240 – Celebrating Thanksgiving in Italy

 Our American friends Pat and Melinda and Darcy and Gerry invited us to join them and have the experience  of our first traditional Thanksgiving. Also invited was Alberto who is Pat and Melinda’s English teacher. The venue was to be Pat and Melinda’s apartment in Minturno for the main course, then we were transferring to Darcy and Gerry’s in Gaeta for the dessert.

Melinda and Darcy were to share in the cooking duties. They had managed to purchase a fresh turkey, which is not so easy to find here in Italy.

The table was beautifully set and there were tempting little things to nibble on as a starter.



Melinda’s roasted walnuts prepared with rosemary, salt and a dash of paprika. The walnuts were harvested from our own trees at Tre Cancelle.


Savory Taralli Napolitani with almonds.


Pat with his big bird.




Sweet potatoes with marshmallows.


A very tasty green bean dish.


Pearl onions in a creamy salad.


A traditional Wardolf salad.


What a wonderful spread. Buon appettito !!! Mangia !!!


Pat, Melinda, Darcy, Gerry, Alberto and Annette.


Gerry, Alberto, Annette and Sarah


Pat, Gerry, Darcy, Melinda, Sarah, Annette, Alberto and Paul


Gerry, Melinda, Darcy, Sarah, Annette, Alberto, Louise and Paul

At Gerry and Darcy’s in Gaeta we enjoyed Pumpkin pie and other traditional desserts.

Thank you so much for inviting us.

It was a wonderful experience and a joy to spend Thanksgiving with you.

Thank you once again.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#Thanksgiving #italy #turkey #PumpkinPie #Minturno #American #Friends



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments


231 – The Highlights of Summer 2016

In July I flew back solo to the UK on a very special mission. I am not confident about flying on my own, but this time there was a strong incentive for me to do so. We had invited our grandson Aneurin to spend his summer holidays with us in Italy.

I was to stay in Wales for just under a week. My friend Ellen very kindly picked me up from the airport and it was lovely to spend some special time with her in Caldicot, where we used to live before moving to Italy.

I then visited family in Chepstow.  Vicki and Tommy took me out to see the Bristol Harbour Festival which was a fun day out.









I then moved on to Cardiff where I stayed with Emma, Aneurin’s mum, for a few days looking after Aneurin and I was also able to catch up with some friends.

On my return flight I was to have company, and very good company Aneurin was too. He loved the flight and after we waited for the majority of the passengers to disembark Aneurin went up to the captain as he wanted to know how planes manage to fly.  The Captain was so impressed by his enquiry that he invited Aneurin into the cockpit to sit in his seat so he could see all the controls.




We had a really busy summer with guests and our friends the White family from Northern Ireland staying with us. Aneurin enjoyed their company and playing with the girls in the pool.






Melinda in Minturno kindly organised a cookery lesson for Aneurin and Bethan to learn how to cook American pancakes. Aneurin especially liked the maple syrup.





The stunning view from Pat and Melinda’s apartment.


A pizza evening up on Pat and Melinda’s roof terrace in Minturno.






My cousins from London arrived to spend a week with us. It was so lovely to catch up with them as we all get on so well together.



Later in mid August Emma and Kay also came to visit.

There were fun days at the beach.





Nightime paddles.


Endless games of Ludo, Snakes and Ladders and Connect Four.



Cuddling of dogs.


Washing of dogs.




Pizza of course.



and Gelato




Many meals “al fresco” with family and friends.



 Celebrating Niamh’s A Level results.


Another wonderful meal at La Casareccia.




An evening out with the girls.





As you can see we all had a fantastic summer.

Thank you. Sending love and hugs to all xxx



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

160 – June First Communions

In Itri, over several Sundays during the month of June it is the time for children who have reached the age of 10 to make their First Holy Communion.  Catholic religious traditions such as Baptism, First Communion and Marriage are regarded as significant family events  that mark out important milestones in a child’s life and development.

One Sunday morning Kay and I went down to the main church in Itri. Outside were some local workers of the Red Cross association who were selling flowers as this day was also Mothers Day in Italy.


Outside the church we saw the children preparing for their big day.  Both boys and girls were dressed in simple white cassocks, the colour white to signify innocence and purity, and each wore a wooden cross on a cord around their neck and carried some white lilies. The little girls also wore a flowered head-dress. 






