Mario F. is 21 years old and comes from a town near Naples. After he quit school because of depression and suicidal thoughts, he decided to search for another lifestyle and a way to express himself. Since 2017 he lives in Valle della Luna, on the north coast of Sardinia, which is known in Europe since the 70th as the hippie valley. The area is divided into seven valleys with huge granite rocks in different shapes.
How did you find the valley?
I found the place on Google, while I was looking for the keywords “hippy community in Italy”. First I thought there were only two or three people. I didn’t expect there to be a whole community like this. It was a big surprise for me, so I decided straight away to stay here.
Last winter we were over twenty people. Now we are around nine or ten. In the summer it’s quite crowded, especially in July and August, as plenty of people come to spend their holidays, for a week, or up to a month, in the valley, but they don’t really live here. As well there are many tourists hiking in these areas.
Do the visitors bother the community?
It varies. There are people respecting the place and others, who are quite stressed in their normal life. They arrive here, take a lot of drugs and are not that respectful anymore. That may create complicated situations, so that they are not that welcome anymore. When there are too many people around, I search for another place to stay during the summer.
How does your normal day look like?
I wake up quite early in the morning and, go to the beach, take care of my hygiene, clean my stuff, get some water from the spring, collect wood for the fire, cook, together with the others in the community, get food from the market in the next town, what they would normally throw away, and create jewelry with the materials I find in the valley.
We play a lot of music and talk about life. I also pick up plastic, which washes up on the beach from the sea. Usually we all do this together one day a week. The wind is quite strong, which blows the plastic in all directions. We want to avoid this. After we collect it, we take it to the town and put it in the bins.
Is there always harmony in the community?
Currently we have a problem with a man, who doesn’t accept the way, how we live. He built a small house in a cave, where he lives now, in the next valley. He doesn’t want to be a part of our community. Some of us sleep in a tent, which this guy doesn’t like. One day he came down to our valley and destroyed our tents.
We tried to talk with him, but he refused. He goes into town and returns drunk, then he is ranting, that we don’t have any reason to be here and we just don’t know what to do with our lifes. But I think, we do, because we are taking care of the valley and we have a full schedule, while he is getting drunk.
What are the difficult moments in your life in the valley?
Actually it’s mainly this conflict right now with this guy. Sometimes the wind is too strong, and destroys our tents, and other things, but normally there are no really difficult moments for me. Even the cold is okay. If it is rains, I go out, stay in the rain and appreciate it.
I believe in mother earth, the love and the peace. I’m not religious, believing in gods or something similar. Important to me is the freedom, the simplicity, and our diversity. We are all different and still connected, which is beautiful.
What do you like about the valley?
It’s a beautiful place to be, but the best is the quality of people I meet in the valley. For the first time in my life, I felt that there are people who understand me. It’s like a family, which I never had before. If the group wasn’t so strong, I would have left, when this conflict with the man began. The people here make it into a special place.
Do you feel better compared to the past?
To know myself and to live with the others, makes me feel better. When I was at home, I was confused and I didn’t relate to the lifestyle of the people around me. I was looking for something and found it here in the valley. I want to reconnect humans with nature.
Does a political system exist in the community?
When we have a big issue that affects the whole community, we sit together in a circle and pass a piece of wood around. Who holds it, is allowed to speak, the others have to be silent and listen. A current issue we have right now is the plan to build a new totem. A bigger and more beautiful one, which is representing the current community.
Not everybody agrees, because this new totem could attract too many tourists, while the others think it would create the opportunity to be in contact with visitors, and build a better relationship with the world outside of the community.
In the past there were tensions in the group by making decisions based on the majority. Nowadays everybody has to accept the decision, otherwise we don’t implement it. We want to have 100% of the votes.
We are really easy people, which enables us to take decisions this way.
Does the government accept that you live here?
The party Lega Nord is quite strong in Sardinia, which is why we expect more trouble now. They don’t accept the lifestyle we have. In the summer 2008 special forces with helicopters came and evacuated the area. They arrested a bunch of people and burned down the houses.
A reason could be that some people of the valley went to the town, and stole from the supermarkets, drank a lot and bothered the people there. I think this is why the police had to intervene and stop the community. This is why it’s so important to have peaceful people who live here. We try to change our reputation. The inhabitants of the town still consider us as bad people.
Do you have a message you want to share?
The most important thing is to open our eyes and be ourselves. At the end, it’s the simplicity of our life. It is not about collecting material things, it is more about understanding who we are and what we really want. This is the difference between to be and to have. This is what my life represents, to go back to simplicity, and ourselves and understand we don’t need so much. We should realize that all the answers to our questions are inside of us.