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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. 


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.



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.










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.





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



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




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 !!!



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


Callum made a special pizza for his mum ……








10640987_10204396131097029_3836549291719371199_nNicki, 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 !!!


It was an absolute delight to have my cousins Cathy and Jeff come and stay with us during the month of June. They had left Australia to visit family in the UK and spend to some time in Wales, a place Cathy loves dearly, where her parents were both born.  Then prior to coming to us they had spent a couple of weeks on a farm in Umbria visiting old friends and helping to look after their flock of sheep.  When they arrived here at Tre Cancelle they came with a wonderful Peccorino cheese which was utterly delicious.

It had been 16  long years since we had seen Cathy.  These photos were taken on her last visit with her mother. Sadly Aunty Betty is now is in her 90’s and in a nursing home.


Aunty Betty and Cathy on their last visit


Cathy doing her Boadicea impression !!!

However it seemed like no time had passed at all as we all got on so well.  Their visit coincided with that of our most frequent visitors, namely Kay and Elsie who are  always good fun to be around.

My Aunty Betty and Uncle John had decided to emigrate to Australia in the 1960’s at the time when there was a scheme which encouraged the British to relocate to Australia.  They were enticed by promises of employment and housing, a more relaxed lifestyle and a better climate.  For the assisted passage adults had to pay just £10 each and children traveled for free.  Such families became known as the “ten pound poms”.   

I can remember that they came to stay with us at Woodside before the set off on their new adventure.


Andrew, me Louise and Cathy


Cathy, Andrew and me Louise


Me Louise, Cathy, Andrew

What an incredible experience it must have been for my cousins travelling around the world by ship. 



The family eventually settled in Melbourne and there they made a good life for themselves.

So, back to the present …………..



Cathy is a superb cook and was keen to get into the kitchen. 


She produced the most wonderful vegetable lasagne that I have ever tasted.  “Delizioso !!!” “Squisito !!!”  “Brava!!!


Indeed we enjoyed some wonderful meals together out on the terrace “al fresco“.



Jeff is a very talented artist and he took me and Elsie up to the Bellavista, where there is a marvellous view of Itri and its ancient castle, to do some sketching – it was really enjoyable.


This is Jeff’s finished sketch.  Just Beautiful !!!



 This is another that he did of the view from our terrace.


Cathy and Jeff, Kay and Elsie kindly helped us around the place, weeding and watering the veggie patch, even helping to bath some of the dogs.


One day we drove down to the nearby coastline and we showed them some of the wonderous delights that  Sperlonga offers.  This is one of my favourite places and I always make sure I have my camera at the ready.

Looking down to the Grotto of Tiberius

and the Roman excavations and Museum.



Sperlonga’s beautiful sandy Levante Beach




We came across a newly wedded couple who were having their photos taken in the romantic setting of the old town.

Che principessa !!!








One evening we all went out to our preferred little restaurant that is tucked away in Campodimele – The “Casareccia”. 


Elsie and cousin “Caterina”



Me, Paul and Kay

Maria’s dishes never fail to satisfy us.








Bella “Caterina”

So Cathy and Jeff, please don’t leave it another 16 years before we get to see you again. 

We really hope it will be much sooner than that !!!

All photos by me

© Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)


During January and February we were delighted to have Emma and Aneurin once again to stay here at Tre Cancelle.


3 year old Aneurin really seems to love it here in Italy, he is very active boy and is keen to being outside.  Often he will say “I need to run!!!”  And indeed he does. !!! Fortunately here there is so much space for him to run around and let off steam.  Here he is at the top of our hill.


A view of Tre Cancelle Farmhouse with an olive clad Monte Marano in the background.


Another local view.


Aneurin amongst the olive trees.




He can get somewhat muddy however especially when playing in puddles !!!


Aneurin has no fear of  the horses and enjoys taking them carrot treats.  Pictured here are Pino and Vinci.


Our friend Florisa gave Emma an Italian cookery lesson – she prepared Poached Artichokes, Involtini di Tacchino, and a Ham and Potato Frittata.






From Florisa’s house you can see in the distance the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Cività perched high on Monte Fusco.  The Madonna della Cività is the patron of Itri.


