“But… is this a farmhouse?”
Yes, I mean, no, well… it depends on the point of view.
The fact is, it’s not easy to answer the question of a Danish family, stopping by at Cà dell’Alpe for a night – then turned into three full days. Yes, it is a farm – with 6 ducks, 4 breed Avelignese horses, rabbits, chickens, roosters and chicks. And the dogs, of course. And the terraced garden, wide and rich, right beneath the wood-burning oven. But Cà dell’Alpe is also a pint-sized camping into a thick chestnut, where you can come with your own tent but if you don’t have one you can borrow one – there are also 3 caravans for those who like to take it easy. There is a restaurant, without proper waiters and without a menu, wine either red or white however good, a place where you can buy vegetables who have been just picked, and olives and oil, a place where you can have outdoor snacks, on the long wooden tables with the banks under the lathing, a hotel with three bedrooms and a little house to rent, a place where meeting people and call everyone by name straight away, or after a few hours, as you feel like..
There are lots of children, fighting for the two swings, playing with the calcio-balilla always busy, playing ping-pong, splashing about in the swimming pool 15 metres x 10 provided with a chute with a castle on the top, rummaging in the big toys basket in the hall, eating on their own by the three small and coloured tables food cooked specially for them, on small wooden chairs with the cat carved in the back.
Surely Farm Holidays would be (is!) the official definition of the project of Cosimo and Daniela from Milan settled up here on the Ligurian terraces dropping sheer to the Finale sea, with an almost aeronautic view on the Perti fortress. During the day who wants to can go and have a swim, after less than half an hour you’re down in Riviera sweating while looking for a parking that can guarantee you the beach umbrella. Or, you can go and free climb on the 1.200 ways of tamper rock around here. Or perhaps, much quieter, you can wander around the pinewoods by horse, by bike or on foot, along the roads and the paths surrounded by the sound of the brooks only.
The possibilities are many and on the Summer evenings the villages of the hinterland teem with festivals and fairs where to stuff oneself and even dance.
But after a while staying here, the only true desire is that of staying here. Far from the Summer chaos, by one’s own on a deckchair or chatting with strangers who are going to become friends – or almost friends, with the “tourists” or those who come up here to give a little help, you never understand whether they do it as a job or as friends. Until you end up helping without anyone asking you. Help means even just serving ten cheese dishes for the dinner, or getting rid of the rocks that some cheeky kid has thrown in the pool. Free of doing something or not doing anything, but above all free of being yourself without anyone asking you something, surrounded by discreet yet curious people, curious of who you are in a very natural way (the term “human” would be the most suitable, but better not to get to dull). Sitting on the outside surrounded by flower falls coming down the windows and getting up from everything that can work as a container, big or tiny plants constantly well-kept but not too perfect as on brochure Farm Holidays. You’ll end up fancying to ask and listen to some stories, first of all to the untiring, sarcastic Cosimo and the untiring, sweet Daniela, who, when she has the time, she bakes homemade bread.
Time for the bread and for the flowers… but how can you find any spare time and at the same time carrying on this farmhouse (yes, Farm holidays too!) that only 8 years ago was a ruin crowded round by brambles? And, in addition to that, with two small children? And the guests children, for whom there’s always the right word, and the right care, and a brief, warm smile. And the trippers, asking for a service as if they were in a “normal” bar or restaurant, and you have to explain to them that it’s not actually like that? Yet there is time for everything, and even for a little, final miracle: being able to give the audience – all the audience – the impression that everything goes on as in a perfectly natural game, as the pro athlete does, when perfectly performing his almost impossible exercise and smiling you at the same time, as if the fatigue were someone else’s invention. Natural, isn’t it?