244 – Atina Feast of Corpus Domini

The feast of Corpus Domini falls on the 9th Sunday following Easter. This festival is a real cultural community event where local people come together to create colourful decorative carpets to adorn the streets and squares of Atina. These designs are made using brightly coloured wood chippings and flowers.

A metal template is used to form the designs.







Piazza Marconi, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the Bishops Palace.







Several special altars are set up in various neighbourhood along the route of the planned procession, the main one being sited in the doorway of the old cathedral.











Also, along the way, apartment dwellers drape silk banners and beautiful lace trimmed linens from their windows and balconies.

For the solemn religious procession of the blessed sacrament, the parish priest wears an ornately embroidered wrap around  his shoulders. This he then uses this to hold the “monstrance” displaying the holy consecrated sacrament of the host which represents the blessed body of Christ.  Four proud staff bearers support a decorative canopy aloft, flanked by several dignitaries and cassocked youths carrying a crucifix and lanterns. The town band follows behind and many townsfolk join in the religious parade along the way. The procession slowly winds its way through various quarters of Atina.  At each of the special altars the priest offers prayers and blesses each of the districts.





When the procession arrives back to the piazza in front of the old cathedral, more prayers are offered and then the cathedral bells begin to joyfully ring out.  Finally a Benediction takes place in the cathedral to conclude the day’s celebrations.

All photos are by me © Louise Shapcott



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri


242 – Aneurin’s April Visit to Italy

Back in the Spring of 2017 Aneurin, and his mum came to visit for a week. Every time we see our youngest grandson he seems to have grown another two inches.


Aneurin in our garden at Tre Cancelle

Aneurin loves Italy, he talks about it all the time and has told his friends and teachers at school that this is where he comes from. It is so lovely that he has such a connection with his family roots. My mother, Tina, would have been so happy to see this. I hope she is watching over us from above. As some of you know she was born in Little Italy in London’s Clerkenwell, and her parents were of Italian heritage from the mountain town of Atina in the Val di Comino.



Aneurin impressed by the size of strawberries in Italy

Aneurin loves being outdoors and likes to be kept busy. He was more than happy to get stuck in and help out with some gardening chores at Tre Cancelle.





One day during his stay we headed to Montecassino and visited the museum named the Museo Historiale di Cassino which commemorates the horrific Battle of Montecassino during World War II and the destruction of the beautiful monastery.





Aneurin at the Museo Historiale di Cassino

We also made a visit to the beautiful lake of Posta Fibreno in the Val di Comino – please take a look at our next post – 243 – The Lake of Posta Fibreno.

* public domain image

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri in South Lazio

237 Visit to Assisi



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.



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.



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.


The rose window.


Detail of the Basilica facade – A carved lion.


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


Some views of the town of Assisi from the square.




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.



The fountain in Piazza Comune.


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.


The Town Hall.


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










Eventually we found our way the Basilica of San Francesco.



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.



Detail of the facade of the Basilica di San Francesco.



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.





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.



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


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



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments


229 – Florisa’s Garden

My wonderful Italian friend Florisa is always busy, whether it be cooking, cleaning, working, harvesting olives or helping people, friends and family. She has such a very kind and generous nature.

However the thing that she loves the most is her garden. She really does have green fingers, or as they call it here in Italy “pollice verdi” which curiously translates as “green thumbs”. She really does knows how to make her garden grow. It is a delight to wander through it.

This will be just a photo blog, as I believe the pictures will speak for themselves.





























Isn’t it just amazing !!!

Florisa with some of her home grown strawberries.

Grazie Carissima  Florisa xxx


All  photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#garden #gardening #italy #italian #recipes #italian



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



228 – Cooking With Florisa

In the Spring Paul’s sister Anne came to visit us for a few days. During her stay our friend Florisa invited us to lunch, together with our American friends Pat and Melinda. We girls went over to Florisa’s house around mid morning as Florisa was to give us a cookery lesson.

She was going to show us how to cook: Pumkin Risotto, Fried Anchovies, Fritters of Spring Greens and Fish Poached in White Wine With Potatoes.

Florisa preparing the pumkin.



Florisa found an enormous pan into which she added olive oil, chopped garlic and freshly chopped chilli pepper which were fried gently.  Then she added the diced pieces of squash and cooked it all on a gentle heat for about an hour until it broke down and became really soft.



Risotto rice was added to the mixture together with a little stock. The risotto needed to be constantly stirred adding more stock as needed from time to time.


Anne dutifully stirring the risotto.