As it was such a clear sunny day, we drove up into the mountains to show Emma the Sanctuary and it’s magnificent panoramic views. 

A view looking down on the Valle d’Itri  – you can just see the Gaeta penisula in the background.



A beautiful view looking towards Fondi, Terracina and San Felice Circeo.




You can read more about the Sanctuary and Itri on my  South Lazio Website


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)


At the beginning of November our friends  Kay and Elsie arrived from Wales, they regularly come to help us out at this time of year, which is normally the beginning of the olive harvest.  


Firstly we celebrated Elsie’s birthday with our friends at the Bellavista Restaurant in Itri


Pietro had previously discussed with us the possibility of bring two more horses to graze at Tre Cancelle, in particular those which had been born earlier this year and were now ready to be separated from their mothers.  After a day or so’s warning Pietro arrived with horse-box in tow and the two new members of the Tre Cancelle “Neigh-Gang” !!!  Pino was well intrigued !!!


The new arrivals were somewhat shaken up by their long bumpy ride and needed a great deal of coaxing to get them to come out of the horse-box.


The first to emerge was black in colour – a young female, who we have named “Lola”.


The second was a tan coloured young male, who we have named “Vinci”.






Gradually they were introduced to Pino. 


Aww Bless !!! They seemed to be missing their mothers so much and it gave the impression that they were trying to cuddle each other.


Pino soon told them who was boss but after a few days they seemed to have settled down.   I think he enjoys the company.

A few days later  Emma and Aneurin, our youngest grandson, arrived also.  Emma was also champing at the bit to get back to work in the olive groves.


Our American friends Patrick and Mindy, and along with Mindy’s Mum Donna, came over one day with her mother to help with some olive picking, however as I mentioned previously this year the harvest was not good, but we worked together to gather what olives there were by hand.




Paul and Patrick being tall were good at reaching the high ones.

Of course Aneurin helped too.


We were able to take advantage of the mild sunny weather by eating lunch together on the terrace. Not bad for November.




Many of our trees still need pruning to keep them from getting too tall and leggy and thus less productive.  Our dear friends Clive and Marilyn, Brits who currently live in Gaeta,  regularly come to help Paul with pruning duties. Clive is especially enthusiastic about our special Extra Virgin olive Oil.



Regrettably, last spring whilst pruning trees Clive lost his footing on a ladder and had a nasty tumble, falling awkwardly.  Sadly he managed to break both his ankle and shoulder, which incapacitated him for several months.  Needless to say, we felt dreadful about the accident.  It just goes to show how easily accidents can happen, and the importance of tying the ladder to the tree.  Thankfully because he is such a fit and strong individual he seems to have made a good and swift recovery.  This Autumn Clive was keen to get back to work in the groves, Marilyn however has now banned him from climbing ladders, but he is still eager to do all he can at ground level.

Clive brought Marilyn and old friend from the UK knick-named “Smiffy” to work up at Tre Cancelle for a couple of days – Everyone worked so hard – pruning, chomping out and cutting to size logs, and burning the debris.    Once again here in Bella Italia we could enjoy sitting outside for lunch.



A “Big Thank You” to every one who has so kindly given us their time, energy and enthusiam to help us progress on the upkeep and maintenance of the olive groves at Tre Cancelle. xxxxxxxx

Kay and Elsie’s holiday unfortunately soon came to end, however Emma and Aneurin were staying on for a couple more weeks.

We spent a day helping our neighbour Luca and his Mum to gather his olives, he did have a few more to harvest than us.



And of course Aneurin helped too  !!! – By turning his jacket around back-to-front and using his hood to put olives into !!!



How lovely it is to have a like-minded neighbour who prefers to use natural methods of cultivation rather than the often over use of  chemical agricultural products. Well done Luca, we wish you well in your endeavours !!!

All photos by me  Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou) and Kirsten McRobbie


We were so happy to be able to invite our two eldest grandchildren Jamie and Tom and their Mum Vicki to come and stay during July, they had had a tough year and really needed a break.  Jamie, 11,  had just finished at primary school and was going up to senior school in the coming September.

However, the weather during their stay was extreme to say the least, hot and humid with temperatures reaching up to almost 40 deg C, totally energy zapping.

