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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.
Also during June we were to welcome some very special guests
Joan and Tony from Cornwall.
Dear Joan has been incredibly kind to us over the last few years, sending regular donations towards the “Woof-Gang” fund.
In fact we and the “Woof-Gang” can’t thank Joan enough for her continual moral and financial support.
Having been able to find a suitable dog-sitter for their own dog Maisie, this year Tony and Joan decided to come and pay us a visit at “Tre Cancelle” and meet the members of the “Woof-Gang” for the first time, face to face.
One day we decided to pool our energy and give all the pooches a bath, before administering their Frontline treatment. We filled up a large plastic vat with water and one by one the dogs were “processed”, some of the dogs accepted their fate more calmly than others !!!
Flossie whose long coat of hair was badly matted also had to undergo a rather undignified haircut, however I am sure she felt much better for it afterwards.
We would also like to take the opportunity to express special thanks to Diana in Queensland, Australia for so kindly sending gifts and goodies for the dogs. Diana, we very much look forward to seeing you again this coming September.
Joan is a very green fingered and enjoyed helping us out in the garden. She and works as volunteer gardener at Mount Edgcumbe House and Country park near Torpoint in Cornwall.
In the heat of the day Tony much enjoyed the benefits of the refreshing pool.
One day we took Tony and Joan on a trip to Cassino, first to see the Commonwealth War Cemetery and then on to Montecassino Abbey and its interesting Museum.
Here you can see some of my Flickr photos of Montecassino / Cassino :
You can find out more about Montecassino at our South Lazio website:
During Tony and Joan’s stay, Paul set about making some homemade liqueurs. Nocino is made from green walnuts, which traditionally are gathered on the 24th June, on the Feast of St. John The Baptist.
As it was in fact the 25th June Paul took 25 immature walnuts, still in their shells, and cut them into quarters.
These were added to a demi-john into which was poured a litre of neat alcoholic spirit.
Paul then added a cinnamon stick and 5 cloves, and put it aside for 40 days. The resulting liquor is then drained and filtered. Then between 300 and 500gms of sugar is dissolved in approximately 750ml to 1 litre of water to make a syrup, according to how sweet you wish the resulting liqueur to be. This is then added to the walnut flavoured alcohol. Nocino has an interesting taste, slightly herby and medicinal.
We also made liqueurs using more of our home grown fruit, one with sour amarena cherries.
Once again we have had a glut of plums so we have tried our hand at making some Plum liqueur and Plum Gin, as well ask making 32 jars of Plum Jam and another 32 jars of Plum Chutney !!!
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.
When Elsie, and two of her belly-dancing friends, Karen and Sylvia, volunteered to come and help us with the olive harvest, I begged them to bring their costumes, so that perhaps we could put on a little show.
They have been attending belly-dancing classes for several years, perfecting the necessary muscle control and complex choreographed manoeuvres of this dance form. They belong to a dance troupe who perform locally in South Wales.
I organised for the “Belly-Dancing Extravaganza” to take place one evening at the Bellavista Restaurant, which is run by our good friends – la famiglia Riccardi.
We had invited several of our Italian friends from Itri, some of whom have known Kay and Elsie for many years now, but in true Italian fashion, up until the last minute we had no firm idea of how many people would be able to attend.
We arrived in good time, so that the girls had time to dress and prepare themselves.
Then, one by one our invited friends started to come through the door and it soon became apparent that there was going to be a good turnout for the evening’s entertainment. This resulted in augmenting the girls’ pre-performance nerves, which were already running somewhat high.
The girls looked absolutely stunning as they elegantly swished their way onto the dance floor.
Their glamorous costumes were richly bejewelled with sequins, glass beads and jingling coins.
Each had taken great care in putting together their exotic, eye-catching ensembles.
Sylvia dressed in rich purple …..
Karen dressed in vivid scarlet …..
and Elsie in opulent black and gold …..
As the rhythmic music began the girls began to gracefully undulate and gyrate, whirling and twirling, with a shimmy or two of the hips. Their elegant flowing movements were seemingly effortless.
The audience was totally captivated by their magnificent performance.
Especially Massimo !!!
Later members of the audience were invited onto the dance floor to try their hand at some of the typical moves. Some individuals turned out to be somewhat more competent than others, which resulted in much hilarity !!!
The evening proved to be a great success, and was enjoyed by all.
A big Thank You to the Belly-Dancing Girls from South Wales !!!
The next day the “Welsh Girls” were keen to get back to work.
We threw down the gauntlet saying that the most olives ever gathered to take down to the mill in a single drop was 400 kilos. The girls were determined to beat this record over the next two days.
We all got into the swing of things, and worked really hard and efficiently as a team.
Yet there was also time for a great deal of joviality, general larking about and of course cups of tea.
That afternoon Moustapha, our 7 ft Senegalese friend from the market, also volunteered to lend a helping hand … he was ideal for reaching the loftier branches with the olive clapper !!!
The next morning the girls were up early and worked all day like crazy to fill more cases with olives.
By the end of that day we had gathered 408 kilos of olives, beating the previous record by 8 kilos.
Well done everyone !!!
We then loaded up the car with the 21 cases of olives.
Sincere thanks to Kay, Elsie, Karen and Sylvia, and not forgetting kind Moustapha for their hard graft and sterling efforts over the past week. We couldn‘t have done it without you. Well done !!!
You may have thought that the “Welsh Girls” would have been exhausted after their laborious day …..
But No !!! They went on to perform a Belly Dancing Extravaganza at the Bellavista Restaurant in Itri that evening !!!
See next post !!!
The Belly Dancing Extravaganza !!!