208 – Alison, Shannon and Niamh’s Summer Break at Tre Cancelle – Part 2


Recently we have had the pleasure of getting to know a lovely Italian family who live in Italy, although Santo originates from Sicily. They have a large family with two grown up sons, Ivano and Jordan, three daughters, two of them are in their teens, Miriam and Sharon, and then there is the piccolina  Ysabel who is just 5.

We thought it would be a good opportunity for Shannon and Niamh to meet Anna, Santo and their girls.  Shannon had studied Italian for a couple of years when she was at school, so has some knowledge of the language, although perhaps a little rusty.

Anna, Santo and their daughters popped in to see us one afternoon so that they could meet the Shannon, Alison and Niamh. Anna speaks English fairly well, and Miriam and Sharon are also keen students and would like to develop their language skills.


Niamh, Alison, Shannon, Anna, Santo Miriam, Ysabel, Aneurin and Max

Anna invited us to their home in Itri for “afternoon tea” which was lovely.  Anna then said she would like to teach us how to make pasta and so we organised a date, time and the venue, which was to be Tre Cancelle.  Sadly Alison wasn’t going to be able to take part in this, as her two week holiday had just about come to and end and before long she was winging her way back home.

On the designated afternoon Santo, Anna and the girls arrived and Anna was keen to get started.  Sharon and Miriam started to prepare the meatballs and the tomato sugo, in which they were to be cooked.




To make the pasta Anna used 2 kilos of Italian 00 type flour, also known as farina di grano tenero, and 12 eggs.

(I would just like to point out that this made a huge quantity, so perhaps it would be better to at least halve the quantity). 

I thought Anna would use an electric mixer to blend the pasta mixture, but no !!! Anna stated that it was better to get your hands in there, so as to be able to feel the consistency of the dough.



At first it became a sticky mess !!!


However, as they continued working the dough by kneading and stretching the mixture it gradually began to come together and eventually  form a smooth soft ball.


Then this was left to rest for a little while.  Anna had brought along her manually operated pasta machine.  I have one too, however I must admit it sits right at the back of one of my kitchen cupboards, and to my shame I have only used it once.

The dough was then divided up into small lumps.

Little Ysabel wanted to help too.



The rollers of the pasta machine had been set to the thickest setting. One by one the lumps of pasta dough were coaxed into the machine’s roller mechanism.  Then as the handle was turned it began to churn out strips of pasta.


This was just the first rolling.



The strips were then laid out on a clean surface to dry for a few minutes.


The pasta roller mechanism was then adjusted to a slightly thinner setting and the pasta strips were once again fed into the machine, which duly churned out slightly longer and thinner strips of pasta.

Once again the pasta had to be laid out on a clean surface to dry for a few minutes. We were running out of space in our kitchen !!!

The roller was adjusted once more and the pasta rolled out.




Now ….  Was the pasta thin enough? 

No, Anna thought it needed one more rolling !!!

“Che pazienza !!!”


Finally the sheets of pasta were of the right thickness.  So the next step was to feed the strips through a different set of rollers which had a cutting attachment that had been adjusted to make tagliatelle.



Brava Anna !!!



Mamma Mia !!!  Pasta Galore !!! Tante tagliatelle !!!


The tagliatelle were left to dry out a little. We had made such a large quantity that we bagged some up to put in the freezer.


A huge saucepan was put on the gas hob and filled with water.  A little salt was added. Once the water was bubbling the tagliatelle were added a little at a time.  This freshly made pasta only needed a few minutes to cook and then the pasta was drained in a colander.

The meatballs were removed from the rich tomato sugo.


 The sauce was added to the drained tagliatelle

and the pasta tossed so that all of it was evenly coated. 


The meatballs and a little extra sugo were served on top with of course

a generous sprinkling of parmeggiano.


Buon Appetito !!! Mangia !!!

We all ate “al fresco” out on the terrace.

Buonissimo !!!


