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help exchange   Host 4112
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Northern Tuscany
All Year: April May, Sept-November
Area (ha): 0.2
Persons: up to 4
Category: Homestay
Host ID: 4112
Country: Italy

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Last Updated: March 12, 2019

In the spring we will be cutting down trees, chopping, splitting and stacking for next winters fuel. We are hoping to renovate our wooden windows and shutters. Also we will start again to grow our own veg etc now that Elena is able to maintain it after her hip operation, so the big veg plots will need preparing. From time to time we will also need house-sitters. We have decided that we cannot take helpers in June,July and August as the past 3 years its been up to 45 degrees here and we had no rain for over 3 months. Too hot to work outside and the ground is like concrete.

We have been limited in the occasions we could take helpers last year due to health issues but one group of 5 Australians had been 3 times and have came back to house-sit in the winter.

Ukulele players and those wanting to learn are particularly welcome! We have spent too many hours with helpers glued to their phones so we ask that you don't bring your phone to the dining table and leave it in your room when working to prevent anymore losses in the forest.

We want to thank all those returning helpers who are no longer with helpx and therefore couldn`t give or receive up to date reviews.

We ask for up to 5 hours a day five days a week, unless you are house-sitting. If you want to stay local and eat with us on your days off that is not a problem and we also supply packed lunches if you want them. You can also rearrange your hours so you can take three days off at a time to go sightseeing and you can work Friday am, leave and return Monday afternoon for work for example to give you longer.

Can we please ask that if we reply to your request you do us the curtesy of replying to say whether you actually intend to come. We waste lot of time and turn down good helpers while waiting for some people to eventually get back to us (or not) to say they are not coming after all and that`s a shame.

We are quite happy to transport helpers to and from Pontremoli 20 minutes away, where they can get the train to the beach or go sightseeing on days off. We have invested in a satellite system for broad band and we have WIFI. All meals are taken downstairs with us (where we teach you to play cards). Helpers sleep in our 3 bedroom apartment upstairs and have use of TV, DVD player and the loan of lots of books, DVds, Cds, and sightseeing maps and literature, binoculors and a two man basic tent etc. We don't have central heating but there is a wood burning stove in the hallway upstairs and a heater for the bathroom. All the beds have warm bedding and electric blankets.

There are also laundry facilities available for use. We do ask that people respect our biological toilet cess pit and flush the minimum of paper down it. Also don`t waste the gas or electricity by keeping computers etc switched on all day - little things maybe but we have a very limited budget.

Set in the mountainside above the medieval town of Pontremoli, in the ancient region of Lunigiana, northern Tuscany, we live in a small hamlet of 5 houses. We are fully integrated into the rural Italian culture of sharing meals with our neighbours a few times a week but sadly the old folks are no longer around. We also used to spend time playing cards with them,a skill all helpers can learn easily - a good social skill that has no language barrier! We eat as the locals, cook traditional dishes and are constantly learning from them even after over 14 years here.

In the surrounding countryside there are a host of wild animals such as wild boar, 2 types of deer, badgers, foxes,weasels,porcupines, pole cats, lynx,and wolves have been often been seen on the mountain just above us. There are such wonderful insect and butterfly species, as with the abundance of wild flowers and herbs.
Its a bird watchers paradise too, with hoopoes, buzzards, eagles ( which we are having a problem with as they are stealing neighbours chickens!)falcons,3 types of woodpeckers, 4 types of owls, not to mention an ever increasing variety of smaller birds including a pair of nightingales!!

We aim to be as self sufficient as possible by sourcing wild food, scavenging for firewood for the wood burning stoves which keep us warm in winter and cooks our food, and we have a sizable organic vegetable allotment. Our physical conditions has meant that this year we have had to abandon the allotment. We have free range hens and 5 ducks and also what turned out to be a pair of geese who now have three adult children. 3 previously feral but now semi-domesticated cats,took in abandoned hunters dog and ended up with her now grown up 3 pups.

All year round we need to collect and cut dead trees down, to clear and terrace land that has been taken over by the sweet chestnut forest so we can plant fruit and harvestable nut trees and also start a bee colony.

Most of all,we need help,support and inspiration, in exchange for good food and clean, comfortable accommodation, and a chance to live in a little hamlet alongside real Italian country people in rural Tuscany. We were vegetarian for many years but are now pescetarian (eat fish) but cater happily for all tastes and restricted diets .

