Four happy chickens, seven hundred trees and thousands of kilometres to travel by bike. A very beautiful biological agritourism farm that is recovered following the criteria of bio-architecture. Here everything finds a second life and everything is natural. We interviewed Giorgio and Sabrina, the owners who have told us what it means for them to host sustainably and how their amazing project of green agritourism was born.
What does it mean for you to host sustainably?
To travel sustainable means to feel that, in a way, the philosophy of nature is not betrayed. That there’s respect for the nature, the landscapes and the environment of the accommodation in which the travellers are hosted, Giorgio responds immediately. To see that guests are hosted with all its comfort and that the accommodation is not damaging the environment and the landscape. The most important objective that I assign to the accommodations that decide to be with Ecobnb is that of protecting the landscape; making choices that in some way are conservative.
I would like to take our four chickens as example for the meaning of harmony with nature, Sabrina continues. We took them when they were around 1 years old. According to the market their life cycle was over at that age so they would have been killed and eaten. Today however, they live in a chicken coop on four wheels that we move around continuously on our grasslands. Other than to keep us company, the four chickens that we decided to save give us every day fresh eggs with which we bake the pie for breakfast. According to me, this idea of collaboration with that what the nature can offer us, could represent the essence of sustainable hospitality. From merchandise with no value at all, our four chickens became for us (and for our guests) a precious asset. Pieces of nature that for the market isn’t of any value, can find a meaning and become symbol of an idea of a different kind of hospitality; eco-friendly hospitality.
The Settecentoalberi agritourism farm is emerged in nature, close-by the magical Lagoon and Venice. What are the green experiences not to be missed?
We recommend very much to take advantage of the waterways that are here, to use them as paths to travel by bike along the rivers. There’s a very beautiful route along the river that brings your from Treviso to the Lagoon, or alternatively you can follow the path along the river the Piave and the the old river Piave. To stimulate our guests to discover these slow itineraries we have some bicycles available for them. For the guests who already arrive by bike we instead can offer information, touristic maps and routes. Often we help them to make reservations at some points of arrival or at restaurants. An agritourism farm with who we collaborate, La Barena Jesolo (https://www.agriturismo-labarena.it/en), has established a transport service in the Lagoon for transporting bicycles by boat. Therefore, who arrives by bike at this agritourism farm, can embark their bicycles, cross the Lagoon by boat, and then continue their bike ride.
Another green experience not to miss, is an itinerary with the canoe or kayak along one of the largest waterways of Europe. This waterway has the advantage of always having a constant water level. It’s very beautiful to discover the water territory and by canoe or kayak it’s also the most authentic way to do this. As a matter of fact, in the past the water was always the only usable route as the cities were constructed on the water. All the villas of Treviso have a place for embarkation attached to their garden and the houses all look out on the water.
Another experience not to miss is to participate in the activities of the agritourism farm. For example to work with us in the garden, collecting fruits and vegetables; get your hands dirty with the earth. Above all the children are very enthusiastic to try this experience!
What best practices in sustainability do you have adopted at Settecentoalberi?
The construction of the house in the beginning was done immediately by thinking of maximum energy saving. The Settecentoalberi is a ‘climate house’ and has a particular insulation both externally as well as internally. Externally we have chosen a natural insulation in stone wool, avoiding therefore Styrofoam or other low-cost insulation products that have several critical issues from the environmental point of view.
We chose natural materials and re-used materials for the floor, for example by recovering local stones or pottery. For the rooms we have chosen oak hardwood floors, recovering also the wooden tables which were warped or not perfect. For these we have chosen not to do treatments outside of biological oil. The final effect is therefore totally natural where you can appreciate walking barefoot on parquet.
Furthermore, we installed a system of eco-friendly air-conditioning for the summer which works for radiation. The ceilings of the rooms have panels which, in the same way as the sun, gives off heat in the winter and cools off in the summer. This is all part of a heating / cooling installation system that together uses different forms of energy: the heat of the sun with solar panels, the gas (only when it’s very cold), and the heat pumps. This installation system is powered by 15 kW of photovoltaic panels and 16 square metres of thermal solar panels. The warm water is totally produced by the sun in the spring, summer and autumn, in the winter only partially.
Besides that, in the construction phase we have chosen to install igloo which lifts up the floor from the foundation level. This enabled the creation of a space filled with air of around 80 centimetres underneath all the floors. This space improves the thermal quality of the ambient.
Lastly, the windows, which are also part of a ‘climate house’, have three Low-E glasses that enable the sunrays to go in, but without letting the heat go out. Obviously this is very important in the winter when the sun is very low, but have to be shielded in the summer. We didn’t want to buy artificial shielding and therefore we have chosen to create natural shading.
The natural shading is realized with plants of fragolino grapes, that later becomes jam. In the summer we collect this delicious fragolino grapes that we use to make our home-made jam. In the winter the grape plants lose their leaves, in this way the sun can pass through the windows and can warm up the internal ambient. Obviously, the grape plants are not treated, we chose a type of grapes that doesn’t need treatments and is very resistant.
How do we recover rainwater? All the water drops that fall from the roof are gathered into a tube that flows in front of the agritourism farm. Here it becomes purified throughout a plant-based sewage-treatment and can then be re-used, for example for the irrigation.
The last but most important thing, Giorgio says, we planted seven hundred trees. Actually it are more than seven hundred, corrects Sabrina. When we’ve planted the trees they were very small, but soon after they became large very fast.