Pastry Chef: I'm 'Living My Dream' as a Hobbit in Italy

Nicolas Gentile is building a 'Shire,' with moral support from 'LOTR' actors
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2021 10:21 AM CDT
In Italy, This 'Hobbit' Has Built a Real-Life 'Shire'
This photo shows actors, from left, Dominic Monaghan as Merry, Elijah Wood as Frodo, Billy Boyd as Pippin, and Sean Astin as Sam in a scene from "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."   (AP Photo/New Line Productions, Pierre Vinet)

(Newser) – There's Netflix's My Unorthodox Life, TLC's My 600-lb Life, and now Instagram's "My Hobbit Life." That's the handle Italy's Nicolas Gentile uses on the social media platform, where he documents, well, how he lives like a Hobbit, the mythical human-like creature featured in JRR Tolkien's novels. Per a two-part series in the Guardian, the 37-year-old pastry chef and geology major has been hard at work building his own Middle-earth "Shire" in the town of Chieti, located in the country's central Abruzzo region. Gentile has already erected his own Hobbit-style house, and he dresses up in Hobbit-style clothes. He plans on building a complete Hobbit village, with a farmhouse set up to accommodate tourists.

His enclave, with crowdfunded homes powered by solar energy, will be called Contea Gentile, due to copyright issues. That sustainability backdrop aligns with his overall message: The planet must be saved from the effects of mankind. "The Earth today is threatened by pollution and the climate emergency, which are enemies as fearsome as Sauron," he said during a recent 180-mile trek to Mount Vesuvius with other Tolkien fans, in which he threw the "One Ring" into the volcano's crater. "We wanted to show that our land, like Tolkien's Middle-earth, must be saved and protected."

And Gentile has support from some big names. Over the weekend, he posted a reel of short videos on Instagram showing messages from the actors who appeared in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie franchise. "Some friends would like to tell you something," the clip began, followed by greetings from Elijah Wood (who played Frodo Baggins), Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), and Billy Boyd (Pippin Took). "Help Nicolas build the shire," Wood said in his message, calling Gentile's project "beautiful" and "incredible." He added: "If I'm ever in your neck of the woods, in your Shire, I would love to visit."

"Seeing their humanity, their emotion, for my project filled me with pride and joy," Gentile said in response, per the Guardian. "I understood they are very humble, simple people. In short, come to think of it, Wood, Boyd, and Astin are real Hobbits." As for the continued build of his mock Middle-earth—which Insider notes he began in 2018, using almost all of his life savings—Gentile says, "Some think I am trying to escape from reality. Far from it. I am living my dream, my adventure." He adds, in terms we can all understand these days: "By purchasing that piece of land, I have removed it from a reality that I don't like and am shaping it the way I want." (Read more hobbits stories.)

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