A Typical Day Whilst Living in a Castle
Journal Entry 20
Who would have ever thought that we could experience living in a castle? We arrived in Italy with absolutely no expectations. While we were a bit exhausted from all the change of plans due to COVID-19 restrictions, we felt the need to settle down – at least for a bit. So, the first thing we did was browse through a few Workaway profiles. Unlike other times, just after a few hours, we received a positive response. A host accepted us to go and join a community living at the heart of Tuscany!
We were shocked … it wasn’t just a regular host! This family was living in a castle. Yep, a 1,000 years old historic castle in Florence, on top of a Tuscan mountain, surrounded by lush Italian forests and olive groves. BEAUTIFUL!
It wasn’t just us…
One thing we still haven’t mentioned, yet probably the one thing we were most excited about, was that it was about time for Charlotte’s father to revisit us once again. It’s not because he’s probably reading this … but honestly he’s just the greatest! He never asks where we’re taking him, he never complains (or rarely? haha!) and he definitely never rejects our invite. So, we took the opportunity to show him what our travelling looks like by exchanging his ‘holiday’ idea into an experience.
Living in a Castle | This is How our Regular Weekday Looks Like
Let’s start from the day before. Every evening during dinner, all the crew receives a spontaneous message through our Whatsapp group which tells us how many people are needed for each shift in the olive fields. The first one would start as early as 7.30 a.m., lasting until noon, while the second starts at 1.30 p.m. and lasting until 6.00 in the evening. It’s a first come first served basis, so you can imagine the race!
6:30 | Wake-up call
A good part of the world would still be asleep at this time, and for this reason, we love waking up this early. First things first – we would make ourselves something warm to get us up and running – a coffee for me and a hot cup of tea for her, while we get ourselves updated on what’s happening around the outside world (aka social media world). We’re not being dramatic here, but the closest point of civilisation is around 45-minutes on foot. There aren’t any buses or any other form of public transport that comes close to the castle.
After having breakfast, on most mornings, Charlotte would go wash the previous day’s laundry that would have been soaking in water for the night (cos nope, we didn’t have the luxury of a washing machine).
7.30 | Olive harvesting
After that – probably still not knowing what hit us in the morning – we leave for work. It basically involves harvesting olives – MANUAL FIELD WORK to sum it up in three simple words (not our all-time favourite, by any means)!
If you have never done this, we don’t pick olives one by one. That would take forever and a day! Instead, we lay down long green nets which cover all the ground beneath the olive trees. Meanwhile, we have two electric harvesters which we use to constantly shake the olive trees’ branches … and down they go, one by one.
In the meantime, the rest of the crew is assigned to collect the olives from the nets and carry the boxes to the end of the field – where eventually these are collected into huge sacks ready to be literally, OILED!
12:00 | Lunch
All tired (and usually muddy), we walk back to the castle to prepare lunch and have a well-deserved shower – deserved, yes … but COLD too. So, definitely not as we would have liked. By the time we eat our lunch (which are normally leftovers from the previous night), our duties would all be ready for the day. By ‘our’ I mean Charlotte’s and mine; Charlotte’s father loved it so much that he voluntarily offered to work both shifts during the day – ‘just to help out’, he says! Crazy!
14:00 | Exploring
On most days, we do our best to dedicate this time to explore the beautiful surroundings of the castle. It might be a short walk, or even just staring at the towns and cities hundreds of feet below us (most of the time largely covered with oncoming clouds).
16:00 | Alone time
After a breath of fresh air and some quality time, we go our own separate ways (until one of us starts missing the other, haha!). Most of the time, I spend this time either working on the blog or else (well, mostly) just casually playing a PC game which involves managing a virtual football team – including all the shouting and adrenaline that comes with the sport. Meanwhile, Charlotte would be generally doing something more productive – doing our laundry, reading a book or … maybe not. Just kidding. She’s bingeing on some kind of Netflix series most of the time.
18:00 | Preparing for dinner
Now, this depends on who’s turn it is to cook for the evening … but surprisingly enough, we are only expected to cook once a week. It’s our turn on Sundays. We’re so many volunteers that we manage to plan a schedule where two people share one day a week – in which they were responsible to cook dinner for everybody. If it had been our turn, we would now start preparing a nice meal – because cooking for that number of people is no joke. If not, we just chill for some more time and then go help the rest of the crew with setting up the table.
19:30 | Dinner. Yay!
Dinner time! Just like December is the most awaited month of the year by many, dinner time is the most awaited time of the day, for us, whilst living in the castle. EVERYONE manages to cook DELICIOUS meals from the (very) limited ingredients we had, but the most fun part was the mix of culture and cuisine in every day’s meal. Imagine that today we have a couple from Venezuela and Spain cooking for us. How can it not turn out to be … YUMMY? AMAZING? TASTY?
20:30 | Cleaning
Once again, everybody (in pairs) is assigned a day to take care of the dishwashing duties after dinner. Usually, this takes roughly 45 minutes and in the meantime, the others just go chill in a place we call ‘The small kitchen’ – the place that belongs to the workawayers.
21:30 | As*hole
Nope, nothing vulgar or disgusting as it might sound. It’s just a card game, a really popular one amongst the group living in the castle. We had no idea what this was before getting there, so you can imagine, when we eventually got used to the game, it became a quite addictive tradition to gather around the table and play, EVERY evening! After just a few rounds we became pros – well, one of us did!
Comment down below if you have any clue on who that someone is.
All in all, what made the experience truly unique and special was definitely the people we met, the stories we shared and all the laughs along the way. It wasn’t perfect, in fact nothing in life is, but the experience with the newly made friends from all over the world is something we’ll definitely cherish forever!