We had stayed on our arrival in Serra Guarneri.”.
To welcome us some volunteer girls of the structure, intent on preparing our dinner; we greet them and settle into our simple but warm and welcoming rooms, with comfortable beds and lots of light. We refresh ourselves for a moment and join the group to witness a magical sunset: the red sun kisses the sea, creating an atmosphere that leaves everyone speechless! We move to the porch where we all meet together for dinner. Giuseppe, manager of the structure, immediately involved us in the organization, leaving us the possibility of setting the table and clearing the tables… “here we are all a family, and everyone offers his own contribution without waiting for someone else to make arrangements”. We feel at home!
Dinner, served under the porch on a long wooden table, is a succession of delicious typical local products at km 0: from cheeses with jams, to salami, ham, vegetables, to then move on to an excellent couscous with chickpea soup, lots of good wine and, finally, a soft lemon cake. During dinner, Giuseppe talks to us about himself, the structure and the life they lead in this magical place. His motto: “ life is the time that passes between one meal and another!.
After dinner, a moment linked to our tradition awaits us, which takes us back in time, to our childhood: we move inside and prepare the mother yeast, with water and flour, adding a small part of mother yeast previously prepared by Beppe and Maurizio, completing everything with flax seeds. It will remain to rest and ferment all night: tomorrow we will prepare the bread!
When we wake up, a rich breakfast awaits us based on genuine products, bread and jam, homemade cakes, fresh fruit and yoghurt, juices and coffee, we can’t give up on anything. All very good!
Our activities begin with a good arm workout: it’s time to knead the bread. In turn we mix water, flour, yeast inside the maidda (in Italian madia, a container made from a single block of wood, rectangular in shape, with raised edges, in which bread was kneaded in country houses). For some of us it is a return to childhood, when we made bread with our grandparents or family friends, for others it is a completely new experience, however for everyone it is a fun and special moment!
We finish kneading and all around the table, each with their own loaf of dough, we begin to create the loaves of bread, then put them warm under the covers and let them rise until the afternoon.
While waiting for our bread to rise, we go around the countryside to discover the area and the peculiarities of the local plants. We immerse ourselves in lush nature, full of trees, plants and flowers of many colors, breathing pure air and enjoying the warm May sun.
We stop at a point full of cork trees, and Beppe explains their characteristics; it is a tree of Mediterranean origin, very widespread in the spontaneous state. In these areas it is one of the most important wood formations from an ecological, landscape and economic point of view. In fact, cork oaks are not used for cutting down trees, but for extracting the wood from the bark, to produce not only the corks for wine bottles, but it is also used for ecological building. In nature, its bark has a protective function, being fireproof, resistant to fire.
Continuing to walk, he points out a Cistus bush. Do you know what we are talking about? Cistus is a genus of evergreen plant, coming from the Mediterranean basin, which produces beautiful flowers of various colors. This plant too has its own way of defending itself from fire, being present in very arid areas. It owes its name to the Greek word “kystis” which literally means bladder: this is due to the shape of its capsules where it holds a large quantity of seeds; this bladder remains intact to the passage of the fire and, while the plant burns, its seeds will come back to life, causing the Cistus to be reborn.
Another plant with particular characteristics is the Erica arborea, which has an extraordinary ability to resist fires; the entire above ground part is burned by fire, but generally the underground part, the so-called “briar”, resists and produces new shoots, which will soon take the place of the destroyed crown.
In places where the soil is destroyed by the passage of fire, fortunately, Erica performs the important function of restoring non-natural pastures to prepare for the return of the wood.
After these interesting discoveries, a few photos and the collection of bouquets of flowers that will embellish our dinner table, we stop for a few minutes to reflect on another aspect of our life and we are asked: What tree are you? How do you react and face the difficulties that life presents you? Are you Cork, Cistus or Erica?
Each of us, after a few seconds of reflection, responds by exposing our emotions and rediscovering another important part of our being. Really interesting!
It’s time for lunch and on our return a succulent lunch awaits us based on excellent appetizers, pasta, good wine and a chat. We are all packed and to work off a bit, some of us decide to take a walk in the woods, others prefer to rest.
Once we enter the forest, we have a wonderful feeling! Beppe suggests that we take off our shoes and continue along a small stretch of path barefoot… and of course we do! A close contact with nature, whose energy is released throughout the body! Put your shoes back on and continue along the uphill path to get to the “Crest“. Spectacular view that extends over the whole valley to the sea, we can also see the small neighboring villages. We relax a bit in the sun, caressed by a light wind. On the way back we make a sweet encounter, some cows graze undisturbed with their calves, which play and scrutinize us never leaving their mothers.
We are ready to bake the bread and, while waiting for it to be cooked properly, we carve out a new moment of sharing to get to know Coaching Mediterraneo better. Through a short presentation, Beppe explains the properties, benefits and uses of the plants and flowers that he had asked us to photograph at our leisure a few weeks earlier in our cities. Thus we discover that every plant, herb or flower has great utility and this makes us understand that nature is wonderful and we should turn to it with more respect and find food, medicines and remedies in it, as our ancestors did.
On the other hand, Emilio concentrates on the meaning of the brand and on the objectives of Coaching Mediterraneo, also showing us a beautiful and amusing video, starring him and Beppe, on how to cook caponata. After a chat and various considerations, we cannot miss the moment of sunset! Everyone away in front of the wood-burning oven … the time has come to taste our bread, accompanied with olive oil and the ritual photo with our loaf. We did a good job, the bread is really delicious!
The air freshens a bit and we decide to dine inside, in a cozy room with a large table, two sofas and a large fireplace. During dinner, Emilio invites us to express our thoughts on desire: What is desire for you? From our reflections we have gone from love to passion, to the desire for redemption, to the desire for motherhood and much more. This is also an emotional and profound moment.
The evening continues with music, with Emilio on guitar, Beppe and his djembe drum and Stefano on clarinet. They involve us in a moment of singing and music that keeps us going until late at night. Tired but satisfied, then we go to sleep.
Sunday morning: it’s time to get ready to go home. We pack up our suitcases, have a good breakfast and all sit together in a circle on wooden logs for one last feedback.
Time for collective greetings, thanks to Beppe and Emilio, with the promise not to lose sight of each other and see you again soon! It was a weekend full of emotions, tradition, reflection and new discoveries, full of nature, pure air and regeneration of the soul!
We islanders still full of energy before returning home, take a stroll in Cefalù, where we will certainly return to discover new corners and experiences to offer to travellers. Obviously, the ritual photo in the most famous glimpse of this splendid village could not be missing!
There is a great desire to stay a little longer but our weekend was really intense so we decide to get back in the car for home.
We are ready to relive this experience … are you?