The risotto was served topped with grated Parmesan cheese.


In a smaller pan Florisa once again added the main staple starter ingredients, olive oil, chopped garlic and freshly chopped chilli pepper which she gently fried. To this she added some fresh chopped tomatoes which were left to simmer until they softened down.



Meanwhile Florisa had prepared some spring greens which she had previously cooked in boiling water. These were then chopped and added to the pan.



She stirred the ingredients and left them to cook for a couple of minutes. She then took the pan off of the heat to allow the contents to cool down. When cool she mixed the spring greens mixture with some flour and added some salt, pepper and paprika and formed the mix into little patties. These were fried in oil on both sides until golden brown.




Next the fresh anchovies. The heads and the insides of the fish were removed and the remaining flesh was thoroughly rinsed. The anchovies were then coated in seasoned flour. These were then fried in oil until they were golden brown and crispy.





In a large deep frying pan Florisa coloured some chopped garlic. She then added the fish steaks and some white wine. Slices of potato were placed over the top. This was left to simmer on a gentle heat for quite some time.





Here we all are about to tuck into the wonderful tasty fayre that we had helped to prepare.

Buon Appettito !!!


It was all absolutely delicious !!!

Pat doesn’t eat vegetables especially if they are green, but he enjoyed the risotto and the fish nonetheless.

A huge thank you to Florisa for spending some of her precious time with us

and to both Florisa and Franco for inviting us to eat at their lovely country home.


All  photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#pumkinrisotto #anchovies #alici #cooking #recipes #italian



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

218 – Part 1. Arriving in Wales / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

Melinda and I had been planning our trip to Wales for some time. Paul and I had not been able to get back to the UK for over 2 years, and was feeling really homesick, and was really missing my family, especially our grandchildren. I am not good at traveling on my own, however my American friend, Melinda, who lives in Minturno, kindly offered to accompany. This was to be her first trip to Wales. So we were counting down the days until our joint holiday.  We flew to Bristol, England via Easyjet.


Melinda and me, Louise

Unfortunately there are currently no direct flights to Cardiff airport, which would have been our preferred destination. Our Bristol flight was due to land at around 7pm, so rather than rushing to pick up the hire car late that evening, we had opted to book a room for that night in a little guesthouse in the nearby village of Winford situated in the Chew Valley. We hired a taxi at the airport which dropped us and our luggage off at The Oaks B&B.



Beforehand I had done my homework, and I knew it was only a short walk from here to the village pub, which went by the name of the Prince of Waterloo, where we both ordered a Fish and Chip and Mushy Peas Supper. How I had longed for fish and chips whilst living in Italy !!! And we were not to be disappointed, it was delicious. Melinda, who loves to sample new beers ordered a pint of Cornish Tribute which also went down very well.


Our twin room at The Oaks Bed and Breakfast was very comfortable.


We found the owner to be very kind and helpful. She told us that previously she and her husband had run the Prince of Wellington pub.



Melinda making friends with the pub’s cat

The following morning, after a good breakfast, Melinda and I had a little time on our hands, so we decided to go for a walk and explore the village.








A taxi picked us up and deposited us at the car hire depot at the airport. For a month or more I had been practicing my driving skills. We have been living in Italy for 11 years now, and during that time I have hardly driven at all. Italian drivers can be quite scary, however I really wanted to hire a car for our Wales trip, so I had to force myself to overcome my fear.

We hired a Toyota Yaris, which was a little strange to drive at first but I soon began to get the hang of it. On that day I wanted to avoid motorway driving so we took a cross country route which eventually got us to Aust, where we crossed the River Severn and the River Wye over the Old Severn Bridge

We had now entered my beloved Wales.  We then headed into Chepstow and on to the small nearby village of Itton where our first holiday cottage was located. This charming cosy country abode was to be our home for a week. The owner of the property, Helen, made us feel very welcome.









“Clare’s Cottage” was beautifully decorated, warm and well equipped.  The cottage also had a beautiful garden.














There were some lovely free range chickens running around the garden.




We soon made friends with some of the neighbours !!!







Highly recommended !!! A great position for exploring the local towns and beautiful countryside of Monmouthshire.

More information about “Clare’s Cottage

*photos by Melinda Abbott

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

(except where  photos have been rightfully accredited to the photographer / owner)

#cottage #wyevalley #itton #monmouthshire



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

214 – An Italian Christmas

I must admit, that I have never been much of a fan of Christmas, since at the age of 9 or 10 I became very disillusioned on abruptly discovering that Father Christmas was in fact not real.  I was absolutely devastated.  How I had been duped !!!   However, my dear mother Tina always loved Christmas. She seemed to forever see Christmas through the eyes of an innocent child, even when she was in her 80’s!  I miss her so.

