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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. 

Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

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.

Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

Bonfire Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

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.

Bonfire Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy


Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

Firewood Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

Dog Max Olive Grove Itri Italy

Max Olive Grove Itri Italy

Sunset in Olive Grove Itri Italy

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.

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

Once again Maria served up copious amounts of wonderful handmade delicacies.

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

Callum is a keen young cook and whilst staying at Tre Cancelle he made a fabulous chocolate cake.

Chocolate Cake Tre Cancelle

Chocolate Cake Tre Cancelle

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 !!!

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

It’s not as easy as it looks !!!  It is all about stretching the dough.

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Callum made a special pizza for his mum ……

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Making Pizza at Bellavista Restaurant Itri Latina Italy

Pizza at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Latina Italy

Bellavista Restaurant Itri Latina Italy

Bellavista Restaurant Itri Latina Italy

Bellavista Restaurant Itri Latina ItalyNicki, Anna and Kay

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


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

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






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. 


You may remember that they first met last year –

on Aneurin’s first visit to Italy




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






Happy Birthday Aneurin


All photos by me  Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)


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

In October we were delighted to welcome our youngest grandson Aneurin and his mummy Emma, who came for a 2 week visit.  The weather was still beautifully warm and sunny for much of their stay, which was perfect for several days out at Sant’Agostino beach, situated midway between Sperlonga and Gaeta.  As you can see, we had the beach practically to ourselves.

The Riviera D’Ulisse or Costa Pontina in South Lazio – this beautiful coastline, with its golden sandy beaches, is still largely undiscovered by international tourists.  It is extremely popular with Italian visitors from Rome and Naples, particularly during the month of August, or on sunny summer weekends, when they flock to the seaside to escape the city heat.  However out of season this area reverts to a sleepy, peaceful setting for a relaxing Italian holiday.


The safe sandy beach was an absolute delight for a fearless energetic 2 year old !!!






Aneurin really enjoyed the freedom of  the wide open spaces and olive groves around “Tre Cancelle”



and we dug out the old train set from the loft, which went down very well !!!


One evening we went to our friends’ restaurant – the Bellavista in Itri, run by Giancarlo and Massimo. Here Massimo gave Aneurin and Emma a lesson in making pizza.







We all, including Aneurin, very much enjoyed our pizzas !!!


Giancarlo has a little girl just a few months older than Aneurin.


It was so lovely to see them interacting. It was clear that Chiara had taken quite a shine to Aneurin.




Thanks to all at the Bellavista for a lovely rememberable evening !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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

(A Guest Blog Post by Diana Johnson of Bribie, Queensland, Australia)

Hearing my black Labrador dog, Cindy, barking vigorously under my bedroom window reminded me of the dawn chorus at “Tre Cancelle”. No, not the birds but the doggies of “Tre Cancelle” whose voices may be a little muted if Paul has overslept and they are still in their night kennels. By day they have free rein across a large yard and are quick to detect the slightest movement from the occupants of the downstairs unit who might just be bearing doggie delights to their yard.

“The Woof-Gang”

A shared interest in Shapcott Genealogy gave me a virtual introduction to Paul and Louise many years ago but it is only in the last two years that I‘ve managed to visit their idyllic Italian hideaway. This September I lured my husband as well to South Lazio to meet Paul and Louise and the Woof Gang!

Well what a week! After combing the supermarket shelves in Rome for dog treats, I found it was much easier to buy them in Fondi or Itri. Of course by that time I also had to add in cat food as well for the latest additions to the “Tre Cancelle” home for waifs and strays. We wasted much time in trying to coax a very shy little kitten out into the open although her mother, named Micha, was much bolder and more forthright in her demands for sustenance. Milk and biscuits disappeared rapidly every day and cat food was gone in a flash!



Diana befriending Tinkerbell

Warning to anyone dispensing Dentastix to the “Woof-Gang” – be sure to keep you fingers out of range lest Lizzie mistake one for a Dentastick ….

Somewhere in between walking dogs and generally making a fuss of all the furry inhabitants of “Tre Cancelle”, we found time to do some sightseeing around the region. With Paul driving and Louise supplying the tour commentary we feasted our eyes on the beautiful fishing ports with their steep steps and narrow alleys and archways in the old parts of the towns.


We visited markets selling every kind of produce under the sun, watched a religious procession …

Feast of Saints Cosma e Damiano

drove up into the mountains to see elaborate churches, villages perched on mountain tops and of course the famous Abbey of Monte Cassino.

