il cerchio a Montebrugiana

Creating the Network – the meeting in Montebrugiana

by | Dec 20, 2021 | Associative life

Each meeting of this kind is based on two essential elements; an accommodating and welcoming place and a patient and tenacious weaver.

Antonella and Paolo have offered the use of their beautiful place with warm hospitality. The Montebrugiana Horse Trekking Centre immediately conveys the sense of wisdom with which it was created: The dry-stone built courtyard, is surrounded by walls and buildings which have been built using the same technique.

The Montebrugiana Horse Trekking Centre courtyard

In this case the role of the weaver was tackled with great passion by Filippo who is cultivating relationships in the area from Portovenere and stretching over Massa and La Spezia. The invitation was extended to some of the neighbouring provinces.

Here Paolo confides in a wise little donkey, in his time he sponsored the beginning of his activity with a long horseback ride from Lisbon to Montebrugiana. The fame he gained on that occasion allowed him to assemble groups of enthusiasts who, thanks to their partecipation over time, have sustained the investments needed to breathe new life into the buildings and the grounds.

Filippo, who is caught between his Milanese origins and his passion for Portovenere, is in charge of the WWOOF coordination for the provinces of La Spezia and Massa.

Slowly, during the course of the morning, we were joined by a good number of people and a heterogeneous group took shape, which also included representatives of Spezia’s organic market and the eco-village world. While we waited, Paolo acted as our host, describing his life path that led him to transfer his unquenched passion for horses unto the world of dry-stone walling, which he has skilfully put into practice by establishing a fruitful exchange with historic Apuan craftsmen. A tour of one of the buildings being renovated, part of which will become a flat and part of which will be a wine-tasting room, revealed the ingenuity and care with which Antonella and Paolo carry out the restoration work without neglecting the tradition of using locally sourced materials.

The most recent restoration combines dry-stone, beams and rafters made of fresh chestnut that comes from the surrounding forest: the friendly horses roam free.

The courtyard again, the horses: leaning against the wall in the background Bridget finally in her role as host and coordinator, chatting with a friend from WWOOF Italy.

The morning was brought to a close with a large and cheerful meal. The last of the latecomers joined us for lunch and everyone, as per custom, generously brought their own contribution to the shared meal and the biodiverse richness of the menu encouraged exchange and insight of different realities and experiences. Giulietta, a long-standing protagonist of the organic farming movement in the area, passionately highlighted some of the difficulties that small independent organic farmers face in organizing markets.

The meal awaits us
Antonella takes care of the buffet after she has prepared an excellent soup. A few more people still have to come…..

After lunch, we moved a little further down the valley and gathered into a circle: we began with a round of presentations in which each person in the spirit of collaboration recounted their planning, experiences and background, pointing out not only the joys but also the critical points to be shared. Some are struggling to set up market opportunities which are now monopolised by the trade unions, others are overburdened by a mortgage and are looking for someone to share their project, while others have yet to find the right place to bring it about, avoiding crazy prices and attempts at speculation: all are aware that territorial networks can be a solution to issues that are more difficult to tackle alone.

The Circle begins the exchanges, carefully supervised by Stana, the new secretary with Pancake, her trusted assistant.

This was an opportunity to pick up the threads on the subject of business networks, an unfamiliar but often useful tool for those who need access to services, equipment or aid that they cannot afford individually. A tool that multiplies forces without letting anyone lose their precious autonomy. At the end of the discussion Luca, a wwofer who had actually come from Milan, presented a model of circular economy based on integrative currency, which we intend to explore further with the advice of our friends and long-standing collaborators at MAG6 di Reggio Emilia.

We returned to the dining table we had recently left to listen to Riccardo, a shepherd by vocation and a guest of the circle, who delighted us with a few songs skillfully played on his accordion and sung in a powerful voice. A few interludes in a “maggiante” actors duet with Paolo, a couple of classical pieces accompanied by Rocco and the afternoon drew to a close, leaving everyone with the feeling of a pleasant and intense day of sharing.

Pubblicato da Claudio per WWOOF Italia

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