Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Turin, Italy

October 3-5

We awoke well rested after a night in of watching TV and drinking Italian wine. Breakfast was downstairs at the hostel, and was really quite nice. We had cereal, bread, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, and yogurt. We even smuggled a couple individual size packages of Nutella back with us. Back up to the room to shower and pack up for our journey to our first farm.

Being we were both out of clean clothes, we thought we better do some laundry before catching a train. The hostel directed us to a place called "free shop" where they had a washer and dryer. We killed time between loads surfing the internet back at the hostel. The dryer didn't quite dry completely, but we packed up our clothes and planned on air drying them at the farm. It was just a short tram ride from the hostel to the train station we needed to depart from.

The train ride to the station near the farm was short and uneventful, about 25 minutes. Once again we had some troubles using a phone in Europe trying to call the farm to pick us up as they said to do, so we went into the small cafe at the train station for help. Inside was a nice older gentleman who made the call for us, and asked us a few questions about where we were from. He was quite surprised to hear we came all the way from the USA to stay at a tiny little farm town in northern Italy. We waited for about 20 minutes, and our ride arrived. We both assumed it was the farm owner, but it turns out another girl from England doing what we were, and a girl from New Zealand who we think works for the farm on a full time basis. The drive to the farm was pretty, in the distance were the French Alps, and we passed through a couple cute little villages. They pointed out a big new church that was recently built to honor Saint Bosco. A few moments later we were entering the gate of the farm.

We were immediately greeted by the 3 farm dogs, a german shepherd and 2 wire hair hounds of some sorts. They were quite impressed when one of them jumped up on Charlie to be pet, as she has been known not to open up to new people very fast. We were shown where our room was above the kitchen or lab as they called it, where we left our bags and were given a quick tour. The big kitchen/lab was where they did lots of canning of products that were sold at markets, and next to it was a store room that looked like it was a store at one time. Inside the main house we were shown the family kitchen and living areas, the computer room, and dining area. Also attached to the house was the agrotoursimo, which was a bed and breakfast and small restaurant. After the tour we were given a while to get our beds situated and unpacked. We also took this time to hang our laundry that was still a bit damp from the morning.

We met up with the other 2 workers after getting somewhat settled and given our first task. We had to cut up peppers into about 1 inch slices, then soak them in a vinegar solution for about 20 minutes, then arrange them into jars with the skin facing outwards. Then they were topped off with olive oil, and the jars sterilized and sealed up. We did that for a bit over an hour and ran out of peppers. Before dinner, which is eaten at about 830 pm here, we were told to gather up a couple trays of walnuts and hazelnuts from the trees in the garden on the hill above the house. Finding the walnuts was easy, but the hazelnuts were a lot harder to find as many of them had been eaten by animals or birds. Afterwards, we cleaned up and went into the main house for dinner.

It was just the four of us workers eating tonight, as both the owners were not home. Our meal consisted of some leftover pasta with tomato sauce from lunch, sauteed mushrooms, bread, and some of the peppers we cut up sauteed in oil with a bit of onions and salt. The peppers were the sweetest peppers either of us had ever had, almost hard to believe we were eating a pepper. They told us that it was a type of pepper only grown in this part of Italy, and were called pepperoni peppers. The pizza topping has a different name here in Italy and is more akin to salami. It's a little strange eating so late and then going off to bed on a full stomach, but ... when in Italy.

The room we stayed in was quite cold even with the heater going.


To be very honest with everyone the organic farming experience was not what we were hoping for. Instead of going on about what we didn't like, we'll just say that we knew this was not right for us.

We worked the next day which turned out to be almost 10 hours including harvesting all the vegetables and berries before the frost. Dinner that night was very good, we can't say we didn't eat well at the farm.

Sunday morning we had plans to tell the others we were leaving. We didn't want to make it sound like we didn't like it there so we tried to be vague on our reasons. We still ended up working with peppers all morning (not nearly as bad as the 2nd day working with chili peppers that burned through our gloves). After our mid morning cafe break we told them it was time to go. The afternoon was really not very pleasant. but really nothing to speak of. We got a ride to the train station by the husband who we thought was really nice and if he spoke a bit more english we would have had a lot of fun with.

We can sum up our feelings like this.... we were both in a place in our lives that we felt we needed to explore, change, and maybe experience a new way of life. While nearly all of our journey was special we came to know one true fact. We searched for a different way of life, what we thought would maybe even be a better way of life, but all that time we searched we only confirmed that we already had everything we needed in the world. Family and friends and a home. The memories and life experiences will last forever and we now make the decision together to return back home with full hearts and gratitude.


Amy said...

I love you guys!

Melody said...

aww! I'm glad you guys are coming home, we missed you guys!