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

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237 Visit to Assisi

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As we drove through the greenery of the Umbrian countryside we caught our first glimpse of the ancient city of Assisi perched high on a hill.  Once again the weather was being so kind to us as it was a beautiful sunny Autumn day. We drove up the winding road to the town and quickly found a place to park just outside of the historic medieval centre.

The Church and Convent of Santa Chiara.

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We walked through one of the three arched gateways and into the Piazza di Santa Chiara. Santa Chiara was one of the first followers of San Francesco of Assisi, and founded the Poor Sisters, which later became the Order of the Poor Clares.

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After her death in 1254 construction work commenced on the Basilica dedicated to her name, which was to house her remains. It is built of pink and white stone.

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The rose window.

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Detail of the Basilica facade – A carved lion.

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A wonderful lion that guards in the square in front of the cathedral.

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Some views of the town of Assisi from the square.

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We wandered downhill through the narrow streets and alleys which were lined with bars and restaurants, interspersed with interesting little shops selling ceramics, leather bags, books, tradition embroidery, books and local food delicacies. Then there were, of course, the numerous shops selling rosaries, religious trinkets and souvenirs.

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The fountain in Piazza Comune.

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In this square stands the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, which incorporates the well preserved Roman temple of Minerva, the the goddess of wisdom.

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The Town Hall.

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As we continued our way downhill there were so many things of interest to catch one’s eye.

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Eventually we found our way the Basilica of San Francesco.

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Assisi was the birthplace of St Francis in 1181, a humble man who renounced his wealth and possessions in order to devote his life to helping the needy. He also founded the Francescan Order of Friars and became the patron saint of animals, with which he had a great affinity.

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Detail of the facade of the Basilica di San Francesco.

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The construction of this basilica began two years after the death of St Francis in 1226. It is an important place of religious pilgrimage.

The interior is beautifully decorated with colourful frescoes depicting stages of the St Francis’ life. These are the work of some of the best known artists of the late 13th and early 14th centuries, such as Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti.

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In the crypt there is the stone sarcophagus of St. Francis.

“Pace e Bene” is a form of greeting that was used by St Francis and St Clare

meaning Peace and Goodness.

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As we walked back to the car our lovely day was blessed with a beautiful sunset.

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May peace be with you.

All photos except where indicated are by me © Louise Shapcott

 (Note: photos marked with * are in public domain)

#assisi #StFrancesOfAssisi #umbria #italy #basilica #StClare

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

 

236 – Cortona in Tuscany

As darkness fell we headed off from Pisa and on to our next Tuscan destination which was the Medieval town of Cortona in Arezzo. This was to be another long drive, this time in darkness. Finally, as we climbed the hill up to the old town of Cortona the time was approaching 10 pm and we were decidedly weary. We drove right to the top of town where the streets were so narrow and hard to negotiate with the car so we made our way back, a little down hill, to an area where we could stop the car. Lora had made a list of possible hotels, but had not made any reservations, so I headed off again on foot to see if I could find somewhere to lay our weary heads that night.

A local gentleman kindly gave me directions to the Hotel San Michele. I was relieved to find its doors open and a helpful receptionist on duty. I tentatively asked if they had a triple room available for that night. “Is it just for one night”, she enquired.  She confirmed that there was a suitable room available for that one night only and said that we were lucky as the hotel was to close for the winter from the following day. We made our reservation and were escorted to our room which was comfortable and elegantly furnished.

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Once we had stowed our luggage in the room we headed out again on foot in search of something to eat as we were absolutely ravenous. The receptionist recommended a local little restaurant in the centre of town, which we eventually located only to be told that they were just closing. So we continued our quest until we came across a little place called “Nessun Dorma”. We asked if they were still serving, and thankfully the answer was positive and the attentive waiter swiftly lead us down some steps into an old restored cantina which had been transformed into a dining room.  The room was softly lit and had a lovely warm atmosphere and we soon ordered our dishes from the menu. The food and wine were excellent and the staff were very kind and attentive.

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Feeling revived we made our way back towards the hotel. It was Halloween and there were children and youngsters running around the streets in costumes.

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Needless to say it did not take us long to get off to sleep that night.

In the morning in the hotel’s dining room we enjoyed selecting our breakfast from a huge array of delicious food items on offer at the buffet table.

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After breakfast we set off on foot to explore the town.

Cortona was the setting for the book by Frances Mayes and the famous film

“Under The Tuscan Sun”.

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The Town Hall in Piazza della Repubblica.

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The clock and bell tower of the Town Hall.

