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Starthrowers

Thirteen years ago Ian and Bob left England and their corporate careers. They moved to Italy to follow their dream of leading a more sustainable life for themselves and the planet we share.

“Once, on ancient Earth, there was a human boy walking along a beach.
There had just been a storm, and starfish had been scattered along the
sands. The boy knew the fish would die, so he began to fling the fish to
the sea. But every time he threw a starfish, another would wash ashore.
“An old Earth man happened along and saw what the child was doing. He
called out, ‘Boy, what are you doing?’ ” ‘Saving the starfish!’ replied
the boy. ” ‘But your attempts are useless, child! Every time you save
one, another one returns, often the same one! You can’t save them all,
so why bother trying? Why does it matter, anyway?’ called the old man.
“The boy thought about this for a while, a starfish in his hand; he
answered, “Well, it matters to this one.” And then he flung the starfish
into the welcoming sea.”

From the book The Starthrower by Lauren Eiseley 

Have you ever met a starthrower? Well, a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking with Ian and Bob at their home, Casal dei Fichi (Farmhouse of Figs). A restored, eco-friendly dwelling, tucked away in the tranquility of a picturesque countryside in the region of le Marche, Italy. Precisely in the comune of Francavilla D’Ete. Six appartments named after famous historical figures of the territory are ready to greet visitors all year round. Lavender and rosemary bushes, olive and fig trees contour the walk to the front door, delighting sight and smell. The air is nippy so we decide to chat inside.

Why did you choose to come to live in le Marche?

We found ourselves wanting to escape our corporate lifestyle. It wasn’t a bad lifestyle in the sense that it gave us the economic possibility to do all the things we enjoyed doing. But we felt the need to evade the stress tied to our jobs and living the city life in London. We took alot of vacations and began to realize that perhaps it was time to be bold and change.

We discovered le Marche during a visit with a friend who lives in Italy. It was love at first sight. We thought: this is it! The people are welcoming, the food is great, the scenery is spectacular and the weather is perfect. We began searching for a home that fit our needs and here we are. We used our skills to plan and run a business that would give us the freedom to enjoy life.

How long did it take you to restore Casal dei Fichi?

Two years. We documented our labour of love by making a video about the creation of our home. Something for people to see. A behind the scene look at what it means to take on a challenge like this one.


Tell me about your efforts to make Casal dei Fichi eco-friendly.

Minimising our impact on the environment is a priority. It’s part of our lifestyle. For example: with regards to power and energy we have solar panels for water and swimming pool, a charging station for electric cars, movement sensors for light, thermostatic radiators, high rating electrical appliances and, we don’t have air conditioning because we use air flow management and Velux windows.

As far as water and waste go we had a well dug to collect roof rainwater for garden irrigation, full recycling, refillable water bottles to encourage less plastic purchase, composting, septic tanks that release nutrients to the land and, locally sourced wood for fireplaces.

We do everything we can to do our part. We don’t impose our ideas on others, we try to be an example about how things can be done in a way that does not harm the planet and ultimately ourselves.

I understand you started a very special community project with an organization called Treedom. What is it all about?

Our motto for this project is: combatting climate change one plate at a time by planting trees! 

It’s a simple idea really. One way of emeliorating the effects of climate change is to plant trees. So we teamed up with Treedom and some excellent local restaurants to do just that. If our guests visit one of these restaurants during their stay and take along a card we provide for them, they will receive a discount off the cost their meal. At the end of their vacation our guests pass the amount corresponding to the discount to us. We add our own contribution and send everything to Treedom who, in turn, is able to plant trees all over the world on our behalf. It is a collective effort to help the planet. We can see and monitor our progress through the organization’s website, on our page.

My visit with Ian and Bob was over too soon. The peace and beauty of the rolling valleys accompanied my journey toward the Adriatic Sea, toward home. I was filled with ispiration. A humbling experience had taken place that afternoon. I was given the opportunity to witness the bond of love between nature and humanity, I saw friendhip between man and the environment. I met not one, but two genuine starthrowers who are making a difference, against all odds.

Recently Ian and Bob appeared in Matt Landau’s “Sense of Place”.  A great reportage definetely worth taking the time to watch.

By the way; I received a very special gift from Ian and Bob. A tree!  I named “my” Umbrella tree Peace and it thrives in a forest I hope to visit someday, in Kenya. You can see it here!

Ciao for now!

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