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Monte Rufeno Olive PickingAs we walked along the short trail back from the olive grove, I began to smell fresh mint and other aromatic herbs underfoot, wildly growing on the side of the farmhouse, and instantly felt transported to a simpler time when families had to grow their own food and raise their own livestock to survive.

Although paling in comparison to those more likely difficult times, I still was satisfied with having taken part in the harvesting of an olive tree’s lovely green and purple colored olives ready for the first press. We collected nearly 90 lbs. of olives that morning and, once again, found ourselves at a large family-style Italian table ready for a feast.

For anyone who has traveled throughout the Mediterranean, the scene may be a familiar one. But, once you account for the details, you realize it is anything but common.

ParenzanaViewTake the imagery of Tuscany (without the crowds) and combine it with a family-friendly biking and hiking trail that meanders through various villages offering comfortable accommodations and fantastic culinary delicacies, and you have Croatia's Parenzana Trail in a nutshell.

The 123 kilometer (approximately 77 mile) biking and hiking trail's history is quite comical. Originally built as a train rail line that transported goods and passengers throughout the region of Istria to and from the Italian port of Trieste, the slow train operated from 1902 to 1935.

It's amazing how travel can inspire that moment of clarity for a young child where s/he understands a bit more about their world! That's what happened to our son during a recent trip to Rome, Italy when he suddenly realized the technical contributions made by the Romans (and Greeks).

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As our bus driver expertly weaved around the bends and curves of the Tuscan countryside in Italy, I found myself totally transfixed by the rolling hills that surrounded us. Looking out, I felt that the scenery was almost too beautiful, that if I blinked I would suddenly wake up back in my bed in New Jersey. But there I was, in the heart of Tuscany, backpack at the ready and best friend at my side. Our decade dream of backpacking through Europe during our college years was coming true, and we were finally at the Italian portion of our journey.

Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • jesse
    jesse says #
    Farm name
    Hi Julia, Great write up! My partner and I are looking for culinary woofing opportunities in Tuscany and this one sounds perfect.
  • Gayatri Nigudkar
    Gayatri Nigudkar says #
    Farms name
    Hi Julia, Could you tell me the name of the farm? Also, is it safe to go alone? I live in Mumbai with my family. Did you travel o
  • Mariana
    Mariana says #
    Farm´s name
    Hi Julia, Could you tell me the name of your farm? Thank you very much! Best regards, Mariana
  • Ruth
    Ruth says #
    Ruth
    I am close to retirement and able bodied. Sounds like a great experience. Is their an age limit.

Italy's eco-label for sustainable tourism emphasizes the protection of nature, culture and heritage as well as the improvement of the environment. Since 1997, the Legambiente Turismo eco-label has been awarded to 426 accommodations including agritourism sites, restaurants, boat operators, beaches, natural parks, and tourist attractions that have raised awareness about running sustainable tourism operations as well as reducing the environmental impacts of tourism.

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  • Rebecca Rubin
    Rebecca Rubin says #
    So awesome to learn that the efforts are having such a great impact in Italy! Hope to continue to hear positive reports like this
  • Jamie Fernandez
    Jamie Fernandez says #
    Interesting to know these organizations are always improving their sustainability.

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