WWOOF Italia: Making The Most of the Experience


NOTE: This article is a continuation of “WWOOF Italia: Ischia Casa Della Vela (The Essentials)”

“Aren’t you a bit old to be WWOOFing?”

The question above was posed to me on day one of my WWOOF experience by a fellow Minnesotan, however this particular gentleman was twelve years younger than myself.

The simple answer at the time was “no,” but I pondered the query for a moment before explaining what led me to join WWOOF. Nobody is to too old travel or see the world. What I learned early on about WWOOF was the difference in age between myself and the other WWOOFers.

The question of financials came up later in a conversation with a fellow American WWOOfer: “Isn’t it all about saving money?”

My vision for WWOOF was somewhat different than the younger folk because the experience was less about pinching every penny, but rather making the most of Italy.

Ischia Casa Della Vela was an extraordinary place to begin for several reasons, but perhaps the most significant factor was that we were fed in abundance from day to day. Despite this fact, I still wanted to explore the island, or at least search the surrounding blocks for different meals. After all, I was in Italy, and I certainly wasn’t going to resign myself to pasta at the hostel aka Bed N Breakfast. The visions of the other WWOOFers were completely up to them, but given my history with Italy, I was surely going to explore Italy and have a meal or two out on the town.

On a typical day at Casa Della Vela, I would finish work and take an easy walk along the port after lunch. My goal was to read and write a little each day, while still staying true to the WWOOF experience.

I spent approximately six hours each day with the crew from 9-3, but after mentally preparing for the experience for several months, I wanted to get away and have some time to myself to visit with the locals, walk around and crack a beer near the port. A normal afternoon consisted of a stroll along the main road by the port while I listening to my offline Spotify playlists. I often read a bit of Hemingway as well.

The difficulty of communication for others never crossed my mind at first, and I was able to speak a decent amount of Italian. I came to truly understand that the other WWOOFers were there for their own experience, and weren’t necessarily interested in walking around ya linking with locals if they couldn’t communicate. However, the language barrier was a major part of the experience for me, and it was a problem from my first visit to Italy three years before that I wanted to improve upon.

Back in 2009, I could speak a little Italian, but wanted to immerse myself and learn as much as so could. There have been a few times in my life when I have pushed too far when traveling, however I always attempt to make the most out of the experience.

My first two weeks in Ischia were spent with amazing and unforgettable people, and when it came time for them to go, I realized that my priorities were a bit flawed. What had I really done?

The simple fact of committing myself to three months in Italy was an accomplishment, but I had to re-consider my vision for the upcoming months.

I am far from a technical person, but my routine had become technical: work, eat and wander off my own. It made sense at the time, but it want long until I became disappointed when it was time for the other WWOOFers to move on.

One of the best things about WWOOF Italia is that you can travel anywhere you want, and I decided to re-think what I was hoping to gain from the experience.

My epiphany ultimately led me to nearby Capri with another WWOOFer, a Californian named Chandra, and our journey would take us all over Southern Italy and also to the islands of Greece.

I would end up losing all my material possessions, but gained much more.

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