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I always look forward to our visits back to the UK.  I love living in Italy but sometimes I do find myself feeling a little homesick and especially missing close family and longstanding friends.  This Christmas Kay, a special friend of ours, very kindly invited us to stay with her at her home in Barry in South Wales.

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Kay and Paul

Barry Island on a cold but bright December’s day …..

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Barry has once again become a popular destination, having gained notarity from the BBC’s very successful comedy series “Gavin and Stacey” – much of which was filmed in and around Barry and Barry Island.  It’s a tale of love between an “Essex boy” and a “Welsh girl”.  If you haven’t seen it I’d highly recommend it – it’s absolutely hilarious !!!  Nowadays you can even go on an organised tour of the area to visit many of the locations where the series was filmed, such as Marco’s Cafe.

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Recently Barry has taken on a new nickname, that of “Barrybados” !!! 

Here’s Paul sporting his new Barrybados T-shirt.

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We did a fair few miles driving around the UK during our visit.  First we drove to Bristol to visit Paul’s father.

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We then travelled down to Poole to visit Paul’s brother and family to meet the latest little “twiglet” on our Shapcott family tree – little Annabel.

Congratulations to Tim and Clare !!!

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Then up to North Wales to visit Emma and our youngest grandson Aneurin, who was allowed to open his present just before Christmas.

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We then drove back down to South Wales with Aneurin, who was able to spend a couple of days over Christmas with his daddy.

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Thanks to Kay for putting on a lovely Christmas lunch.  Kay and Paul worked well together in the kitchen.

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Ummmm – I think that perhaps Kay had one too many Prosecco’s !!!

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Then Boxing Day we went to Chepstow to visit Vicki and our older two Grandsons, Jamie and Tom.  I managed to snap a photo of our three grandsons all together.

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Jamie, Tom and their crazy but loveable dog “Bob”…..

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Then to Swindon where we had organised a gathering of our Italian family who now live in the UK (with family roots in Atina)

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After all that travelling around we felt that we could do with holiday !!!

But we loved every minute of it.

A big thank you to Kay in “Barrybados” for inviting us to stay and putting up with us over Christmas and New Year.

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Disappointingly Autumn this year there were very few olives.  It was not just us, but many of the local olive farmers found themselves in a similar situation.  Back in May, when the olive trees were in flower, there was a cold spell with strong wind and heavy rain, so because of this the olive flowers had not set to form their miniature little olives.

Yet there is always work to be done in the groves.  This Autumn we welcomed three more young keen volunteers to help out, Kirsten, Kay’s daughter, and two of her good friends Kyle and Jessica.  They had wanted to help with the olive harvest, but Paul soon got them to work pruning around the bases of the trees where unwanted shoots grow and making bonfires  with the debris.

Kyle took many photos of their stay.  I think they had fun !!! 

I will let his photos do the talking ….

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Kirsten and Kyle, the mad fools, were determined to take a dip in the pool. It was somewhat nippy at this time of year !!!

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Kyle and Jessica even managed to fit in a day trip to Rome on the train.

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All photos above by Kyle Blannin

 

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Thank you so much guys for all your hard work.

It was so appreciated.

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We had a  hot and busy summer, and Paul was very pleased as he managed to recruit some extra helpers to assist him with chores around Tre Cancelle.

Firstly our cousin’s son Alex volunteered to come and lend a hand for a week, and his stay coincided with a visit from our youngest grandson, Aneurin, and his Mum Emma.  Paul soon put them to work !!!

More fencing was required as Pino, our horse, was becoming a dab hand at escaping from his enclosure on a regular basis.  There was lots of wood to be collected from the groves, from the trees that had been pruned back in the Spring.  Both Emma and Alex worked like Trojans, despite the heat, and little Aneurin did his bit too by helping to fill up the wood shed.

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We were happy to welcome the return of the White family, who are regular visitors to Tre Cancelle. (You may recall that they helped us last summer when a wild fire came dangerously close to our olive grove) - http://trecancelle.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/146-fire-at-tre-cancelle-august-2012/

Sadly Andrew could not make it this time, as he was recovering from heart surgery.  Jenny and the girls, Caitlin, Niamh and Bethan thoroughly enjoyed helping to look after Aneurin and fussing over Max, who had recently become a house dog, having been bullied by one of our adoptees, ie Henry.

