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Recently we were invited to yet another birthday celebration, by our friends Anna and Santo. Santo is originally from Sicily and misses his birthplace greatly. How I would like to visit Sicily one day.
These festivities were for their daughter little Isabel who was 5 years old.
(Just 55 years younger than poor old Kay and Elsie !!! but my time will come when I am 60 in a couple of years time – where does the time go !!!)
Isabel is a little “sweet heart” and very comical !!!
Here I think I will let the photos do the talking ….
Happy Birthday Isabel and may you have many, many more happy ones !!!
Thank you for inviting us to share this special day with you and your lovely family. Dear friends, my dream is that one day you will be able to meet my family too.
I hope you like the photos.
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
#birthday #compleanno #itri #italy #southlazio
A few days after Elsie’s party a couple more good friends arrived from Cardiff, Nicki and Callum, who had volunteered to help out for a week in the “Tre Cancelle” olive groves. This was their second visit to Itri.
Sadly this year once again we had no olives. It is not just us, though, it is the same in many of the olive groves in Itri, because there were strong winds back in early May when the trees are in bloom and the flowers failed to set.
We have recently got some workers in to help with some pruning in the lower section of the grove, and they had left behind piles of branches and twigs that littered the ground.
The job in hand was then to chomp out and separate the chunky branches from the smaller twiggy ones, called “frasche”, using pneumatically powered secateurs.
Then all the small branches have to be gathered up and burned.
The burn ferociously because of the amount of oil in the sap.
We all got stuck in and worked our cotton socks off for several days and managed to clear several of the terraces. In fact it became a quite a challenge as to how many terraces we could conquer. Callum is only 14 but he worked so hard. Nicki you should be so proud of him.
However, it wasn’t all work and no play that week.
We all went out for a special birthday meal at the “Casareccia” in Campodimele and were joined once again by our American friends from Ohio, Florisa and Patrizia.
Once again Maria served up copious amounts of wonderful handmade delicacies.
Callum is a keen young cook and whilst staying at Tre Cancelle he made a fabulous chocolate cake.
You can come and stay again Callum !!!
On their last evening we took Callum, Nicki and Kay to the Bellavista.
Here Callum had a one to one lesson in art of pizza making, by the expert himself – Massimo !!!
It’s not as easy as it looks !!! It is all about stretching the dough.
Callum made a special pizza for his mum ……
Thank you Kay, Callum and Nicki
for all your support and hard work during that busy week.
We couldn’t have done it without you !!!
#olives #gaetaolives #itriitaly #lacasarecciacampodimele #bellavistaitri
In November, to celebrate Elsie’s milestone birthday, Elsie, Kay and another friend Brenda decided to take a few days holiday in Sicily, a place Elsie had always longed to visit. They rented a small apartment in the centre of Palermo and experienced first hand Sicilian life in this hectic city. On Elsie’s birthday Kay organised a sight seeing trip in a traditional horse drawn carriage, followed by a special meal.
They also managed to fit in a day trip to the seaside resort of Cefalù.
lthough it was November the weather was beautifully warm and Brenda was able to have a paddle in the sea.
Meanwhile back in Itri I was busy preparing a surprise birthday party for Elsie at the Bellavista restaurant with some live music by our friends Santo and Anna.
Elsie was really shocked as she entered the room as assembled were many of our friends from Itri and some other American friends from Minturno.
Florisa and I had baked a special cake.
The next day was to be my friend Florisa’s birthday, so after midnight we celebrated hers too.
Thanks to everyone for making it such a memorable joyous occasion.
Photos by Kay McRobbie
#birthdayparty #bellavista #itri #pizzeria #restaurant
Some members of the “We Love Atina Group” stayed on for a couple more days to see for themselves the Feast of San Marco, the patron saint of Atina. Marco Galileo is said to have been an apostle of St Peter and was persecuted and martyred for his Christian faith in Atina, during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian.
Once again we met up at the café next to the Arco in Piazza Garibaldi.
On this occasion we had the pleasure of meeting Lorraine Tambourine and her husband Billy, who are both from Scotland. They are frequent visitors of Atina.
Festivities were just starting to get underway. There was a brass band playing across the square by the Convent of San Francesco.
I went up to the church and peaked inside where the ceremony was still taking place.
There was San Marco in all his glory.
By this time darkness had fallen and I wandered through the streets
admiring the illuminations.
After the church service there was the procession
throughout the streets of Bella Atina.
The festivities continue into the night
when at midnight there is a grand firework display.
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
#atinaitaly #atinafrosinone #feastday #feast #sanmarco #santamariaassunta #cathedral #cattedrale
In June we were invited by our friends Davide and Nandi to attend their daughter’s First Communion ceremony.
We arrived to find the church full to the brim and the service had already got underway.
We soon spotted Giada looking very beautiful.
Here, in Italy, all children wear the same outfit – so there is no competition as to who has the prettiest dress, which I think is a very sensible solution.
Here are all the first communicants with the parish priest and their teachers.
Giada with her parents and brothers Dante and Tomasso.
