What is a ‘Land Study Holiday’?
If you have an interest in Sustainable Land Use or Permaculture – or would like to explore these for the first time – and are the type of person who likes to keep their mind working while on holiday, then the idea of a Land ‘Study Holiday’ won’t appear to be such a strange idea. Come and stay for week or more and balance your time between self-study in our well-stocked library, exploration of the land, local walks, trips further afield – and relaxation of course! Below, we’ll look at each of these in turn – before doing so, though …
… we should give a ‘heads-up’ that as well as welcoming those interested in sustainable land use, Casale di Clio operates as a retreat/residence for creative folk – particularly writers and artists – and to enable this the Casale has ‘quiet hours‘ on weekday mornings and afternoons so as to allow our guests (and us!) to focus on projects. For a rounded introduction to Casale di Clio we recommend looking at our home page once you have read this current page; we believe that writers, artists, and those with a sympathetic interest in, and response to, the land can spend fruitful time in each others company, and that their sharing a residence can lead not only to a cross-fertilisation of ideas, but the development of new paths, aided, perhaps, by time spent exploring the resources in our library (which include a range of books on history, literature and culture) as well as exploring the landscape in this beautiful part of the world.
We have a library/study room that holds an eclectic collection of books, including many sustainable land-management classics, on topics such as:
- Agroforestry/Forest Gardens
- Organic and Biodynamic Agriculture
- Growing Vegetables and Fruit in Low-Impact/Sustainable Ways
- Growing and Using Herbs
- Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding and Gardening for Resilience
- Seed-Saving and Vegetable-Breeding
- Preserving Produce
- Traditional Woodland Management and Crafts
- Small-Scale Grain Growing
- Low-Impact and Traditional Building Methods
Adrian, one of the co-hosts, has studied Permaculture and Sustainable Land Use (as well as Agroforestry) with leading and internationally-recognised teachers; he and Tiziana, his wife (a qualified and experienced Veterinary Surgeon) the other co-host at Casale di Clio, set up and ran a pastoral smallholding (run along organic lines) on the edge of Dartmoor, UK before moving to Italy. Both are happy to share their learning and experience.
The casale itself has some outside area for guests to enjoy: a balcony with stunning views, a paved terrace and a small garden for relaxation. On a larger scale, we have some parcels of sweet chestnut, hazel and acacia woodland very near to the house. Although steep in places, and un-managed for some time, the woodland is ripe for exploration (with care) by those with experience of, and an interest in such terrains – there is ‘overstood’ coppice and, according to the land classification documents, we should have some fruiting sweet chestnut standards somewhere ‘off the beaten track’. In due course we will properly survey and start working some of the woodland (leaving some relatively wild, subject to fire-risk-management obligations).
We also have an area of south-facing cultivatable land with adjoining terraces, that we will be developing as an ‘orto’ (food growing area – an Italian domestic allotment if you like – which most rural families cherish), with plans to supplement vegetables with soft fruit and various productive trees/shrubs. This area, as yet (Autumn 2023) largely untouched, would be well suited as a ‘blank canvas’ for any visiting permaculture students needing to work up a design for their Diploma Portfolio.
Having spent several years preparing vegetable beds from pasture, and digging potatoes by hand, a decision was taken to purchase a 2-wheel tractor for land-works; the intention is to take advantage of the machine’s many capabilities while remaining committed to minimum soil tillage in ‘permanent raised beds’ (as advocated my many, including Zack Loeks and JM Fortier). Two books are providing inspiration as the orto area is being prepared for cultivation:
A note on the local wildlife
Given that Vetteglia is situated among extensively-wooded countryside, leading up into the mountain terrain of the Toscana/Emilia Romagna Apennines, it is perhaps no surprise that there is quite a range of interesting wildlife in the immediate locale – much of it venturing up to, and into, Vetteglia of a night-time. We have encountered a small group of cinghiale (wild boar) quite close to the house, and neighbours have shown us footage (see right), captured on a night-vision wildlife camera, of wild creatures coming quite close to their house. Another neighbour has warned us of fencing out porcupine from the orto, as they are quite keen on potatoes (telling us also how they are trying to evict a pine marten from one of their buildings!) – while yet another, who does not fence his orto, has recently suffered crop losses to cinghiale. It is certainly special having this wildlife so close, but given the threat to our future food supply, we are having to think creatively about fencing and other deterrents to protect the orto; recent online investigations have ensured that our scarecrows (actually aimed at other species, but ‘scare-deer/boar/etc’ does not quite trip off the tongue) will be wearing blue attire. Still, at least we are not yet faced with having to deal with the wolves that are known to be present in this region of the Apennines!
We have information on local walks on our Getting Here & Getting Around page.
If you are a fan of Wild Swimming, then we can point to some bathing spots in the Lima River not too far away – though perhaps best enjoyed in the Summer!
Trips Further Afield
Bagni di Lucca is our nearest small town – actually three main settlement centres spread out along the Lima River, with the comune also including a number of villages perched above in the hills (of which Vetteglia is one). Slightly further afield, and connected to Bagni di Lucca by bus and train (from Fornoli), is Lucca – a real gem of city, with an intact ancient wall encircling the older part. Further still, but within day-trip distance, are Florence, Pisa, Vinci and the coast.
Strike your own balance between Study and Holiday
Each guest will strike their own balance between study (or perhaps a less strenuous ‘reading and reflection’) and holiday. Some will set aside some hours most days for reading or study (particularly if they bring a project) before relaxing and kicking-back, whereas others will be content to focus on walking and exploring locally, maybe visiting the new museum (and old church) at San Cassiano di Controne, the public pool at Bagni di Lucca (open Summer only – wild-swimming in the River Lima available year round!), or taking day-trips a little further afield, before returning to Casale di Clio in the evening to browse through some books or magazines while looking for inspiration.
Reflecting the fact that Casale di Clio also offers accommodation for writers and artists, in addition to land-based works the library contains books encouraging self-study in artistic or literary endeavors, including The Artist’s Way, Painter’s Progress – An Art School Year in Twelve Lessons edited by Ian Simpson, How to Draw by Adrian Hill, The Creative Writing Coursebook edited by Julia Bell and Paul Magrs, Wayne C. Booth’s The Rhetoric of Fiction, and Robert McKee’s Story. The landscape and local history provide ample inspiration for those wanting to express themselves artistically or in a literary fashion – why not take a trip up to nearby Montefegatesi to visit the hilltop statue of Dante!
For those with an interest, the library also has a wide range of books on British history (particularly social-history) – with a particular focus on Tudor history and Shakespeare (including a collection of ‘his’ plays). Casale di Clio‘s bookcases in the living room also hold a range of contemporary fiction.
Interested in Booking to Stay?
Before deciding whether you would like to stay at Casale di Clio please ensure that you have read and understood the information set out on the Terms and Conditions page of this website (when submitting a booking enquiry you will be asked to confirm that you will accept those T&Cs if we accept a booking from you); it is a good idea to also thoroughly read the Home Page of this website, as well as the Getting Here and Getting Around page, to get a feel for what a stay here will be like.
Once you have decided that you would like to come and stay at Casale di Clio then look at the description of the guest rooms and the rates and consider if you have a room preference. Then head to our Bookings Enquiries page and submit a booking enquiry form. We look forward to hearing from you!
If you know one or two other folk who might also be interested in coming to stay at the same time then do take a look at our special group-booking offers.