Meeting Our Neighbors Across the Valley

Farmhouse in Le Marche

The last time we visited our house we noticed that there was one house almost directly across from ours on the other side of the valley, and we wondered whether they were bothered by the unsightly view of our construction.

A few weeks later, while looking for potential places to stay on our next visit, Ed happened to stumble on a website for an eco-friendly bed and breakfast in the vicinity of our house. When he put the B&B’s address into Google Earth up came a picture of that same house across the way. It’s called Le Foglie Ridenti, which translates roughly to Laughter in the Leaves. It’s owned by Graham and Saranne, who are originally from the Ireland and England, respectively, but have lived in Le Marche for over ten years.

Since we had their contact information from their website we decided to drop them a line to introduce ourselves…and also apologize for our construction noise and mess. They invited us to stop by on our upcoming trip, so we made a date.

The view of our house from Le Foglie Ridenti

When we arrived at Le Foglie Ridenti we found out that Saranne, who writes children’s science books, was on deadline from her publisher, so we spent most of our visit with Graham.  He showed us around the place and explained that they built their house using an innovative eco-friendly building process and sustainable materials.

Most of their power comes from passive solar energy and their entire home is heated by one wood stove, that they also use for cooking. The house is kept cool in the summer and warm in winter by an innovative insulation technique. They spend just a few hundred Euro per year on electricity, unheard of in a part of the world where energy costs are sky-high.  Graham said the construction technique he used had been pioneered in Germany and he had now started a business to bring it to Le Marche and help other like-minded people build their own eco-friendly homes.

Graham and Saranne had also built their own natural swimming pool. With water lilies and other plants it looked  more like a pond except for being rectangular. The pool uses no chlorine or any other chemicals, relying on plant life and and an aeration pump to keep the water oxygenated and algae free.

Natural swimming pool in Le Marche
This natural swimming pool uses no chemicals

Graham is quite the modern-day Renaissance man and there seems to be nothing he can’t do. In addition to working in eco-friendly construction and farming their olives, vegetables and fruit trees, he is an expert in local wines and leads wine tours for his guests and others, as well as olive tours. In addition, he does farm-to-table catering for local residents, cooking for them in their homes with locally-produced organic  ingredients.

We are so glad to have this warm and friendly couple as neighbors. I am sure they will also be a terrific resource for us when it comes to their knowledge of the area and their connections with local producers.

First and third images: Le Foglie Ridenti
Second image: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure