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.


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.


Sarah and Annette


Sarah, Paul and Annette

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


The Torre Truglia.


The harbour.



Sarah and Annette

View of Sperlonga’s Ponente Beach.



View of Levante Beach.



The Grotto of Emperor Tiberius.



A square in the old historic centre.


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








A wedding in Sperlonga.




Sperlonga sunsets.


Sunset over San Felice Circeo.


Come Discover Beautiful Sperlonga !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#sperlonga #italy #SouthLazio #beaches #



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri


70 – Nostri Nipotini

During July we really enjoyed our two grandsons’ visit to “Tre Cancelle”,

accompanied by their Mum Vicki and her partner Alex. 

Jamie and Tommy are both very bright sparks and growing up so fast, and have done very well this year at school.

They always enjoy their trips to Italy and are picking up a little of the Italian language.  They came laden with lots of doggie treats for the “Woof-Gang”. 


The boys particularly enjoyed :

Several trips to the wonderful sandy beaches


Tucking in to the local cuisine



Hunting in rock pools for crabs and octupus


Playing in the Park in Itri



The slides and swimming pool at Itri Aquapark




And best of all ……….

Sampling all the ice-creams !!!



Positively Scrumptious !!!


xxxxxxxxxxxxx  We miss you !!!  xxxxxxxxxxxxx


69 – The Ancient Roman Coast Road – La Via Flacca

During July, while our friend Peter from the UK was staying with us Paul was surprised to find out that Itri has a beach !!! 

Our Free-Climbing friend, Michael, who is also a keen naturalist and a font of local knowledge, one evening asked if we would like to go for a short gentle walk along the Antica Via Flacca. 


The modern Via Flacca runs all along the coast between Terracina and Formia, the stretch between Sperlonga and Gaeta uses a series of tunnels, cut through the rocky cliffs as they fall sharply to the sea.  There also existed a coast road back in Roman times, to connect the various beautiful natural secluded beaches, sections of which still exist today. 

We parked the car at the end of Sant’Agostino Beach and walked alongside the current Via Flacca into the first tunnel.  About 50 metres into the tunnel we passed through a small gate which lead us out onto the start of the Roman roadway.  This hugs the side of the cliffs and is still supported on the sea side by sections of Roman wall.




At first the going was quite level and as we reached the open road between the first and second tunnels we could look down to the two Itri beaches which have pebbles and shingle, rather than the more common golden sand, and is where the comune of Itri stretches down to the sea.




Just as the modern roadway disappears into the second tunnel, the ancient pathway rose somewhat more steeply as it followed the contours of the hillside. It seemed that it would be soon become impossible to climb over the next cliff top without doing some rock climbing. 

It was on this section of path that Michael, who was leading the way, nearly walked straight into a spider’s web that spanned the complete pathway, and must have been in excess of one metre in diameter.  This “guardian of the path” was the most amazing spider we had ever seen, and if anybody can tell us what it is called we would be delighted to find out.


After carefully making our way past the web, and as we came around a bend in the path it become clear that, much to the relief of the two more senior members of the party, that there is a cave through which you can pass easily and thus no climbing would be required to continue onwards.  This was indeed a big relief as the promised short walk had already turned out to be a bit of a hike and old legs were getting a tad weary.


As we walked through the cave the sun was setting providing beautiful views. 


From here we had to retrace our steps as the ancient pathway had become dangerously eroded in part and although there were certain mutterings and grumblings about the distance we had come, and therefore had to return, by the time we had got back to the car the party unanimously agreed that the trek had been well worthwhile.


66 – Itri – Feast of La Madonna Della Cività – Part One

La Madonna della Cività,

is the patron of Itri, whose annual feast day falls on July 21st


Three kilometres inland from Itri passing through the Valle d’Itri, you come to Monte Cività, a place once devoted to the Roman God Mercury.  Here, perched on high is the Sanctuary dedicated to “La Madonna della Cività”.


This houses the sacred painting of the Madonna and Child, which is said to have been painted by the St Luke the Evangelist, and to date back to the 8th century when the Byzantine Emperor Leo III ordered religious persecutions and outlawed sacred images.  Legend  says that this work of art was found by a young mute herdsman who was searching for a missing cow on the mountainside.  On discovering the painting in the branches of a holm oak tree, the boy fell to his knees and prayed, and miraculously was able to hear and speak for the first time in his life. He went back to the town of Itri to tell people what had happened and the townsfolk were amazed to witness that the boy could now communicate.  

So, in July people from all over South Lazio come to make a sacred pilgrimage on foot to the Sanctuary.  Up here the mountain air is clean and fresh, and on a clear day the panoramic vistas are simply breathtaking.  In one direction, there are views of dramatic mountain scenery, in another a splendid view of the Gulf of Gaeta, Ischia and the Pontine Islands, and finally the panoramic coastline sweeping round and culminating in the rocky promontory of San Felice Circeo


In Itri itself, there are 3 days of local festivities, which include various religious processions.  This was the first year that we have been able to witness the proceedings for ourselves.  


The silver statue of the Madonna and Child, both bearing golden crowns adorned with precious stones, normally resides in a secure glass side chapel of the Church of  Santa Maria Maggiore.  During the feast days this is transported on a golden throne throughout the streets of the town.  Periodically the procession paused when suddenly there was a continuous five minute barrage of reverberating fireworks, in the form of huge rockets which soared into the sky emitting sparks, smoke and thunderous explosions and showers of paper confetti which rained down onto the streets below.


 Also see :

Feast of La Madonna Della Cività – Part Two

Feast of La Madonna Della Cività – Part Three


39 – Need Something To Look Forward To ?

Brrrrrrrrrrrr !!!

The weather back in the UK sounds atrocious !!!  

Here in Itri, this year, we have yet to experience a frost !!!

Today was mild and sunny so we have been working outside.  

It was lovely to feel the sun on our back, and hear the birds joyfully twittering.

Spring is on the way !!!

If any of you are fed up with the cold and the snow,

why not think of planning a little break in Italy,

something to look forward to?

The Spring is a lovely time to visit ” TRE  CANCELLE ” and Italy in general


Set amidst the greenery of our own olive groves,

in the heart of the Italian countryside. 

An  excellent  base  for  exploring  this  beautiful, region of South Lazio.

Close to many lovely Golden Sandy Beaches on the Riviera Di Ulisse 

and  seaside resorts of 

Sperlonga / Gaeta / Formia / Terracina / San Felice Circeo

Rocky coves, hidden caves and sheltered harbours.

Sparkling, clear waters awarded the prestigious

European Blue Flag for several years. 



Yet close by are the dramatic mountains of the Aurunci Regional Park,

with its verdant hillsides, olive groves, lakes and protected nature reserves.

 Easy day trips to Rome / Naples / Caserta / Montecassino / Anzio / Ponza

 Nearest Airports: 

Rome Ciampino / Rome Fiumicino / Naples Capodichino

 We are on hand to ensure you have a most enjoyable holiday.  


 We have decided to reduce our “Out of Season” prices.

REVISED PRICES – per apartment, per week (7 nights) during Period :

2 Feb 2009 to 3 April 2009 … was 425 euros    Now 395 euros

(including heating via Wood-Burning Stove – wood provided)

4 April 2009 to 1 May 2009 … was 450 euros   Now 425 euros

2 May to 3 July 2009 …  was 550 euros    Now 500 euros

4 July to 17 July 2009 … 550 euros

18 July to 28 August 2009 …  630  euros

29 Aug to 2 Oct 2009 …  was 550 euros   Now  500 euros

3 Oct to 6 Nov 2009 … was 475 euros   Now 425  euros

See our website for full details: 



We also have a selection of other Holiday Villas available in this area:


Please do contact us for more details


26 – Louise’s Photos

If you look at the top left-hand corner of this page you will see

“Flickr Photos”

If you click in the box More Photos here you can see all

Louise’s photos of this area of South Lazio

that we have uploaded onto the Flickr site.

Recently Louise has been asked permission for some of her photos to be used in an internet article on the “San Pellegrino” (mineral water) website.

You can see it here:  www.sanpellegrino.com

The article is entitled

“The Colours of Sperlonga, a Jewel of the Mediterranean”

by Michela Franzini.

It begins:

Still relatively unknown, this lively seaside village in Southern Italy features history and nature – A labyrinth of narrow lanes…  (click were it says “Read more” to see the article in full and all the photos).



25 – La Grotta di Tiberio / Grotto of Tiberius

Levante Beach, Sperlonga

Levante Beach, Sperlonga

During Dad’s October visit, making the most of the autumn sunshine, we  drove down the winding road en route for  Sperlonga

This is a fashionable little seaside resort, extremely popular with well-heeled Italian visitors from the city of Rome.  It gets particularly busy during the month of August, or on sunny summer weekends, when Italians flock to the seaside to escape the city heat, however, out of season it reverts to a sleepy little coastal village.  

The Cave and Headland

The Cave and Headland

Sperlonga’s original name Spelunca, was derived from the Latin word “speluncae”, meaning natural sea caves or grottoes, many of which are to be found all along this shoreline. 

The Grotta di Tiberio can be found at the far end of the beautiful sandy Levante  Beach. The rocky headland is part of a World Wildlife Fund Nature / Marine Reserve, so here the waters are crystal clear and have been awarded the prestigious European Blue Flag for several years running.  

