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Immersed in the good life

Karin Mochan rolls up her sleeves and spends a month as part of the tribe on a sustainable farm in rural Umbria – where the most precious seeds planted are those of comradeship

Towards the end of last year, I was offered one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities: four weeks in rural Umbria – and a chance to find out whether I really am a country girl at heart. The destination was Monestevole, a hilltop 15th-century hamlet in central Italy, and home to a thriving ecotourism project called Tribewanted. I’d already enjoyed a couple of week-long holidays there, making pasta and feeding the animals (in between dips in the pool), so when I heard about plans for a ‘full immersion’, I was ready to put truly sustainable living into practice.

PHOTOGRAPHS: TRIBEWANTED

Tribewanted was established 10 years ago by Ben Keene, from Henley-on- Thames, who used crowdfunding to start a beach community in Fiji. Since then, his Tribewanted network has expanded to Sierra Leone, Bali and Umbria – with a remote island in Papua New Guinea added just last year. The dynamo driving the community at Monestevole is Filippo Bozotti, a charismatic filmmaker turned social entrepreneur, who first partnered with Keene to create the community on John Obey beach in Sierra Leone. Bozotti was eager to replicate this sustainable model back home in Italy, and started searching Tuscany and Umbria for prospective properties. He tells me he fell in love with Monestevole immediately: ‘I’ve always loved Umbria – it’s accessible, it’s in the centre of Italy, the country’s green heart. Monestevole is still pretty virgin, with woodland and local traditions that have died out in many other places.’

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Psychologies September 2016 - Find your Serenity
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