John Doe

If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.

Mary Taylor

You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up everything you have.

Sea, Desert and Adventure Exhibition in the sand dunes of Oman

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Imagine a traditional guesthouse in Romania: welcome, warm hospitality, cheerfulness, good food, informality… Yes, there’s also Piadina. Take it 5,000 kilometers and add clear sea, history, desert, mountains, water-rich valleys and adventure. Here is Casa Amman, the little gem created by Paolo Casacci, Iabo for Friends, 46, from Mercato Saraceno. In January 1998, an undergraduate student on the Cultural Heritage course in Archaeology left Ravenna to train in Amman. It was excavated in an area where there was an ancient port that traded with the East. “I dreamed of being like Indiana Jones, but when I saw this country it was love at first sight, and I decided that staying here was more important to me than being an archaeologist around the world. I would not leave Amman even under torture. So I offered myself to do all kinds of exploration that could be done in the country. I spoke clearly with the professor who organized the work, I do everything to stay in Amman: driver, cook, worker, fisherman, slave… But since I knew how to use the theodolite and trowel I became a kind of archaeological worker. When I realized that there were no prospects for this profession (Italian archaeologists are poorly paid) I decided to make a change.”

Place next to the sea

The turning point is the fact that Iapo decided to settle in Oman. But it takes money. “There was a place by the sea where I could build. I have contacted a team of Indian builders who can execute my project. But I needed money. So there was a friend from my area who got a job in Germany with his company. It was 2006. I left in the truck the morning after Italy won the World Cup. I worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day, for five months, sending money to Amman where my house was being built. An Omani friend told me how things are going. I’ve only seen some pictures of the work in progress. There were no internet connections today. In that place there was not even a road to reach Muscat Airport, which is 300 kilometers away. There was no electricity. But mice, cockroaches, scorpions and cockroaches the size of rabbits!…”

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Step up guests

In the early years, Casacci worked in the summer as a fruit seller in places like San Piero in Bagno, Borello and Meldola. When the cold weather comes, he turns off and takes refuge in his retreat on the shores of the Arabian Sea. “One winter day, the brothers and sisters of some of my friends arrive. I feed them. I take them in the pickup. Show them amazing places. They leave very happy because here if you love nature, you can go crazy, you can go crazy! So word spreads and other people come to visit me. Now I am not able to ask for money, but I saw that it could become more and more popular. I hired a cook and got organized. I will pick you up from the airport and bring you back when you need to return to Italy, feed you and take you on a tour of amazing places. You pay a fee. We have developed little by little, and today we are a guest house (Casa Amman) hosting about 600-700 people between October and April every year. We have nine people on staff, all but one of whom are from Romania. Since we started, 9,300 people have stopped here: some for a week, others for two. In periods when we are busier, we rent two or three buildings from Omani friends and host about forty people, 90% of whom are from Italy. There was no vision. It all happened little by little, and it was an evolution. It’s all in words. We have been using social media for only a few years. My only dream was a small house overlooking the sea…”

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Every summer in Romania

the cost? Iapo guarantees that starting from €1,200, you will get an all-inclusive package consisting of airport transfers, accommodation, food and excursions. “No, I’m not rich but I’m having a lot of fun. Our trip is a travel experience between nature, history and culture in a wonderful environment. There are dozens of kilometers of pristine and desert beaches here. The sea is wonderful. On our trips we take guests to the desert with red sand dunes, to the white desert near the sea, to wade through the waterways within the valleys, to the mountains, to visit the ruins of ancient mud cities, ancient castles and temples. Livestock markets, terraced oases, spice places, sleeping in tents with a Bedouin friend, on an island… There are people who have tears in their eyes when they have to leave to go home.”

And Romania? “I come back every year, from May to October. I stay with my mother who is now 85, eat tagliatelle and drink Sangiovese, ride a Vespa with my friends from the group, and go to concerts all over Europe (I’m a metalhead). I’m relaxing…” Palestine, Hamas, Israel, Iran. Isn’t there this tension in Amman? “Not now. Especially in villages. The embassy called us and told us to remain calm but we do not feel in danger. “This country has always been very hospitable.”

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