The following Sunday we were kindly invited to attend the Prima Comunione of our friends’ son, Dante.







To celebrate this momentous event families often choose to throw a lavish party for relatives and friends, either dining out at a restaurant or otherwise a special family meal at home. 

The child receives lots of presents and best wishes from all concerned.  It is a very joyous occasion.


In return it is the custom for the family to give a small gift  or Bomboniera to all who attended the special event. 

Dante’s parents Davide and Nandi have recently opened a Children’s Clothes Shop and Ceramic Workshop in Itri called Cuore Matto.

Dante had hand-painted his gifts, which were coffee cups filled with sweeties.  


Bravo Dante !!!

Auguri !!!

Thank you for sharing your special day with us !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#FirstCommunion #FirstCommunions #itri #italy #church #churches


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


106 – Sizzling Summer 2010

Well, we have had a busy summer here in Itri, and a very hot one, with temperatures getting up to around 40 degrees C during July.  We had a second heat-wave towards the end of August, which zapped our strength.

We have welcomed some lovely guests from all around the globe, from the USA, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Serbia, England and Scotland in the UK. Consequently we have had the great pleasure of making some very special new friends.  Here are just a few:

Ivan and Derryn

Kathy and Claudio

Nonna Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Carol Ann and Sandra

Mike and Jane

Our first guests from Russia were Marina and Andrei, who kindly presented us with a calendar of their home city of St Petersburg, together with a bottle of rather special Russian Vodka. They absolutely loved Sperlonga and the little medieval hill top town of Campodimele.

Andrei and Marina

Paul was delighted when an ex-work colleague, Martyn from Bristol, paid us a surprise visit en route for a week’s holiday with a group of friends in Sorrento. Martyn seemed very taken by the beautiful area that we are so lucky to live in.

Martyn, with a View of the Coastline and Beautiful Sperlonga

The abandoned puppies that we took on, as you can see, have continued to grow well and have benefited from lots of love and attention from all our visitors.

Alessandro, Emigliano, Monica, “Mini-Max” and “Little Lizzie”

Emigliano, Monica, “Mini-Max” and “Little Lizzie”

Solenn and “Mini-Max”

Solenn and “Little Lizzie”

The puppies, as you can see, have continued to grow well and have benefited from lots of love and attention from all our visitors.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott



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


88 – Six Nations Rugby

Although Italy is one of the teams in the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, it seems that in this area of southern Italy there are very few followers of the sport.

At last, Paul has found a fellow rugby fan, Clive, who even better, is an England supporter.  Clive and Marilyn are our new British friends, who have recently settled in nearby Gaeta.  As the Six Nations is now only televised via Sky Sport, which none of us currently subscribe to, this left Paul and Clive wondering how they could get to see some of the matches. 

The first Saturday afternoon of the championship, we asked our great friends Florisa and Franco if we could possibly invade their living room to watch the first two games. As always they were more than obliging and during the matches Franco showed considerable interest in learning some of the rules of the game, which previously had always been totally beyond his comprehension. (He’s not the only one – as  I am none the wiser !!!) 

Although I was born in England, I do not  feel particularly English, so I usually follow my family roots and side with either the Welsh or Italian teams.  I also have some Irish blood in me – so it can get very complicated !!!  Sadly on this particular occasion I seem to have jinxed both Wales and Italy, the final scores being Ireland 29 – 11 Italy and  England 31 – 17 Wales.  Consequently Clive and Paul were jubilant !!!

Here’s a photo of Franco, Paul and Clive,

Paul is wearing his smart new rugby shirt –

a surprise Christmas present from sister Annie. 

Thanks Annie !!!

photo © Louise Shapcott

The following Saturday we managed to talk Florisa and Franco into lending us their Sky Card for the duration of the weekend.  Clive and Marilyn joined us at “Tre Cancelle” to watch the Saturday games.  The match Wales v Scotland was so exciting right up until the last minute and the final score was Wales 31 – 24 Scotland.  Well done Wales !!!

That weekend Italy also showed some real spark during their match against England.  Brava Italia !!!

Perhaps at long last they are beginning to get the hang of this weird and wonderful game !!!



