m so happy Amber and I are finally here and doing this crazy thing, really living the life…

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