While most children these days are having to spend their school hours indoors on Zoom, Fiammetta Melis takes her online classes in a pasture among the Val di Sole mountains, 3,000 feet above sea level in Northern Italy’s Trentino region. Fiammetta, 10, sits with her laptop at a small desk in the middle of a lush valley—her own makeshift classroom—ignoring the bleating of 350 goats to focus on her teacher’s voice. While her father, Massimiliano, tends to the animals, producing milk and ricotta cheese, Fiammetta pores over schoolbooks, learning math, history, and geography. It’s a routine the pair has gotten used to since the start of the pandemic.
Fiammetta’s mother is a social worker and her father is a farmer, which means neither can work from home. They moved from Sardinia two years ago in search of a better life, but when the pandemic closures started, Fiammetta’s parents faced a new hurdle: they couldn’t leave their daughter home alone. The mountains were a surprisingly happy solution.