- Italian pastry chef Nicolas Gentile, 37, has been living like a real-life hobbit for three years.
- He even made a 304-kilometre trek to Mount Vesuvius with eight others to toss a replica of the One Ring into its crater.
- Members of the group dressed up as "Lord of the Rings" characters, including Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn.
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One Italian pastry chef decided that if he can't go to Middle Earth, he'll build it.
Nicolas Gentile, 37, constructed his version of the Shire on a plot of land in the idyllic countryside of Bucchianico, half an hour's drive from the city of Chieti in Abruzzo, central Italy. He designed it from scratch and built a little hobbit burrow akin to a house from the Shire from writer JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth seen in the "Lord of the Rings" movie series.
Gentile spoke to Insider on September 7, in-between his morning chores.
"I have always loved fantasy literature and movies, Dungeons and Dragons, and video games. But at some point in my life, I felt like I was living the adventures of others and not my own. I decided that I, too, would live my life like a character in the movies and books I loved so much," he said.
Gentile was working as a pastry chef in Abruzzo when he realised that the region around him - with its rolling hills, woods, rivers, and ancient villages - was very much like the Shire, but just lacked hobbit houses. So in 2018, he purchased a plot of land and built a hobbit home for his family, carving out space amid the hills and forested areas. Gentile declined to reveal how much he spent on the land but told Insider that it cost almost the entirety of his life savings.
He is now working on expanding the area to build a full-sized hobbit village called the "Gentile County." The county will accommodate a large underground home and four smaller houses where other families can reside.
Gentile added that he does not intend to make the area a tourist spot, but rather a small community where people live off the land. He intends to raise the around R25 million needed to build these homes through crowdfunding.
"This project does not aim to make a profit. If I had wanted to get rich I would have invested in bitcoin! All I want is to meet people like me, who have the same magic in their eyes and a love for the simple things in life, who enjoy dinner with friends and an adventure in the woods now and then," Gentile said.
The hobbits head to Mount Vesuvius
Gentile's biggest milestone as a real-life hobbit is the journey he and a group of friends made this August toMount Vesuvius in Naples.
The crew made the 304-kilometre journey - with some dressed like Gimli, Legolas, Gandalf, and Aragorn - with the singular purpose of tossing a replica of the "One Ring" into the volcanic crater of Mount Vesuvius, just like Frodo did in the movies.
Gentile said he met the eight men through an Instagram contest, where he asked people to join him on his journey.
"We walked almost 304 kilometres of mountains and woods, rivers and ancient cities, and got lost in the mountains. We also met fantastic people who helped us until we got to Vesuvius, our Mount Doom, where I threw the Ring in," he said, adding that the men have all become "brothers" and "fast friends."
"Of course, we are not 1.2 meters tall, but our nature and hearts are inextricably linked to the land, and the joy of living, human relationships, family, and friendship," Gentile added.