Ischia Casa Della Vela was the perfect beginning for my WWOOF Italia experience. My temporary home of three weeks was an amazing Bed & Breakfast in a resort town twenty miles off the coast of Naples. The weather was beautiful in late April of 2012, and upon my arrival I discovered that my fellow WWOOFers were from California (where I was living) and Minnesota (where I grew up). Since I arrived one day early I was also able to meet a nice girl from Vancouver who was just leaving, and by the end I would work with a couple from Australia. For one full week in between I was the lone WWOOFer, and took advantage of the picture-esque location.
My hosts, Andrea and Kate Proto, were unbelievable. Not only did they welcome me in based on my word that I would be there on the arranged date, but they also provided daily Neapolitan meals and allowed me to sail with them in the Bay of Naples. Andrea Proto is an expert sailor and has crossed the world twice.
The expectations were made clear long before I arrived. I would work from 9-1 and have the rest of the day to myself. When I woke up in the morning all I had to do was literally open up the patio door of my room, and walk into a land of one-hundred lemon trees. The younger WWOOFers made me feel welcome, and I would ultimately travel with a girl from San Jose all over Southern Italy and even as far as the Greek island of Santorini.
My daily activities involved pruning lemon trees, picking lemons, picking capers, whipper-snapping and keeping chickens in the coop. The biggest accomplishment as a group was the construction of a cane hut outside of the guest rooms.
After work we helped the Australian Kate prepare lunch, and joined the hosts and their two kids for a meal each and every day. I can’t say enough about the cooking of my co-host Kate, and her husband Andrea always made the meals interesting with his sailor demeanor.
Italian cinema has long been an interest of mine, and I was happy to learn of the cinematic history in Ischia. The re-make of The Talented Mr. Ripley was shot on the island along with the classic Elizabeth Taylor film Cleopatra. A sailing excursion to the nearby island of Procida took us near the town where Il Postino was based, although we only admired the view from our boat and a swim in the waters.
Ischia Casa Della Vela was a huge surprise, and my fellow WWOOFers and I often discussed how lucky we had it in Casamicciola Terme. I spent many hours writing near the port and sailing the Bay of Naples, and on one afternoon I even took part in an Akaido class. A typical afternoon was spent kicking back near the port.
My experience at Ischia Casa Della Vela was truly unforgettable. WWOOF is an excellent way to learn about organic farming, and one can literally go days without spending any money. Age should never be a concern, and one should certainly not allow anyone to judge your reasons for traveling. Each person has their own vision, and I met people of all ages and financial backgrounds who simply joined WWOOF for the experience. Ischia Casa Della Vela is a place I’ll never forget, and I most likely will return at some point in my life.
Mount Vesuvius is one of my favorite places on earth. I stood atop the great volcano overlooking Pompeii and the Bay of Naples in 2009, and returned with my fellow WWOOFers during my first weekend in Ischia, a birthday weekend, which was one of the many unforgettable moments.
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