 I can recall, when I was quite young, that Mum used to delight in taking me on shopping trips to London to visit the large department stores with their glittering, alluring window displays.  Here I would be enticed to visit dear Olde Santa in his magical twinkling grotto.  However, so fervent was her passion, that in the period leading up to Christmas I was taken to visit Santa in several different stores. 



Even at the age of 4 or 5 I must have developed quite an enquiring mind, as I soon began to deduce that each of the Father Christmas somehow looked subtly different, ie in their stature, the colour of their boots and belts. 

Here in Italia Christmas is still largely a catholic religious festival, centred on the original meaning of the event.  Sadly, I myself am not a believer, however I feel the duty to respect and acknowledge these ancient beliefs and antique traditions.

In fact, it  is very heartening that Christmas here in Italy seems to be far less commercialised compared to in the UK and the USA.  It is not until around mid November that the shops begin to get set up for Christmas shopping, and even then it seems to be a fairly low key affair.



Outside their premises some shop keepers lay out cheery red or green felt on the pavements, and display Christmas trees decorated with ribbons and bows, and assorted dangling pasta shapes that have been gilded with gold spray paint, creating a jolly festive atmosphere.

One thing that it is not easy to find in Italy are Christmas cards.  Occasionally they are sold individually, and then choice is very limited, the quality very poor, and they are invariably very over priced. 

In the weeks leading up to Christmas traditionally shepherd pipers, known as pifferai and zampognari, would come down from the mountainous regions of the Abruzzi to herald the pending birth of the Christ child, by playing their traditional festive music.  The ciaramella is a wooden flute, and the zampogna  is a type of reed bag-pipe, the air sacks of which are traditionally made of goat or sheep skin and the flutes are commonly carved of olive wood.



They still come,  clothed in their local costumes. They sport an unusual type of foot ware, known as the ciocia, which is said to date back to Etruscan times.  This consists of a rudimentary leather sole which towards the toe curves upwards.  This is held in place by long straps which are tightly bound around the foot and calf. 



This type of footware is part of the local costume of the people of Ciociaria, who take their name from this unique type of shoe.  My mother’s family originated from this region.

Many churches erect a special Nativity tableau, called a presepe, many with figurines that have been created by traditional artisans.  Naples is well known for its artisans who hand-craft these intricate scenes. Indeed, there is a street in Naples called Via San Gregorio Armeno that is full of little shops that display such nativity scenes. There is also a museum.


In certain towns it is possible to see a “living” Nativity scene, with real people and children dressed in costumes, acting out the traditional story.  One such village near to us is Maranola (see the link below).


A Living Nativity at Maranola

Around this period many stores start stocking up with items for creating festive nativity displays. It is a Christmas tradition in most Italian families to set up a presepe in their homes, some are more elaborate and fanciful than others.  







The figurines are not just restricted to the basic Mary and Joseph, the baby Jesus, the shepherds and the three kings. Indeed, there is a huge range of statuettes available such as glittering winged angels, lowly farmyard animals, and figures depicting traditional crafts, skills and pastimes.



These figures range from rather tacky mass produced plastic specimens to more tasteful hand crafted statuettes.


Some cribs incorporate pastoral village scenes with little model houses, stables, farmyards, bridges, caves, and snow capped mountains.








There are other essential accessories to further embellish one’s Christmas display, such as cork, moss, bark, straw, painted backdrops, fairy lights and even electrically driven streams, wells, water-wheels and windmills.




However, the nativity scene is not normally put out on display until after the 8th  December, which is the feast of the Immaculate Conception which is marked by a Public Holiday.  The 13th of December is the feast of Santa Lucia also known as “The Festival of Lights”.

Il bambino Gesù, is laid in the manger at midnight on Christmas Eve and not before.  The majestic Magi are added to the display on the day of the Epiphany, 6th January. 

Sometimes nativity scenes are handed down through the family, from one generation to another.

I recall one year, many moons ago, my aunty Lina sent over a parcel containing a small crib, with an integral musical box.  It played the tune to the well loved Italian Christmas carol: “Tu scendi dalle stelle, O re del Cielo, E vieni in una grotta, Al freddo e al gelo.” As a child I was transfixed by the enchanting scene and the delightful rhythmical tune.  The other day whilst rummaging in a box of Christmas decorations I came across it once again, and could not resist winding up the musical box to play the comforting music. This Nativity scene itself is now looking rather jaded and showing its age. I should really work on restoring it.