Niamh, Shannon and Anna


Miriam, Sharon,

Niamh, Shannon and Anna


Miriam, Santo, Sharon,

Niamh, Shannon and Anna

Thank you to Anna, Santo and their girls for sharing this fun packed afternoon and evening with us. 

It was such a wonderful experience for us all.




Sisters !!!

Some of the other things that Shannon, Niamh and Alison achieived / enjoyed during their stay here at Tre Cancelle included:

Helping Paul to re-build a dry stone wall, helping to prepare the apartments for guests, helping me (Louise) with some jewellery making,  a trip to the beach at Sant’Agostino, wandering around the local markets of Gaeta and Fondi, sunbathing and cooling off in the swimming pool, and of course sampling ice-cream.



The girls are real animal lovers and have numerous pets at home.

They also helped out with the horses

which were proving to be ardent escapologists.


Paul has been feeding a stray cat for several months now, a big white fluffy thing and just recently, during the girls’ stay, two more cats have turned up here, The girls have named them “Starla” and “Chester” and we’ve also caught a fleeting glance of a little kitten.


Shannon and Niamh also helped to bath the dogs, and generally spoiled them by giving them lots of treats, fuss and attention ……




….. especially Max.




Sorry Paul, I just had to sneak this picture in !!!


Just to say “Thank You” girls for all your help,

your great company and for sharing with us your fun and laughter !!!

Niamh is to return to Tre Cancelle

soon with her parents and other sisters Caitlin and Bethan.


Soon after getting back to the UK,

Shannon and Alison attended their graduation ceremony

and they are both about to start their new jobs.


Well done girls and good luck with your future careers !!!



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri in South Lazio

207 – Alison, Shannon and Niamh’s Summer Break at Tre Cancelle – Part 1

Alison, Shannon, Niamh

In June we welcomed Shannon, Niamh and Alison to Tre Cancelle.  This was not to be their first visit, especially for Shannon and Niamh who have stayed with us many many times now, in fact we are practically like family.  The three girls had just completed their exams, Shannon and Alison had just taken their finals at university and Naimh her ‘A’ Levels. They now had some well deserved time off and we hoping to relax a little and unwind from the stresses and strains of the last new months. Shannon and Niamh, who are sisters, were to stay for a month with us, and Alison for 2 weeks. They very kindly volunteered to help with a few jobs around Tre Cancelle during their time with us.

Alison, Shannon, Niamh

Alison, Shannon, Niamh

The grass and weeds in the olive groves had grown almost waist high, and if left like this would become a definite fire risk during the hot and dry summer months.  Since his heart problems Paul does not have the energy to strim all the grounds, so Pietro had recently brought back some of his horses to graze under the olive trees and at the same time do a little natural fertilization !!!  This time there were 6 mares, and old Pino came back just for a few days.  Alison is a lover of horses so she was in her element.





The girls’ visit coincided with Kay and Elsie being here for a few days. Last year Kay and Elsie drove to Tre Cancelle from South Wales.

Here is Kay relaxing in the pool.


We were all invited to have lunch with our American friends, Pat and Melinda, at their apartment in the characteristic Medieval town of Minturno.  Their property has a beautiful sun terrace with a magnificent panorama of the Campania coastline and plains.



Elsie and Kay



The following day Shannon and Alison were on tenterhooks as the results of their final exams were due to be published imminently.  Suddenly we heard high pitched screaming and screeching !!! The girls were elated !!! Both Shannon and Alison had obtained first class honour degrees. 

We decided to celebrate with a bottle of bubbly to congratulate them both on their wonderful achievements.


Shannon and Alison’s visit also coincided with the arrival of our grandson Aneurin, his Mum Emma and another of our good friends, Michäel.

We all decided to celebrate being together by going for a meal at one of our favourite restaurants in Campodimele. Pat and Melinda have nicknamed it as the “Gas Station”. They decided to tag along with us too.  I have written about the “Casareccia” restaurant before,  Maria’s food there is simply divine !!!















Alison, Shannon and Niamh were inspired to do some cooking of their own.  Our amareno cherry trees had a bountiful crop this year.  The girls and Aneurin helped to de-stone them.