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

63 – The Night of the Belly Dancing

We decided to organise a little BBQ evening to celebrate Kay’s birthday.

Also our English student Raffaele had just finished his final exams at university and we wanted to festeggiare and wish him a “Buon Viaggio” on his trip to California during the summer months.  We also invited our photographer friend, Luca, and his family and a very “merry” evening was had by all.






Elsie is famed for her belly-dancing, she is part of a team of girls who perform in the South Wales area. 


She had especially brought some of her belly-dancing music CD’s and had purchased some jingly costume accessories from an excellent  stall we had found at Fondi market.  Towards the end of the evening, having all imbibed “just a little” some of us girls decided to give the dancing a try.  Well I am well built for it I suppose, being somewhat curvaceous !!! 

And then …. some of the boys thought they’d try too !!! 

The result – Absolutely hilarious !!! 








62 – Giugno 2009

Towards the end of June some of our dear friends, the “Welsh Girls”, came to visit yet again – for some this was their fourth / fifth visit to “Tre Cancelle” !!! This time they were “Tall Linda”, Elsie, Kay and her daughter Kirsten.


Unfortunately the weather here in Itri during June was somewhat unpredictable this year, indeed the summer seemed to be tardy in getting going.  However the girls managed a couple of trips to the beach and as always enjoyed shopping for bargains in many of the local markets.   They met our friend “Mustafa”, a young trader who specialises in handbags, belts and sunglasses. 


He positively “stands out in a crowd” as he is remarkably tall, of a height that must be approaching seven feet, with dark chocolate skin.  Whenever he sees us he enthusiastically comes forward to warmly greet us with a few words of English, a beaming toothy smile and a hearty handshake.  We have learned that he came from Senegal on the Ivory Coast of Africa.  He told us that he likes “the English” as he had lived for a short while in London. He was only too pleased to offer the girls some discount on the purchases.

A few days later our younger son Ben arrived with his old school friend, Keith, it was great to see them both.  We celebrated by all going out for a meal at a restaurant in Itri by the name of Hosteria De Gustibus, where we found the food to be good and reasonably priced.


Another evening we were kindly invited to eat at Florisa and Franco’s house, where she put on a wonderfully delicious spread as always.  Grazie Bella !!!


During their one week’s stay Ben and Keith managed to fit in a day trip to Naples to visit the Museo di Capodimonte, then a trip to Rome, including an overnight stay in hostel, to visit some Art galleries and explore some of the famous sites, and generally soak up the atmosphere in the Italian capital.


Wherever they went they seemed to fit in a game or two of Chess !!!




37 – New Years’ Eve 2008

Our close friends Florisa and Franco had kindly invited us to spend New Year’s eve at their house.  In Italy New Year’s Eve is known as Capo d’Anno or La Festa di San Silvestro.

We arrived to find a house full of people, their family and friends.  Florisa doesn’t bat an eyelid about cooking for 25 or more guests at a time. She comes from a big family and is one of 7 sisters.


lent1A hearty fire was burning in the hearth and we noticed that there was a traditional earthenware pot simmering there on the side, our first indication that by the end of the evening we would have had our fill or fine fayre.

Indeed we were treated to a delicious meal,  which commenced with a seafood pasta dish made with both fish and shellfish, followed by fried fish and roasted potatoes.  Next, calamari (squid) was grilled  alla Braccia over the open fire and served with various vegetable contorni.  This was followed by a selection of  fresh fruit and nuts, and roasted chestnuts. 

Next came the delicious, hard, if potentially jaw breaking  Cantucci hazelnut  biscuits  and Rococco chocolate covered gingerbread biscuits, not forgetting the obligatory Panettone, Italian spongey Christmas cake of candied peel and dried fruit.

tombolaThen someone suggested playing the traditional Italian game of Tombola.  We duly purchased our cards for 50 euro cents a time.  Soon we were all sat, eyes down, anxiously scanning our cards for the numbers that were being picked and called out (in Italian of course).  There was a prize for the first person to get a full horizontal line, and of course for getting a “full house”.  Each game was incredibly noisy and boisterous, with much ribbing and teasing going on.  As the games continued the atmosphere became more animated, with the lucky winners yelling out triumphantly whilst the deflated losers muttered “Managia la miseria !!!”  and huffed and puffed sulkily.  It was all good clean fun, except for the fact that as usual, we managed not to win a single euro cent !!!  A cheap price to pay for such a wonderful evening of merriment and entertainment.

