Turning the ruins of a Medieval Italian village into a home and stone masonry school

Photo: Kirsten Dirksen / YouTube

I have a weird confession to make. I have highly unorthodox "retirement home" fantasies. Every time I see a castle, a tree HOUSE, a decommissioned missile silo, an abandoned French villa, I start fantasizing about spending my twilight years building an artist colony/goth retirement home with family and friends there.

So, imagine how my neurons were tickled when I saw this video of a guy and his wife who bought a long-abandoned Medieval Italian village and are turning it into a small neighborhood and teaching center for "rural stone architecture." They claim there are dozens of these little ruined stone villages all over Italy and they want to encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

Called "The Village Laboratory", Ghesc is part-owned by the Canova Association and hosts workshops so college students worldwide can come learn historical stone construction techniques. The public half of the village includes a communal kitchen, pizza oven and concert spaces.

Right now Ghesc (in local dialect; "Ghesio" in Italian) in the commune of Montecrestese near the Swiss border has just 3 inhabitants (Maurizio, Paola and their son Emil), but the four homes that comprise the private side of town are at various stages of being rebuilt.