When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

LA STAMPA

Italy's Vegan Commune Where Animals And Humans Are Equals

In the hills south of Rome, another kind of "liberation community" is preparing for a very different future.

Antonella Inicorbaf, surrounded by ValleVegan "non-humans"
Antonella Inicorbaf, surrounded by ValleVegan "non-humans"
Erica Manniello and Manuela Murgia

ROCCO SANTO STEFANO — The little slice of countryside utopia southeast of Rome isn't easy to find. You must first look for the smorzo — which,to anyone outside Italy's central Lazio region, is the shop that sells building materials. From there, you take a dirt road halfway between the towns of Rocca Santo Stefano and Bellegra where you find ValleVegan, tucked in an expanse of fields and rolling hills.

"Between the humans and non-humans, there are around 200 of us," says Piero Liberati, who has been involved with this "liberation" community since its founding eight years ago.

To be specific, the humans include him, Antonella Inicorbaf and another two or three people who aren't here all the time, preferring instead to travel around Europe on bikes or act in Rome theater shows. They are all involved in activism too, such as anti-poaching and anti-slaughter campaigns.

The "non-humans" here are dogs, cats, sheep, goats, pigs, geese, turtles, rabbits — about 14 of each species, who have been rescued from farms, pet shops or laboratories and now live free in the countryside.

For those who don't know, vegans are people who practice radical vegetarianism. They swear off not only meat and fish, but also derivative animal products such as cheese, dairy, honey or eggs.

"Not only are they saving living things from being exploited, but also making a lifestyle choice that doesn't include them in feeding or other purposes," Liberati says.

They're also anti-speciesist here, convinced that no species is superior to another, which means they're very careful not to objectify animals. "We try not to treat them as objects, which is what some animal rights activists do — conveying too much love, and often frustration on them too," he adds.

When vegans build a home

In the middle of meadows is a small colored house. It could have been just a trailer or prefab, but "after much discussion and some luck" — and thanks to the use of recovered materials — Liberati and the others renovated an entire house surrounded by six acres of land. It's a Spartan place with no TV or heating because "you can do without the superfluous." There's no owner either. "On paper, ValleVegan is a foundation, so we decided it shouldn't belong to anyone in particular," Liberati says.

They already have several projects in the pipeline. "We would like to create a beautiful orchard, a vegetable garden and perhaps some kennels for the dogs to be kept free, make us more independent," he says. Also, because the costs are so high, food and medicine are always welcome, as are volunteers willing to help out.

"We would like anyone who wants to join us to fully embrace the project," Liberati says. "We're not in a position to help someone in just one way. We want to grow together and build this place together. The hope is that there will be more projects like ours in Italy and the rest of Europe."

Locals were initially hesitant about the project, but ValleVegan residents have come to establish good relationships with their neighbors. Some locals have even changed their eating habits, becoming vegetarians or vegans. Liberati and Inicorbaf even help three elderly ladies who live in the next valley with their daily chores. "They made a lifestyle choice similar to ours, returning to the countryside," says Inicorbaf, who also teaches dance.

"Freedom is living according to consistent principles, respect and knowledge, understanding what your goals are and getting up in the morning with a smile," Liberati says, explaining that his main concern is being able to keep the rescued animals free.

Every day they are more convinced and aware of the choices they have made, but they don't fear the uncertainties of the future. "I'd be much more afraid of a normal life," Inicorbaf says. "In these difficult times, our choice could also be, who knows, revolution."

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