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

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.

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How to make fire bricks out of junk mail

These folks have figured out how to make burnable fuel from junk mail. You toss all your junk mail, newspaper, cardboard boxes, and the like ("anything that isn't shiny") into a five gallon bucket of water and let it soak for a good long time. Then you use a cuttting tool attached to a power drill to turn the water and paper into pulp. Then squeeze the water out and let the bricks dry for two weeks or longer. Free firewood!

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Trailer homesteading in the Mojave

There’s a move to redefine “homesteading” in a way that makes it available to anyone who wants to take part. But what does it mean to homestead in the desert? By Reanna Alder

Born on a commune

Over at Vanity Fair, Erika Anderson writes about growing up on The Farm, the famed Tennessee commune founded in 1971: Read the rest