In the sleepy coastal town of Torre Mileto, a quiet collection of sun-bleached pastel buildings surrounded by lush mediterranean vegetation, and overlooking a sparkling Adriatic Sea, there’s a house with no windows, and a grey gate. If you pass through this gate, and traverse a meandering dirt track, as it winds it’s way through olive groves and tangled fields of yellow flowers, long grass, wild asparagus and stinging nettles, and follow a series of painted mandalas, and wooden posts, you’ll find Giardino Della Gioia, or, in english, the Garden of Joy.
Giardino Della Gioia is a recently reinvented community of about five people, and a couple of cats and a dog, together with a constant flow of eager helpers and volunteers, set to a backdrop of looming cliff-sides, hidden away beaches, caves, and forests. Giardino Della Gioia states that their purpose is to encourage self-sufficiency, and a reconnection with nature, with community acting as a catalyst, from which joy, tranquillity, and trust, can flourish.
Established in March 2011, Giardino Della Gioia consists of 4 yurts, 2 permaculture gardens, a shared kitchen, and several tents and treehouses. The community is powered entirely by 8 solar panels, and there is an earth oven, for baking breads and cakes, 2 outdoor showers, and 4 composting toilets – minimising the environmental impact of the community.
The days at Giardino Della Gioia are structured around communal meals taken outside, or in the kitchen, meditation, and the various maintenance and work required on the land and property. This includes the maintenance and harvesting of 500 ancient olive trees, knarled and each with their own character. At the time of our arrival, people were climbing ladders into the trees and cutting back branches, trimming the trees to create the best conditions for olive growing – the air was heavy with the scent of the trees, with insects and pollen.
200 fruit trees have also recently been planted, including apples, peaches, and numerous types of exotic fruits, the mild winters and extremely hot summers providing ideal conditions for such abundance.
The food at Giardino Della Gioia is completely vegan. We ate turmeric cakes, spent mornings picking baskets of wildflowers for salads, enjoyed bowls of foraged mushrooms, houmous, and flatbreads, as the sun set, pink and peach reflecting in the water before disappearing below the horizon.
The kitchen’s shelves are lined with dozens of jars filled with rose petals, stevia, herbal teas, camomile, spices and herbs.
It will be interesting to see what the next few years bring forth for Giardino Della Gioia – as their trees begin to bear fruit, and they become more established. Their location is dreamlike, peaceful, and they have a lot of potential. Whilst we were there we helped with the trimming of the trees, worked in the garden, and the kitchen, and I was left with the impression that there is a lot of exciting work to be done. If you want to experience a community just at the beginning of their journey, and help with the creation of a restful place in which people can retreat, and find quiet – I’d definitely recommend a visit.
Here’s a link to their website.
And a link to our flickr set from our stay.