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Heraldic coats of arms.

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Piazza Luca Signorelli.

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Delicious Autumn produce.

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An obelisk dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi in Piazza Garibaldi.

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View from Piazza Garibaldi.

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View of a misty morning looking out over the Tuscan / Umbrian countryside.

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The church of Santa Maria Nuova.

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Having walked around the town Lora and Laurie were keen to set off to our next port of call that was to be the town of Assisi. Laurie went to fetch the car so that we could load our luggage into it right next to the hotel. Laurie seemed to have been gone for some time.  Lora and I wondered what she was up to.  Eventually she came back to the hotel looking very red and flustered saying  that the car was gone.

Oh no !!! What were we going to do now. Perhaps it had been stolen? Perhaps it had been parked in the wrong place and had been towed away. What a nightmare ! We asked the receptionist at the hotel what we should do. He said we needed to go to the police station and ask if any cars had been towed away. If not we would have to report it as stolen.  So off we strode and finally succeeded in locating the police station. We buzzed the intercom and the door opened to let us in. We trudged up three flight of narrow stairs until we reached the correct floor. A helpful policeman said he would check if any cars had been towed away and after a phone call he said no. So what do we have to do to report a stolen car?  He suggested double checking as perhaps we had forgotten where we had parked the vehicle. Laurie and I set off down hill. It seems there are several steep little alleys that lead down to the lower section of Cortona. As we went through the archway there in front of us was the hire car.  Laurie had mistaken where she had parked it. We laughed and laughed in utter relief.

So onward to Assisi.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#cortona #arezzo #tuscany #italy #Piazza #Garibaldi #UnderATuscanSun #book #film #townhall

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

235 – Flying Visit To Pisa

During their time in Italy our friends Lora and Laurie from Wisconsin had planned to hire a car and drive north into Tuscany. Laurie particularly wanted to visit Pisa to see the leaning tower. They kindly invited me to accompany them on their trip. We departed early in the morning, with Laurie as the driver. The journey took us over 5 hours to get to Pisa, I didn’t realise quite how far away it was.

We arrived around mid afternoon and were able to take a stroll around before dusk. On foot we made our way to the Piazza dei Miracoli and as the square opened up we got our first glimpse of the Leaning Tower in all its glory, beautifully illuminated in the afternoon rays of the sun.

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Work on the marble tower began in 1173 and took almost 200 years to complete. However well before its completion the tower had began to tilt, its foundations having been placed on a layer of soft subsoil that could not withstand the weight of the structure.  Over the centuries the situation continued to deteriorate until in 1990 major works were required to stabilise the building. However it still continues to lean in a rather rakish manner.

The building is in fact the freestanding bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta that stands close by. The structure is cylindrical in form and has eight stories that are decorated with elegant arches. The tower was  built of limestone and lime mortar, and its exterior was faced in white marble.

It is possible to visit the tower if you purchase a ticket, the tours run every 30 minutes. There are almost 300 slippery steps to negotiate to get to the top.  There was a long queue for tickets that afternoon, and as we were short of time we decided to give the tour a miss.

The square in which the Tower, Cathedral and Baptistery stand is named the Piazza dei Miracoli. The Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and its construction commenced in 1063. The exterior is beautifully decorated in white and grey marble.

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Closeby is the ornate Baptistery of San Giovanni, which dates from 1152 and took many years to complete.

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Lora sitting by the beautiful Baroque “Fontana dei Putti”or Fountain of Angels in the square.

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As time was short we began to retrace our steps to the car, however I managed to capture a few photos of interest along the way.

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Our next destination was Cortona in Tuscany.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#tower #pisa #piazza dei miracoli #cathedral #italy #fountain

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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

226 – Part 9 – Exploring Barry Island and the Glamorgan Heritage Coast / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

One calm evening we took a stroll along the beach at Barry Island.

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Once upon a time Barry was a quiet little rural backwater with an island situated just off shore.  However all this was to suddenly change during the industrial revolution.

Tons of coal were being mined in the South Wales Valleys, and the docks that had been built by the Marquess of Bute in Cardiff were soon found to be struggling to keep up with the amount of coal being produced.

Some of the mine owners, including a wealthy businessman named David Davies, the owner of  the Ocean Collieries company, got their heads together and came up with an ambitious plan to build a new dock in Barry, to rival that of Cardiff. Work on the first new dock at Barry began in 1884 and was completed in 1889. In the first year of trade alone, one million tons of coal was shipped.  More dock basins were subsequently added to accommodate yet more ships, until by 1913 Barry had become the largest coal exporting port in the world.

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 The flourishing town of Barry had expanded rapidly and the island was by now connected to the mainland by a causeway.

Not only did the railway transport coal, but it also brought miners and their families for day trips to the sea and consequently Barry developed into a seaside resort. In the 1930’s the miners were allowed time off work during the last week in July and the first week in August. During this, Barry’s hey day, thousands of miners’ families would flock to the beach during the “Miners Fortnight”.

Yet with the decline in the trade of coal and the eventual closing of the mines the docks and holiday resort suffered badly and the town fell into a deep depression.

In recent years Welsh government money had been reinvested into the town and the resort has seen something of a revival. The pleasure park has been taken under new ownership. The popular  BBC comedy television series “Gavin and Stacey” also helped to promote the town.

Whitmore Bay has a wide sandy beach which stretches between two rocky headlands, Nell’s Point to the east and Friars Point to the west. Around the corner of Nell’s Point is a second sandy beach named  Jackson’s Bay.

You can see right across the Bristol Channel to the coast of Somerset and Devon and the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm. The Bristol channel has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world which can reach in excess of 15 metres.

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The promenade with its brightly coloured beach huts.

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Barry Island’s new climbing wall.

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Aneurin loved the beach and of course he promised not to get wet.

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Whoops !!! Boys will be boys !!!

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Marco’s Café.

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A “Barrybados” sunset.

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The following day we set off to explore some more of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. We were heading for Southerndown.  On our way we stopped off in the village of Ogmore where there is a beautiful ruined Norman castle dating from 1106.

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Legend has it that the castle is haunted by a Woman in White who is protecting her buried treasure.

Alongside the castle runs a tidal river that leads to the estuary.

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There is a series of stepping stones where the river can be traversed on foot at low tide.

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Nearby is a farm and stables where you can hire a horse to ride. Groups of riders can be seen gently trotting through the river and heading on down towards the estuary and the sandy dunes of Merthyr Mawr.

We continued our drive passing through Ogmore-by-Sea, then the village of Southerndown and on to Dunraven Bay.  This is my favourite spot along this stretch of Welsh coastline. When we arrived the tide was out.  This is the perfect time to explore the exposed rocks and rock pools which are full of molluscs and sea anemones.

The pebbly foreshore, then the rocks and sandy beach beyond.

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Nonna and Aneurin exploring.

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The sedimentary rocks contain many fossils.

In years gone by, during storms along this stretch of rocky coastline, men known as wreckers would lure unsuspecting ships in the direction of the dangerous shoreline with lights and cause them to flounder so that their cargoes could be plundered.

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Nearby are the ruins of Dunraven Castle, an old demolished mansion. You can walk around the beautifully planted walled gardens and enjoy the magnificent views of the Heritage Coast.  You can also visit  the Heritage Coast Centre at Dunraven. This is where we chose to stop and have our picnic lunch.

A lovely old thatched cottage at Dunraven Bay.

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We then drove further along the coast to take a quick look at another local seaside resort named Porthcawl.

The pavillion and town beach.

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Here there were yet more rock pools for Aneurin to explore.

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*photos by Melinda Abbott

#public domain photos

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#barryisland #wales #ogmorecastle #dunravenbay #southerndown #valeofglamorgan #barry #porthcawl #beach

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

225 – Part 8 – Aneurin with All Creatures Great and Small / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

For most of the second week of our holiday, we had my 5 year old grandson come and stay with us at the cottage. He is full of beans and endless questions, but is just adorable and I love him to bits !!!

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Melinda and Aneurin also seemed to bond very well.  We played lots of games, did jigsaws and read lots of books.

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Aneurin even made some Shaun the Sheep cakes.  Delicious !!!

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In front of our cottage was a gated gravel yard which was perfect for playing football and letting off steam.  All good wholesome fun !!!

The cottage was on a large 260 acre working farm  which breeds beef and sheep. The farmer kindly allowed Aneurin to sit in his tractor.

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Each day of our stay we tried to get out and about and on one occasion we visited another local farm in the rural Vale of Glamorgan.  Warren Mill Farm is a little off the beaten track down country lanes, but well signposted. They keep quite a selection of animals on site all of which seem very tame and enjoy being petted and fed.

I think I am really getting into chickens !!! I’d love to keep some. I just didn’t realise how many diverse breeds there are.

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As well as free-range chickens, there were also some burrowing prairie dogs running free. They are curious little creatures and were really interesting to watch.

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We purchased buy small paper bags of food for the animals.

