Some of our best memories from our entire travels are from WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) experiences. To find out more about WWOOF please see our 'wtf is wwoof' page!
We sat down and thought hard trying to pick just two of our favourite memories each. Here's what we came up with!
1. It was only our third day at BioBosco farm near Napoli, but our very nice hosts told us to take the day off. They asked what we wanted to do, and as we were interested to see what local life was like, we told them we would join them in whatever they had planned for the day. We had an amazing day, as we went to the local fruit and vegetable market, visited local coffee shops, and saw way too many banners welcoming "home" New York City Mayor Bill Deblasio, who visited this small town last week (his grandparents used to live here). Sant Agata De Goti was such a quaint, authentic, and most of all, absolutely gorgeous small town. The highlight for me was when we were heading into town and our hosts stopped on a bridge, which was over top a valley overlooking the town. It was stunning. In the town itself, its cobblestone streets were narrow, carless, and filled with locals catching up and waving "Ciao!" to each other. It felt surreal! If it weren't for WWOOF, we otherwise would not have had this experience we will never forget.
Sant Agata De Goti From Afar
A picture board with people who live in the town posted on it, and one of the many mayor of New York banners in the background
2. If I had to pick a favourite farm based on the everyday work we were doing, Il Canto Del'Asino is easily my number one. Volunteering on a donkey sanctuary was a ridiculous, hilarious, and incredible experience. We had a blast. A specific memory that sticks with me from this WWOOFing placement happened on one of our last nights on the farm. Every other night, our hosts let the donkeys wander outside of their (massive) gated compound to wander on nearby fields and explore new areas. It was amazing (and kind of scary!) to see them come running one by one like a stampede from a hill 200 metres away down to where we had the gate opened for them. The resident sheep Pierre and Marie even followed. The plan was to then eat dinner before heading back outside to collect them about an hour later. A few bottles of locally-made wine (and three hours later), our hosts panicked and yelled out "Gli Asini!!!". We had forgotten to collect them while it was still bright out and now had the fun task of finding them in the pitch black at 10pm. We would yell out "Endiamo!" and call the donkeys one by one by their names. Each time one would come in, it would be "three down, eighteen to go" and so on. Our host showed us some tricks of the sounds to make to attract their attention, and as ridiculous as we sounded screaming gibberish, it was a great time. About a half hour later, our tally of donkeys finally reached twenty-one, Vicki and I laughed and probably butchered a joke in our broken Italian with our host, then headed off to bed.
A donkey doing what they do best, being a goof
Taking an espresso break with our hosts and grandma
Brushing one of the baby donkeys!
It was a typical sunday, we worked a solid half day on the organic farm picking blueberries the size of our heads. It was particularly hot and we were getting very hungry. Around midday we stopped our work and our hosts Lele and Vale let us know we would be joining them for the weekly Sunday lunch at Lele’s mom’s home. We quickly were introduced to too many relatives to keep track of and had been given too many kisses on the cheek for one day. I grabbed a glass from the table, but was shot a glance from a cousin nearby. I later learned that was his reserved cup. Plate after plate of food was served and passed around the table until everyone had more than enough. Only our hosts spoke English, but were often deep in heated conversations in Italian with the family. Using my slight knowledge of Italian language and keen eye for body language I made out that the table was discussing a vegan diet, questioning how we ate no cheese. It’s true, Italians just love to put parmesan on everything! The discussion ended with a few nods and suddenly more pasta was served to us. I guess they decided vegans need to eat more, but who was I to complain, Italians sure know how to cook.
Sunday lunch with our new family
Beautiful Robecco, Italy where lunch is held weekly
2. In our third WWOOF farm in Italy we were working at a sanctuary for donkeys high up in the Umbrian hills. Umbria is one of my favourite areas in all of Italy so I was just thrilled to be there. We spend our days tending to the twenty-one donkeys, gazing at the scenery, and quickly becoming more fluent in Italian since our hosts did not speak a word of English. One morning, our hosts took us with them to a small historic town nearby and gave us the day to explore while they stocked up on grocieries and other items they currently did not grow themselves. We jumped in the car and started the descent down the winding, gut-wrenching, small, one-way roads as we hoped we did not meet another car head on. Often this happened and it forced the two cars to dance back and forth until one of them slipped by. We arrived at the town of Gubbio and were blown away! We had visited many towns in Umbria before, but Gubbio was special. Without the usual Italian summer crowds, it was nice to just wander the old city looking at all the archetecture and history. Gubbio has one of the strangest funiculars I have ever seen, so of course we rode to the top of the hill in what looked like a giant birdcage. It is places and experiences like this that never would have been posible if it wasnt for our time spent WWOOFing and becoming a part of other people's families. We have made friends for life and ever lasting memories.