Our story

We live in this wonderful place within a naturalistic area since 2007. In the beginning the choice to live and open a bed and breakfast in a place isolated from other houses, away from everyone and everything, was quite a challenge.

Many people did not believe that we would have survived the first winter. But we adjusted very well. Actually we’re closer to a civilized way of living and it seems more human and natural the way we are living in these years. The big advantage is the tranquility and peace together with the fact that we regained some more control over our time and we got a bigger sense of freedom. We are not only work-money-supermarket-morgage dependent anymore. In 2011 Joséphine was born and at the moment it seems that she also agrees with our choice and having nature so close to her with animals and plants that intrigue and entertain.

The restoration of the houses

We have worked very hard on the restoration of the three houses of La Fossa and did everything ourselves with the occasional help of friends. Most of the renovation work is done now. There are still things to do and many other ideas that we want to achieve. Fortunately we still have all of our lives to achieve these things.

We found La Fossa like this in 2007:

La Fossa now:

Permaculture as an aid

The gardens are producing the last years. Before our energies were concentrated mainly in the resettlement of houses. We experimented with Permaculture and found solutions to the climate of this mountain area. It’s a continuous experimentation!


For quite some years now we are beekeepers and sell also honey.

Our family

By 2011 we have a new family member. It is not a new dog, horse, cat or chicken, but it’s a real human being and she is called Josephine. In a short time has become the boss of all of us and a lot of our time is dedicated to her and to her care.

Tatiana, Joséphine, Marc e il cane Brando di fronte alla Fossa
Tatiana, Joséphine, Marc and the dog Brando in front of La Fossa

The beginning of our story

We met in Australia in 2005 when we were both doing an around the world trip. Tatiana is an archaeologist specialized in the middle ages. Marc has studied in Holland as an environmental chemist, but worked for many years as a programmer of web applications and databases.

The story of Tatiana

I spent my life studying and working as an archaeologist. It was nice, but I lacked the natural side of me: my passion for animals and the ability to live near them and to have time to spend with dogs, cats, chickens and horses. That is why I made that choice and we now live in this little paradise.

Tatiana: nature, history and culture

In this area you can combine things that fascinate me: nature, history and culture. The area we live in is close to Canossa and is rich in castles, churches, tower houses, presenting a rich panorama of medieval memories. In addition to preparing breads, cakes and jams for the guests of the bed and breakfast I became a tour guide and I continued to be an archaeologist doing some excavations in this area, such as the castle of Crovara located a few kilometers from La Fossa. Now I’m also mother and it is certainly challenging and rewarding.

The story of Marc

When I lived in Holland I spent too many hours a day in traffic to go to clients and live in an office in front of a screen and a keyboard. When I came back home after many hours, there was little time for doing the things that I liked and the alarm always went off again too early in the morning! The weekend served for sleeping and little else. After my father’s death, which occurred just before his retirement, I decided to radically change my life and to make a long trip for a year. I wanted to be able to live the life I wanted, before it was too late! I realized that living on the highway just wasn’t for me. I had to take a more adventurous road, a road not already established for me. The good things often can’t be found along the main road!

I traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and India. It’s been a great year! I saw so many things and I have had so many new experiences that made me think different from the way I was thinking before. Other cultures, other food, other religions. In Australia I was particularly inspired by a property designed with Permaculture techniques. Seeing this place I had again positive ideas for the future. In Australia I also found the love of my life: Tatiana. We met again in India, after months of email and chat contact. We traveled together for two months in India before returning to Europe to realize our dreams and our new ideas.

Searching for the right place

When we finished our trips we decided sell the house of Marc in Holland and to live in Italy. We spent a year and a half in a small apartment next to the parents of Tatiana developing our projects. Meanwhile Marc was learning Italian and we got married. I read everything I could find about Permaculture, green building and the organic veggie garden. We went every weekend in search for a place to live for more than a year. Tatiana was still working as an archeologist in Padova.

The discovery of La Fossa

After seeing so many ruins, especially in Umbria, with a little luck we found this beautiful place where we live now in Reggio Emilia. There was an enormous amount of work to do to restore the houses and organize the surrounding areas. We did everything without paying workers. In the beginning with a some help from friends who decided to spend some time here and helping us with everything that needed to be done. There are many things that seemed really hard, perhaps impossible, but we were able to realize them!

The bed and breakfast and our guests

Our Bed and Breakfast works well and we are happy to see that the people who come to our place and spend some days are amazed by the landscape and the special vibe that we had when we saw La Fossa for the first time and that we still have. Our guests love the peacefulness and care of our restructuring. Often our guests are curious of our lifestyle and we are happy to share our experiences and often that human exchange enriches us with new ideas. We thank all our guests!

The meaning of “La Fossa”

Many people ask us about the meaning of “La Fossa”. It is the old name as the locals still call this place. In Italian “Fosso” is a gutter, ditch or grave. The street is also called Via Fossa. It is not the most romantic name: We live in “The Ditch”, “The Gutter” or “The Grave”, but we wanted to keep the old name.

How we met

In 2005 we were both traveling around the world. We had booked the same 10 day tour in the outback of Australia. Sleeping outside, desert, aboriginals, kangaroos, wine, campfire and a spark. Tatiana was at the end of her trip, Marc at the start. Tatiana had to complete her specialization in Medieval Archeology. After finishing she joined Marc on a two-month travel through India. Our crazy plans for the future were formed during this trip.

How we found “La Fossa”

After our trip, Marc sold his house in the Netherlands and moved to Italy. It took more than a year and a half before we found “La Fossa”. We first lived next to Tatiana’s parents in a mini apartment along a busy street where the ambulance with siren passed every 10 minutes. We had agreements with brokers in Umbria almost every month and occasionally in Tuscany or Emilia-Romagna. After seeing a whole lot of ruins with problems, we almost didn’t care anymore and we wanted to give up. Just at that time we found an advertisement in an ecological magazine. They sent us some bad photos, so we almost decided not to take a look. During the first visit we were convinced that this was the place: “La Fossa”.

Did we restore the houses?

We have worked hard to restore the group of La Fossa houses. Five years continuously. At this moment we have reached a point most is finished. There are always things to do and maintain and we still have many ideas, but luckily we have our whole life to realize everything!

What is it like during the winter?

It can snow a lot here during the winter and it is possible that we get snowed in. If it threatens to snow, we park our car at the bottom of the street and when we are snowed in, we simply walk down the 1km forest road if necessary. For the winter we ensure that we have a big stock.

Where does your daughter go to school?

In Vetto (the municipality in which we live) there is a kindergarten, a primary school and a school for secondary education. Until Joséphine is 12 years old, we bring her to Vetto every day. The school bus makes a one-hour trip through the mountains to pick up all the children and then she is completely sick when she arrives, so we bring and pick her up every day (7 kilometers one way).