The Abbey of Montecassino

A special bonus was afforded to us in Atina, where Louise met some of her relatives and we were invited into one of their houses in the old quarter of the town.

Atina’s ancient Cathedral

An alley in Atina

Louise and Paul at Atina’s weekly market

Listening in ignorance to the rapid flow of Italian I knew that I had to improve my knowledge of the language of this beautiful and intriguing country. It is not enough to be able to buy a bus ticket or order some meat or cheese in the deli, you really want to know what is going on…………..

No visit to Itri is complete without a visit or two to the aptly named Bellavista restaurant run by Mamma Riccardi and her charming sons. The road to the restaurant is an interesting climb if you happen to be the driver but thankfully I was not.  Having made it to the top, we relaxed on the terrace in the warm evening soaking up the glorious views of Itri by night (no doubt improved by the jugs of wine that appeared regularly upon our table). The Italian wine goes well with the Bellavista pizza, which is just great, in fact I’ll find it difficult going back to Aussie pizzas after having the real thing in Italy.

Trevor and Paul at the Bellavista

And while I’m on the subject of food, how can I not mention the wonderful gelati ice creams that we downed on several occasions. Alas, it means several more hours in the gym to work those inches off the waistline but ….well…. it was worth it!

Sadly a week goes by too quickly and all too soon we were heading back to Rome for the next leg of our trip but I know we will be back one day in the not too distant future. That is providing our good friends can put up with their Aussie visitors again.


All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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

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


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

For some time we have had the idea of a Front Gateway on our wish list, but sadly our funds had never quite managed to stretch to this. However recently Paul discovered he had been left a modest sum by his late uncle.  

We really felt that, regarding security and privacy, a gate would give us added peace of mind, especially for the Woof-Gang,  having sadly lost our dear old Deefer to a car accident earlier this year.

Thus, we enlisted the help of our friendly builder Stefano, who has worked on many of our building projects here at “Tre Cancelle”.

Stefano had in mind to create some stone gateposts, with a steel beam at their core to support whatever gates we later selected.  He and his loyal team, arrived early on the Tuesday morning to commence work and wasted no time in getting stuck in. 

To provide added strength the two pillars were to be connected by a steel reinforced trench.   

Whilst for the time being, it was intended to be a simple gate Stefano, as always, thought ahead making sure to install cable conduit for the provision of possible additional features such as motors for electronic gates, lights and intercom system.

Our land is liberally scattered with limestone outcrops, and beautiful pieces of rock appear when you are working the land.  Over the years we have been carefully conserving these, knowing that eventually the time would come when they would be put to good use.

The builders spent much time on selecting and shaping individual rocks by hand for the construction.

Little by little the stone pillars took shape. 

After much hacking back of shrubs and undergrowth Stefano proceeded to construct a curved wall into which he incorporated both the electric and water meters.

Along the top, at appropriate distances he cemented in some water-filled plastic bottles, which once everything was set, could be removed to provide mounting holes for fence posts to be installed.  We had seen this nifty trick in construction many times before, but for years did not realise why it was done.

Finally a wire mesh fence was fitted along the top of the wall.

We now await the steel gate frames to be made and delivered by the blacksmith.

Stefano, Pasquale and Cipriano

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


The month of June has seen the end of an era in this household.

For a dozen years or more we have shared our lives with Barney and Louby Lou, two of the most loving pets a dog crazy family could have wished for.  Sadly, as happens to all us mortal beings, their time has been called and they have both departed to that great game of chasing sticks beyond the stars.


Louby Lou

Barney came to us first way back in November 1997, rescued from a farm near Shirenewton close to our village of Caldicot in South Wales.  Full of fleas and harbouring a nervous disposition, it took a good few days before he was convinced that his urge to occupy the high ground for defensive purposes was no longer a necessity. Initially his favourite spot was the kitchen worktops, but after bales of hay in the farm’s large barn (hence Barney) the lack of grip on shining worktops was unforgiving and so often he and a large proportion of their contents came crashing back down to earth.  Several months of TLC were required before he was comfortable in the presence of anybody wearing Wellington Boots.

A Young Nervous Barney

Barney in his prime

Louby Lou became Barney’s sister. She was a Border Collie, very bright and agile and taught Barney a thing or two.

