Ep3: Harvesting Harmony with Francesco Boldrini, founder of Tertulia Coliving

🎙️ Dive into the rustic world of Tertulia Coliving with Francesco Boldrini, nestled in the vibrant Tuscan countryside. 🌄 Learn about Francesco’s journey from a fast-paced city life to becoming a pioneer in rural coliving spaces.

In this episode, Francesco shares the essence of living close to nature, the inception of Tertulia as a sustainable haven, and his innovative projects like Disco Soup and different activities with social impact. 🌳👨‍🌾

Discover Francesco’s vision of a sustainable, community-focused lifestyle and how he’s redefining rural living for digital nomads. Join us for a deep dive into the heart of Tuscany and a breath of fresh air in coliving culture! 🎧

Read Francesco's Interview

César: Welcome everyone to Colivers Club, powered by Mapmelon. I’m César, and I’m here with Francesco. Hello, Francesco, how are you? Francesco: Ciao, I’m doing well, thank you. César: Francesco is the visionary behind Tertulia Farm Coliving in Tuscany. Having visited this year, I was captivated. It’s fascinating how such a remote location has become a success. Francesco, did you anticipate this level of success? Francesco: Honestly, no. The journey started by blending various ideas, leading to the coliving concept. It was sparked by a master’s degree focused on plants and social innovation, which inspired us to design a coworking space near plants, enhancing productivity, reducing stress, and boosting creativity. Our goal was to empower rural areas, encouraging people to live, not just work here. This evolved naturally, thanks to feedback and learning from the community and our surroundings. César: It’s a beautiful, farm-oriented project. I remember discussing some upcoming projects, like cooking classes? Francesco: Yes, we’re a farm focusing on self-sustainability. We use wood from our forests for heating and produce oil, vegetables, and fruit mainly for our consumption. Our main crop is chestnuts, though this season was challenging due to drought. We’ve also started raising chickens for eggs, which guests can purchase. César: You’ve also implemented innovative systems, like the heating system in the activity area, right? Francesco: Indeed. Our main heating system is a modern stove with reduced emissions. It heats our entire home and shared spaces. Additionally, we built a rocket stove from local materials and an oil barrel, creating a cozy, communal area for everyone to enjoy. César: I loved that space. Your engineering background has clearly influenced these projects. Francesco: Absolutely. My engineering background, combined with permaculture principles, guides my decisions. Moving from Milan to rural Tuscany 18 years ago was a significant shift, but it’s been fulfilling, especially with the ethical considerations now driving our projects. César: Living here with your family must be unique, especially with the coliving space right next door. Francesco: Yes, my family and I live here year-round. Our journey to this lifestyle was gradual, involving various projects, including hosting refugees and organizing courses. The coliving emerged naturally from our hosting culture, and we continuously adapt our spaces based on feedback from our guests. For us, the community and living experience are paramount. César: It’s fascinating how living with your family in coliving impacts your children, exposing them to such an international environment. Do you see the benefits? Francesco: Absolutely. A key principle for us is ensuring everyone’s happiness, akin to providing a plant with sufficient light and water to thrive. This includes not just our guests but my family as well. We strive for balance, integrating our family life with the coliving community through regular shared dinners, fostering easy participation for us and our guests. My eldest son is particularly drawn to the diverse encounters, aspiring to travel and possibly embrace a digital nomad lifestyle influenced by his experiences here. César: Often, colivings attract digital nomads, many of whom prefer not to have children around. Yet, for families participating in or hosting colivings, it seems like an enriching experience for the children, exposing them to a plethora of ideas and languages. Francesco: It’s a growing interest, indeed. As more families consider traveling, educational systems will need to adapt to accommodate these lifestyles. However, integrating families into coliving spaces, especially during work hours, presents challenges. We must balance workspaces with family-friendly areas to avoid conflicts, yet children often bring joy and curiosity, enhancing the communal experience. César: You’ve also had a significant experience hosting refugees. Can you share more about that? Francesco: Hosting refugees was deeply enriching, conducted in a family-style setting to foster integration and autonomy. Our approach was hands-on, guiding them towards self-sufficiency and adjusting to cultural differences. The goal was empowerment, helping them to navigate and contribute to society, a challenging but rewarding process. César: I recall your involvement in projects with social impacts, like the disco soup event, which brought the community together to prevent food waste. Francesco: Yes, the disco soup event was a highlight, promoting community engagement and food sustainability. Organized in the village