We are the only ones living in the hamlet(borgho) from November to mid May so you will either love it (Elena does) or be inclined to get `cabin fever` (like Davide). There is little chance of chatting with the neighbours etc in the winter, although we live traditionally as the locals do, and if the weather is bad there isn`t the opportunity to explore the local towns and villages as much as in the summer months. We do have a Ski resort 40-50 mins away at Zum Zeri, depending on the snow and our ability to get down the mountain -road conditions permitting.

reviews (67)
Helper: Alana and Natasha Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: February 12, 2019
We had a another fantastic time here again we got here on the 5/12/18 to 17/0... view complete review

Helper: Natasha and Alana Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: January 19, 2019
We want to say a big thanks to David and Helen for letting us come back for t... view complete review

Helper: Franck Le Fur Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: France Date: October 22, 2018
I stayed about 3 weeks with Helen and David and they were such nice hosts, we... view complete review

Helper: Alana and family Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: June 25, 2018
This is the 2nd time we came back and the welcoming was just as warm as the ... view complete review

Helper: Alana and Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: May 29, 2018
A very big Thank you for your kindness, generosity + hospitality. your little... view complete review

Helper: Janet and Carlos Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: November 2, 2017
We had such a nice and unforgettable experience with Helen and David! Their h... view complete review

Helper: Sandra Bruce Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Ireland Date: October 20, 2017
Helen & David manifest an attitude of kindness to others that cant be forgott... view complete review

Helper: Jacqui and Kirsty jane Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: September 5, 2017
David and Helen are the most wonderful hosts, so much so that our 2 week stay... view complete review

Helper: Amanda and Joshua Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: June 24, 2017
Our time spent tucked away in the beautiful mountain tops above Pontremoli w... view complete review

Helper: Eric Connor Luken Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: April 20, 2017
David and Helen are fantastic hosts. They are warm welcoming people, who ar... view complete review

Helper: Terri and Lewis Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: February 28, 2017
We stayed with David & Helen for about 1 month, We had such an amazing time. ... view complete review

Helper: Jordyn and Scott Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: December 1, 2016
Helen and David were absolutely wonderful hosts! Me and my boyfriend got to... view complete review

Helper: Jaimee Bubbert Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: September 9, 2016
I spent just over a week with Helen and David (and then a few more days in th... view complete review

Helper: Miranda Webster Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: New Zealand Date: August 19, 2016
Aggie and I spent two and a half weeks with David and Helen in their beautifu... view complete review

Helper: Ricky and Kirsty Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: November 15, 2015
We spent around five weeks in Pra Del Prete, ten days house sitting, and what... view complete review

Helper: Jorge Diz Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Argentina Date: September 14, 2015
I went three more times to the David and Helens house, and who said the seco... view complete review

Helper: Andrew Tarrant Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: July 25, 2015
Wow what an amazing stay in the Tuscan Apenines! David and Helen made me feel... view complete review

Helper: Sylvie and Evie Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: New Zealand Date: June 25, 2015
David and Helen are some of the most genuine and generous people we have come... view complete review

Helper: Daiva Didzbalis Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Canada Date: May 30, 2015
This was my first helpx placement and wow! Not only was the view up in the mo... view complete review

Helper: Rachel Britton Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: May 23, 2015
For my first ever HelpX experience David and Helen have raised the bar so hig... view complete review

Helper: Colin and Ann Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: April 29, 2015
Thank you David and Helen! What a wonderful time we had with you up the mou... view complete review

Helper: Sheri Lin Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Taiwan Date: April 27, 2015
My life in Pra'del Prete is memorable. I am so grateful to live with David an... view complete review

Helper: Jorge Diz Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Argentina Date: April 26, 2015
Was my first experience in this comunity, and I am glad that it has been with... view complete review

Helper: Tara and Luka Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Croatia (Hrvatska) Date: November 27, 2014
Hi Helen and David ! <3 How are you? I hope you everything is alright with yo... view complete review

Helper: Peter and Nicky Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: October 16, 2014
Beautiful place; warm, thoughtful, considerate, informative, hospitable hosts... view complete review

Helper: Darragh Kelly Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Ireland Date: October 4, 2014
I have just returned from my second stay with David and Helen. I was there fo... view complete review

Helper: Gemma Vizner Nez Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Spain Date: July 21, 2014
The second experience in HelpX and my second visit here. Its impossible to me... view complete review

Helper: Fanny and Clothilde Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: France Date: July 9, 2014
We stay with Helen and David for two wonderful weeks. They live in a very b... view complete review

Helper: Charlotte and Pepe Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: New Zealand Date: May 20, 2014
We stayed with David and Helen for 2 weeks. From the very beginning we were m... view complete review

Helper: Esther Kenyon Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: May 7, 2014
I spent a very enjoyable ten days with David and Helen at the end of April. T... view complete review

Helper: Patricia sullivan Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: April 21, 2014
I only spent 2 nights and 1 and a half days at Pra del Prete, from April 7th ... view complete review

Helper: Jannis Fahrenkamp Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Germany Date: April 15, 2014
I had a wonderful time in Pra del Prete! I couldnt recommend David and Helen ... view complete review

Helper: Dave MacDougall Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: April 14, 2014
I contacted Helen and David at very short notice and didn't actually expect a... view complete review

Helper: Leonard Krylov Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Sweden Date: March 6, 2014
David and Helen provides the kind of near relationship with the HelpXer that ... view complete review