The Emperor Tiberius was among the prosperous Romans known to frequent villas in the Sperlonga area.   One lavish villa, at the far base of Monte Ciannito, included several natural caves within its design. One such cave was transformed into an ornately decorated banqueting hall, where it is documented that Tiberius dined with guests on an artificial island surrounded by a ornamental, sea water pool, stocked with fish. It is said that the various courses were served on little boats that were floated across the lake to the grand emperor’s table.   On one occasion Tiberius narrowly escaped death when rocks fell from the ceiling, killing several of the guests.

Excavated Roman Remains
Excavated Roman Remains

The remains of these Roman dwellings lay buried for centuries, and were only unearthed during the construction of the new coastal road, the Via Flacca, during the 1950’s.  Fragments were discovered of huge marble statues which once adorned the mouth of the cave. 

These sculptures depicted mythological Greek scenes from Homer’s “Adventures of Odysseus” , such as the “Blinding of The Cyclops Polyphemus”,  “Scylla’s Attack on  Ship of Ulysses”, “The Theft of The Palladium” and “Odysseus Lifting Achilles’s Corpse”.

We visited Sperlonga’s Museo Archeologico Nazionale, which now houses many Roman artefacts and treasures, and some of the amazing sculptures that have been painstakingly reconstructed. I found the colossal Cyclops statue absolutely awe inspiring.

La Grotta di Tiberio

La Grotta di Tiberio


We then made our way down the path leading towards the actual Grotto, passing many excavated Roman structures. Only a small section of this Roman township can be seen today, the remainder still lies undisturbed beneath the earth and sand dunes. 

We were fortunate to have the cave to ourselves, and I felt something of its magical atmosphere, as I envisioned it in all its Roman glory.  It is well worth a visit.

To visit the Museum take the coast road, the Via Flacca, that runs from Sperlonga towards Gaeta. Before reaching the first road tunnel, and immediately before the Museum, turn right and follow the track that runs next to the museum railings. On the right hand side there is a small car park, where parking is free for most of the year and cheap even at peak periods.  From here you can also walk down to the beach.

Follow this link for more information about Sperlonga 



15 – Making New Friends During July and August

* photo by The Punch Pizza

* photo by The Punch Pizza

Although we were so very busy during July and August, we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know so many of our friendly guests.  Some evenings we organised BBQ’s or Pizza/Wine Tasting evenings which went down very well, even if there were sometimes a few sore heads on the mornings after.


We are planning to have our own wood-fired Pizza Oven built by next year, so that guests can have a go at making and cooking their own pizzas.  Should be fun !!!

We were particularly gratified that all our guests seemed to enjoy their stay here at “Tre Cancelle” and enjoyed exploring the local area.  We very much look forward to keeping in contact and continuing many of these new found friendships. 

The numerous local beaches, although somewhat busy in the peak season,  were still very popular with families, offering plenty of golden sunshine, sandy beaches and crystal clear, temperate waters. All our British guests commented on how good it was to get away from the rain and gloom of the UK’s disappointing summer.

Aqua Park, Itri

Aqua Park, Itri (photo by P. Seabright)

Also, interestingly, Itri’s Aqua Park outdoor swimming centre also proved to be a special attraction for families, with its large pool surrounded by a sun terrace with beds and parasols to hire. The pool slopes from shallow to deep with diving boards. At the shallower end offers there are slides for the younger children and 3 water flumes (with speeds ranging from slow, medium and  fast).  It is said that there are  “Views are to die for” and the restaurant serves light lunches and tasty afternoon snacks. Also the terrace on the lower level below the pool has attractive covered picnic areas and also a children’s play area. 

* photo by The Punch Pizza




10 – Our Darling Grandsons Visit


Jamie and Tommy
Jamie and Tommy

We arrived back at “Tre Cancelle” to discover that the weather in Italy had turned very warm indeed, with temperatures in the high 30’s.  Scorchio !!!  Our friends Pauline and Filippo had done a wonderful job of looking after the dogs during our absence.  The hounds were, as you can imagine, very pleased to see us back.  We set about catching up with things and preparing for the arrival of Vicki and our 2 darling grandsons.  


The little ones (now not so little) had grown so much and are developing well.  Jamie, aged 6, is very inquisitive and incredibly  interested in numbers and computers.  Tommy, aged 5, is more sporty and especially good at ball games, being remarkably co-ordinated for his age. 

We took the boys down to the beach most days, the sand was so hot that it scorched the tender soles of our feet.  During that week the boys learned to swim and hold their breath under water, they were just  like little water babies or pescellini “little  fishes”.

Of course the boys loved playing with all the dogs and helped us to bath all 9 of them. Yet, too soon their holiday was over and on the morning of their departure, as we drove out of the driveway, Tommy burst into tears holding his head in his hands, sobbing uncontrollably  at the thought of having to leave dear old Barney behind.   

After they had gone the house at “Tre Cancelle” seemed far too quiet, however our next set of visitors were soon to arrive, so once again there was plenty to keep us busy.