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One lunchtime we all ate together with the builders on the terrace, Saverio’s wife had kindly prepared a delicious meal for us all.
We explained to the lads that Elsie, Karen and Bobbie belonged to a troup of Belly-dancers, which performs regularly in South Wales. Suddenly Karen and Bobbie rushed off only to return a few minutes later fully dressed in their dancing attire.
The builders were transfixed by their whirls and twirls !!!
One evening we all went out to our favourite restaurant, where the girls, this time including Elsie, put on another colourful show-stopping performance.
Here I’ll let the photos do the talking ……..
Well done girls (and Gian-Carlo) Bravissimo !!!
During Emma and Aneurin’s stay we helped our friend Filippo to make some wine. A few days earlier at “Tre Cancelle” we had harvested all the grapes from the vines that grow between the olive trees. This year we had not given the vines the care and attention that they deserved, however there was still a reasonably bountiful crop.
Filippo took the crates of grapes back to his house where he crushed them in a large vat. Here they remained for 5 days, Filippo took care to stir and turn the grapes both morning and night .
On the 5th day it was time to actually press the grapes. We helped to scoop up the mashed grapes and put them into the centre of the old manual press or “torchio”.
The press works on a square thread on a ratchet mechanism which you gradually wind down until the grapes begin to be squeezed.
The juice runs down and is collected in buckets and transferred into 2 x 56 litre demi-johns.
The tops are then sealed and the mixture is left to settle before being siphoned off a week or so later. Aneurin very much enjoyed helping.
A job well done !!!
In October we were delighted to welcome our youngest grandson Aneurin and his mummy Emma, who came for a 2 week visit. The weather was still beautifully warm and sunny for much of their stay, which was perfect for several days out at Sant’Agostino beach, situated midway between Sperlonga and Gaeta. As you can see, we had the beach practically to ourselves.
The Riviera D’Ulisse or Costa Pontina in South Lazio – this beautiful coastline, with its golden sandy beaches, is still largely undiscovered by international tourists. It is extremely popular with Italian visitors from Rome and Naples, particularly during the month of August, or on sunny summer weekends, when they flock to the seaside to escape the city heat. However out of season this area reverts to a sleepy, peaceful setting for a relaxing Italian holiday.
The safe sandy beach was an absolute delight for a fearless energetic 2 year old !!!
Aneurin really enjoyed the freedom of the wide open spaces and olive groves around “Tre Cancelle” …
and we dug out the old train set from the loft, which went down very well !!!
We all, including Aneurin, very much enjoyed our pizzas !!!
Giancarlo has a little girl just a few months older than Aneurin.
It was so lovely to see them interacting. It was clear that Chiara had taken quite a shine to Aneurin.
Thanks to all at the Bellavista for a lovely rememberable evening !!!
It was with heavy hearts that in October we had to say our goodbyes to our dear friend, Loredana. She sadly passed away, having put up a long and courageous fight against cancer.
Luca and Loredana had helped us greatly by house-sitting “Tre Cancelle” and looking after our dogs– the infamous “Woof-Gang” during our absence 2 years ago.
Loredana and Luca much loved “Tre Cancelle” and the dogs, indeed she loved all animals and nature, and enjoyed walking in the mountains surrounding Itri.
She much enjoyed arts and crafts and she was a keep photographer – Luca and Loredana had run a photographic shop in Itri for many years.
We will always remember her as being fun loving, smiling and laughing.
We all shared some special times together.
We will remember her fondly and miss her greatly. May she rest in peace.
Our hearts go out to her loving husband Luca, their son Lorenzo
and all the rest of the family.
1963 – 2012
* photo by photos8.com
(A Guest Blog Post by Diana Johnson of Bribie, Queensland, Australia)
Hearing my black Labrador dog, Cindy, barking vigorously under my bedroom window reminded me of the dawn chorus at “Tre Cancelle”. No, not the birds but the doggies of “Tre Cancelle” whose voices may be a little muted if Paul has overslept and they are still in their night kennels. By day they have free rein across a large yard and are quick to detect the slightest movement from the occupants of the downstairs unit who might just be bearing doggie delights to their yard.
A shared interest in Shapcott Genealogy gave me a virtual introduction to Paul and Louise many years ago but it is only in the last two years that I‘ve managed to visit their idyllic Italian hideaway. This September I lured my husband as well to South Lazio to meet Paul and Louise and the Woof Gang!
