“There is a need to do this and not to just continue speaking about it”
One of our latest member is Tertulia Coliving, a Coliving and rural coworking space in Tuscany, Italy. An Inspiring place in the middle of the woods and unspoiled nature. The question of rural coliving and coworking has been raised many times in the past year, especially with the lockdowns awakening more and more city dwellers’ dreams to live a life closer to nature.
Where “people gather to discuss together”
What gave the idea of Tertulia?
The idea of a coliving and rural coworking started in 2018 in a design group inside Florence University first level master called “Futuro vegetale: plants, social innovation, design”
We were focusing on ‘rural renaissance’ on how to give an answer to the still dominant flux of people towards big towns (metropoli) from countryside (globally it is a challenge, in Italy we observe this phenomena since the 50's).
The idea was to give a new working opportunity to rural areas (the coliving space), and educate on plants knowledge as well (working in contact with plants, into a woodland in practice, brings many benefits to people; and what plants can teach us if we observe how the are organized — their are by far the most numerous living beings in biomass on the planet, it means that they have developed very good strategies to evolve and adapt).
We then integrate this vision with our Tertulia farm story, through direct experience of life changing (from Milan to the woods), social engagement (we were hosting refugees in a family style project for 9 years) and ethical style of life inspired by permaculture and sustainability (we are a base for permaculture design course since 2012).
What is the story behind the name?
Tertulia means “people that gather to discuss toghether” (it’s a spanish word).
We love the idea of a place which is open to people and ideas, where everyone can feel at home and free to share with others. Only one rule: take your own responsibility.
How many people are running Tertulia? Are you living there yourself? Full time?
Currently we are two families living in Tertulia, everybody has his own role, from the more working related tasks (management of coliving and the farm) to the important role to make a place alive, with smiles, energy, colors. And we don’t forget plants and animals (domestic and wild ones) which are an important part of our system!
What did you do before that? Is coliving something you had experienced before?
I was a coastal engineer based in Milan and then I decided to completely change my life moving to the woods of Tuscany to live a life more connected with my values and closer to nature . I met Giorgia on that path and we bought an abandoned farm in a rural village, restored the buildings and grew a family. Than we hosted refugees asylum seekers for 9 years as a family host (2 people maximum per time) and started organizing permaculture and many other types of courses.
We experienced living with other people in Tertulia, both in a small community, during the resident courses of two consecutive weeks. And the magic atmosphere we live during courses is what we would like to offer in the coliving all year long.
How did you gather your “family”/ team ?
Our project has always been open to people, as guest, volunteers, members. Many people looking for a different path in life contacted us. So when the refugees hosting project ended in late 2019 we just put on the website a call for people to help us to develop the coliving project and during this difficult covid time we met a couple which started volunteering in Tertulia and then became part of the team.
How many people can stay at Tertulia at the same time? What is the usual length of stay? (min/max)
We have 6 double rooms that can be rented as private room as well. Common spaces like the kitchen and coworking room and infinite outdoors. There is no minimum (we are on the place and welcome guests in our small community life style) and the maximum is 12 people. We ask a minimum stay of a week, but longer period are encouraged with discounts. But we are open to meet people’s needs, and find toghether the best solution for everyone.
What type of events do you host? What type of people are staying at Tertulia ? (professionals, artists, families, nomads…)
We are facing a new experience opening Tertulia coliving. The people we would like to meet are people with something to do and not just staying in the sun or looking at us working. We desire to meet and connect with people, travelers and curious, professional that can work remotely, creative and artists.
We think that a place where country life is running, a hard working life to obtain food and energy, could be very inspiring for being productive at work. But even free time is important, and our territory offers lots of trekking, bicycle roads, good food and wine, art and culture. And in Tertulia we offer some activities for the guests, as mindfulness sessions, permaculture introduction, cooking classes, experiences like ‘farmer for a day’, games, aperitif time in the sunset, family dinner and much more.
A well deserve lunch break
Well being, sustainability, nature and community, it all seems to be at the heart of the project. Have you always been living with these values in mind or is it something you focused more on along the way?
These values are principally what guided the choice to experiment a new style of life moving from town to the woods.
The need to do this in practice and not to just continue speaking about it.
A path towards practicing this in everyday life is a never ending experience, on the way we met the permaculture ethics and principles and found that was our feeling but incredibly better expressed and we started adding this to our backpack on the way. And many other things happens continuously.
Builing a home for the chickens is an intergenerational activity
What are the challenges your business is facing and the biggest learning so far?
Our main challenge is to see if our proposal is attractive: we offer a community experience plunged in rural and woods environment, where people has to slow down and feel a rhythm in the daytime which is maybe different from busy town life. This doesn’t mean at all that work is slow or productivity low, it’s a false myth of the country where you just breath pure air, listen to birds sing, smell the plants and look at the view over the valley, but you can have all this while you do your work! It’s a very special kind of office….
We observe that people always experience good vibrations after a stay, we would like to find a continuity in our hosting activity all year long to allow us to have financial sustainability and continue to keep this landscape productive, create relations between people and nature, increase the biodiversity and food harvest, maintain the tradition of chestnut woodland, connecting with the territory and offering cultural inspirations.
What impact do you think coliving can have on society?
In general I think that the way to change things and face the big challenges of our time (climate crisis, healthy life style, concern on future generations, crisis of true relation and communication between people…) is to start to do this at a small scale. Not just wait for the whole society to move. And coliving is one way to educate to a community life style, with freedom to have private and common spaces and moments but feeling connected to each other. It is very different to share simple every day life moments like a breakfast, or a sunset view, to take the time to share and get to know each others , rather than just go out for a movie or adrink, two hours at a time, and maybe wait a month to see each other again.
It helps to experience deeper and more enriching moments of sharing.
the Garden office
Do you believe coliving is here to stay?
I hope so, it will mean that we go toward a society that aim to be connected (not just virtually) and give value to this. It will give opportunity to travel and easily find yourself at ‘home’. In Tuscan country people used to live together to be stronger and face country life challenges up to the last century. Rural coliving could be a way to renew that culture in a modern way and be more resilient as simply putting people together to make us stronger!
Francesco is the cofounder of Tertulia , your home & office in the middle of woods to explore nature and arts.
If you are interested in Coliving Hub and what we do and offer as part of our membership, make sure to check out our website and join one of our free webinar!
Coliving Hub is a non-profit organization, all membership income is reinvested in growing the network and putting the industry on the map.