Francesca Corona lives in Parma, midway between northern Italy’s Bologna and Milan. A Congress Professional Organizer working in an international business unit developing european and foreign conferences, with a degree in Foreign Languages and European Literature, she decided to train with FTHub as a Forest Bathing Guide after spending days and nights in the woods of Cervia where she has been going to since she was 3 years old.
Cervia -Milano Marittima is her special place, an exclusive villa where Italians and foreigners spend the summer. Cervia has it all: beaches, pine forests, wonderful weather and famous salt flats traded by lords in the 15th Century. And now, it offers Forest Bathing walks. That’s thanks to Francesca, who heard a voice after her nonna‘s recent passing, remembering how she was the first person telling her as a child in their Cervia house: ‘Look at the window, look outside, look at the forest and the pines‘”.
Giving back to the trees
“I am a PCO (a Professional Congress Organizer), I travel a lot and spent 20 years of my professional life dedicated to my job. But the pandemic and my Forest Bathing training was an occasion to see things from a different perspective and to recover some parts of myself. The training was a really wonderful experience. All the pieces were put together. Forest Bathing is somehow an arrival but also a new beginning.
“I used to spend a lot of time alone in nature, just to exchange feelings and experiences, in the seaside and forests. I’m lucky because we have a small house in the seaside Adriatic coast, in Cervia -Milano Marittima. I spent all my childhood and youth, I grew up there. I had a beautiful time with my granny and my grandfather. There is a pine forest, a natural park that covers 20 kilometers near the beach. Since I can remember, I am amused spending time there, and I thought that I could give something back to those trees because they belong to my life”.
“In 2019 a storm wind destroyed five thousand pines, it was a huge damage, a disaster and I realized I could do something for them. When I was sad, or worried or stressed I had time to recover during the weekend in my escape, my natural escape. So I just drove there for a couple of days and for me was to be reborn again every time. I drop off my luggage, change my trousers and “Via!, go to the pineta”.
The sign of the circle, tourism and Forest Bathing
“For me it was spontaneous to associate that place to Forest Bathing, and this relationship was nurtured over time. Because at first it was my personal relief, to find peace, to recover from stress, to talk to myself again, and then I realized that was my way of making the Forest Bathing walks for myself and, when that damage occurred, I promised those pine trees that I would give something back to them. They helped me when I needed it.
“Last summer I lost my 98 year old granny, she was the first person in my life to tell me ‘look at the window, look at the forest and the pine trees”. I don’t know how to say it but I think it’s kind of a closing circle.
“I contacted the Cervia tourist office. It would be lovely to offer this idea to the people who go there, the tourists, the elderly, it’s very close to the city center. They organize ecological walks and visits to the inland salt pans. And they said yes. They listened to me. They said they wanted to implement the Forest Bathing but didn’t know where to start”.
“I offered the first one for free, to show this practice. I will collect a symbolic contribution because I would like to allocate the funds to the reforestation project of the forest. The goal is to connect the destination Cervia -Milano Marittima with Forest Bathing and increase people’s awareness of the importance of nature, not only the place and the villas, but a deep connection with the environment.
Witnessing the explosion in simple moments
“I remember many moments that impressed me while guiding, I am still amazed to witness people’s reaction to very simple moments: how easy it is for people to open to their own connection with nature. I said to one lady ‘look around you at what is moving’, and during the sharing she told me that she immediately thought nothing was moving, ‘but then I stopped, and I almost cried because everything around me was moving’, she said.
“It is a moment in nature that makes people go immediately to the point. People go straight to the meaning, as when they say ‘I feel at home here’.
“Guiding is my passion. Forest Bathing has changed me: I am doing my job with positive energy, and the people who work with me also feel better. I’ve improved, I’m better, I feel a new energy and I’m sure it comes from Forest Bathing, not just as a Guide.
“It reminds me that there is a meaning, a different way of looking at things, of approaching situations and contexts, and this helps me a lot. Guiding in Cervia is a dream come true. A dream that has been around from ancient times”.
Ph: Courtesy Francesca Corona