When I was first assigned this article I thought “eco villages” were just resorts with a green approach to the environment. Well, I was wrong.
Ecovillages (or eco-villages) are communities with a strong ecological focus but the project is not exactly the one of a week or more of vacation stay. It may actually turn out to be THE PROJECT of a new life for your family and you.

Eco-village: from one seed many different trees!

An eco-village might be urban, suburban, or rural and they can range in size from a few to hundreds villagers. Some eco villages are attempts to shift existing neighborhoods or towns toward more sustainable living and more of a sense of community. Others are newly built, often featuring green or natural building techniques. Ecovillages vary a lot in their degree of community connection and their ecological focus.
Though the inspiration and the concept may be different and may have differently evolved along the years, all eco-villages share the same basic idea: a new society is within human reach and each one can make his/her part in it.

 

The eco–villages in Italy: from the “Elf community” in Pisa area to the “Naughty Uru” of Apulia

Leave your present life, home, friends and sometimes jobs can and is someway a shock.
Some step into this new experiences full of idealism and of energies, some others are afraid of what they are leaving behind and have doubts and hopes, but all eco-villagers  share the sensation they need to make a change.
And what it looks like from the outside is that everyone can find his/her own path to a new life and write his/her word to the great book of life. Do not you think?
Have a look at some of the experiences herewith and find the perfect eco- village for you.

 

The Elf community, Sambuca Pistoiese (Pisa): the Italian elves

The “elves” of Sambuca Pistoiese took inspiration from the “Nordic elf”, fairy creatures living in the wood and forests in perfect symbiosis with Nature.
The community is based mainly on the respect of Nature, its rhythm and on the sharing of productive tools.
One of the oldest eco villages in Italy, the 4 villages and 14 “farm houses” have no electricity and the heating and lighting system is based on fire. And no TV in any of the community houses: hard to believe, isn’t it?
Cattle breed and agriculture are mainly for self consume: elves work in agriculture and in the reconstruction and maintenance of their houses.
Curiosity: the “Elf community” is not a “close up” community. The community is working together with local institutions and city inhabitants to create a “multicultural center” where the “elf children” and the local children will go to school together. The education will be partly managed by the elf teachers and partly by state teachers. A great example of collaboration in search of mutual knowledge and a peaceful life.

Comune of Urupia – Francavilla Fontana (Brindisi): watch out for the Uro naughty trick!

Urupia means both “the naughty trick of Uro” and “the utopia of Uro”, Uro being a fairy creature very similar to the elf of the Nordic myths.
Born in 1995, the first members bought a fold and started to build their community from that place. The experience has been successful and the members own 23 ha of land cultivated with olive trees, vegetables, fruit trees, vineyards (ça va sans dire as we are in Apulia) and Mediterranean trees and plants.

 

Pecora Nera- Raveo (Udine): the Black sheep‘s roar!

First came Devis: an IT technician fleeing the machine world and dreaming of living with the Nature, in the Nature and of the Nature and its fruits. Funny, you would say: the most technological of all guys who goes back to basic.
And then it was Monica’s turn: she left a full time job in the city hospital to go for an adventure in a little country village with nothing defined and for sute except the idea she was ready for the change.
They are now living together in Raveo, a little village in the Far East part of Italy, close to Austria and Slovenia.
The main activity of their eco village is agriculture: Devis grows zucchini, aubergines, beans of long forgotten breed, corn to cook a real dark yellow polenta as we have never seen and potatoes though his potatoes have a hole in the middle. A new potato breed? Not at all, the “mole cricket” seems to love Devis’ potatoes and have a bite at the heart of each and every potato Devis is seeding.
Feeling like helping Devis fight against the little potato terrorists?
Monica and Devis love to share their experience and if you keep an eye open on their website you will find the “come together” invitation: Devis posts a message when guests are welcome and what kind of activity you will be experiencing.
http://www.progettopecoranera.it/index.php

La Comune di Bagnaia, Siena: 35 years of experiences and ready for the new challenges!

Founded in 1979 mainly as an experience of “Comune” based on few clear principles, the “communards” opened themselves to eco issues later on.
Some of their core principles:
a- New forms of relationships between human beings based on solidarity, affection, friendship and trust.
b- Human parity between sexes
c- New sharing and use of resources in common and belonging to the village
d- new ways of participation to common life base on responsibility and compromise
Feeling you’d love to see with your own eyes? Contact “La Comune di Bagnaia” to check details at lacomune.bagnaia@libero.it

 

Eco Village Lumen, San Pietro in Cerro (Piacenza): an academy to learn how to live in balance with the Nature and with ourselves

The founding members aimed at learning, investigate and developing new techniques of natural healing.
If the “natural healing” was the core concept other efforts were:
a- promoting the cultural and social evolution of citizens.
b- promoting democracy and solidarity in human relationships.
c- promoting human freedom.
d- promoting the study and the learning of the human creature in an holistic perspective
Lumen is nowadays a more sophisticated structure and offers a wide range of services:
– Holistic School of Natural Healing (3 years)
– Courses and seminars in unconventional healing techniques for medical professionals
– Wellness Academy
– Natural and bio cooking classes
Think you may wish to know more? A seminar will be taking place in the second week of February: click and see  http://www.naturopatia.org/eventi_viviecovillaggiolumen.php

Cohousing experience in Denmark by Seier + Seier via Flickr
Cohousing experience in Denmark by Seier + Seier via Flickr

Are you thinking these projects are just for hippies and young people who spend their life smoking hemps and drinking alcohol? Wrong again.
These projects have become the rich background of tests and researches aiming at integrating or replacing the actual way of living in big cities.
It is a challenge with high potentialities in many directions:

 

The “silver panthers living together”

The Association “SM Gianfranco Imperatori Onlus” Rome just proposed a study about “silver cohousing” as a valid way to:

1. Increase the number of houses and flats on sale and for rent on the estate market: many “silver hair people” live by themselves in large houses and flats which could accommodate larger families.
2. Decrease the issues caused by solitude and social exclusion of mature and old people living alone: in cohousing solution, people share accommodation though maintaining private spaces
3. Decrease the expenses in terms of hospitalization: most hospitalization cases are due to depression related diseases and disturbances as well as the need of assistance.
Again an utopy? Well, it may be but the cinema itself has started to investigate it. See the 2011 Fench movie “Et si on  vivait tous ensemble?”

 

“City slickers in the Rome countryside”

Rome city issued an official paper proposing the sale of land in the surrounding countryside known as “Agro Pontino” at very affordable prices for co housing experiences in 2009.
The concept was once again to make new houses available and increase the population of remote areas around the capital.

Do you feel ready to make a big change in your life? Do you think what you have is not enough? Or the opposite, what you have it is too much and you do not need it? Have you always loved challenges? Well, have a look at all the different eco – village experiences and your summer 2014 holiday may be the start of a complete new story.

Info: Ecovillage Italian network

 

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