epicurious.com: wwoofing in italy, the plan

The Perfect Trip: How to Visit Organic Farms (Overseas) for Free
by Alison Baenen
on 04/10/09 at 03:15 PM

Greetings from Milano! For the next month I’ll be blogging from San Polino, a small farm in Tuscany specializing in the production of Brunello di Montalcino (one of Italy’s best wines) and olive oil. I’m working in exchange for room and board (and, I hope, molto fresh pasta). The farm is affiliated with WWOOF, or World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which is like a social networking site for farms and volunteer farmers. Most farms require a week stay and offer a range of accommodations, from communal rooms to private apartments. You can learn more on their website and see which countries have WWOOF chapters; Cameroon, Slovenia, Kazakhstan, and so on. The possibilities are endless.

My boyfriend Jake and I picked Italy as our WWOOFing destination because of our interest in (read: lack of actual knowledge about) wine. Also, it’s Italy. Since my first trip here eight years ago, I’ve been devising ways to get back; with the economy in disaster mode, now seemed like the perfect time to take a trip where the cost of food and lodging was essentially free.

On Sunday we’ll take the train to Buoncenvento, where, if all goes according to plan, someone will pick us up, and we’ll arrive at San Polino. After that, I have no idea what to expect. I’ve packed rubber boots, long pants, a sun hat, and several books on food. Our hosts are an Italian and British couple, and Jake and I will be staying in a small, rustic apartment outside the house (Katia, our hostess, mentioned that on nights with heavy rain we might want to stay with them). I’ll be blogging from the farm after we get settled. Until then, we’ll be exploring Milan. We found an excellent cheese shop today where we picked up some gifts for our soon-to-be new family. The very nice fromagier gave me a sample of a gorgonzola made with, if I understood him correctly, Champagne. Not a bad start to our culinary adventure.

from the epi log on epicurious.com