143 – Sermoneta and The Giardini di Ninfa

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.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy


142 – Lacock Village and Abbey

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 Zeronian, 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.

National Trust Website – Lacock Village and Abbey

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

141 – Catching Up With Family

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


All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

140 – Cardiff – “The Land of My Fathers”

Following our son’s accident back in February, I decided to stay on in the UK for a month or two to help out, as and when required, during his convalescence.  Our dear friend Kay very kindly offered me board and lodging at her house in Cardiff.

I have come to love the city of Cardiff,   I suppose it is because as well as being part Italian, I also have Welsh blood running through my veins – from my father’s side of the family.  Well, my maiden name Davies couldn’t really be more Welsh !!!

Cardiff became great during the grand age of Coal, when the Marquis of Bute built a large port and docks for the export of coal hewn from the Welsh Valleys.  Sadly a hundred years or so further down the line, the need for coal sharply diminished, causing the dockland areas of Cardiff to fall into a deep decline.

However a few decades ago an ambitious plan was drawn up to regenerate and transform the derelict areas which included the construction of a Barrage across the mouth of Cardiff Bay and the creation of a new waterfront area.  This area is now known as Mermaid Quay and has an array of inviting restaurants, cafés and bars.

This is the Pierhead Building ……

Nearby is the Wales Millennium Centre …..

The centre of the capital is bustling with several modern shopping centres. 

This is the new Library building.

More of Cardiff’s notable landmarks include  …… 

The City Hall and Museum

Cardiff Castle

Yet within the city there are many parks and green spaces such as Bute Park, Cathays Park and Roath Park with its Boating Lake.

All in all there is so much to explore in the vibrant, multicultural city of Cardiff.

During March was the 2012 6 Nations Rugby Tournament and I had the pleasure of being in Wales when the Welsh Team Won !!!

Bravo Wales !!!

My Rugby Mad Welsh “Daft Daffy” friends in their suitable attire !!!

This summer the Cardiff Millennium Stadium will yet again be in the forefront as it is hosting 11 Olympic football matches.

Cardiff, Wales – “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” – “The Land of My Fathers”

Hope you enjoyed my photos, you can see more of them on Flickr:


All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy