Live and Learn on a Tuscan Farm
Spannocchia’s farm internship program is dedicated to enriching the lives of participants by providing them with a unique educational experience on a community-oriented organic farm in Tuscany, Italy. Through involvement in the daily operations of Spannocchia as well as additional enrichment activities, interns learn about regenerative farming and animal care, conservation, maintenance and restoration, Italian language, and local cultural history.
- Three 3-month internship sessions are held annually: Spring, Summer, and Fall.
- Eight interns per session work alongside Italian farm staff to help run Tenuta di Spannocchia, a diversified organic farm and agritourism with roots dating back to the 13th century.
- Interns range in age and life experience, but must be between 18 and 35 years old during their session.
Since the start of the internship program over 25 years ago, Spannocchia has hosted hundreds of participants from around the world. Many of our farm interns go on to have fulfilling careers in sustainable farming, food, or environmental fields. An overwhelming majority appreciate the opportunity to explore specific career paths during their internship, while also reporting on the experience’s impact on their individual commitments to more sustainable living. Beyond the three-month internship session, we offer alumni networking opportunities to help build both personal and professional connections.
“I can’t even begin to share my favorite parts as there were so many. I will never forget my summer at Spannocchia, I learned so much and had so much fun. Being a tuttofare intern really solidified my vocation for me. As I write this I am packing to go work on a winery out west that I just accepted a job with. Without Spannocchia I don’t know if I would have chased the career I have now with such fervor. I will always be grateful.” – Grace Christoff (USA), Summer 2019
Interns acquire agricultural knowledge and practical skills through involvement with the daily operations of Spannocchia. Farm work can be extremely rewarding, as there are opportunities to learn new skills and interact closely with Italian workers, who can provide a wealth of knowledge about Tuscan farming techniques and cultural traditions.
The major areas of the operation are animal care, vegetable gardens, vineyards and orchards, and farm & property maintenance. More information about each of these areas can be found in the downloadable Information & FAQs document. Interns are assigned to a specific work area for the session and devote most of their time there.
The program is based on a 45-50 hour week. Approximately 35 hours are dedicated to hands-on work and 10-15 hours are spent on the educational component of the program. Interns also rotate weekend farm responsibilities and occasionally help with dinner service.
“When I arrived at Spannocchia I was put to work in the orto with Carmen. The most experience I had with horticulture up to that point was buying and subsequently killing a basil plant. But under Carmen’s unfailingly patient tutelage, I began to learn the joy of seeing something start as a tiny seed and grow into our dinner. My time at Spannocchia taught me to appreciate where my food comes from and how important it is to teach future generations to treat the food we eat with respect.” – Laura McMahon (Ireland), Summer 2012
Enrichment Activities & Classes
Interns spend a portion of their time participating in various planned educational activities to further explore regenerative agriculture, environmental issues, and culinary topics, as well as regional history and culture. Activities are interspersed throughout the week and include educational presentations taught either by our own staff or by outside experts. We don't subscribe to a strict curriculum, and some selections may change from one session to the next, depending on seasonality, relevance, the interests of the group, and our own ongoing growth and exploration!
Biweekly field trips to local areas of interest are also a significant and favorite element of the internship experience. Trips can range from a walking tour of Siena to learn the history of this beautiful city, to a visit to a local cheese farm to see their operation and test their nuovo pecorino. Neighboring organic production facilities, farms, and vineyards are carefully selected to provide interns with unique exposure to traditional Tuscan values of food production as well as innovative techniques to help protect and conserve land.
Italian classes are held once a week for two and a half hours. The classes are geared mostly toward beginning conversation/grammar and enable interns to communicate in Italian more effectively both at work and while traveling.
In addition to the enrichment activities that occur throughout the three-month internship, interns receive a selection of online resources on farming, food systems, and Italian language and culture to explore in preparation for their time on the farm.