My mother used to describe to me how my Italian grandfather, or Nonno, used to create their special Nativity scene.  Being a skilled carpenter he constructed a splendid wooden crib and would work for many hours, painstakingly creating the display, with mountains made of cardboard and a night sky illuminated by tiny bulbs which ran off a battery.  He would use earth for the ground, and flour for the snow.  Then he would lovingly position the plaster statuettes of Our Lady, Joseph, the shepherds, kings, angels and animals to complete the scene.  Unfortunately one Christmas the poor family cat got somewhat confused and did a “whoopsie” in the middle of the scene !!!  I am sure he would have paid for his error!   After this Nonno vowed never again to use real soil in the display.

Thus the true Italian Christmas is a celebration of religious faith, of family as well as being a special occasion for a magnificent gastronomic feast, with no expense spared.

On Christmas Eve, La Vigilia,  is the most important day in the Italian Christmas calendar, when whole families gather together in anticipation of the birth of the Christ Child.  The Catholic faith decrees that no meat is to be eaten on this special day, thus the repast is based on various types of fish and sea food.  It is sometimes referred to as the Feast of Seven fishes, so earlier in the day the fish markets and stalls will have been doing a roaring trade selling their bountiful fresh supplies.  There is a feeling of great excitement in the air, and throughout the whole day the women folk busy themselves in the kitchen, loving preparing the traditional dishes for this sagra.      

The dinner, of numerous courses, commences at around 6 in the evening, starting with various tempting antipasti such as octopus salad, mozzarella, juicy olives, roasted peppers, and picante Provalone cheese.  This is normally followed by a pasta dish such as Vermicelli con Aglio e Olio (garlic and olive oil), or perhaps Spaghetti con Vongole (clams).  Other dishes to follow may include salted cod (bacalà), anchovies, sardines, squid, octopus, mussels, shrimps and prawns or the more extravagant crabs and lobsters.  A firm favourite is capitone, a dish of fried eels and often a larger fish is baked stuffed with garlic, herbs and lemon.  In addition several side dishes may be served including artichokes and broccoli.  As you can imagine the meal continues for several hours.   Afterwards the family sometimes play a game of tombola, which is similar to bingo, until the chiming of the church bell signals it is time for everyone to head off to Midnight Mass.

In these modern times, since the Second World War, Italian children have come to believe in Father Christmas, or Babbo Natale  and look forward to receiving presents on Christmas Morning.  

Christmas Day, there is another eating extravaganza, this time served at lunchtime.  This time the meal consists mainly of meat or carne, often including some baked lasagne and some form of roast fowl or large joint of meat is served.  Italian Christmas dolci and desserts include the typical Italian Christmas cake, called  Panettone,  It is tall and round, and  is a cross between a moist sweet egg bread and a light airy cake studded with candied fruit.

Pandoro is somewhat similar, but without the addition of the fruit, and is dusted with icing sugar.  Italians seem to love these, and insist on buying each other hundreds of them.  In recent years manufacturers have created many new varieties and recipes, but you really can just have too much of them!  By the end of the Christmas season all across Italy people’s cupboards are, without fail, crammed full of the things.  One wonders what does happen to them, do they ever all get eaten?  

Other sweet delights include Torrone – a delicious type of nougat containing hazelnuts and almonds wrapped in rice paper, Panfortea dense flat cake from Siena containing dried fruits and nuts, Amaretti – biscuits made with ground almonds, Cantucci – traditional almond biscuits from the Tuscany region.  Did you know that the word biscotti, the Italian for biscuit, means “twice cooked”.

Homemade favourites are struffoli, which are tiny pieces of dough, that have been deep fried, coated in honey and liberally sprinkled with sugar or hundreds and thousands and zeppole, little fried donuts.

Boxing day is known as la Festa di Santo Stefano, and New Year’s Eve is La Festa di San Silvestro, and the arrival of the New Year, Capodanno, Italians eat lenticchie e zampone, stuffed pigs trotter and lentils. The more lentils you eat the richer you will be, the old saying goes. New Year is welcomed with optimism for the future is usually marked by the letting off of noisy fireworks.

The true Italian tradition was for the children to hang up their stockings by the fireplace or in the kitchen on the eve of the Epiphany, the 6th of  January.  On this night it is a kindly old lady, known as La Befana, who is said to bring the children presents. 


