At the “Spa”

First published on February 28, 2014, I thought my life on the farm was worth re-visiting today. Pronto Marcella was born on that trip and I’m still in awe that this is now a big part of my life!




I am now at the olive farm in Poggio alle Croce but it feels more spa-like than farm. Elettra takes very good care of me and my cold has vanished. Every night I sleep with a hot brick that was been heated all day in a wood stove. It gets chilly in the Tuscan hills at night and these old houses are impossible to heat. I sleep in a cosy cell- like room that shares a wall with the old church.

Records go back to 1000 AD when the church was constructed. Electra and Andreas bought the preacher’s house and the fields more than 25 years ago but the church was not included in the deal. They have been trying to get the Catholic Church to deconsecrate the church for years, to no avail. It needs restoration but the process is stuck in the Italian bureaucracy that is as famous as Michelangelo’s sculptures.



There is a plaque in front of the church honoring the twenty-two partisans who were shot by the Nazi’s in the nearby village of Pian D’Albero.

This morning I visit the goats who lose interest in me very fast after they determine I have no treats in my pockets. I am a stranger to the chickens so they flee when I try to photograph them.


The early morning fog spreads its cigar-like fingers through the valley but after it burns off, we may have sunshine.




Elettra and I take Zampa on a trek through the woods to Malo’s house and then we walk down to Le Celle. I think it is the most beautiful spot in the world! The grounds are still lovingly tended by Angelo, who must be well into his eighties by now.



Malo serves us a simple but delicious lunch of finocchio and orange salad, cauliflower and cheese casserole and then some special sausages from Calabria. Of course, we drink some good wine and sample Malo’s special olive oil. Malo shows us some of her new baskets that incorporate metal among the reeds. She is off to Milan in the morning to participate in an artisan’s show that will feature her baskets and olive oil.

We return to the farm, through the town so we can buy some bread. We have walked 5 km. Later when I sit down to read, I fall asleep. Meanwhile, Elettra has prepared a feast for dinner: baccala, mashed potatoes and pumpkin soup.

Our spontaneous guests are all women- Malo, Rita and her daughter Bianca, (both of Italian ancestry, recently immigrated from Australia) and Elettra’s daughter, Giulia who is visiting from Switzerland. We eat and drink and talk until midnight. That is very late on a farm where work begins at 6:00 am! I feel a strong connection with these women, even though I haven’t seen them in four years. I will not let years pass again without being more present in their lives. I am where I belong in the world.




19 thoughts on “At the “Spa”

    • Me, too, Marcella! And I loved to see the photo of Le Celle again–took me right back to 2007. How I wish I were there with you, but your photos are the next best thing!

  1. Knowing where you belong in the world. It’s a question that I ask myself often. Where do I most feel at home? Where do I belong? I still don’t know. Maybe that’s why I obsessively read “shelter” magazines and mine decorating websites for images of places I’d love to inhabit.

    Someone I know (used to know) claims he was born “in exile”–I wonder, did he mean into exile? Not quite the same places. I wonder if he’s found a place that feels like a home.

    You are blessed, Marcella, for finding that place. I’d love to hear (read) your thoughts on how you found your place and what it means to you. If you haven’t already written on the topic , I’d urge you to do so.
    A photo essay perhaps? The pictures you post evoke what it is to feel at ease. A warm brick in a cold bed. Food. Is anything more evocative of home than a meal prepared with and for people who love each other?
    The built space and your lovely images of them and of the natural world– they succinctly telegraph a sense of place to someone like myself who has never been to Tuscany. Thank you.

    To anyone else reading my reply–apologies. This could easily drift into that awful place no likes. The border town between public and private called too much information. My only defence is that reading Marcella’s poetic posts inspire me to think differently about my own life.

  2. Marcie- glad you are at peace with yourself and find beauty in all things simple. I loved the photo of the spider web!! Brought me back to my favourite childhood book Charlotte’s Web.
    On a lighter note….silly question ? How does a hot brick not burn the bedding? And you for that matter? Just wondering????:):)

    • Ahh good question! I wrap the brick in a cloth and put it in my bed about a hour before I hop in. I can’t keep my feet on it for too long but it doesn’t burn me. The brick stays warm most of the night.

  3. Congratulations, Marcie — you are achieving what you went there to achieve, yes? The photos make me travel-sick, which is like homesick, but you want to go somewhere else. Donald and I just realized that our first trip to Italy was five years ago, and we have been there three times now.

    Go back and read your old, old posts. You have always been happy at the farm.

  4. I look in on your adventure whenever I can, you seem to be very happy, and I am happy for you. I will show these pics to Sascha, she’ll love them. Take care! Xxoo, ZJ

  5. Marcella,

    Can I adopt you and you can take me to this wonderful world !
    I am truly enjoying the transformed Marcella!

    • i think you would love it here, I am surrounded by amazing people in a beautiful place! do you want to pick olives in November???

  6. Marcie, it was great to read this 2014 post again. Here we are, three years later, and you have a full calendar for the rest of 2017, and you’re booking 2018! Wow. You have really grown a business.

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