The farm where you will be staying has an organic certificate. There are about three hundred olive-trees which produce all the olive-oil used in the kitchen. A well-stocked garden provides fresh vegetables. Growing our own food means cutting carbon emissions in food transport.
The house has been carefully restored, using local materials: chestnut wood for the beams, terracotta for the floors. The furniture has all been bought locally. All the light bulbs are low energy. Wood for heating the house is brought from the Chianti hills; there is a large fireplace in the sitting-room and a woodstove in the kitchen heats most of the house. All the water comes from a spring on the farm.
Jenny, your English host, is an active member of CAI, the Italian rambling association and helps to find and maintain paths and trails all over the countryside. Riders and walkers are encouraged to recognise and respect the local crops and to refrain from leaving litter (the horses sometimes let us down in this respect, but what they leave is strictly organic!).
Jenny likes to identify the trees and flowers of the area, tell you everything about olives and in spring it is common to hear hoopoes, bee-eaters and golden orioles, while the nightingales sing night AND day!
This Detox Retreat has been designed for not more than twelve people so that no one will feel just one of a crowd. Limiting the number of guests means we do not put strain on the local community. The atmosphere is informal, friendly and singles will feel at home.
Although we grow a lot of ingredients, other food is bought at a local farmers’ market, benefitting the local economy. If we have to buy food from the supermarket it will be organic.
We encourage guests to use public transport as much as they can, as this programme is designed to make as little use of the car is possible. Buses in this area are infrequent but we do make use of the excellent local train service. Everyone working at the farm is Italian and local, with the exception of Jenny and Sigi.
The Centre owns another farmhouse with a large barn on the edge of the nearby village, 200 yards away, and here we have held small photographic exhibitions, painting classes and of course the Body&Soul Programme. There we regularly organize dinners for our guests to which the villagers are also invited. Sometimes they are all entertained by local musicians playing and singing folksongs, or poets improvising in “ottava rima”, a folk tradition which has recently been revived.
In summer Nicholas, Jenny’s son, organizes a “teatro di paglia”: he and his friends build an amphitheatre out of straw bales and local people come to act, sing, play musical instruments, as the spirit moves them. He has now formed a network of straw theatres, of which there are 35 scattered all over Italy. Nicholas, by the way, is Vice-director of a Terra Nuova Edizioni, a small publishing house which produces a monthly ecological magazine 'Terra Nuova'and books on ecological subjects. The Detox Programme will be held in cooperation with Terra Nuova.