Italy, you are beautiful, and I love you! San Fantino, our farm, described as a “sustainable and self sufficient estate” was a dream. For two weeks Andrea and I shared a room in a 17th century country house, with no wifi, a steady trickle of water, and the most amazing view that I have ever seen. Farm life on this hilltop ancient vineyard in the Alburni mountain range had begun. For the next two weeks we would frolic with the farm pups, feed the pig with fruit fallen from the trees, feast on authentic Italian food and wine, and explore the magic, peace, and tranquility of the isolated place that was our Italian home.
The scenery, landscapes, smells, and sights on the Italian coast in Campania were enchanting. Wild mint overgrows the acres of farmland, as does wild fennel, nettle, apple trees, four varieties of fig trees and more!
Rosa and Bichel, the sweet pups that roam over 12 acres of land, welcomed us as friends from day one! Being on this farm felt like complete freedom. On this virgin piece of land, fruit trees grow wild, and are so bountiful that much fruit is actually lost as it becomes so ripe that it falls and is consumed by wild boars and other animals. Everyday I felt like a child as I admired the various varieties of fruits and veggies growing in the Italian sunlight.
“Prickly Fruit! Must Wear Gloves”
There was a new experience to be had everyday. Who knew that you could pick the prickly cactus fruit, put them in the refrigerator, and eat the inside with a spoon like a little sweet slushi! Just be careful – the teeny, fine cactus spines get stuck in your hands like splinters if you don’t wear gloves!
“The First Fig Of My Life – Right From The Tree!”
There was seriously a never ending supply of organic, fresh, sustainable gifts from Mother Earth! To be able to pick a perfectly ripe fig from the tree whenever the heart desired brought a true joy to my being! All of the fruits, veggies, tree nuts and herbs were so colorful and beautiful on top of being delicious. I honestly could have stayed on our mountain-top farm forever! Living life like an Italian goddess, with a good book, and the abundant land, not to mention the view.
“Everything Is Better In A Basket!”
Our main task at San Fantino was picking and finding use for everything that the land was offering to us. What a privileged it was to have a “farm-to-table” experience; eating whole foods with every meal. Living in the U.S. we are completely removed from the production processes of the foods that we eat every day. Having the chance to pick a walnut right off the tree increased my appreciation for everything that is edible! Nothing that we picked was wasted. Produce that wasn’t in condition to be eaten was put in a large, 5 gallon bucket that was fed to Fiamme the pig. Meals were planned around what had been collected that day, or what items were plentiful on the land.
“Picking Plump Persimmons”
“Filling Fiamme’s Food Bucket”
Every morning we fed the pig. The blue bucket was hers, and it was to be filled to the top with anything and everything edible that we could find on the land. The persimmon tree, which was constantly producing more persimmons than we could keep up with, was always a stop along our morning collection.
“Fellow WorkAway Friends – Michelle (Canada) & Yulia (Australia)”
“I Now Understand the Expression Eat Like A Pig“
Pigs are amazing creatures.. as their stomachs are made of steel. Fiamme is basically fed anything compostable; onion and garlic skins, overly ripe and rotten food, flour, fish heads, left overs.. you name it and pigs eat it! It was a super fun task, mostly because Fiamme is the cutest 200 lb pig you ever did see! She would always run over to us when she knew it was time to eat. She unfortunately will be slaughtered early next year, and though this is sad, I can say that she lives a happy life, running free in her large enclosure, and eating eating eating! The circle of life is part of this farm experience, and although I do not eat meat, I feel happy to have met a pig with a very happy life.
“A Not Quite Ripe Lemon & A Walnut Tree Harvest”
Sebastiano makes many products on the farm, like wine, olive oil, jam and tomato sauce. He even makes his own limoncello! Lemons grow all over this region of Italy. To make his limoncello, Sebastiano collects lemons from unclaimed lemon trees that fill the river banks. Why pay for them if they grow everywhere and don’t have homes? It is an interesting philosophy and one that I am not accustom to, as everything in my corner of the world does have an owner, and is most definitely claimed! I love love how everything is consumed and if it can’t be consumed, it is preserved! Yay for canning! One day we filled as many baskets as possible with apples that had fallen to the ground, and we made jam. We collected so many apples! The day was spent removing the very bad, rotten parts of the apples, which were fed to the pig. Lesson learned – nothing needs to go to waste!
“Cooking With Items From The Garden”
“Where There Are Vineyards, There Is Wine!”
Not every aspect of farm life was glamorous.. one task was to weed a field of about 200 baby grape vines, surrounded by waste high grass, crawling with black snakes, large arachnids, active grasshoppers, black ladybugs and other creepy crawlers. What could be so bad about that? Day 1, Andrea was having extreme asthma, a black snake slithered directly over Michelle’s foot, we all broke out in hives, our backs ached and we were sweating! After day two, I sighed a large relief that our field weeding project was complete. I smile at the memory and laugh at the short term misery of this unique experience! 🙂
“Always An Adventure With These Amici”
After a long snake-filled day on the farm, we would load up into Sebastiano’s Jeep and set off down the steep, dirt, narrow mountain roads for 15 minutes of bumpy driving. Why you may ask? GELATO! Ok… that wasn’t the only reason, but that stuff is amazing! The seaside town of Scario is quaint and lovely with amazing views of the Alburni mountain range meeting the Mediterranean Sea. Scario is also home to Tony’s Gelataria! You are allowed two flavors, and my favorite flavor combo was “Mr Tony’s” (mix of pistachio and almond) & Caramel! That stuff is dreamy; smooth, creamy, wonderful, perfect, scrumptious ect!
“Tony’s, The Best Gelato In The World <3”
“So Much To Sea!”
Overall, my Italian farm experience was rejuvenating for the soul! Enjoying the simple pleasures like fresh food and the change of pace to one that was slow and stress free were the highlights of my two weeks here in San Giovanni Del Piro. This was such a change from the bustle that is life back stateside. Time spent here even passed by slowly, and I think the reason for this was I was able to live in the moment and enjoy each meal, every laugh, and all the amazing parts of the day. I feel so fortunate to have experienced what truly was a “simple life”. These moments will be treasured forever!
“Can You See The Mountains? A Beautiful Backdrop!”
“San Giovanni A Piro – A Teeny Tiny Mountain Top Village”