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A rare breed of sheep.

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Some llamas and alpacas.

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Ouch !!! Watch those fingers !!!

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Miniature ponies and donkeys.

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Water Buffalo – We are used to these in Italy as they produce milk for making delicious mozzarella cheese. They seem to be quite docile animals.

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Some very hairy pigs.

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One of the most beautiful pigs I have ever seen !!!

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The farm also has a coarse fishing lake.  There is a picnic area with a stall selling snacks and cups of tea, and an area where children can play and ride various toy tractors and diggers.

The ground was a bit of a quagmire due to long spells of heavy rain but it didn’t seem to phase Aneurin !!! The muddier the better !!!

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Another day we chose to visit the Welsh Hawking Centre which is situated close to Barry.

This is a small family run business, which keeps a wide range of birds of prey, ranging from small hawks to super sized owls, eagles and vultures.  In fact it contains the largest collection of raptors in Wales. Some of the birds are endangered species and the centre breeds them and hand rears the young chicks. It has earned a worldwide reputation in this field.  These magnificent birds are so photogenic. Here are some beautiful falcons ……

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Buzz is a magnificent European Eagle Owl. It is one of the largest species of owl and has distinctive ear tufts.

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Falconry was once the traditional sport of kings. An expert handler gives displays of this ancient art in an open field. Here he is using meat on a lure to exercise the falcon and encourage it to acrobatically swoop and dive to catch the food.

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A Barn Owl – Such a beautiful bird when seen up close.

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The handler asked for volunteers to handle the bird. Aneurin put his hand up straight away !!!

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Aneurin wearing a gauntlet to protect his hand.

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Well done Aneurin !!!

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This was a great morning’s visit – Highly recommended – Ideal for both adults and children alike.

 * photos by Melinda Abbott

All other photos, except where indicated, by me © Louise Shapcott

#valeofglamorgan #bonvilston #wales #warrenmillfarm #welshhawkingcentre

#glamorgan #farm #hawks #owls

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

224 – Part 7 -Visiting St Fagans in Cardiff / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

St Fagan’s National History Museum  also known as the Museum of Welsh Life is located just outside of Cardiff to the west of the City.  It is set in the 100 acre grounds of St Fagan’s Castle, an Elizabethan manor house dating from the 16th century.

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It is mainly an open air museum which seeks to preserve traditional historic rural buildings. The museum has over forty such buildings which have been dismantled with great care from their original sites in various parts of Wales, and have been reconstructed stone by stone, brick by brick  within St Fagan’s village.  Each building has then been meticulously decorated and  furnished to show how people lived during certain eras in rural Wales.

Kennixton is a typical farmhouse from Llangennith, the Gower in South Wales, dating from 1610.

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Inside it is furnished with items from the 18th century.

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A conical pigsty

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Melin Bompren Cornmill built in 1853 from Cross Inn, New Quay, Ceredigion (Cardiganshire).

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Hendre’r-ywydd Uchaf Farmhouse built in 1508 from Llangynhafal, Clwyd (Denbighshire).

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Abernodwydd Farmhouse – A timber-framed thatched farmhouse, built in 1678, from Llangadfan, Powys (Montgomeryshire)

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Garreg Fawr Farmhouse was built in 1544 from Waunfawr, Gwynedd (Caernarfonshire).

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A Tollhouse built in 1771 from Aberystwyth that stood on a private or turnpike road.

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Six terraced houses named Rhyd-y-car – dating from 1795, built to accommodate iron ore miners. These have been furnished in the style of various eras: 1805, 1855, 1895, 1925, 1955 and 1985.

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A Cockpit, dating from the 17th century, from the Hawk and Buckle Inn, Denbigh.

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A tiny two-roomed building, built of brick in 1936, it is said to have been the smallest free-standing post office in Wales. From Blaen-waun, Whitland, Carmarthenshire.

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A small country school from Maestir, Lampeter, Ceredigion (Cardiganshire). Built in 1880.

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St Teilo’s Church dates from the late 12th century and came from Llandeilo Tal-y-bont, Glamorgan. The interior is decorated with replica medieval paintings.

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Oakdale Workmen’s Institute from Oakdale, Gwent (Monmouthshire)

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Derwin Bakehouse from Aberystwyth. You can buy freshly baked bread here and scones.

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Gwalia Stores from Ogmore Vale, Glamorgan.

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There is also a traditional fairground, which my little grandson Aneurin enjoyed very much.

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Llwyn-yr –Eos is an example of a small working Farm with typical Welsh breeds of livestock. It was lambing season !!! Below are some newborn lambs.