Legend has it that this magical witch was busy sweeping her floor when the “Three Wise Men” knocked on her door and asked her to accompany them to Bethlehem. She declined their offer saying she was too busy with her chores.  Next some shepherds called by and asked her to go with them to pay their respect to the newborn son of God.  Again she said no. Later she witnessed a wondrous bright star in the night sky, and she decided that perhaps she should go to find the baby after all.  So she gathered up some toys and set off to try and catch up with the Kings and Shepherds.  She searched and searched in vain to find them or the birthplace of Jesus.  It is said that each Christmas she still goes looking for baby Jesus, flying on her broomstick, wandering from door to door, but still she is unable to find him.  Instead the good witch leaves little gifts for all the children she finds. 


Children are told that if they have been good they will find goodies in their stockings, but if they have been naughty they might only receive pieces of coal.  I recall as I child, each year without fail I would find one piece of coal, wrapped in tissue paper, tucked tightly into the toe of my Christmas stocking. Now I know why!

This year we will be spending Christmas in Italy, sadly not near to our family, however safe in the knowledge that we are lucky to be surrounded by good trusty friends we have made here.

We would like to take the opportunity of wishing you, one and all,

a very joyful peaceful Christmas

and we wish you all the very best during the forthcoming year.


Love and hugs from Louie, Paul and the “Woof-Gang”.

Some more of my photos of intricate hand-crafted nativity scenes

More information about the annual Living Nativity held in Maranola

All photos © me Louise Shapcott

(except those marked * which are images in the Public Domain)


#itri #trecancelle #italy #SouthLazio  #italy #christmas #natale



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri

213 – Minturno – Art, Culture and Tradition

In December we attended a festival of Art, Culture and Tradition in the historic little town of Minturno, entitled “I Vicoli de Traetto Raccontano”, an event held over a two day period.

When we arrived in the town at about 4pm on Sunday (the time advertised on the poster) yet there appeared to be very little happening, in fact the place was virtually deserted. At first we wondered if we had mistaken the date. However, we had learned through past experience, that here in Italy any event seems to take time to start and get going, especially around siesta time. So we persevered and took time to admire the wonderful view of the coastline and one of the most stunning of sunsets.



The original name for  Minturno had once been Traetto, the town having being founded in the 9th century.  In the highest part of the town there is an impressive castle or baronial palace. Finding it open we ventured inside. The great hall is now used as an exhibition area, where there was a small display of artwork depicting ladies dressed in the traditional local costume.





We followed the central street which lead us to the ancient cathedral which was founded in the 9th century and is dedicated to San Pietro Apostolo.  A staircase leads up to the porch which has four arches. The tall brick bell tower has three rows of mullion windows.  


Some ancient remains of Roman architecture have been  incorporated into the building.


The church was beautifully decorated for the festa dell’ Immacolata Concezione, which is celebrated on the 8th of December.





As we exited the peace and quiet of  the church we made out the sound of drumming and traditional accordion music.


We took a wander through the centre of the old town which is lined with numerous little alleyways. There is something of interest to see around each and every corner.






Along the way locals had been setting up their stalls, some selling traditional food, others displaying traditional arts and crafts.










In an ex church we came across demonstrations of traditional skills such as weaving, lace-making and needlework.






We then stumbled upon the Museo Etnografico di Minturno which had many interesting exhibits of tools and paraphernalia of days gone by.





Here some charming little children belonging to a folk dancing group were getting ready for a performance.





All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

You can read more about traditional folk dancing on my previous blog regarding Minturno’s Sagra delle Regne and International Folklore Festival

Minturno on my South Lazio website


#minturno #italia #italy #SouthLazio #travel #culture #tradition



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri

212 – It’s That Olive Time of Year

At the end of October our friends Kay and Elsie from South Wales came over for a week to help us as usual with the olive harvest. They have been doing this for several years now. Elsie always celebrates her birthday with us and we usually go to the Bellavista to meet up with friends and celebrate there. This year we invited our friends Patrizia and Luca to join us for a pizza.


Last year Elsie celebrated her 60th birthday and I organised a party for her here

We were so pleased to have some olives on our trees this year, however they were sparsely spread throughout the grove which was definitely going to make gathering them a laborious task.

Pat and Melinda, have recently moved from Ohio to live permanently in nearby Minturno. Pat’s brother Mike has also bought a property there together with a small plot of land with about 20 olive trees on it. In Mike’s absence, Pat and Mindy had also decided to gather Mike’s olives as they could not bear the idea of the beautiful fruits to go to waste. Melinda, who is a keen, gathered some to put into brine to preserve them. They also wanted to make the remainder into fresh November extra virgin olive oil. In total they managed to gather five and half crates weighing 115 kilos, which they duly dropped off at Tre Cancelle.

