We were looking for a place to couchsurf in Florence. Couchsurfing is staying with a local for free check out https://www.couchsurfing.org Lorenzo saw our request and offered us a bed in Arcidosso which is about a 3 hour coach drive away. We thought why not? Lets give it a go & if we don't like it at least we tried it early on in our adventure. We also liked the idea of going somewhere no one has heard of (we found that this included almost all of the Italians we asked about the place)
Lorenzo has an open house & can accommodate up to 20 people. "Free life" was the house motto. We were to arrive in Arcidosso, go to the castle and call Lorenzo. The journey was a pleasant one. Rolling Tuscan hills with vineyards at every turn. We were both expecting a tiny town with a population of 100 all over the age of 60 & Lorenzo would be waiting for us at the bus stop. What we found was very different.
As we got off the bus Lorenzo was not to be seen but the castle can be seen from just about everywhere so we headed for that. We climbed the step/slopes of the castle until we got pretty much to the top then we saw 5 travellers all sat on the floor outside of a large house with a sign saying free books. How cool is this? We are living in a freaking castle!!
We made our introductions & someone went & found Lorenzo who quickly showed us to our bed for the night which was a mattress with a Ukranian sitting on it. This is fine he assured us as he was leaving soon.
At this point I was a little shell shocked by all of this (Cat was obviously fine, taking it all in her stride). The room had many beds & backpacker paraphernalia decorated the place. It was very hot & full of flies. I expected Lenny Henry to rock up at any minute!
We went to the shop with a couple of the guys & bought some wine for dinner - this consisted of taking empty bottles to a shop where the owner filled up the bottles with wine out of a tap for 1.92 a litre!. After chatting to all of the other travellers (one of which has been at the house for 4 months!) I found 3 guitars & some sketch paper. I was beginning to enjoy myself.
There was 14 of us. The girl who has lived there for 4 months had her Aunt & Mum visiting her from Hungary. They cooked us a great Hungarian meal (the kitchen was basic, at best. There wasn't even a refrigerator). The Auntie explained that it wasn't actually Hungarian, as no Hungarian food is complete without meat. Oh, Lorenzo is a vegan. "No dead animals in the kitchen" a newly made poster reads. This was the result of a polish girl bringing some raw chicken into the house the day before. I am beginning to feel very much at home here.The night we arrived a beer & music festival had started. After our great meal we headed to the festival which was 5 minutes away. We drank very tasty German beer & danced in the street to the Stooges & Rolling Stones. At this point I am pinching myself. Is this for real. We are not guna get buggered or eaten? This is all free? Free life?
|View from the living room window|
I slept like a baby. The next day we went for a hike. We both tested out our specially purchased hiking boots but half way through we did say to each other - what are we doing this for? This isn't what we do. We go to the pub!
That said we did enjoy the hike, the views were pretty good & we are sure to do many more.
The rest of the day included more guitar, mini ping pong & pictionary. I forgot to mention that there was also a classical music festival taking place with concerts throughout the town. One of these was right next door to our house! It was a medium size concert hall. This was full every night & chairs would be placed outside with the door open. I was stood outside leaning against the castle enjoying 2 ladies playing very cool classical tunes thinking how lucky are we!? Again that night I slept very well.
|Me kicking Louisa's ass!|
The people here were really, really cool. The Brazilian couple Alex & Louisa were great, could chat to them for hours.
We are glad we did this & I would consider doing something similar in the future. However The grime & filth were pretty alarming. We would wear Cats sarong as a type of veil to shield us from the flies which would be our wake up call each morning. The shower was beyond freezing! Think of the scene with the liquid nitrogen tanker & the T1000 from Terminator 2. Seriously.
Our first experience of couchsurfing was nothing like couchsurfing whatsoever. It was more of a commune or a hostel, maybe a hippy paradise?
Free life? I like the idea but I like refrigerated drinks more :)