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Once again the pool came into its own ……..

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Many happy evenings were enjoyed whilst dining together “al fresco”.  One evening Emma gave a cookery lesson for the girls and they all made pizza …..

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Very tasty it was too !!!

We managed to fit in a quick visit to Atina with them all ……

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and a quick visit to see cousins Mario and Mara.

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Sadly too soon it was time for the Whites to make their way home.

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We wish you could have stayed longer !!!

Meanwhile we enjoyed some more extra special time with Aneurin and Emma.

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Cheeky Monkey !!!

Thank you to everyone for making our Summer such a happy one !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)

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We were so happy to be able to invite our two eldest grandchildren Jamie and Tom and their Mum Vicki to come and stay during July, they had had a tough year and really needed a break.  Jamie, 11,  had just finished at primary school and was going up to senior school in the coming September.

However, the weather during their stay was extreme to say the least, hot and humid with temperatures reaching up to almost 40 deg C, totally energy zapping.

Thank goodness we had the pool for them to cool off and play in. 

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We invited up our  friends children who moved from the UK to live in Itri three years ago, and they got on so well and great fun was had !!!

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During their stay with us Tom celebrated his 9th birthday for which we held a little party. 

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Tom was especiallyl impressed with his special ice-cream birthday cake from the Fiocco di Neve.

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The evening before their last night our friends Pauline and Filippo kindly invited us all to have supper at their home. 

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Pizza by the metre !!!

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Thanks to Pauline and Filippo for a lovely evening !!!

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Sending our love to you all.

We miss you !!!

xxxxxxxxxxxx

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)

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At the end of June we were invited to attend the Italian wedding of our dear friends, Raffaele and Nicole.  A few years back Raffaele was one of our English students.  He had a longing to travel to America and was thus  keen to improve his English language skills.  He went to stay with family friends in California and while there met is wife to be Nicole.  Nicole’s family also orignate from Itri.

They had recently married in California but the they were to then to fly to Italy to hold a second wedding ceremony here in Itri.

The ceremony was to be held in the old medieval quarter of upper Itri, which has an ancient castle and a warren of narrow cobbled streets, stone stairways and alleys.  At the top is the old 9th century church of of San Michele Arcangelo.

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The wedding reception was to be held in the most splendid setting of Villa Paola near Fondi.

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A huge range of delicious antipasti were served al fresco in the beautiful gazebo.  This was the bride and groom’s table.

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For the rest of the meal we were directed inside into the lavish banquet hall.

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The delicious meal that insued was fish based and of numerous courses served at intervals during the afternoon.

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In between there were pauses for those who would like a little twirl around the dance floor.  The fuller everyone got the harder it was to move, let alone dance !!!

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There were numerous toasts or “brindisi” wishing the happy couple happiness, good health and good fortune by family and friends alike.

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Finally it was time to step outside once again for the bride and groom to cut the wedding cake.

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Congratulations Raffaele and Nicole, may you have many happy years together.

Thank you both, and a special thanks also to Florisa and Franco for allowing us to share your special day.

Auguri !!!

All photos by me 

© Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)

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602901_428473223901609_118071311_n As mentioned in my previous post, our friends Davide and Nandi have this year opened a new and unique shop in Itri called Cuore Matto.

 One section is a Ceramic Workshop where children, and adults alike,  can paint and decorate  selected pieces of pottery.

The type of pottery used is Bisque ware (meaning “baked twice”) which is white in colour,  unglazed and porous.

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A special type of paint must be used to embellish the items .

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You can mark out your design in pencil before painting.

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The finished items then need to be dipped in a special glaze and fired in a high temperature kiln, and are normally ready for collection after a couple of days.

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At Cuore Matto they can also create treasured “keep sakes” –  hand or foot prints of babies or young children, or even pet paw prints.

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Nandi is very artistic and regularly comes up with new bright and colourful designs, such as decorative plates to commemorate a special birthday, a wedding or anniversary, or the birth or baptism of a baby.

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The other section of the shop has a beautiful selection of designer clothes, with sizes from infants up to teenagers.

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If ever you are in Itri I would highly recommend taking the time to check out this splendid shop.