Thank goodness we had the pool for them to cool off and play in. 






We invited up our  friends children who moved from the UK to live in Itri three years ago, and they got on so well and great fun was had !!!





During their stay with us Tom celebrated his 9th birthday for which we held a little party. 


Tom was especiallyl impressed with his special ice-cream birthday cake from the Fiocco di Neve.



The evening before their last night our friends Pauline and Filippo kindly invited us all to have supper at their home. 



Pizza by the metre !!!




Thanks to Pauline and Filippo for a lovely evening !!!



Sending our love to you all.

We miss you !!!


All photos by me © Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)


For a long time we have wished to have some more animals at Tre Cancelle, you might think we have quite enough with the 10 dogs in the Woof-Gang !!!


Our land takes a deal of looking after, and before the summer and the risk of wild fires, Paul has to spend lots of time and energy strimming the groves.  We had talked of getting some sheep  to graze our land and keep the grass and weeds down, but somehow we had never got around to organising it.  One evening we visited our friends at the Bellavista Restaurant in Itri and Giancarlo eagerly told us that they had acquired a pony to clear their small patch of land.  The horse was named Pino and was temporarily on loan from a farmer named Pietro who lived nearby.  We asked if Pietro might have any other horses that needed grazing. 

We soon got to meet Pietro who arranged to come and find us to see the lay of our land.  Pino had done a very good clearance job up at the Bellavista, in fact he had practically eaten his way out of a job.  Pietro suggested that he could bring Pino down to us  for a trial period.  First, however, Paul had to organise some more fencing to make him  an enclosure.

Finally Pino arrived and seemed to take easily to his new surroundings.  At the restaurant he had been always tethered but here at Tre Cancelle he had much more space to roam.


Having had no experience of horses previously we didn’t know what to expect, but we soon came to realise that he had an individual character, as much as any of the dogs do. He is very friendly, very used to human contact and comes to find you when he hears you call.  He is very happy to received tasty morsels such as carob pods, apples, water melon, but his particular favourite is carrots.  Paul would go down to find him early each morning and a friendship has developed.  Pino’s appetite never seems to diminish and he eats a range of plants, grass and weeds, but does not touch the olive tree at all.


Originally we’d incorporated the wooden posts, which had  plain wire running between them for supporting the vines, but before long we realised that three lines of plain wire did not constitute a “Pino-proof” fence and he escaped with alarming regularity to where the grass was greener and tastier on the other side.  It seemed that every day we were going to retrieve him, often from the vegetable patch where he’d polished off all the lettuces we had planted !!!  Bit by bit Paul improved the fencing and before long we had to extend his enclosure as he had done such a good clean up job.   Pietro and his children comes up regularly to see Pino and and is always available when there are problems.  He has taught Paul how to improve his technique of barb-wire fencing and also shown him how to install an electric fence.


It became apparent that poor Pino was becoming severely bothered by flys so Paul decided to experiment with Neem oil,  a natural insect repellent, which we have used on the dogs for ticks and fleas.  On one occasion, whilst massaging Pino with the oil, without realising that they were both standing a little too close to the electric fence, Paul bent down to apply the Neem to Pino’s legs and  somehow managed to reverse himself into the electric wire giving himself a severe  jolt on the bum. 

Not to be recommended !!! 


So Paul set off for the UK to stay for a week with his father and renew his Passport.  Paul left a long detailed list of instructions of daily tasks that needed to be undertaken in his absence.

Kay is an early morning riser, while I tend to be a bit of a night owl, and I am known for being a tad  sleepy in the mornings !!!  So Kay volunteered to do the early morning tasks – which were letting  the dogs out of their kennels.

Then there are a lot of chores concerned with the daily maintenance of the swimming pool in order to keep it in a tip-top condition for all the guests.  Overnight the pool pump circulates and filters the water taking the majority of the debris that has fallen in the pool in the course of the day. Inevitably some of the debris sinks to the bottom, so Kay carried out the early morning maintenance task of connecting a flexible hose to the pump creating a siphon to allow sunken debris to be “hoovered” from the bottom.  When the pump has switched off on the timer for the day Kay removed and cleaned the filter ready to start the cleaning cycle again in the evening.


