This farm was a slightly different experience. We stayed with a man named Antonio and his dog Lupa. They lived in the mountains above Mondragone (a town about an hour north of Naples). He didn’t sell his produce, it was all for his own consumption. Tonino’s English was pretty broken but he also spoke German, so we spoke a mixture of English, Italian and German. He had a tumor in his leg a few years ago and had to have it amputated, which seemed to be a very life changing experience for him.
The main job we had was moving the sticks around the farm into piles so we could burn them…not exactly a learning experience but, whatever. Before we arrived, I wasn’t very sure about the farm because his emails didn’t answer my questions and weren’t super friendly but I figured it was because he was writing in Italian and I used google translate. On our way there I was worried, but thought that if we were friendly, worked hard, and got to know him, that he would warm up to us and be nice. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. He would put Luke and I down a lot even though we were just asking questions and trying to learn more about him and his farm and was just a grumpy person. We tried as hard as we could to befriend him and establish a schedule, but it was unsuccessful. So, after a few days, I talked to him and told him we weren’t very happy at his farm and felt like we weren’t getting the experience we liked at the other farms so we’d like to leave. He was surprisingly fine with it and even told us to stay for lunch. We felt bad for leaving, but it was our trip and he was making zero effort to make any connection with us. What we learned from this farm is that you should communicate if you aren’t getting the experience you want and not feel bad if you need to part ways and move on.
One of the days we were staying with him, we walked down from the mountain to the beach after work and talked about what we should do and how we could make the most out of this experience. While we were walking on the beach, two men overheard us speaking English and approached us. They were Alessandro and Paul, some of the most kind-hearted and generous people we have ever met. We spent time with them after work the next few days until we told Tonino we wanted to leave.
The plan was to go to Rome and find a cheap hostel or stay with some friends we’d made. Alessandro was sad we were already leaving and hadn’t even been able to see Naples yet, so he generously offered to us to stay in his apartment for a few days and hang out with him. We loved the idea of being able to spend more time with Sandro and Paul! Over the next few days, they showed us Mondragone, Naples, Sessa Aurunca, and Corbara-where Paul and some of his friends have a farm! It was so wonderful to be surrounded by people we hadn’t even known very long but already had a deep connection with.
After we left Mondragone, we went back up to our first farm in Tuscania and took care of Bianca for a few days while Dario and Kirsten went to Milan for Easter weekend. More about the Easter festivals here.
Here’s a little more general info about this farm:
Farm Name on WWOOF website: Villa Falerna
Work: moving sticks into piles…
Hours: generally from 8-2pm, but whenever antonio wanted us to work
Length we stayed: 4 days
Pictures of the farm:
typical evening at Tonino’s
Pictures of our time with Alessandro and Paul:
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