Holidays in our valleys are great; loads of activity for those who want it, plenty of peace for those who do not. Far away from the toxic fumes of the city, good fresh mountain air, and scope for nature lovers. From Easter onwards there is a continuous flow of people longing for a weekend during which to recharge their batteries after months of stressful city life. Many of them have their roots firmly planted here and have family homes to visit, others simply come across our lovely places and rent apartments or houses on a yearly basis, always yearning for half a chance to escape the crowds and run into our valleys’ arms.
And our valleys’ arms are so loving, that in some cases, people have a problem disentangling themselves – and simply decide not to! Dotted all around our territory are various businesses which were launched by outsiders who, totally disenchanted with the hassle and stress of city life, took the courage to dump it all and settle down here – and never regretted it.
An example of a venture of this kind is a bike house called “Tolasudolsa”, which in Parma dialect means “take it in your stride”. It is situated in Sambuceto, 10 km from Bedonia; a peaceful hamlet which comprises approximately 10 houses, of which only 3 or 4 are permanently inhabited. The others are holiday houses for emigrants who continue to return to their origins. The business was started up by a couple from Milan, both cycling and motorbike enthusiasts. Husband Giorgio is a qualified mountain bike guide, and he and his wife Valeria have turned their passion into a life-changing project, offering fellow bikers suitable accommodation, and the opportunity to go on guided excursions through the countryside with expert Giorgio. They are a typical example of city people who escaped stressful work, responsabilities, and subsequent health issues, and were seeking a better quality of life. Here, in their very own neck of the woods, they have found it and are very satisfied with their choice.
Massimo, also from Milan, since settling down at Cereseto, (another hamlet near Bedonia), has become an active member of a purchasing group (Gruppo solidale di acquisto, or G.A.S.) which supports forms of direct sale such as farmers’ markets and small producers. This means skipping many steps in the supply chain, and allows the producer to earn more because he is not being strangled by the high costs of mass production, and the buyer benefits by purchasing good local produce. Massimo took the plunge when he realised that life in Milan was no longer a life, relationship between people did not exist, and the crisis was only making things worse. He was forever in queues, always looking out for parking space, and breathing deadly air. He escaped all this in favour of a different world in which clean air and water and beautiful environments could enrich his life, regardless of his income. He found what he was looking for here, and has never looked back.
Stefania and Luca were searching for a holiday house in 2004, but fell totally in love with the area and decided to stay. They felt the need to treat themselves better, and Milan was doing nothing for them (it seems that Milan has a lot to answer for, but then, any big city has!) In 2006 they purchased a farm in the midst of an explosion of green in San Pietro, a hamlet near Borgotaro, and launched the first organic-vegan agritourism of this territory – “Borgo di Tara”. They offer products with absolutely no animal origin such as jams and chutneys, herbal teas and wholesome cooking. They embrace a philosophy which entails the non use of anything that can cause suffering to animals; clothing, cosmetics, detergents, and even when restructuring, “cruelty-free” products such as specific paints and varnishes, cork and lime were used, all with a view to avoid harming the environment. Their move has been a successful one, and they are now living the life they had dreamed of, here in our valley.
There are many more examples like these, because when people come here, they are completely seduced by the beauty of the Taro and Ceno valleys, the quality of life and – let’s be honest – the inhabitants are pretty cool too!!! Why not venture into our territory – maybe you too will find the heavenly place you have always dreamed of!