Rebecca, tell us a little about yourself...
I moved to Italy seven years ago after finishing my degree in art history at the University of Cambridge. I quickly entered the world of journalism, initially writing travel articles and branching out into stories covering culture, politics and the environment. Concurrently, I was also teaching English part-time. The pandemic proved an interesting turning point in my journalism career, however, as being stuck at home in lockdowns meant dedicating far more time to writing to the point that I am now a full-time freelance journalist. It can be extremely stressful having such a lack of security and never knowing if you’ll land ten pitches or none each month. But one big advantage is choosing how I manage my time. For example, remote working means being able to jump on the workcation trend!
What prompted your article on Workation?
As lockdowns eased but many employees chose to continue to permit remote working, the travel industry seized on a way to begin its recovery. The workcation became the new buzzword in travel and, as I am now a regular travel contributor to Forbes, it seemed like an intriguing trend to explore. I discovered that hotels and resorts across Italy had been quick off the mark and had begun offering workcations packages. After trying out a couple of hotel workcations (and getting thoroughly distracted from work by the magnificent Amalfi coast scenery or the inviting waters of the resort pool), I wanted to try out a different kind of remote working experience. Working from a villa in rural Tuscany meant a very different set of advantages and challenges to share with my readers.
What was your experience working in Tuscany?
The gorgeous villa of Le Pratola, sitting atop a Tuscan hill, proved an excellent location for remote working. I gleefully switched location every working session, from the desk in the elegant living room for serious editing, the kitchen island with a pre-dinner glass of wine for light research, and stretched out on the sofas to deal with dull email correspondence. The internet connection was fast in all areas of the property and there were plenty of plugs and a printer [if this is not for guest use feel free to cut that!]. As the sun set over the rugged hills in front of the villa, I sat out in one of the many outdoor seating areas feeling satisfied with each productive day of work.
Can you see any challenges with workations in Tuscany or Italy?
Living in Italy, my experience negotiating my way through rural Tuscany was certainly easier than someone from abroad. One of the biggest challenges I can see is the need to hire a car when in the countryside as services are normally a drive away. At Le Pratola, house manager Arsen was a fantastic help by bringing food and even pastries in the morning. But for guests staying long periods, it becomes important to have an independent means of transport. In addition, longer stays may mean needing to take advantage of other services like school, summer clubs and home support. Here, Essenza’s expert knowledge and connections are essential. It can be overwhelming arriving in a rural location not knowing the language so Essenza tries to set up these services for guests to ease the transition!
You can follow Rebecca on Twitter: @rebeccaahughes_