Some were to be used to make jam. Some were bagged ready to go into the freezer and some were set aside to make a bottle or two of cherry liqueur (see more about making liqueurs below).


This was the girls’ first attempt at jam making.




They also had a go at making some lemon marmalade.


They baked a cake or two …..


….. and then tried their hand at making scones to go with the jam.


The scones came out of the oven more like biscuits.  Shannon named them the “Scones of Death” !!!  Paul still devoured them anyway and lived to tell the tale !!!


Now moving on to Making Liqueurs. 

Melinda was keen to have a try at making some home-made liqueurs, and she started using some of our amarena cherries, and some white mulberries that had been gifted to us by Frank. I had never seen white mulberries before. Shannon was more than happy to assist Melinda.

The cherries were washed and then dropped one by one into a large wine bottle. When each of the bottles were approximately two thirds full neat alcohol was added until it covered all the fruit. The fruit in the alcohol then has to be left to steep for between 30 or 40 days.  Ideally you need to shake the bottles from time to time.

After this period the mixture must then be strained and filtered to remove the fruit from the liquor.  Next between 300 and 500 grams of sugar  is slowly dissolved in a pan containing a litre of warm water to make a clear syrup, Then this must be left to cool thoroughly.  The infused alcohol is then diluted with the sugar syrup using about the same amount of syrup to alcohol, however some people may elect to add a little less if they want the liqueur to pack a real punch.

Melinda and Shannon carried out the same procedure with the mulberries.

Next – Walnut Liqueur

This liqueur is traditionally made on the feast day of St John the Baptist which falls on the 24th June. So we took 24 green immature walnuts from our tree. These then needed to be cut into quarters and placed into a larger bottle with a wider neck, such a demi-john or kilner jar.  A cinnamon stick, a vanilia pod and 5 cloves were then added and enough alcohol to cover the fruit, and were then set aside to steep as above.


Next – Cedrino Liqueur

In our garden with have a cedrino or lemon verbena bush, the leaves when crushed between one’s fingers give off a wonderful lemon aroma.   We gathered 120 cedrino leaves and dropped them into a large wine bottle.



We then added the rinds of 4 lemons and topped the bottle up with a litre of alcohol and left it to steep.



Let’s wait and see how all the liqueurs come out !!!

Melinda can’t wait !!!

photos except where indicated are © me, Louise Shapcott, Shannon White and Melinda Abbott


Last year Last year Kay and Elsie drove to Tre Cancelle from South Wales:

182 – Kay and Elsie’s 2014 Mega Road Trip To Italy

A previous post about the Casareccia Restaurant:

177 – Ristorante La Casareccia In Campodimele


TCTitleTre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri in South Lazio

172 – Our Little Birthday Boy

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






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

149 – Aneurin’s First Visit To “Bella Italia”

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

147 – Our Visit To Tre Cancelle and South Lazio – by Diana Johnson

(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

144 – Tre Cancelle Swimming Pool Update

We are extremely happy with the new swimming pool at Tre Cancelle. We are confident that it has been a good investment.

Paul has constructed a little white picket fence and we have planted tubs with colourful geraniums.  We have also purchased new sunbeds, deck chairs and patio furniture to finish it off.

During the European Football championships we decided to get into the spirit of things and decorated the house with Italian flags.

Italy did well to get to the final, however was eventually beaten by Spain.  Well done Italia !!!

It was around this time that we welcomed a lovely young family from Ireland.  

The two young lads really enjoyed splashing about in the pool.

One day we invited our friends, Nandi and Davide and their 3 children, to also come and try out the pool – and it seems a splendid time was had by all.

In the evening, to round things off we had a barbeque and enjoyed a lovely serata together.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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

131 – Project “Tre Cancelle” Gateway – Stage 1

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


122 – The End Of An Era – A Sad Time

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.

See: https://trecancelle.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/the-proverbial-snake-in-the-grass/

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.


116 – A Strange Package Arrives For Barney and Louby

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