We fell in love with Laura Terranova’s online vintage and handmade goods boutique, For Love of The Moon. But it wasn’t until we sat down for coffee with Laura and her husband that we learned about their plans to move to Italy and lay the foundation for a truly simplistic, remote lifestyle. When they made the plunge a couple of weeks ago, we had to know more. We wanted to live this new lifestyle vicariously, and also get a taste for one of the greatest positives of our digital era: mobility. Laura is able to run her online shop from across the world, living the life she has always dreamed.
I’m writing this bit right now from my front porch of my new (very old) home in Ostuni, nicknamed La Città Bianca, the most beautiful white-washed town in the southern region of Italy, Puglia. Ostuni hangs tightly onto a hill, dripping off the edges overlooking the crystal blue Adriatic Sea. The town is full of life as summer winds down; bustling bars serving aperitivo each night as the sun sets, and homemade pastas ’til after midnight. The sun is bright and hot, another day of clear blue skies and weather that make you feel a bit pressed to get out and enjoy, to do and see and soak it all in before lunch. I’d almost relish a bit of gray sky at the moment, a bit of rain for my excuse to stay in bed and sleep in late. But our new home shows no signs of such relief. Day after day after day of bright yellow sun and blue skies, warm temperatures hot enough for the beach until sundown, and cool enough for a sweater at night. What were once just late night conversations have become our here and now these days.
We live off a bumpy, dirt country road where our closest neighbors are in an ancient trulli home. We’re often awoken by roosters crowing at the first morning’s light. The only place we maybe, sometimes – if we’re lucky and the wind is blowing just right – can catch a Wi-Fi signal is on the porch. In so many ways it’s a test of patience. As if someone is checking to see if I still have any New Yorker in me. And if I do, it must be purged because the two lifestyles cannot coexist. The great irony out here is trying to run an online business among sleepy olive trees, as I perpetually struggle for a signal. It feels as though I should only be feeding chickens and making cheese in this sacred space. Instead I’m standing on roofs balancing an iPhone and MacBook, determined to have my business function among the dirt roads of southern Italy.
Our water is collected from the rain on our roof into a cistern below the house. Our electricity has so few wattages that I have to unplug the (mini) refrigerator to use the fan. I now pick figs fresh from my yard each morning for breakfast, and listen to men shaking almond trees over afternoon wine. I’ve been wearing the same outfit for well over a week, and I do my laundry by hand in a bucket in my front yard. I’ve swapped all my possessions and the comfort of running a business in my native tongue for this serene existence,this slower pace. Consuming less becomes laughably easy when the things that were once in abundance are stripped away.
But even as I share photographs and chat about how peaceful the world can be in my own bubble, how connected I feel to the people physically around me and grateful I am for the silence and fresh air… I’m still invested in a shop, relying on the web, which can often make me feel cluttered and strained. When my focus is on living simply, using only what we need , recycling and reusing as best we can, it can feel counterintuitive to be part of a consumer-based business. It can be counterintuitive for me to share these quiet moments, these personal and treasured bits of my life with the internet world. We chose to test out a life in Italy for many reasons, but the biggest was the simplicity of life, the quality and access to good food and good wine, the respect for life beyond a paycheck. It’s an infectious calmness and snail’s pace (compared to my hidden New Yorker…or just general American? I’m not sure) that drives the Italians through the day, a natural fluidity of consuming less.
And then there are my possessions! The things I love so dearly, the things that make me feel like me. My grandmother’s necklace I wore on my wedding day, and the beat up denim shorts that fit only my bum perfectly. My treasures are important to me. Not to say I can’t exist without them, but rather that I don’t want to. The lesson I’ve been learning over the past few years, the reality that is becoming part of me more and more every day, is to consume less. When I do consume, do it with purpose to be thoughtful and meaningful, and good to my soul. In my little world of things that keep me company and dress my body, vintage is that purposeful intent to me. Vintage is beautiful because it already exists. It has been around for decades and it will for decades to come, passed down through generations. In my humble attempt to have my cake and eat it too, I’ve decided that supporting less waste by reusing, and promoting thoughtful and ethical consumption, is a positive alternative to the scary consumerism epidemic we face today.
Yesterday, I fed our leftover fruit pits and food waste to three happy pigs down the road. I dried figs in the sun and took an ice cold shower (not by choice) for the dozenth time. I drank a 5 euro wine that tasted like a 25 dollar bottle from the states. I collected branch trimmings from our almond trees for firewood so we can heat the house when the temperatures drop in a few weeks. I botched many Italian conversations, sharing smiles with those who were patient enough. I sold some vintage items to grateful customers who appreciate my shop, and those whom I adore connecting with. We bought a trunk full of musical instruments so Jim can play out here. I don’t know that I could, or would want to, have this life without that life. For Love of the Moon is an extension of me. However the shop grows with my travels – whether I continue selling just vintage or ethically made clothing in the future – it makes me as happy as the fig tree overflowing with fruit I’m looking at right now in my front yard.
Writing and Photos By Laura Terranova