239 – November in Sperlonga

When friends come and visit we usually take them for a little run in the car to show them around our local area of South Lazio.

In November our friend Annette and her friend Sarah came to stay with us at Tre Cancelle for a few days.

The girls at the Cafe Centrale in Itri – Hot chocolate so thick you need a spoon.

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The weather was still calm and very mild, so we of course took them for a snack lunch to the Miramare at Sant’Agostino beach.

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Sarah and Annette

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Sarah, Paul and Annette

Then on to Sperlonga which can be very beautiful at this time of year.

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The Torre Truglia.

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The harbour.

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Sarah and Annette

View of Sperlonga’s Ponente Beach.

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View of Levante Beach.

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The Grotto of Emperor Tiberius.

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A square in the old historic centre.

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Wandering through Sperlonga’s maze of little alleyways. There is something to see around every corner.

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A wedding in Sperlonga.

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Sperlonga sunsets.

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Sunset over San Felice Circeo.

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Come Discover Beautiful Sperlonga !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#sperlonga #italy #SouthLazio #beaches #

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri

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

 

232 – Fire

It had been a long hot and dry summer. I always keep alert and if I think I can smell smoke I immediately check it out by going outside and having a sniff around. This time we could see a plume of smoke rising over the mountain, Monte Marano, that sits behind Tre Cancelle. Paul always contacts the Vigili Forestale to ensure that they are aware of the fire and its exact position.

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The Vigili soon sent our two Canadair water-bombing planes and one helicopter. It is common to see and hear them during the summer months.  We are very fortunate that we live near to some large lakes in Fondi and this is where the yellow amphibious planes skilfully dive down and scoop up water into their bellies, and where the helicopters can hover and fill their buckets.

In some cases the planes fly over the sea and scoop up water there, however as this water is salty it is not good for putting fires out in olive groves as it can damage the vegetation.

Soon we could hear the familiar drone of their engines as they got to work on halting the path of the fire and extinguishing the hungry flames. These are amazing pilots who are so skilful at manoeuvering and diving down close to the site of the fire. It quite a spectacle to watch.

I managed to get a few good shots that I thought I would share here.

Thanks once again to these brave pilots who work so hard to keep us safe from fire.

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All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#fire #wildfires #canadair #plane #airplane #itri #italy

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

227 – Visit to Pastena

At the end of April we welcomed two lovely ladies, Lissa and Debra, from the USA.  This was to be their first trip to this area of Italy and Lissa was keen to visit her ancestral home of her family, namely Pastena.  Pastena is a small but picturesque medieval village which is in the province of Frosinone and belongs to the ancient region of Ciociaria.

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As Lissa and Debra didn’t have a car we offered to drive them to Pastena, which is along an interesting route, passing through Fondi and then heading inland towards Lenola and beyond. Finally we reached the verdant plain of Pastena surrounded by  hills and mountains. Here the soil is rich and fertile thus agriculture has always been the mainstay of the economy in these parts.

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As we approached Pastena we saw a hill which at its peak has modern sculptures representing the patron saints of the town, Sant’Elena and San Sinforo.

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Lissa first wanted to call in at Pastena’s Register Office or Anagrafe in the Town Hall.

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We were received by the registrar who seemed to be rather flustered and busy, and he insisted that he did not have time to look through the records to try and find out more about Lissa’s ancestors. However he did take details from her and promised to look for them during the next few days.  Feeling slightly deflated we went for a stroll around the old town.

Close to the Town Hall is a museum – “Il Museo della Civiltà Contadina e dell’Ulivo” or Museum of Country Life and Olive Cultivation.This is  housed in a palazzo which was once the home and an ancient olive m of the Trani family.  Among the interesting exhibits are the original old mill-stone and press, tools related to olive farming, tilling the soil, animal husbandry, wine making, cheese making, basket making, spinning and weaving of linen.  Also there are examples of traditional clothes, musical instruments and general domestic items of everyday Pastena life in times gone by.

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Lissa also wanted the visit Pastena’s cemetery which was situated a little way out of town. She was hoping to find some of her ancestors’ graves.

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We went back into Pastena to wander through the characteristic Medieval centre. At the highest point of the village is the main square and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. On the facade are two niches which house images of the patron saints of the town.

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We noticed that there were festive lights mounted throughout the town. We learned that the following day was the Feast of “Il Maggio” or “la Festa del’Albero della Cuccagna” -a festival to celebrate the coming of Spring.  We soon made plans to return the following day, with our friends Pat and Melinda, to see the celebrations for ourselves.

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On the 15th April the local men go out into the woods to choose the best tall straight cypress tree. Once this has been selected a cross is carved out of the bark mark it.  At sunrise on the morning of 30th April many of the local men folk will gather around the chosen tree for a traditional ceremony where the parish priest recites prayers.  The master of ceremonies takes the axe and makes the first cuts into the tree, in the presence of the calf, with each of the participants taking their turn to wield the axe. The actual felling of the tree is marked by gun shots and a drum roll. The tree is then cleaned of the bark and branches etc.

There follows a ritual “funeral” procession for “the tree of sacrifice” that has been taken from the “sacred forest”.  Slowly but surely it is hauled up to the village with the help of a numerous pairs of strong oxen, lead by the sacred calf.

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During the long procession loud firework were periodically set off, and  unnervingly groups of hunters shot rounds from their rifles and shotguns into the air.

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We then walked uphill back towards the town. As we entered the square in front of the town hall we were spotted by the register who eagerly tried to flag us down.  He told Lissa he had looked in the registers and had found several more generations of Lissa’s family. He lead us into his office where he handed over the paperwork.  Lissa was happy and we were so pleased for her.  We took a photo of the Registrar, Lissa and Debra to remember this very special day.

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Debra and Lissa

A little more about the “Il Maggio” festivities ….

On the 1st May the tree is cleaned in the main square, in front of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.  The top of the tall tree trunk is adorned with May flowers of broom.  A hole is prepared and then the men work together using ropes to gradually winch the tree trunk into an upright position.

On the 3rd May, on the feast day of the Santissima Santa Croce, when the statue of Sant’ Elena on her throne is taken from the church and carried around all the districts of the town followed by a solemn procession.

Typically the womenfolk  have previously prepared a type of sweet bread / doughnut in the shape of a decorated ring called a Ciambellone, these are carried during the procession as a symbol of religious devotion.  The procession is accompanied by ceremonial gunfire.

Later in the day the tree trunk is raised into position in the main square, having been covered in grease. This is known as the “albero della cuccagna”. Then there is a competition amongst the young men of the village, when they attempt to scale the slippery pole. At the top there are prizes for the successful climbers. In the evening there are more celebrations of musical entertainment and fireworks.

The tree trunk remains in place in the square until September, when it is cut down and distributed as firewood to the local inhabitants of Pastena.

All  photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#pastena #festival #ilmaggio #familyhistory #spring #italy

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

172 – Our Little Birthday Boy

We really enjoyed that a certain little boy, our grandson Aneurin, was able to celebrate his 3rd birthday with us in Italy this year. 

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In the evening we drove up to see our friends at the Bellavista Restaurant in Itri for pizzas.  Aneurin met up with Chiara once again. 

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You may remember that they first met last year –

on Aneurin’s first visit to Italy

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Ice-cream Cake from the Fiocco di Neve in Itri.

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Happy Birthday Aneurin

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All photos by me  Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)

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

144 – Tre Cancelle Swimming Pool Update

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.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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