240 – Celebrating Thanksgiving in Italy

 Our American friends Pat and Melinda and Darcy and Gerry invited us to join them and have the experience  of our first traditional Thanksgiving. Also invited was Alberto who is Pat and Melinda’s English teacher. The venue was to be Pat and Melinda’s apartment in Minturno for the main course, then we were transferring to Darcy and Gerry’s in Gaeta for the dessert.

Melinda and Darcy were to share in the cooking duties. They had managed to purchase a fresh turkey, which is not so easy to find here in Italy.

The table was beautifully set and there were tempting little things to nibble on as a starter.

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Melinda’s roasted walnuts prepared with rosemary, salt and a dash of paprika. The walnuts were harvested from our own trees at Tre Cancelle.

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Savory Taralli Napolitani with almonds.

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Pat with his big bird.

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Sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

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A very tasty green bean dish.

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Pearl onions in a creamy salad.

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A traditional Wardolf salad.

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What a wonderful spread. Buon appettito !!! Mangia !!!

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Pat, Melinda, Darcy, Gerry, Alberto and Annette.

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Gerry, Alberto, Annette and Sarah

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Pat, Gerry, Darcy, Melinda, Sarah, Annette, Alberto and Paul

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Gerry, Melinda, Darcy, Sarah, Annette, Alberto, Louise and Paul

At Gerry and Darcy’s in Gaeta we enjoyed Pumpkin pie and other traditional desserts.

Thank you so much for inviting us.

It was a wonderful experience and a joy to spend Thanksgiving with you.

Thank you once again.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#Thanksgiving #italy #turkey #PumpkinPie #Minturno #American #Friends

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

238 – Elsie’s Birthday

The day after we got back from our trip to Tuscany and Umbria was Elsie’s birthday, which she usually likes to celebrate with us in Italy.  It was another beautifully warm and sunny day so we all headed for lunch at the Miramare down by Sant’Agostino beach, between Sperlonga and Gaeta.

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The birthday girl Elsie

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Kay

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Laurie

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Lora and La Dolce Vita !

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Lora

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Lora collecting shells

That evening more friends were flying over to stay with us and help celebrate Elsie’s birthday. So that evening we all went for a meal at the Bellavista in Itri.

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Paul, Amanda, Patrizia, Elsie and Andrea

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Patrizia and Elsie

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Andrea and Kay

On evening before Lora and Laurie were due to depart for Rome Pat and Melinda invited us to join them for a meal at a restaurant near Castelforte called Terra di Briganti. This was our first visit to this eating establishment.

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Lora, Melinda, Andrea and Amanda

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Paul, Laurie, Lora and Melinda

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Amanda, Elsie, Kay and Pat

We were impressed by the food served and the prices were quite reasonable. I do believe we will return again one day soon.

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Pat chose a buffalo steak from the menu. He highly recommends it.

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Sadly soon it was time to say goodbye to our American friends Lora and Laurie as they were going to spend a couple of days in Rome before winging their way back to Wisconsin.

A last picture of all us girls together.

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Laurie, Lora, Kay, Andrea, Elsie, Amanda, Louise

We so enjoyed their company and I enjoyed our trips to Herculaneum, Sorrento, Pisa, Cortona and Assisi.   Thank you so much for coming to help celebrate my milestone birthday. I dream of coming to visit you in Wisconsin one day.  Ciao for now !!!

#birthday #italy #Buffalo Steak #SantAgostinoBeach

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

 

234 – Surprise 60th Birthday Celebrations

During Kay and Elsie’s stay, and also while Lora and Laurie were with us at Tre Cancelle it was Elsie’s birthday. We had booked a lunchtime meal at “La Casareccia” to celebrate. Or so I thought. We invited Lora and Laurie, and Pat and Mindy to join us.  As we entered the restaurant we were escorted to our table. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Already gathered around the table were my cousins Mario and Mara from Atina, Elena and Aldo from San Donato. Then there was Florisa, Patrizia from the pharmacy, and Darcy and Gerry from Gaeta, and of course Pat and Melinda.  I was left speechless.

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It seems that Kay and Paul had been secretly organising this surprise for me. My 60th birthday isn’t actually until 19 December, however as Paul and I were unable to get back to the UK over the Christmas period, they had organised this early birthday celebration.

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I was presented with some beautiful flowers,  gifts and Florisa had baked me a cake.

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We all had a lovely meal. We are never disappointed at La Casareccia.