Helper: Solomon Mackilligin Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: February 13, 2014
By far my favourite HelpX experience, staying with David and Helen was by tur... view complete review

Helper: Matthew Tiller Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: January 20, 2014
David and Helen were great hosts. They were really friendly and always up for... view complete review

Helper: Janie and Louis-philippe Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Canada Date: January 12, 2014
Dear David, We would like to tank you for the nice message you put on our wa... view complete review

Helper: Darragh Kelly Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Ireland Date: December 13, 2013
Ive just spent the last few weeks house-sitting for David and Helen and Im ... view complete review

Helper: Tim White Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: November 11, 2013
I stayed at David and Helen's place for a couple of weeks in mid-October, and... view complete review

Helper: Jessica and Loretta Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: October 15, 2013
The two of us and our cousin Amber spent nearly two weeks in September/Octobe... view complete review

Helper: Jack George Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: August 4, 2013
To any helpXer thinking about The Tuscany area then if David and Helen ask... view complete review

Helper: Sarah Pennell Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: July 29, 2013
As my first HelpX experience I spent just over 2 awesome weeks with David and... view complete review

Helper: Gemma Vizner Nez Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Spain Date: July 24, 2013
What i can say about my stay in Pra del Prete with Helen, David, their animal... view complete review

Helper: Jean Persenaire Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: July 14, 2013
Two weeks may sound like a good chunk of time for some, but living and workin... view complete review

Helper: Edvi Alcoba Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: May 30, 2013
I just spent 2 amazing weeks with David and Helen and could not have asked fo... view complete review

Helper: Rhianna Lewis Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: May 29, 2013
I just completed my first Helpx with David and Helen and could not have imagi... view complete review

Helper: Peter and Christie Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: New Zealand Date: May 6, 2013
Our stay with David and Helen was our first HelpX experience and it couldn't ... view complete review

Helper: Laura and Cory Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: April 27, 2013
We stayed with David and Helen for two weeks in the second half of April 2013... view complete review

Helper: James Wick Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: October 13, 2012
I have just spent almost two weeks with David and Helen. This has been my fi... view complete review

Helper: Alex and Heather Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: August 10, 2012
We recently spent an amazing almost month with David and Helen. They came to... view complete review

Helper: James Tremlett Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: New Zealand Date: July 8, 2012
I recently spent a few weeks with Helen and David and have nothing but good t... view complete review

Helper: Sanita and Janis Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Latvia Date: March 15, 2012
I`m sorry for so late rewiew, time just flies by ... we had amazing 2 weeks s... view complete review

Helper: Katy Hamilton Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Australia Date: October 27, 2011
Helen and David were my first HelpX Hosts. I stayed 2 weeks. The accommodati... view complete review

Helper: Martin and Gina Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: July 11, 2010
We spent a wonderful week (6 days) with Helen and David. As we were a family... view complete review

Helper: Louise and Julie Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: June 5, 2010
Helen & David were our first HelpX hosts and we couldn't have wished for bett... view complete review

Helper: Rachel and Stephen Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: United Kingdom Date: April 18, 2010
David and Helen were brilliant hosts, they made us feel so warm and welcome a... view complete review

Helper: Carolyn and Kevin Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: New Zealand Date: July 28, 2009
Our stay with David and Helen was an amazing and unique experience. Firstly i... view complete review

Helper: Jitka and Bretislav Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: Czech Republic Date: July 16, 2009
We have just finnished our stay with David and Helen and we had a great time ... view complete review

Helper: Kyle and Peter Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: United States Date: June 15, 2009
Staying with David and Helen was such an amazing experience! This was our fi... view complete review

Helper: Mark Turner Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: United Kingdom Date: February 2, 2009
have just finished my stay with david an helen an was everything a help x cou... view complete review

Helper: Julia and Hanna Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: Finland Date: December 10, 2008
We spent ten days with David and Helen in October. There were also four other... view complete review

Helper: Nick and Katarina Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: New Zealand Date: September 3, 2008
We had a great time with Helen and David, they are both absolutely wonderful.... view complete review

Helper: Paul Woodcock Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: United Kingdom Date: August 30, 2008
I stayed here for two weeks and I really didn't want to leave. David and Hel... view complete review

Helper: Louis CARAES Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: France, Metropolitan Date: August 28, 2008
I had good times there, enjoy to wake up with a amazing vue from the mountain... view complete review

Helper: Evangeline Hallam Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: Canada Date: August 24, 2008
David and Helen are two of the kindest people I have ever met. I had an absol... view complete review

Helper: Katrina raymond Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: United States Date: August 20, 2008
I had a wonderful time there. Helen is an amazing cook! They have such big he... view complete review

Helper: Sarah Azzinaro Profile: hidden - premier members only  
From: United States Date: July 27, 2008
David and Helen are the perfect people to volunteer for. There are two of the... view complete review

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