A sample week...
|8:00 to 1:00||Farm Work||Farm Work||Farm Work||Farm Work||Field Trip OR
Group Project (biweekly rotation)
|Free Time||Free Time|
|1:00 to 2:00||Lunch||Lunch||Lunch||Lunch|
|2:00 to 5:00||Italian Class/
|Farm Work||Farm Work||Italian Class/
|5:00 to 7:00||Free Time||Free Time
(Van available for trip to town)
|Free Time||Free Time||Free Time|
|7:00||Wine on the Terrace/Dinner||Wine on the Terrace/Dinner||Wine on the Terrace/Dinner||Wine on the Terrace/Dinner||Wine on the Terrace/Dinner||Wine on the Terrace/Dinner|
“The three months of my Spannocchia internship were an education. I learned that the difference between two identical slabs of prosciutto can be discovered by sniffing a hollow horse bone inserted into the center. I learned that knowing where your food comes from can be as simple as a square of red earth. Most importantly, I learned that there is a pace of life that can just feel right and that I would want to make it my job to find it for myself one day.” – Patrick Schultz (USA), Fall 2007
Our interns live on-site in Casa Pulcinelli, a large farmhouse located in the Castello complex. Casa Pulcinelli has seven bedrooms, three shared bathrooms, and a fully-equipped kitchen. Interns live in double-occupancy rooms, share all meals together, work together, and often spend free time together.
In season, interns eat dinner prepared by our cooks in the main dining room of the Villa most nights, along with various community members, program group participants, and agritourism guests. For all lunches, and any dinners not prepared by our cooks, interns rotate the responsibility of preparing food for each other in Casa Pulcinelli, with provided ingredients. Meals encompass the farm-to-table experience as vegetables harvested in the garden are generally served that evening for dinner. Every other Wednesday evening is particularly special at Spannocchia, with Pizza Night from our outdoor brick oven—a much-loved and festive affair for our entire community.
Interns have use of a vehicle one afternoon a week for a trip to the neighboring town of Rosia for personal errands. There are a number of recreational opportunities at Spannocchia including hiking trails, dirt roads for running, forests for foraging wild herbs and mushrooms, and a swimming pool (in season). Interns also often enjoy learning to cook Tuscan cuisine. The views of the countryside and surrounding farm inspire painting, drawing, and other forms of artistic expression.
Another unique and valuable aspect of our community is the interaction with various educational program groups that stay and learn at Spannocchia throughout the travel season. Groups come for 1-2 weeks to explore topics ranging from art to yoga to sustainability. Along with informal opportunities to interact with these guests at dinners and around the property, program groups typically offer a final presentation or event to share their work with the entire Spannocchia community.
“From daily dinners, adventurous leftover lunch experiments, made-up holidays, never-ending aperitivos, stolen cake from the kitchen, late night cheese plates and pizza nights with tears, food at Spannocchia changed my life. But mostly it was the people I shared it with. Our community and our work gave me the feeling of being part of something important. This group of people with such different backgrounds and cultures – but united by their love for food and motivated by the example of a better and sustainable world of food – showed me that with passion and solidarity we can make our global food system a better one.” – Lea Ligat (Germany), Spring 2013
Thursday, August 31 to Saturday, November 25, 2023
Application deadline: Friday, April 28, 2023
Notification date: Monday, May 22, 2023
We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this opportunity. We commit to ensure that all individuals are treated equitably, to recognize the value of a diverse internship group, and to welcome the unique perspective and life experience that each intern brings to the program.
There is a one-time program activity fee of $1500 (€1250 for EU residents) to participate in Spannocchia’s Farm Internship Program. Upon acceptance, applicants are required to pay a $250 deposit (€250 for EU) to confirm their participation in the program. The remaining balance is due approximately 30 days prior to the arrival date for the program. Friends of Spannocchia will provide interns with access to an online system to fundraise for this fee, if desired. Interns must also become members of WWOOF Italia (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), which costs €35 for the year.
The internship program fee covers just 1/3 of the cost to run the program each year. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Friends of Spannocchia is grateful for generous support from The Ferdinand & Sarah Cinelli Charitable Trust, The Triton Foundation, our loyal community of individual donors, and the Tenuta di Spannocchia, without which this program would not be possible.
Scholarships: As we actively work for greater equity and inclusion in our educational efforts, we are also committing to an internship program that is accessible to individuals from more diverse backgrounds, places, and experiences. Recognizing that the internship program fee is a barrier for some would-be participants, we are now offering need-based scholarships to qualified candidates. Please email Sarah Allenby, our US-based Executive Director, for more information.
We believe in the importance of this work, and look forward to providing our unique educational experience to more diverse groups of young adults who share a common passion for sustainability, local food, and organic farming.
To prioritize the health and safety of the entire Spannocchia community, all interns must be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 before arrival at Spannocchia. For more information, please review the full COVID-19 policy in our "Farm Internship Information & FAQs" document. Thank you for your understanding!