Well what a week! After combing the supermarket shelves in Rome for dog treats, I found it was much easier to buy them in Fondi or Itri. Of course by that time I also had to add in cat food as well for the latest additions to the “Tre Cancelle” home for waifs and strays. We wasted much time in trying to coax a very shy little kitten out into the open although her mother, named Micha, was much bolder and more forthright in her demands for sustenance. Milk and biscuits disappeared rapidly every day and cat food was gone in a flash!
Warning to anyone dispensing Dentastix to the “Woof-Gang” – be sure to keep you fingers out of range lest Lizzie mistake one for a Dentastick ….
Somewhere in between walking dogs and generally making a fuss of all the furry inhabitants of “Tre Cancelle”, we found time to do some sightseeing around the region. With Paul driving and Louise supplying the tour commentary we feasted our eyes on the beautiful fishing ports with their steep steps and narrow alleys and archways in the old parts of the towns.
We visited markets selling every kind of produce under the sun, watched a religious procession …
drove up into the mountains to see elaborate churches, villages perched on mountain tops and of course the famous Abbey of Monte Cassino.
A special bonus was afforded to us in Atina, where Louise met some of her relatives and we were invited into one of their houses in the old quarter of the town.
Listening in ignorance to the rapid flow of Italian I knew that I had to improve my knowledge of the language of this beautiful and intriguing country. It is not enough to be able to buy a bus ticket or order some meat or cheese in the deli, you really want to know what is going on…………..
No visit to Itri is complete without a visit or two to the aptly named Bellavista restaurant run by Mamma Riccardi and her charming sons. The road to the restaurant is an interesting climb if you happen to be the driver but thankfully I was not. Having made it to the top, we relaxed on the terrace in the warm evening soaking up the glorious views of Itri by night (no doubt improved by the jugs of wine that appeared regularly upon our table). The Italian wine goes well with the Bellavista pizza, which is just great, in fact I’ll find it difficult going back to Aussie pizzas after having the real thing in Italy.
And while I’m on the subject of food, how can I not mention the wonderful gelati ice creams that we downed on several occasions. Alas, it means several more hours in the gym to work those inches off the waistline but ….well…. it was worth it!
Sadly a week goes by too quickly and all too soon we were heading back to Rome for the next leg of our trip but I know we will be back one day in the not too distant future. That is providing our good friends can put up with their Aussie visitors again.
We are extremely happy with the new swimming pool at Tre Cancelle. We are confident that it has been a good investment.
Paul has constructed a little white picket fence and we have planted tubs with colourful geraniums. We have also purchased new sunbeds, deck chairs and patio furniture to finish it off.
During the European Football championships we decided to get into the spirit of things and decorated the house with Italian flags.
Italy did well to get to the final, however was eventually beaten by Spain. Well done Italia !!!
It was around this time that we welcomed a lovely young family from Ireland.
The two young lads really enjoyed splashing about in the pool.
One day we invited our friends, Nandi and Davide and their 3 children, to also come and try out the pool – and it seems a splendid time was had by all.
In the evening, to round things off we had a barbeque and enjoyed a lovely serata together.
In mid April I finally flew back to Bella Italia accompanied by our friend Kay, who had decided to fit in a week’s stay at “Tre Cancelle”. Feeling happier that things had settled down in the UK, it was good to once again set foot on Italian soil.
In my absence Paul had been staying on his own at TC , keen to take care of the dogs and get lots of work done in and around the house and olive groves.
One evening we were invited to Luigi and Ornella’s house for supper. They had kindly bought a little present for Kay.
Kay especially enjoyed her drop of Prosecco !!!
After the meal “Luigiiiiiiiiiiiii” dug out his old guitar and we shared a very jolly serata in such excellent company.
During her stay Kay helped out with a few jobs, such as preparing the pool. Sadly the weather was not quite warm enough for her to have a dip.
At the end of her week Kay had to fly back home, but was to return again just six weeks later with another friend, Elsie, one of the Belly-dancing group. Kay has by far been our most frequent guest at “Tre Cancelle”. She had come over last year in July, then again in November with the “Welsh Girls” (to help with the olive harvest) and again at Christmas with daughter Kirsten, and Elsie.
During this trip Elsie was very keen to visit the Giardini di Ninfa as their stay coincided with one of the garden’s open days. We suggested first stopping off at Sermoneta, a picturesque medieval town set high on the edge of the Monti Lepini.