Cuore Matto’s Facebook Page

Cuore Matto Itri,

72 Via della Repubblica,

04020 Itri, Latina (LT)

Italy

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72 Via della Republica, 04020, Itri, Latina, Italy

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In Itri, over several Sundays during the month of June it is the time for children who have reached the age of 10 to make their First Holy Communion.  Catholic religious traditions such as Baptism, First Communion and Marriage are regarded as significant family events  that mark out important milestones in a child’s life and development.

One Sunday morning Kay and I went down to the main church in Itri. Outside were some local workers of the Red Cross association who were selling flowers as this day was also Mothers Day in Italy.

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Outside the church we saw the children preparing for their big day.  Both boys and girls were dressed in simple white cassocks, the colour white to signify innocence and purity, and each wore a wooden cross on a cord around their neck and carried some white lilies. The little girls also wore a flowered head-dress. 

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The following Sunday we were kindly invited to attend the Prima Comunione of our friends’ son, Dante.

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To celebrate this momentous event families often choose to throw a lavish party for relatives and friends, either dining out at a restaurant or otherwise a special family meal at home. 

The child receives lots of presents and best wishes from all concerned.  It is a very joyous occasion.

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In return it is the custom for the family to give a small gift  or Bomboniera to all who attended the special event. 

Dante’s parents Davide and Nandi have recently opened a Children’s Clothes Shop and Ceramic Workshop in Itri called Cuore Matto.

Dante had hand-painted his gifts, which were coffee cups filled with sweeties.  

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Bravo Dante !!!

Auguri !!!

Thank you for sharing your special day with us !!!

© Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)

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One lunchtime Kay and I we drove down towards Gaeta to Sant’Agostino beach, which is situated on the Via Flacca between Gaeta and Sperlonga.  There is a simple restaurant there that overlooks the beach, the Miramare, that we often frequent.  We were greatly disappointed that it was closed on this occasion, so we drove on towards Sperlonga and parked in the parking area near Levante beach. We took a lovely stroll along the golden sands in the direction of the little harbour.

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The beach was practically deserted, despite the beautifully warm and sunny May weather.

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Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live near to the stunningly beautiful coastline of the Riviera Di Ulisse.

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The harbour and Torre Truglia.

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We found a lovely little bar on the harbourside called “Il Porticello” where we had a lovely lunch of Insalata Caprese  a simple but very tasty salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and olive oil.

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Another day we returned to the “Miramare” at Sant’Agostino, this time we were more lucky. Our table was outside overlooking the beach, we had a lovely lunch – Kay had another Caprese salad and I had crispy deep-fried  seafood. Scrummy !!!

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We then went for an afternoon stroll to help work off our lunch.  

Sant’Agostino is a 2 km stretch of golden sandy beach and is very popular with Italians from Rome and Naples, especially during the month of August.  Originally here there were just sand dunes but now there are various small restaurants and bars dotted along the way, and although there are some bathing establishments on the whole it is a free beach.

One end is still guarded by an ancient watch tower, one of many such fortifications built along the coastline to guard against marauding Saracen pirates.  

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At the opposite end you can see one of the several road tunnels that run along the coast, and the remains of the ancient Roman Via Flacca.

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It was a perfect day for taking photos  ….

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All photos by me 

© Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)

 

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While Paul was back in the UK it wasn’t all hard work.  Kay and I decided to make the best of it and got out and about most days. Kay quickly mastered the knack of driving in Italy, we had a few hairy moments, but she did really well.  In fact she has inspired me to start tentatively driving again, at least I can get down to Itri and back !!!

It has to be said that Kay is a bit of an ice-cream-oholic. She’ll use any excuse to go down to Itri to her favourite ice cream shop, “Fiocco di Neve”, where she soon became friends with the owner. Kay’s favourite flavours are coconut, hazelnut and rum and raisin.  She even learned how to ask for them in Italian.  “Cono picollo, due gusti, coco e nocciola !!!” Brava Kay !!!  

There are so many flavours to choose from – I recommend that if you ever find yourself  in Itri head straight for the “Fiocco di Neve”.

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Manuela and Kay

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“Fiocco Di Neve’s” Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fiocco-di-Neve-Gelateria/194727540590258?fref=ts

It’s amazing who you bump into at the Ice-cream shop !!!  Luiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigiiiiiii !!!

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All photos by me 

© Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)

 

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