210 – Itri 2015 Festa della Madonna di Civita

We are delighted to have our friends, the White family and three of their girls, staying with us once again at Tre Cancelle. You may remember that Niamh had already spent a month here in June with her elder sister Shannon.  One evening we decided to trundle down to Itri to check out this year’s summer festival. 

Here are the girls heading down the old Roman Via Appia towards the main square of Piazza Incoronazione.


Bethan, Caitlin, Niamh – “The Three Graces”


The festival is dedicated to the Madonna della Civita who is  the patron of the town of Itri  which nestles in the foothills of the Aurunci Mountains.



The main streets were decorated with brightly coloured illuminations.


A stage had been set up for the evening’s musical entertainment.


The long road of Via Farnese was lined with stall after stall of amusements and street vendors.



There were numerous food stalls selling items like roasted peanuts, lupini, multi-coloured sweets, nougat, candyfloss, guanciale, and rolls filled with porchetta.






Also for sale were every type of clothes, shoes, trainers, hats, caps, jewellery, watches,  sunglasses, trinkets, noisy children’s toys, household goods, terracotta cooking pots, handy kitchen gadgets, garden implements, artificial flowers, holy paintings, goldfish, ducklings, parakeets …  you name it there was a stall selling it !!!



On almost every available piece of pavement there were African peddlers, who could not afford to rent a stall, so they simply displayed their wares on a sheet stretched out on the ground. 

I took a peek inside La Chiesa dell’ Annunziata.


Here the resplendent silver statue of the Madonna and Child is displayed for all to see, resting on a lavishly decorated altar. 






When I stepped outside I could hear that the music had already started. 

This evening  a Jovanotti tribute band, known as “Jovanotte”, were to give a free concert in Itri. 






We were impressed by their musical ability and the energy of their performance. 

Well their music certainly got Paul’s feet tapping !!!


The following evening was the last of the festival.  Having seen all the stalls the night before, we all decided to meet up for a pizza with Pat and Melinda at the Bellavista.


Jenny and Andrew


Caitlin and Bethan


Niamh and Caitlin


Pat and Niamh

We enjoyed a cheery evening while we waited for the grand finale of the Festa della Madonna della Civita, a spectacular firework display. 

The Bellavista has a superb view of Itri and its ancient castle.   








It astounds me how a little town like Itri can put on such a magnificent firework display every year.

Brava Itri !!!  We love you !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#itri #trecancelle #italy #SouthLazio #MadonnaDellaCivita #travel



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri

209 – Minturno – La Sagra delle Regne and International Folklore Festival

La Sagra delle Regne is a religious festival dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie, the patron of the old medieval town of Minturno. It takes place every year on the second Sunday in July. 

Our American friends, Pat and Melinda, very kindly invited us to spend the afternoon and evening with them, so that we could see the festival for ourselves.  They have purchased an apartment in Minturno and have now left their old life back behind in Ohio, and begun their adventure of living in Italy. 


Melinda, Pat and Paul

Pat and Melinda had very kindly had the foresight to reserve a table at their local bar, which was located directly  in front of the event’s main stage. It proved to be an excellent viewpoint.  Of course I had my trusty camera with me !!!  I was hoping to capture some good shots of this colourful event.

The term “regne” has Latin origins, meaning bundles or sheaves of wheat.  The festival had pagan origins. Local farmers would beseech the Roman Gods of the earth to protect the wheat harvest and bless the fruits of their labours. During the Middle Ages the festival became a Christian one, in which the Madonna delle Grazie was entreated to grant local families, farmers and fishermen success in their personal endeavours.

In Minturno’s main square stands the 14th century stone church dedicated to San Francesco.  Inside there is a side altar with a beautiful fresco depicting the Madonna delle Grazie.




As the festival began to get under way we watched decorated carts being transported to the centre of the village, some were horse-drawn, others were towed by tractor.



photo © Melinda Abbott










In the evening Minturno hosted the Festivale Internationale del Folklore.

We watched an impressive performance by a band of sbandieratori or flag wavers / throwers, an ancient Medieval tradition.



Many local people, both young and old, were dressed in the typical costumes of this region.   There seems to be so much passion, diligence and pride in trying to preserve the old traditional ways.

Everyone gathers in the main square to see the wheat being threshed manually by the “vigilatori”. 














There were numerous performances by local dance groups

and musicians from Minturno.







At this year’s 2015 festival Minturno welcomed colourful dance troupes from

Mexico, Panama and Poland.


















The evening’s entertainment culminated

in the castle being seemingly set alight.

We retired back to Pat and Melinda’s apartment where we sat on their wonderful roof terrace.  Here we were able to sit and relax, and enjoy the cooler night air whilst watching the festa’s grand finale  – a colourful firework display.



Thanks to Pat and Melinda for a wonderful evening.