As midnight approached they put on the TV and popped open a bottle of “bubbly” and we gathered in a circle and watched the countdown to 2009. The New Year was enthusiastically greeted with lot of hugs, kisses and Auguri’s whilst Florisa threw herself into dishing up the evening’s gastronomic finale of lentiche stewed lentils and cotechino sausage.   Traditionally it is believed that the more lentils you eat, the more prosperity comes your way throughout the year. 

Perhaps there is really more to the phrase

“with luck and a following WIND” !


32 – Our Olive Harvest Volunteers – Jane & Heulwen

The next set of volunteers, Heulwen and Jane arrived safely on the following Sunday evening.  The weather forecast was not looking promising, however on Monday morning the weather was in fact fine and fortunately stayed fine for the whole week, so we started where we had left off a few days previously. 

Normally each Monday and Wednesday evening  Paul does an English Lesson for our good friends Pasquale and Raffaele, so we invited them to eat with us, and Jane, who is a cook by profession, prepared a tasty meal for us all with bruschetta and chicken breasts stuffed with ham, cheese and spinach.

ol16Tuesday we worked hard again in the olive grove and the tally from Monday and Tuesday’s collection came to a grand total of 357 kilos, beating the previous record that had been set just the week before.  This yielded another 60 plus litres of oil.

Thankfully with the weather improving further, Wednesday was another good day of olive harvesting. Wednesday evening is normally another English lesson, and Pasquale and an old student, Antonio, came over after supper to benefit from more English conversation. Even Raffaele managed to turn up a little later despite having said he would be unable to make it.

In Thursday’s sunshine, and with the additional help of Filippo in the afternoon we managed to gather a massive 400 kilos of olives to take down to the mill.  This total took us over the amount we had gathered during our very first harvest at “Tre Cancelle” on the back of all the previous owners cultivation skills.  Paul felt this was an important milestone, an indiction that perhaps we have at least learned some new farming skills  over the past three years.

Once again, we can’t thank you enough for all your help and hard grind, Filippo, Jane and Hels !!!

Not only did the girls work long and hard in the groves, but in the evening they experimented with cooking.  Jane is clearly passionate about food and Heulwen was keen to learn.  One evening together they knocked up some delicious home-made pizzas.   

past01bThe girls wanted to have a go at making pasta, so we dug out our old pasta machine.  They prepared and kneaded the dough, before feeding the first flattened lump through the rollers of the wonderful contraption. 

They repeated this process several times, periodically reducing the gap between the rollers, thus gradually rolling it out into a thinner and longer strip of smooth, silky pasta. 

past05We used this to make some ravioli with a beef filling. With the left over dough  they made some fettucini and spaghetti.

Heulwen tried her hand at a Carbonara sauce (with fried pancetta, eggs, cream and Parmesan cheese) which was delicious.

The following lunchtime we dined on the fettucine and spaghetti with a freshly prepared Puttanesca sauce (made with tomatoes, “Itri olives”, capers and anchovies).



Friday we took a well earned day off and went for a spot of lunch at Pauline and Filippo’s.  Deefa insisted on coming too !!!


A meal at Pasquale’s that evening was a suitable finale to our busy week.  Rafaelle brought a sauce, prepared by his mother, for a primo piatto: pasta with Aubergine, courgette, sweet peppers and tomato, plus some fresh chilli to give it a bit of an edge. This was followed by a Secondo:  local hand-made sausages cooked in the oven with potatoes and rosemary.   

peppFilippo had expertly prepared some roasted red peppers.  He had charred them over an open fire before removing the blackened skins, slicing them into strips and tossing them in olive oil and lots of finely chopped garlic. Ideal for warding off vampires !!!

The meal continued with a salad of mixed green leaves and some fresh Mozzarella di Bufala and Parma Ham.  For the pudding or Dolce Jane had made a fresh Ricotta Cheesecake with a Fruits of the Forest Coulis topping and a scrumptious Kiwi fruit Pavlova with some rather nice “bubbly”. Then coffee and grappa topping off a wonderful spread and a most pleasant evening.