Giada opening her First Communion gifts.
Giada with her special ice cream cake.
Auguri Giada !!!
Thank you to Giada and her lovely family
for inviting us to share this special day with them.
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
#FirstCommunions #itri #italy
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.
Barry Island on a cold but bright December’s day …..
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.
Recently Barry has taken on a new nickname, that of “Barrybados” !!!
Here’s Paul sporting his new Barrybados T-shirt.
We did a fair few miles driving around the UK during our visit. First we drove to Bristol to visit Paul’s father.
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 !!!
Then up to North Wales to visit Emma and our youngest grandson Aneurin, who was allowed to open his present just before Christmas.
We then drove back down to South Wales with Aneurin, who was able to spend a couple of days over Christmas with his daddy.
Thanks to Kay for putting on a lovely Christmas lunch. Kay and Paul worked well together in the kitchen.
Ummmm – I think that perhaps Kay had one too many Prosecco’s !!!
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.
Jamie, Tom and their crazy but loveable dog “Bob”…..
Then to Swindon where we had organised a gathering of our Italian family who now live in the UK (with family roots in Atina)
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.
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
We really enjoyed that a certain little boy, our grandson Aneurin, was able to celebrate his 3rd birthday with us in Italy this year.
You may remember that they first met last year –
Ice-cream Cake from the Fiocco di Neve in Itri.
Happy Birthday Aneurin
All photos by me Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)
At the beginning of November our friends Kay and Elsie arrived from Wales, they regularly come to help us out at this time of year, which is normally the beginning of the olive harvest.
Pietro had previously discussed with us the possibility of bring two more horses to graze at Tre Cancelle, in particular those which had been born earlier this year and were now ready to be separated from their mothers. After a day or so’s warning Pietro arrived with horse-box in tow and the two new members of the Tre Cancelle “Neigh-Gang” !!! Pino was well intrigued !!!
The new arrivals were somewhat shaken up by their long bumpy ride and needed a great deal of coaxing to get them to come out of the horse-box.
The first to emerge was black in colour – a young female, who we have named “Lola”.
The second was a tan coloured young male, who we have named “Vinci”.
Gradually they were introduced to Pino.
Aww Bless !!! They seemed to be missing their mothers so much and it gave the impression that they were trying to cuddle each other.
Pino soon told them who was boss but after a few days they seemed to have settled down. I think he enjoys the company.
A few days later Emma and Aneurin, our youngest grandson, arrived also. Emma was also champing at the bit to get back to work in the olive groves.
Our American friends Patrick and Mindy, and along with Mindy’s Mum Donna, came over one day with her mother to help with some olive picking, however as I mentioned previously this year the harvest was not good, but we worked together to gather what olives there were by hand.
Paul and Patrick being tall were good at reaching the high ones.
Of course Aneurin helped too.
We were able to take advantage of the mild sunny weather by eating lunch together on the terrace. Not bad for November.
Many of our trees still need pruning to keep them from getting too tall and leggy and thus less productive. Our dear friends Clive and Marilyn, Brits who currently live in Gaeta, regularly come to help Paul with pruning duties. Clive is especially enthusiastic about our special Extra Virgin olive Oil.
Regrettably, last spring whilst pruning trees Clive lost his footing on a ladder and had a nasty tumble, falling awkwardly. Sadly he managed to break both his ankle and shoulder, which incapacitated him for several months. Needless to say, we felt dreadful about the accident. It just goes to show how easily accidents can happen, and the importance of tying the ladder to the tree. Thankfully because he is such a fit and strong individual he seems to have made a good and swift recovery. This Autumn Clive was keen to get back to work in the groves, Marilyn however has now banned him from climbing ladders, but he is still eager to do all he can at ground level.
Clive brought Marilyn and old friend from the UK knick-named “Smiffy” to work up at Tre Cancelle for a couple of days – Everyone worked so hard – pruning, chomping out and cutting to size logs, and burning the debris. Once again here in Bella Italia we could enjoy sitting outside for lunch.
A “Big Thank You” to every one who has so kindly given us their time, energy and enthusiam to help us progress on the upkeep and maintenance of the olive groves at Tre Cancelle. xxxxxxxx
Kay and Elsie’s holiday unfortunately soon came to end, however Emma and Aneurin were staying on for a couple more weeks.
We spent a day helping our neighbour Luca and his Mum to gather his olives, he did have a few more to harvest than us.
And of course Aneurin helped too !!! – By turning his jacket around back-to-front and using his hood to put olives into !!!
How lovely it is to have a like-minded neighbour who prefers to use natural methods of cultivation rather than the often over use of chemical agricultural products. Well done Luca, we wish you well in your endeavours !!!
All photos by me Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou) and Kirsten McRobbie
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 ….
Kirsten and Kyle, the mad fools, were determined to take a dip in the pool. It was somewhat nippy at this time of year !!!
Kyle and Jessica even managed to fit in a day trip to Rome on the train.
All photos above by Kyle Blannin
Thank you so much guys for all your hard work.
It was so appreciated.