Kiri and


A Christmas Oasis

January 4th, 2014 (by Steve)

Every traveller needs an oasis; a watering hole to stop next to, refill the reserves and then start travelling again. The Oaks Oasis in Porano, Italy was such a place for us. Now don’t get us wrong, we love travelling, but it’s good to put your feet up at times too. Especially at Christmas! So we joined Celeste (who runs the retreat centre) and her friend Laurie over Christmas and New Year in the heart of the Umbrian countryside for a mixture of relaxing and helping out.


As with the other projects we’ve visited so far, we had contacted Celeste at the Oaks before we set off, offering to help her in any way that she wanted.

…help? Oh yeah. I have 24 oak trees. So there will certainly be some raking you can help with!

We arrived, eager to get stuck into the jobs that she had lined up for us, but also a little tired after our wanderings. It was a lovely surprise therefore to find that we had a real bed to sleep in (that you could even sit up in!), Celeste had a menu planned out for our stay and she wasn’t expecting us to get straight to work. Aside from moving some firewood inside and rebuilding the wood pile (under the watchful eye of 3 of the feral cats who currently caretake the retreat centre), we didn’t really do any work until a couple of days after Christmas.


In the meantime, I read a book. A novel. From cover to cover. In just over a day. I haven’t had made time to do that since I was a teenager. Kiri went for a countryside walk, being accompanied by a local dog for some of it. We watched films. We ate food together. Actually, that last sentence doesn’t do the mealtimes justice; dinner was an occasion every day; not just a time to refuel, but a time to savour and have deep conversations. Celeste is American, we’re British and we were all in Italy, so the menu was an incredible fusion of the tastes of 3 cultures; prosciutto, roast pork, pumpkin pie, chilli con carne, lemon meringue pie, southern fried chicken, meatloaf, pecorino, etc. Food heaven!


We also had several trips out from the retreat centre; on Christmas Day we visited a small, friendly church where they served espresso before the service (take note, Church of England!), we went to a wine tasting event at a local vineyard and we had a day in Rome. Now, when in Rome, do as the Romans… or so the saying goes. But what do Romans do? Well, I guess they tried to invade Scotland, gave up and built a wall to stop the Scots invading them… but we only had one day, and Scotland is quite a way away. So instead, we wandered around Rome; saw the Colosseum from the outside, saw the Pope’s house from the outside, saw the Trevi fountain… in fact we saw a lot of things, but it was a street artist near the Colosseum that wowed us the most. We ended the day by watching The Hobbit at the cinema, noting down things that might help us on our travels (not that we’ve seen any orks yet).


And so onto the leaves. 24 oak trees do indeed drop a lot of leaves. We assessed the situation and decided it wasn’t a massive job actually… until we realised that the carpet of leaves was a couple of inches thick. In total, across the 3 days that we spent raking leaves, we probably cleared enough leaves to fill a couple of skips. It was great exercise and lovely to be outside in such beautiful surroundings, as well as being very satisfying, seeing the progress as we unveiled the ground beneath the leafy carpet.


All good things must come to an end and soon it was time to… leave (sorry). It wood (sorry) have been very easy to stay, but we didn’t want to outstay our welcome, plus we felt that we’d kind of abandoned Bertha over this time. So, we uprooted (sorry) and once again hit the road after a great time at a place for rest. For rest. Forest? Get it? I’ll get my coat.

All posts about Italy

Revelation on the Riviera

A tale of two cities…

A Christmas Oasis

Up Pompeii

2 Responses

Good to hear that you had a relaxing Christmas. Happy New Year and safe travels to you both 🙂

Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas. Belated Happy Christmas and best wishes for a fantastic 2014 for you both, and Bertha of course!

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