Il Popolo degli Elfi, Italy
Founded in 1980 | Residents: 200

Il Popolo degli Elfi was born in 1980, when a group of four people tired from city life decided to move to a small abandoned village only accessible by foot in the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano. Eventually the community grew to more than 200 members spread throughout 30 living areas in the valley, occupying abandoned buildings that were transformed into comfortable houses according to their simple lifestyle.

"To change the world we changed ourselves". In their 30 years of existence the Elfi became one the most original and deep-rooted Italian communities. Their main occupation is agriculture and their diet is mostly self-sufficient, they grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables and produce their own flour and olive oil. Although distributed over a large area, there is a very strong sense of community. The various sub-communities of the valley support each other and exchange products on a regular basis.

There isn't an official attribution of roles, members follow their instincts and abilities and collaborate in what needs to be done. With no formal organization, everything is carried out on the basis of self-discipline, tolerance, respect and spontaneity.


Education: A great emphasis is placed on each child's natural interests and rhythm of development. Primary education is done at home, most living areas haven their own learning facilities. A lot is done in an informal way by integrating subjects like Maths, History and Art in everyday life. The children's progress is followed by a teacher from a nearby school on a monthly basis. After primary education children attend official schools in the region.

Economy: Nobody has a steady job. The overall needs of the entire community are covered by seasonal work done by a few members in different summer festivals, fairs and markets, where the Elfi build earth ovens on site and bake their famous pizzas with organic homegrown ingredients. Further personal expenses are of individual concern.

Energy and Water: Each living area has its own arrangements. For electricity the majority has small photovoltaic panels for basic uses. At night the main source of light is the candle. Cooking and heating are fueled by wood from their forests, and water is either collected from wells or from the rain.

Visitors: The Elfi have a remarkable sense of hospitality. Guests are welcome any time, without previous notice or appointment and without being asked for any monetary contributions. In exchange, they are invited to help in the community's daily activities.

>Back to the images from Il Popolo degli Elfi