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Culture Sustainability

It's funny how life works out....

It was the lifetime dream of one woman, my mother, Francesca Bevilacqua (known as Nirdosh among her closest friends). Her home is a 13th-century farmhouse surrounded by seventeen acres of rustic countryside in the heart of Tuscany, near Siena. She bought it in 1989 in a state of total abandonment and ruin.

 Did I mention that my mother has never been a pragmatic woman? 

In her mid-forties, after several trips to India, and a change of diet, lifestyle, and clothing, my mother had decided to flee the city forever. Her dream was to create a community where people from all walks of life could share their passions. The farmhouse was certainly big enough to contain her vision. But her vision was even bigger than she had feared!

In the beginning, it was just Mamma, and her six-year-old daughter – myself. I watched as she devoted herself to the study of nutrition science, macrobiotics, vegetarian diet, and alternative healing. She explored natural plant remedies, ayurvedic medicine, and any other “new age” trend she encountered along her path. Her goal was to live in harmony with nature, respect the seasons, and live sustainably. And to be surrounded by people who felt the same. In other words, long before we were all glued to social media and our phones, Mamma was a pioneer of what has become most rare and appealing to us today. 

I, however, felt differently. I’d had enough of the commune lifestyle and wanted to explore the world outside. At age thirteen, I ran away.

Twenty years on, I traveled the world, lived in 7 different countries, and founded two successful companies. I had also earned myself some time off. So when my mother told me she needed a hand, I decided to go back. Just for a little bit, I told myself. My only objective is to help my mother with her project, and then return to my life in Paris. Obviously.

 It’s funny how life works out.

I soon discovered that a mother's lifetime dream is somehow yours as well. For so many years I had sought – and found – comfort and approbation in the fashion and luxury world. And yet, there was always this sense of something missing. 

The farmhouse became my therapy.

Nature, plants, animals. Getting my hands dirty. I began to understand the history and the soul of the place, one whose value now resonates with my own generation. I felt free. And I became part of it. And, as I would with any client (I’m an image consultant, after all!) I found myself waking up in the night, thinking of ways to make the experience even better.

Thirty years after Mamma bought it, the farmhouse has evolved from a slightly disorganized commune to one of the first wellness retreats of its kind. We host workshops and all things yoga and holistic health-related. We hold cooking workshops and learn about food preservation (jamming, jarring, barding, sun drying, salt preserving...), and even natural cosmetic making. Guests tell me they adore the feeling of family. And it’s true, I get everyone involved in our rural adventures. (This is mostly spontaneous, you understand, since that is how we (Italians) are.) 

You may eat your meals on hand-painted Ginori porcelain, but you’re just as likely to step in donkey excrement on your way to the tree house. We’re a self-sustainable farm whose unique flavors derive from the land, and the diverse richness of two women’s lives, tastes, and experiences. We produce all the fruits and vegetables we serve. And each is picked just hours before it reaches the farmhouse's enormous dining table (we’ve had twenty guests gathered around at one time!). My mother creates the recipes and cooks every single delicious bite. Mixing tradition with innovation, creativity, and modern simplicity, she has a gift. Even non-vegetarians (I’m not, outside the farmhouse) forget they’re eating vegetarian meals. If they are meat-free, they’re even more impressed! 

Nowadays, I’ll find myself out in the woods, wild foraging with our guests. I love seeing their faces as they discover the simple joy of finding the object of desire, whether porcini mushrooms, chanterelles, asparagus, stinging nettles, or wild little sprouts. Like the farmhouse itself, there is something ancient and human about this connection with the natural environment that is too precious to lose. In our noisy, crazy world, true luxury lies in being able to unplug and reconnect. With nature, with animals, with others – and yes, with yourself. 

A stay at the farmhouse is an exceptional - relaxing - wonderful experience. If you wish to join an existing retreat, contact Plinius for detailed information and specific rates. Alternatively, you can create a tailor-made Holiday or retreat for you, your family, friends, or business partners. The farmhouse has also experience with parties and weddings. 

Check availability here

Olivia Green