Then she would get the washing machine going, as here it can be a bit like a Chinese laundry with the amount of sheets etc.  We have purchased a super duper washing machine that takes loads of up to 12 kilos, and Kay had things well organised and soon had the washing hanging out on the line to dry.   

Then she would proceed to mix up the dogs food ready for their supper in the late afternoon.

Sometimes the staff that work behind the Delicatessen counter in our local supermarket kindly put aside any off-cuts of ham, cheese and salami for us to supplement the dogs dinners.  These we have to  laboriously chop up into small pieces with a pair of scissors.

By around 4 or 5 pm the dogs are normally beginning to have rumbley tummies and are keen to remind us that it is nearly feeding time.

We laid out all the dog bowls, 10 in all now.  The number of spoons of the doggy dinner mixture depends on the sizes of the dogs. It was a little more complicated as the vet had given them all various tablets, so we had to make sure who got what, but we soon got into a routine.  3 dogs are kept in an enclosure near our caravan, and the rest are in another fenced area behind the house.

Once the food had been delivered and eagerly consumed we spent some time giving the dogs a fuss.  Kay has really taken to Monty, Henry and Bella, and often enjoyed their cuddles and vice versa.  Kay has taught Monty to say “please” by putting up his poor.  Henry is quite partial to sharing a cup of tea and a biscuit with Kay, and Bella is just so affectionate and will launch herself on to your lap for a cuddle at the slightest provocation.


Kay, Bella and Henry


Kay and Bella


Kay, Henry, Bella and Cara





As Kay is such an early riser she tends to need an early-ish bed time, so at around 9pm we would take the doggies some bed time biscuits to encourage them to go into their appropriate cwtches. Normally  this went to plan, however one night I could hear a bit of a commotion and realised that Bella had somehow escaped  from her kennel. It turned out the catch on her kennel door had come adrift. By this time Kay was already snoring so I had to Skype Paul for advice. Fortunately he had left some screw-in eye fixings in a little plastic tub on the dresser behind the computer, so I was able to find them quickly together with a pair of pliers. I tried to screw them into the wooden door and door post whereby I could thread through a piece of wire and twist it to secure the door.  Perhaps this sounds easy, however when carrying out this operation whilst holding a torch was somewhat of a challenge, but fortunately I managed it.

The next morning Kay could not comprehend what had happened and it apparently took her ages to unwind the piece of wire, as I had wound it around so many times – I had been so determined that Bella would not be able to escape yet again !!!

One morning a fire started on Monte Marano behind Tre Cancelle, there was a strong breeze which was fanning the flames.  




I immediately rang 115, to alert the Fire Brigade. Then two members of the Corpo Forestale arrived, it seems that they had just been in the area and were coming to investigate the cause of the fire. They informed me that in the case of a wild fire it was better to call the Corpo Forestale on 1515. They immediately summoned a fire fighting helicopter  Amazing the helicopter , which carried a large bucket slung beneath it, arrived within 10 minutes and began to douse the flames. It proceeded to carry out numerous such trips until the fire was put out. The Forestale police seemed suspicious that the fire could have been started intentionally, as it is unusual for fires to start so early in the season. They took an official statement from Kay as to what she had witnessed throughout the morning.  Let’s hope we don’t have any more fires this year in our vicinity.

We had a big fire that engulfed our wooded hillside last August. You can read more about it here.

All photos by me 

© Louise Shapcott (NonnaLou)


One lunchtime we all ate together with the builders on the terrace, Saverio’s wife had kindly prepared a delicious meal for us all.




We explained to the lads that Elsie, Karen and Bobbie belonged to a troup of Belly-dancers, which performs regularly in South Wales.  Suddenly Karen and Bobbie rushed off only to return a few minutes later fully dressed in their dancing attire.





The builders were transfixed by their whirls and twirls !!!


One evening we all went out to our favourite restaurant, where the girls, this time including Elsie, put on another colourful show-stopping performance. 

Here I’ll let the photos do the talking ……..







Well done girls (and Gian-Carlo)   Bravissimo !!!


Bobbie, Karen and Elsie


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