A job with free board and lodgings but no salary on an island off the coast of Sicily, Italy, has received 3000 applicants.
Farmer Luigi Mazza, 35, wrote, “I offer you a winter on the farm,” on Facebook, stating he needed help on his small property on the island of Lipari, the largest of the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the northern coast of Sicily, southern Italy.
Interest in the job has come from as far afield as the US and Japan, along with applicants from France, Spain, the UK and Italy.
“It’s amazing the interest there has been – I’ve had messages on Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and by email. It’s been a bit chaotic,” he told The Telegraph.
There were heart-rending stories linked to the coronavirus pandemic, including a young man from Bergamo, one of Italy’s worst-hit cities, who became so anxious about the return of COVID-19 that he decided to tour Europe on a bicycle by himself.
“He lost everything, he told me, and now suffers from angst and claustrophobia. He doesn’t want to go back to Bergamo.”
A Japanese couple who got stuck in Europe in March because of flight restrictions applied for the job. They had decided to stay on, travelling the continent and earning their keep with casual farm work.
“A lot of the applications are linked to people’s anxiety about the pandemic. People who feel they cannot bear to be cooped up in their apartment again if there is a new lockdown,” Mazza told The Telegraph.
“And I think people are also reflecting on their relationship with city living, with the environment, their relationship towards animals and food. All those things have come together.”
Mazza has chosen an Italian couple, who will work for the first few weeks, and then a French couple, from Marseilles, who will work on the farm thereafter.
There is growing alarm that Europe is already experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Belgium is experiencing 878 deaths per one million people; Andorra, 737; Spain, 708; the UK, 631; Italy, 599; and Sweden, 583.