A Little Louby Lou

Barney and Louby

Barney and Louby

So if doggie years count the same as seven in human years, Barney had reached the ripe old age of 91 before his poor old body finally decided enough was enough and he slipped off into the big sleep.

Then, sadly Louby Lou departed this life just two weeks after her life-long companion.

So now, from time to time, we are left unconsciously looking around for them, finding oneself thinking “Where are they?” and “What are they up to?” and then suddenly remembering they are not with us anymore.  Not surprising I guess after all those years together, as wherever we went we all went together, even investing in the caravan so we could all go on holidays together and never having to leave them in kennels.

Louby and Barney

They both had a reasonable understanding of English vocabulary: “sit” and “stay” of course, “lie down”, “come here”, “wait”, all the normal dog handlers commands they responded to well.  Then the more interesting words like: “biscuit”, “chicken” and “sausage”, and the phrases “Do you want to go into the garden?” or “What time is it?” “Is it nearly tea-time?”, you had no doubt they understood perfectly.

Louby had two particular words which caused her to sneak off and try to hide, those being “brush” and “bath”, but to all our friends, especially those Italian friends who came to learn English, Louby’s favourite phrase was undoubtedly “Where are the squirrels?”

On hearing this Louby would hurtle off to the nearest tree and try to scale it, a habit started during walks in the Caldicot Castle park grounds where there were indeed squirrels running up trees to escape chasing dogs, but continued here at Tre Cancelle even though the squirrel is not an indigenous habitant of these parts.

Louby - Where are the squirrels?

Last Winter, while we were away in the UK last winter, our Italian friends Luca and Loredana, kindly come to stay at Tre Cancelle to look after the dogs.  Sadly Deefer, being his normal independent spirited self, managed to escape from the compound  and was knocked down by a speeding van (which failed to stop).  Our friends were devastated, and so were we.  Deefer was the first stray dog that came and found us at Tre Cancelle.  He was such a good tempered, loyal hound, but had already seemingly used up several of his lives, one of which when he was bitten by a viper a couple of years back.


Deefer - D for ... Dog

And then to add a little more sadness, one of Louby’s brood, little Meggie (often called “Nutmeg”) as she was rather timid, scatty and unpredictable -Despite the best efforts by us and the vet, she also ran out of steam. 

Sweet Meggie

 So she too has departed here for the big sleep, and left us and the remaining 9 members of the “Woofgang”, with tears in our eyes, to carry on.

We will never forget them.


Whilst at the Food Festival in Gaeta we bumped into our Itri Post Lady who told us that back at the Post Office a parcel had arrived for us.  So early the following Monday morning Paul popped down to Itri to collect it.

I think Paul at first thought that it must have been a birthday present for him, however when we examined the package thoroughly we noticed it was address to Mr Barney and Ms Louby Shapcott from the Burroughs family, friends who had come to visit us at Tre Cancelle and help out with the “Woof-Gang” several times now.

The Burroughs Family 2008

Drew, Morgan and Barney 2008

Louby and Barney were greatly excited as it was not often that they received packages in the post.

They watched eagerly as Paul began to open the box.

Louby was especially curious and sniffed to see if it might contain a tasty morsel or two.

But no, no tasty treats this time,

two flattish square shaped objects wrapped in paper.

Morgan, aged 11 and a budding artist, had painted both Louby’s and Barney’s portraits in oils.  They were very cleverly executed and he has perfectly captured their individual characteristics.

Louby by Morgan Burroughs

Barney by Morgan Burroughs

Bravo. Well done Morgan !!!

Your paintings now hang in pride of place at “Tre Cancelle”.

Grazie to all the Burroughs family – Morgan, Drew, Eleanor and Dean.

We, Louby, Barney and the rest of the “Woof-Gang”  very much look forward to seeing you again soon at Eastertime.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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

Happy 50th Birthday Paul

In October our dear friends Marilyn and Clive invited us for a rather special

meal to mark and celebrate Paul reaching his half century.

And also we had a lovely BBQ with Filippo and Pauline.

Filippo insisted on presenting Paul with a lovely bunch of flowers !!!

Paul, Louise, Louby and Barney

Thank you dear friends


Words of Wisdom ……

The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.
– Robert Browning

The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.
– Muhammad Ali

Birthdays are good for you; the more you have the longer you live!  – Unknown

The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune. – English Proverb

Our birthdays are feathers in the broad wing of time.
Jean Paul Richter

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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

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