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There are woodland paths to follow and a hide for birdwatching.

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St Fagan’s Elizabethan Manor House and its ornamental gardens and lake. As it was early springtime there were many daffodils in flower.

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Aneurin particularly enjoyed watching the ducks as they dived and dabbled.

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St Fagans is a wonderful place to visit and is suitable for all ages.  There is so much to explore, you could never see it all in just one day. The best thing of all is that entrance is entirely free and parking is just £5 per day. Highly recommended !!!

 * photos by Melinda Abbott

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#stfagans #stfagan’s #cardiff #glamorgan #museum #museumofwelshlife #nationalhistorymuseum #wales

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

 

223 – Part 6 – Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

Our week’s stay at our cottage in Itton sadly came to an end, so soon it was time to move on to our second destination, another holiday cottage on a working farm. Redland Farm is near the village of Bonvilston in the Vale of Glamorgan, situated to the west of Cardiff and just a short drive from the city. The friendly owner warmly greeted us and made us feel very welcome.

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On our first full day in Glamorgan I decided to show Melinda around Cardiff, one of my favourite cities. It was a chilly day with a biting cold wind. We drove into town and parked up at Sophia Gardens, one of Cardiff’s large public parks which is located close to Cardiff Castle. This park takes its name from Lady Sophia, who was the second wife of the 2nd Marquess of Bute.  The Millenium footbridge traverses the River Taff into Bute Park.

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A little history …

The Stewarts / Stuarts were an aristocratic family of Anglo / Norman origin who settled in Scotland in the 11th century. Over the course of many years they took over large estates in the South Wales area. In 1794 John Stuart was awarded the title of the 1st Marquess of Bute. He owned Cardiff Castle and considerable areas of surrounding landscaped parkland. When he died in 1814 the title passed to his son John Crichton-Stuart, who became the 2nd Marquess of Bute.  He became known as “the founder of modern Cardiff” as he brought prosperity to the area by setting up coal and iron mining industries in the South Wales valleys, and by building Cardiff’s extensive docks for the shipping of coal.  In its heyday Cardiff was the largest exporter of coal in the world. In 1913 alone approximately 10.7 million tons of coal were exported from this port.

The 2nd Marquess of Bute also set about restoring and refashioning Cardiff Castle into a grand mansion. The 3rd Marquess of Bute and his architect William Burges continued this work with extravagant plans to transform the building into a lavishly decorated “fairytale castle” of eclectic neo gothic styles.

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Melinda and I walked past the “Animal Wall” which was erected in front of the castle in 1890.

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The castle’s elaborate clock tower.

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We peeked though the gateway to see the Norman stone keep which was built on the site of a Roman fort.

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Across the road Melinda had a browse in one of the Welsh souvenir shops.

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There was a wonderful display of intricately hand carved Lovespoons and an array of other Welsh woolly delights !!!

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We then took a wander through of one of Cardiff’s several old shopping arcades which include the High Street Arcade, the Royal Arcade,  the Wyndham Arcade, the  Morgan Arcade and  Duke Street Arcade. The Castle Arcade was opened in 1887 and contains many small cafés, bistros, shops and boutiques.

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An array of tasty cheeses at Madame Fromage.

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St John the Baptist Church offers an oasis of calm in the heart of the bustling city centre.

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The church runs a little tea shop where Melinda and I treated ourselves to a reviving cuppa and a tasty bite to eat.

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Closeby in the Hayes is the Old Library which is now the home to the Cardiff Story Museum which is dedicated to the history of the city and contains many interesting interactive exhibits.

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Across from St John’s is the entrance to Cardiff’s undercover market.

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The Central Market opened in 1891 and even today there are numerous stalls selling all varieties of fresh produce, cooked food, local and foreign delicacies, fruit, vegetables, flowers and other goods.

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Melinda is something of a beer aficionado and was keen to try some of the local brews. Brains Brewery was founded in Cardiff in 1882 and its beer is one of the best known in Wales. Melinda delighted in sampling several varieties.

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We finished off our little tour of Cardiff city centre with some therapeutic shopping of course !!! No trip to Cardiff is complete without visiting some of the large shopping malls and central shopping areas.

You can read more about Cardiff and see more of my photos of this vibrant city here at one of my former blog entries:  140 – Cardiff – “The Land of My Fathers”.

* photos by Melinda Abbott

#  public domain photos

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#cardiff #city

#glamorgan #wales #castle #welsh #lovespoons #welshcakes #market

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

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