square, it was a collaborative effort that bridged our dynamic coliving community with local residents. We’re planning similar initiatives to continue these valuable interactions. César: Are there any new projects on the horizon aimed at fostering social impact? Francesco: Currently, we’re focusing on nurturing a diffuse community around Tertulia, with several individuals moving nearby to embark on their projects. Our goal is to leverage this collective to initiate local ventures, starting with opening trails in the forest. This project, involving disadvantaged youth, aims to enhance outdoor accessibility and encourage reconnection with nature. César: It’s remarkable how Tertulia offers such a unique blend of rural life and community engagement, reminding us of the beauty and importance of nature. Francesco: Indeed, fostering a deeper connection with nature is central to our mission. As urbanization intensifies, it’s crucial to maintain our bond with the natural world, which in turn nurtures our relationships with ourselves and others. Through Tertulia, we aim to explore sustainable ways to source food from the forest, addressing both environmental and nutritional needs. César: The winter experience you’re planning sounds intriguing, especially for those seeking a different kind of European adventure. It’s about embracing a slower pace, reflecting, and learning from nature’s cycle of rest and renewal. Francesco: Yes, we aim to create an environment that encourages mindfulness and connection with nature. It’s about understanding how plants conserve energy in winter to flourish in spring, and how we, as a community, can emulate this efficient, collaborative survival strategy. César: It’s all about being present and mindful in our actions, whether it’s washing dishes or taking a walk in the forest. Tertulia fosters this mindfulness, making even the simplest tasks meaningful. Francesco: I appreciate your feedback. Living mindfully and in tune with nature is at the heart of what we do at Tertulia. It’s about allowing ourselves to be in the moment, to form deeper relationships, and to discover what nature offers, like the health benefits of breathing in the forest. César: I encourage our listeners to check out Tertulia’s Instagram to see the beauty we’re discussing. It’s one thing to talk about it, but another to see and experience it. César: Regarding sustainability in colivings, what advice would you give for them to become more sustainable? Francesco: Sustainability is multifaceted, starting from environmental to social and financial aspects. It’s crucial to adapt sustainability practices to your specific context, whether urban or rural. Simple steps like reducing waste, choosing renewable energy sources, and being mindful of water usage can make a significant difference. Social sustainability, fostering genuine relationships and community support, is equally important. Ultimately, sustainability involves considering the long-term impact of our lifestyles on future generations. César: Considering the nomadic lifestyle of many colivers, how do you view their sustainability compared to those who settle in one place? Francesco: The sustainability of a nomadic lifestyle versus a settled one depends on various factors, including travel methods and consumption patterns. While travel, especially by plane, can increase an individual’s carbon footprint, nomads often have a lower overall consumption due to minimalistic living. The key is awareness and making conscious choices to minimize environmental impact, regardless of one’s lifestyle choice. César: Regarding colivers’ sustainability, traveling globally offers a unique perspective. How do you see the balance between the benefits of cultural exchange and the environmental cost of travel? Francesco: It’s not about ranking lifestyles but looking at the system as a whole. Everyone plays a role in sustainability. For travelers, the key may lie in the duration and purpose of their stays. Longer, meaningful stays can offset the environmental impact of travel by fostering cultural exchange and spreading diverse ideas. I’m contemplating a permaculture course for digital nomads to explore ethical and sustainable remote working practices. César: Embracing minimalism has been a revelation for me. Selling or giving away most of my possessions made me feel incredibly light. Traveling with just the essentials encourages thoughtful consumption and sustainability. It’s about quality over quantity and repairing rather than replacing. Francesco: That’s a valuable insight. Minimalism aligns closely with sustainability, encouraging us to be more conscious of our consumption patterns. César: Being in Italy, I have to ask: What’s the best pasta dish in Italy, in your opinion? Francesco: I’d recommend a dish connected to chestnuts, transforming a traditional recipe from the Lombardy region. Instead of potatoes, I use chestnuts, creating a rich and seasonal dish. It’s a delightful way to enjoy the flavors of the season. César: Thanks for sharing that culinary tip and for this engaging conversation. It’s been enlightening discussing sustainability, travel, and minimalism with you. Francesco: Thank you for having me. It’s been great reconnecting and sharing ideas. César: This wraps up another episode of Colivers Club, brought to you by Mapmelon. Until next time, goodbye.

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