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A huge thank you to all who secretly planned this wonderful surprise gathering.

It’s a memory that I will treasure.

My lovely 3D birthday card from Kay.

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#surprise #birthday #meal #italy #lacasareccia #restaurant #campodimele

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

 

230 – Paul’s Dad and Sister Annie Come and Visit

Paul’s sister decided to take early retirement last year from her job as Head Teacher at her school in Warrington.   She had started teaching at the school over 25 years ago and had progressively worked her way up. Anne was hoping to have more time to relax and unwind after the last stressful years of her job.  She also wanted to be able to spend some more time with Dad Shap in his later years. He still lives in Bristol, and Anne visits him whenever possible.

It was also lovely that she could organise a trip for her and Dad to visit us in Itri, since in the past he has loved to come, but at the age of 87 really finds travelling on his own too much these days. It was lovely for him to be able to catch up with us at Tre Cancelle and meet up with some of our Italian friends who he has come to know well over the years.

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Paul and Dad Shap – photo by Anne Bright

During their visit we had a very pleasant lunch at a little restaurant by the beach called the Miramare, the weather being beautiful at this time of year, sunny but not overbearingly hot as it can be for northern Europeans during the summer.

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Dad, Paul and Louise – photo my Anne Bright

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Dad, Anne and Louise – photo by Anne Bright

Also during their visit we chose to go to one of our favourite eateries – “La Casareccia” in the nearby little town of Campodimele. You may well have read some of my previous posts about this wonderful little gem of a Taverna.

Here we organised to met up with our friends Pat and Melinda and their visitors Bobby, PJ and Luke from the USA, also Pat and David, also from the US – who like Pat and Melinda, have recently purchased a property in Minturno, and finally Karen and Stewart from Nottingham who have a holiday home in Sperlonga.  We were celebrating Melinda’s birthday and Dad and Anne’s visit.

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Stewart, Pat, PJ, Luke, Bobby, Paul, Anne and Dad

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Melinda and Stewart

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PJ and Luke

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Bobby and Anne

Once again we were not to be disappointed by the wonderful spread prepared by Maria the c0-owner and cook of the Casareccia. Plate after plate came our way of truly delectable food.

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Maria, David and Pat

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Stewart and Karen

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Happy Birthday Melinda !!!

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Very seductive pose Ms Melinda !

Here are some photos of a previous visit to “La Casareccia”.

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Pat and David, Melinda and Pat

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Paul, Pat, David and Melinda

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Pat, his brother Mike and sister-in-law Jeanne

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Pat and David

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Highly Recommended !!!

Please note that during the winter months La Casareccia is only open at weekends.

A previous post about La Casareccia

Trattoria La Casareccia in Campodimele

The Casareccia reviewed on TripAdvisor

Bar Trattoria La Casareccia
Stazione di servizio Repsol, 04020 Campodimele, Italy
Tel:  07715980207

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#LaCasareccia #campodimele #italy #Traditional  #typical #ItalianFood #restaurant #trattoria #SouthLazio

Read more about Campodimele The Village of Longevity here

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

216 – Exploring Spaccanapoli – The Historic Centre of Naples

Next on my destination list was Spaccanapoli. This is an ancient district which takes its name from the long narrow street that runs as straight as a die through the historic centre, cutting the city of Naples into two halves.

Spaccanapoli, Naples, Historical Centre, Lanes

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Here is a network of narrow cobbled streets and passageways, arranged in a regular grid system. This neighbourhood contains over 30 churches.

As dusk was about to fall we made our way through the busy streets towards Piazza del Gesù Nuovo. On one side of the square stands the Church and Franciscan Convent of Santa Chiara and its Belltower.

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On the opposite side is the Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo which has an ornate doorway and a rather unusual and imposing facade.

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The spacious interior of the basilica, however, is decorated in an opulent baroque style and contains many noteworthy works of art.

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In the square stands an ornate monument, the Obelisco dell’Immacolata.

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At this point Paul had to go back to our car to buy more parking tickets, so meanwhile I took the opportunity to do some people watching and absorb some of the unique local cultural atmosphere.  Naples has had a long colourful history and has always been a melting pot of different cultures and influences – Greek, French, German, Spanish and  North African.

