- Nicolas Gentile is the 37-year-old pastry chef who aims to be Italy’s first real-world Hobbit.
- Gentile is building out a Tolkien-inspired shire in Abruzzo, complete with Hobbit burrows and a pub.
- This week, his project got a boost from Lord of the Rings cast members, including Elijah Wood.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A 37-year-old super-fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy has received the support of three cast members of the cinematic trilogy to raise funds for a real-world Shire in central Italy.
In a series of Cameo appearances, Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd, and Sean Astin, each praised Nicolas Gentile’s project to bring Bag End to life, which has been underway for the past three years and documented on Instagram as _myhobbitlife_.
“It is incredible what you’re doing. I love all of the costumes and all of the set photos you’ve done,” said Elijah Wood, who starred in the films as Frodo Baggins.
“It is absolutely perfect from what I remember Bag End to be,” he added. “If I’m ever in your neck of the woods, in your Shire, I would love to visit.”
Gentile previously told Insider that he spent almost all of his life savings to design and build a little hobbit burrow from scratch on a plot of land outside the city of Chieti in Abruzzo, central Italy.
“I have always loved fantasy literature and movies, Dungeons and Dragons, and video games,” he said. “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.”
Sean Astin, who played Frodo’s gardener and friend Samwise Gamgee in the films, was exuberant about the world Nicolas has built so far.
“What an amazing thing you are doing! You are making it – the real Shire in Italia. It’s incredible,” he said.
The video appearances were part of a crowdfunding kickoff to raise $US1.8 ($AU2) million for the next stage of the project: a full-size hobbit village called La Contea Gentile.
La Contea Gentile is expected to operate as a nonprofit and accommodate a large underground home and four smaller houses where other families could reside. Gentile says he doesn’t intend to make the area a tourist spot but rather a small community where people live off the land.
Formerly a pastry chef with a degree in geology, Gentile plans to replicas of the Green Dragon Inn and a large version of Bilbo Baggins’ house, all powered by solar energy.
“If I had wanted to get rich, I would have invested in bitcoin!” he said. “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.”