The majestic well-preserved castle dominates the town which is enclosed by formidable fortified walls of limestone.
Sermoneta is a maze of narrow, winding cobbled streets, alleyways and steep flights of stairs.
The town still retains much of its medieval charm with its characteristic Loggia dei Mercanti or old Town Hall in the central square.
At the heart of Sermoneta is the 13th century beautiful Romanesque Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo.
From Sermoneta there are magnificent views across the Pontine Plain to the sea.
In the afternoon we headed back down hill to find the Giardini di Ninfa. This was to be my second visit, the first having been in 2010, see my previous Blog entry:
Ninfa is a real treasure – a haven of natural beauty and tranquility and a photographer’s paradise. You can read all about Ninfa and its history at my website: The Gardens of Ninfa
Being early June many roses were in full bloom.
My favourite area is down by the gently flowing river.
More about the fascinating Medieval town of Sermoneta:
More about the magical Gardens of Ninfa:
Closeby to Sermoneta and Ninfa is the clifftop town of
and the Cistercian Valvisciolo Abbey
which also definitely merit a visit.
Just before Paul had to return to Italy we had great pleasure in meeting up for a meal with some of our Italian cousins, who live in the UK, Tony and Margaret, Mark and Jane. We invited Kay along too.
In April I was delighted to spend a few day with cousins Tony and Margaret at their home in Swindon. They kindly introduced me to many of their friends, wined and dined me, and all in all spoiled me rotten !!!
One day they organised a visit to Lacock Village near Chippenham in Wiltshire.
Lacock is a quintessentially British village. It is managed by the National Trust who own approximately 90 of its buildings, and ensure that the village retains its upspoiled authentic appearance. It is like stepping back in time, some of the dwellings are medieval and half timbered, others are constructed of typical honey coloured Cotswold stone.
Due to its picturesque cobbled streets, Lacock has been used as the film location for scenes of many award winning BBC costume dramas, such as “Pride and Prejudice”, “Emma” and “The Cranford Chronicles“, and also for certain scenes in the Harry Potter Movies and other films.
Yet the village is not a “museum piece”, indeed – far from it. The National Trust rent out many of the dwellings to tenants. The village has a thriving school, local stores, several traditional pubs and hostelries, tea rooms, craft and antique shops, and even a jewellers.
The Inn by the name of “The Sign of the Angel” was once a wool merchant’s house, and dates back to the 15th century.
Having taken a leisurely stroll around the village, we stopped to enjoy a splendid Pub lunch in the “Carpenters Arms”.
Feeling suitably replenished we continued our meanderings through Lacock.
The Saxon church of St Cyriac …..
The Pottery, once the old Workhouse ……
Lacock Ford ……
The 15th century Tithe barn …..
Next we explored the Fox Talbot Museum, which is dedicated to a former inhabitant of Lacock Abbey, Charles Henry Fox Talbot, who was an early pioneer of photography.
We then entered the gates of Lacock Abbey which was founded in the early 13th century. In the 16th century the abbey was converted into a country house and an octagonal tower was added. The house eventually passed into the hands of the Talbot family.
We greatly enjoyed the tour of the stately house.
Next we explored the Abbey’s peaceful Cloisters.
The Caldron in the Warming Room.
The location of Lacock Abbey was chosen to shoot certain scenes from the series of Harry Potter Films.
Our visit to Lacock was rounded off by returning to the Tea Room in the old stables for a scrummy English cream tea.
A perfect day out – I would highly recommend a visit.
During my time in the UK I was able to spend some quality time visiting family and friends. We were delighted to get to see our youngest grandson Aneurin, who we had not seen for almost a year, and my goodness how he has grown. He is turning into quite a little character and just loves his food.
It was lovely to spend some time with our two other grandchildren, Jamie and Tommy. They had recently had a new lively addition to the family, a Labrador puppy called “Bob”. While Mummy was out at work and the boys were out at school I had great fun Babysitting Bob !!!
He gets plenty of walks and just loves being a “Mucky Pup” !!!
And then of course he needs a long nap !!!
The household’s other 2 pets are gradually learning to tolerate Bob – Jack and Meggie.
At Easter-time Jamie and Tommy enjoyed their Easter Egg Hunt in the garden.
The boys playing with an old-fashioned potato gun – I remember those !!!
I love you all so much – Nonna