The square was buzzing as tourists rubbed shoulders with street vendors and locals alike. Cars and vespas beeped, brakes screeched and squealed, music blared, dogs barked, canaries tweeted, people shouted, church bells tolled. Small bands of boisterous young boys kicked footballs between parked cars. Proud parents pushed their babies in rattling buggies. Elegantly dressed ladies tottered over the cobblestones in their stilettos. Courting couples passionately held hands and embraced, students gathered in groups and chatted, teenagers giggled and flirted. A couple of old men argued vociferously whilst madly gesticulating. An old lady in black yelled down from her balcony, which was draped with washing lines, to her neighbour below. Yes the streets were filled with the daily vibrant cacophony of Neapolitan life.

When Paul eventually returned we continued our wander through Spaccanapoli. The streets were lined with many small individual shops with apartments above, standing side by side with bars, cafés and some private houses.

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Interspersed were churches and grand palazzos of a forgotten era, with ornate gateways leading to concealed courtyards.

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Blank walls were liberally adorned with graffiti.

We came across several groups of street musicians as we strolled along.

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There was a myriad of shops selling everything under the sun, crafts, antiques, prints, posters, books, clothes, shoes, ceramics and musical instruments. Naturally there were also retailers selling souvenirs and trinkets.

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The “corno” is an amulet that resembles a red horn or chilli pepper. Superstitious Neapolitans believe it can ward of the “malocchio” or “evil eye”, and protect against bad luck.

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The figure of the “Pulcinella” has become adopted as a symbol of Naples and Southern Italy.  He is one of the clown characters from the “Commedia dell’Arte”, dating back to the 16th century.  The name “Pulcinella” was Anglicised to “Punchinella” who became better known in English as “Mr Punch”.

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The bowler hatted figurines below represent Totò, a celebrated Italian comic actor who was born in Naples. You can also purchase little statuettes of many current celebrities such as the Pope, Berlusconi, famous football players, Batman, Obama, Prince William and his wife Catherine.

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Naples is famous for its pizzas, or course, especially the “Margherita”. There are numerous pizzerias to choose from, some are sit down restaurants, others serve tasty pizzas and snacks to enjoy on the hoof.

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However Naples is also renowned for its ice cream and wonderful cakes and pastries. There are some of the very best “pasticcerie” in Spaccanapoli that have a tempting range of decedent delectable offerings such as: “Sfogliatelle” – a crumbly puff pastry with a filling of sweet ricotta cheese. “Pastiera” –  an orange-flavoured tart made ricotta, eggs and with wheat grains, especially popular at Easter-time. “Babà au Rhum” – a soft spongy cake soaked with syrup and rum.

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There are also many food stores selling meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, and emporiums with an array of other Italian gastronomic delights.

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The street of San Gregorio Armeno is well known for its countless little shops and workshops making and selling  figurines and decorative items to embellish Christmas nativity scenes or “presepi”.  It has become known as “Nativity Alley”.

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Finally we came across a church which had an interesting exhibition of nativity scenes.

Please see our next post – 217 – Exhibition of Neapolitan Nativity Scenes.

* public domain image

** photo CC BY-SA 2.0   by Raffaella – flickr

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

(except where photos have been rightfully accredited to the photographer / owner)

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#trecancelle #naples #napoli #spaccanapoli #italy

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 Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri

 

 

 

 

157 – Gelato from the “Fiocco di Neve”

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

 

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

 

 

 

85 – Buon Anno 2010

Although this is perhaps slightly belated,

we would like to wish you, one and all,

a Very Happy New Year and All The Very Best During 2010.

We had a very enjoyable Christmas with a surprise visit by our eldest son.  On Christmas Day we were all kindly invited to lunch by our friends, Luca and Loredana at her family’s home in Gaeta.

We arrived a little early, so as it was such a beautiful day, we went with Luca to get a coffee at a local bar.

Luca

Then we walked down to Gaeta’s Serapo Beach and strolled on the sands.  The weather was so amazing mild, at around 18 degrees C.

Serapo Beach, Gaeta

The Christmas lunch, Italian style was superb, with so many delicious offerings that we were almost full to bursting.

We had agreed  to provide the dessert.  We decided to try Loredana’s family out on a traditional Christmas Pudding with custard, and some mince tarts that Louise had prepared. (In total Louie had actually made 15 dozen !!! as we wanted to give some as gifts to each of our special friends in Itri.) The pudding seemed to go down well, especially the custard which Loredana particularly loved.

 

Luca and Loredana’s son Lorenzo

 

Loredana with her nieces Elisa and Claudia

Loredana with her sister and parents

Our thanks to all the family who made us feel so very welcome.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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