Meanwhile we set to work, spreading the nets under our trees to hopefully catch the olives that Paul rattled off with the mechanical rake which is powered by compressed air.



However it was frustratingly slow going. The first day we only managed to gather two crates of olives.


Yet we did not let this dishearten us too much as over the next day or two we found an area of the grove where the trees were more abundant with olives. One morning Pat and Mindy and two of their American friends also came to our aid and with the extra hands available we finally managed to gather a total of six and a half crates.

So between us we had gathered a total of 266 kg. This was just perfect, because at our local olive mill there is a minimum batch size of approximately 250 kg, to ensure that there is no mixing with other producers’ olives. This is important to us because we, by choice, do not use any pesticides or herbicides in the maintenance of our trees and groves, trying to be as natural as possible.

Here are the olives ready to be transported to the olive mill in Itri.

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Paul, Melinda, Pat and Max

Kay and Elsie’s visit to Itri seemed to fly by, and before it came to an end we decided to have a spot of lunch at another of our favourite haunts, the Miramare down by Sant’Agostino beach.




Before long we welcomed another couple of volunteers, our friends from South Africa, Adrian and Gerda.


This was to be their second visit to Tre Cancelle and their first experience of harvesting olives. They soon realised what they had let themselves in for.






Once again, over the next day or so, it was a hard slog although we did adopt a slightly different method, by lopping off the tops of the over-tall trees and retrieving the olives at ground level.




One morning we were also lucky to welcome two new American volunteers, more friends of Pat and Melinda, namely Pat and David, who kindly came to lend an extra two pairs of hands. Dave proved to be a dab hand at using the mechanical rake. They really seemed to enjoy the experience and we certainly enjoyed their company.


Pat and David


Our neighbour and good friend Michele then arrived with 40 kilos of olives that he had gathered on his own property to add to our haul. However we were still struggling to get a sufficient number of cases to make up a full batch of olives. Then at the very last minute, we remembered that there were a couple of trees close to the house, which had a fair few olives on them.

Despite our fatigue, and with the additional incentive of the thought of a late lunch at the Miramare, we found a new surge of energy for a final push. These remaining olives were quickly gathered. Hurrah !!!



Here we are enjoying a well earned late lunch once again at the Miramare and witnessing a magnificent sunset.



We then headed back home to Tre Cancelle and loaded the full crates of olives into our car.


When we unloaded them at the mill, which was buzzing with activity, the crates of olives were weighed.  We were delighted that we had jointly gathered a total of 233kg of olives, again a sufficient quantity to be processed in one batch. We were told the oil would be ready to collect the following day.

The next evening we returned to the upper part of the olive mill where the olives are processed by being washed, then milled to produce a pulp, and then passed through a centrifuge to extract the oil.




We were incredibly lucky to get there just as “our oil” was being processed.  The grassy aroma of the freshly pressed olives is just wonderful.




The pulp which is left after the extra virgin olive oil has been extracted is transported away  and it is heat processed to extract oil of a lesser quality. The remaining pulp gets compressed to form briquettes or pellets for burning on a wood fire.


We then showed Adrian and Gerda another section of the mill, where olive fruit is graded and sorted for size and quality, destined to be preserved in brine for approximately six months and later to be sold as table olives.








When we got back home we couldn’t wait to try our newly pressed extra virgin olive oil.



It was absolutely delicious, having a aromatic scent of freshly mown grass, with a slight peppery taste, and a wonderful green hue.  Nothing added or taken away, just the wonderfully natural product that mother nature intended it to be, and so unlike the majority of olive oil on sale in the UK.

On the final night of Adrian and Gerda’s stay we went to the Bellavista to celebrate an excellent week’s work. It seemed that all this hard work and exercise had caused Adrian to built up a substantial appetite as he managed to eat three whole pizzas !


Mamma Mia Adrian !!!

Sincere thanks to all our crazy volunteers for their hard work during this year’s olive harvest.  How blessed we are to have such wonderful friends.

To all of you out there reading this, perhaps your appetites have been whetted, and if so you would be most welcome to  come and join in the fun and games of the next Tre Cancelle harvest.

Photos by me, Melinda Abbott, Gerda Volschenk and Kay McRobbie.

#itri #oliveharvest #olives #itrana #oliveoil #italy



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments near Sperlonga and Itri