Gaia believes chickens have four legs. Who is Gaia? Gaia is a lovely 4 year old girl who lives with her family in Genoa, Italy. Do chicken have four legs in Genoa? Of course, they do not. Yet Gaia drew a lovely picture of a colorful four legged chicken one evening at the kitchen table and she proudly showed it to her mum.

courtesy of
courtesy of

Why is it so? Why a four legged chicken?

Wondered Anna, Gaia’s mum. Because that’s Gaia ‘s world: a world where chicken thighs come in box of four, tea comes in powder rather than in leaves and saffron, just to name a few items, is a dark yellow powder rather than a beautiful flower stem.

And this is also our world, the world we experience every day.

 Anna could have simply explained Gaia that chicken have 2 legs and she could have probably googgled a chicken and showed it to the little girl…but not Anna, that’s not like her. Anna became almost obsessed with the “four legged chicken”: the poor multiple legged chicken kept popping into her mind and she talked to Lucio, Gaia’s father. And here it is what happened: the poor chicken brought up some questions

Is this the best of all possible worlds we are living in?

Is a different living and a different point of view possible nowadays? 

And hence the idea:

Exploring different ways of living, new point of views and have a break with our comfort zone 

Anna and Lucio decided to start a journey and now the “curious” family is on the move: they will be travelling to meet individuals and groups and explore unconventional ways of living.

Do you think this is quite ambitious? It is, I must admit. And to make the project even more ambitious they will be travelling and living on barter over the 6 months of the “unlearning” experience.

No money involved!

They will experience:

1. couchsurfing – finding a local host to stay with and open their home to travelers in exchange once back in Genoa

2. woofing – volunteering in organic and sustainable properties

3. linguistic exchange – they will be teaching the language of Dante (and of “Il padrino”…)in exchange for some English lessons

4. labour exchange – they will barter their work for bed and food

5. crowdsourcing – the money they may be needing will be leveraged and received in small amounts pre-selling the videos of their “unconventional journey” and other self produced items (t-shorts, bookmarkers, etc)

What will they discover about life experiences different than their own?  

Will they find out more about themselves than about the people they need?  

Will they make it?   

Well, the first test was quite interesting and … funny

courtesy of
courtesy of

Shona welcomed our 3 heroes at the local train station on a cloudy day and brought them home to meet the kids. The home is a stone cottage in the middle of the countryside and Shona is a folk violinist. She is used to have people from everywhere at her home. Her kids are used to have foreigners into their lives and … “they tend to form an opinion on people shortly: they decide if they are interested or not …. and if they want to share their games or not”. To judge from the video, Gaia won them over. Shona offers home and food from her cottage and you can help her with some homework and some gardening. Gaia finally found out the chicken have two legs while working as a little farmer.

A cozy atmosphere, some rudiments of English and of agriculture are the first feedback together with Gaia first approach with British “little men” and I suspect it will stay in her memory long after…

What will be next? Stay tuned on Unlearning, a guide for families who change the world.

Author: Cristiana Pedrali

"Loving your job is the closest you can get to happiness on earth” (Rita Levi Montalcini) and “when real people fall down in real life they get back on their feet and carry on walking” (Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City): these are my two mantras. I’m a bit like this: I go through being serious to playful to help me manage a thousand different interests and commitments, keeping a smile through it all. I work in the tourism industry and on the web and every so often I look for some breathing space through reading and travel!
More posts by Cristiana Pedrali →

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