From traditional Italy to a small ecovillage in Brazil

Expat interviews
  • Iside, Lorenzo and Leone
Published on 2020-10-14 at 07:53 by Francesca
“We sleep and wake up to the rhythm of the forest”. Lorenzo, an artist and writer and Iside, a naturopath, are an Italian expat couple. Tired of their traditional life in Italy, they chose to relocate to a small ecological village on the coast of Bahia, Brazil, with Leone, their 6-years-old son. In this interview, they talk to us about their choice, their everyday life in the heart of nature and their projects.

Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?

We are Lorenzo, Iside and little Leone who is only 6 years old. We currently live in an ecovillage on the coast of Bahia, Brazil, a place where the forest meets the Atlantic sea. Lorenzo is an artist and the author of an autobiographical work titled “Polemico e bizzarro”. I am a naturopath and kinesiologist.

What motivated you to swap your “traditional life” in Italy for this ecovillage in Bahia?

We were looking for what Lorenzo defines as the desire and the need for balance in his book. We absolutely wanted to find a place where we would be surrounded by nature to give birth to our son Leone, far from the frenzy of Italian cities. We were looking for a place where we would be able to cultivate the land, surf every day and have a simple and laid back life. This is how we define and easy and fun life. Today we're under the tropics, which is different from the climate of northern Italy. We don't need a heater or warm clothes. It's also easier when it comes to food. We have to admit that this place allows us to connect with nature, and this is something we had been seeking for so long.

What defines an ecovillage? Where does this concept come from? How do you spend the days?

There are many ways to design and create an ecovillage. What we were seeking is a place that looks like the countryside, where everyone has their own land that they can cultivate and build their house on, without sharing obligations with anyone. For example, we can decide whether we wish to participate in collective activities or not, depending on our availability. The sense of community is what prompted us to seek this type of reality.

The natives believe that it takes an entire tribe to raise a child. In fact, children act as catalysts for entire families simply because living together is easier and more fun than living alone. What unites families here, while respecting our cultural differences, is a common goal. We are all seeking inner peace and a better quality of life while respecting nature and the concept of ecological sustainability.

Most of the inhabitants here are artists and therapists. We have a personal development centre that organises different types of activities, as well as an internal school which is based on the principle of lively and free education. Each family is free to choose how they want to educate their children as there are several other possibilities, such as the Steiner school which is just outside the ecological village. We wake up at dawn to the rhythm of nature as we have banished the alarm clock from our lives, except when we have to take a flight. We fall asleep and wake up to the sound of the woods.

Sport is one of our priorities, so we start our day with surfing and yoga, followed by a long walk along our paradise beach. Our physical activity continues in the fields as we cultivate the land and water our plants. Then we organise Leone's day. We also spend a lot of time taking care of our diet. Aside from that, we have a lot of projects that allow us to unleash our creativity, so we never get bored here.

What about the cost of living there?

The cost of living here is significantly lower compared to the large cities in Brazil. Since we have fewer needs, we end up spending less. The place we live in is not controlled by the state, and although it has its strengths and weaknesses, we couldn't imagine living in a better way. We don't need engineers or surveyors to build a house, which saves us a lot of money. There are many benefits to living in the middle of nowhere. What is really essential is to have access to water, and we found a very good source. It is the lifestyle we have chosen that allows us to live well without spending a fortune. Indeed, we get by wonderfully with 1000 euros per month, but there are also families who do it with a smaller budget.

What is your project “Mata na Lata” all about?

"Mata na Lata" is a concept that took birth in the mental hospital where Lorenzo was being treated for allegedly acute schizophrenia. “Mata na Lata” means “forest in a box”. It is an artistic performance, a game of co-creation, a container in which you can unleash your creativity. It also inspired us to create Pachamama, a brand which means “Mother Earth”. All the profits generated by this project are invested in the conservation of the environment and biodiversity, which are our only real wealth. “Mata na Lata” is also a meeting place where we get to share our dreams, our experiences and our ideas, and where we try to live and be the change that we would like to see in the world. Anyone can take part in this project because together we can change the world. We wish to bring back the beauty, the joy, the love and the energy that the planet has given us.

How's your child schooling going on?

This is quite a controversial topic for us as we don't believe in traditional schooling. For us, the traditional school is a kind of protocol of notions imposed so that we can learn in a boring and mnemonic way. This applies to everyone since we don't realise that we are all different from each other, let alone the importance of developing our talents. This stressful teaching methodology aims at training people to live in a suffocating society. This was the case for Lorenzo who completed his studies with a PhD in sociology, even though that was a long torture for him.

For Leone, we want something different, assuming that he can learn by playing, in a creative way, without any forcing. This would help in stimulating his interests and developing his talents. Let's not forget that this is a once in a lifetime experience. We've got the opportunity to learn a foreign language in immersion, and to observe and understand nature. Do you know "discovery" means? We recently found out, thanks to Leone! In short, we prefer homeschooling. Maybe we'll seek the support of a tutor having anthroposophical skills to fill in our gaps in the long run.

What, according to you, are the ingredients for a fun and serene expat life?

Spirituality is one of the fundamental ingredients of a peaceful life abroad. If we believe that luck is not a coincidence, it can really change our perspective about life. It also makes us more responsible for our own lives by realising the existence of the law of cause and effect that is called "Karma". So, we take better care of ourselves and of whatever is around us. Over time, this becomes our priority. For us, "easy" means having a life that is as simple as possible by avoiding unnecessary needs.

Can you tell us more about your Youtube channel?

It is called “Polemico e bizarro”, like Lorenzo's book. This channel helps us share our experience with those who might be interested in this kind lifestyle. We talk about ourselves, our perspectives of life, our lifestyle, permaculture and agroforestry. We also interview our talented friends.

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