All photos (except were indicated) by me © Louise Shapcott

#minturno #italy #festival #festa #sagra #FolkDancing #SagraDelleRegne #WheatHarvest #tradition #culture


Just recently I have been updating my Minturno web pages.

Minturno has a fascinating history and it is so interesting to wander around the old Medieval town.

You can read more about Minturno and see more photographs here at my website:  




Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri, South Lazio

195 – Elsie’s Special Birthday

In November, to celebrate Elsie’s milestone birthday, Elsie, Kay and another friend Brenda decided to take a few days holiday in Sicily, a place Elsie had always longed to visit.  They rented a small apartment in the centre of Palermo and experienced first hand Sicilian life in this hectic city. On Elsie’s birthday Kay organised a sight seeing trip in a traditional horse drawn carriage, followed by a special meal.

Horse drawn carriage Palermo Sicily Italy

Birthday in Palermo Sicily Italy

Palermo Sicily Italy

Palermo Sicily Italy

Park in Palermo Sicily Italy

Park in Palermo Sicily Italy

Palermo Sicily Italy

Evening in Palermo Sicily Italy

They also managed to fit in a day trip to the seaside resort of Cefalù.

lthough it was November the weather was beautifully warm and Brenda was able to have a paddle in the sea.

Beach at Cefalù Sicily Italy

Beach at Cefalù Sicily Italy

Harbour at Cefalù Sicily Italy

Fish Market in Sicily Italy

Meanwhile back in Itri I was busy preparing a surprise birthday party for Elsie at the Bellavista restaurant with some live music by our friends Santo and Anna.

Elsie was really shocked as she entered the room as assembled were many of our friends from Itri and some other American friends from Minturno.

Birthday at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Birthday at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Birthday at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Florisa and I had baked a special cake.

Birthday at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Birthday at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Birthday at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Birthday at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Birthday at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Birthday at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

The next day was to be my friend Florisa’s birthday, so after midnight we celebrated hers too.

Birthday at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Thanks to everyone for making it such a memorable joyous occasion.

Photos by Kay McRobbie

#birthdayparty #bellavista #itri #pizzeria #restaurant



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

188 – 2014 Gathering of the “We Love Atina” Group – A Walk Around The Cemetery

The Church of Santa Maria – the first church was built in 1044 on the site of the Roman temple of Saturn.  This was destroyed in the earthquake of 1231, however was soon rebuilt and was enlarged over the years. In November 1943 it was destroyed during the bombing of Atina.  This is the entrance to the Cemetery.

Ruined Church Near the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Atina’s Cemetery – The Visocchi Chapel

Vissochi Chapel in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Vissochi Chapel in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Vissochi Chapel in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Stained Glass Window in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Gravestone in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Grave in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Grave in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Vissochi Grave in  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

Looking down at the lower section of  Cemetery at the church of San Pietro and in the distance the district known as “Il Colle” and the small octagonal church of Santa Croce.

Church of Santa Croce Il Colle in Atina in Frosinone Italy

From Atina’s Cemetery

A view of the Val di Comino and the mountains beyond.

Val di Comino from  the Cemetery of Atina in Frosinone Italy

A section of ancient Cyclopean wall dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries BC, situated near the Cemetery.

Cyclopean wall in Atina Frosinone Italy

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

My Atina Website:   http://atinaitaly.com

#WeLoveAtina #Cemetery #Atina #frosinone #italy #church #churches




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

185 – Itri’s Medieval Festival

itri medieval festival

During the summer months the population of Itri swells with holiday visitors and as families that emigrated abroad return to their beloved home town.  Many come to attend Itri’s July festival which is held in honour of its patron, “La Madonna della Cività”.

Itri Castle in Latina South Lazio Italy

The festival always culminates in a splendid firework display which emanates from the magnificent castle that dominates the old medieval quarter.

Fireworks at Itri Castle in Latina South Lazio Italy

During July and August Itri holds a whole host of events and this year we ventured to see the “Festa Medievale” which was also held up in the old historic part of town.  We arrived early, however the streets were already jammed with cars heading for the festival, and parking spaces were at a premium.  So we decided to park in the lower part of town and continue by making our way on foot.

Itri Castle in Latina South Lazio Italy

The old town is a warren of narrow cobble stone streets, archways, gates and stairways.  It is full of interesting nooks and crannies, there is something of interest around every corner.

Historic old town of Itri in Latina South Lazio Italy

Old Door in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

Old Balcony in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

Alleyway in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

Bell Tower of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Itri

Detail of the Bell Tower of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore

In the main square traditional games had been set up to entertain the children.

Medieval Festival in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

Medieval Festival in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

Medieval Festival in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

By the castle there was a display of falconry with live birds of prey – Such exquisite creatures.

Falconry Display at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Hawk at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Barn Owl at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Owl at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

As we wandered through the narrow alleyways amongst the jostling crowd we came across local folk dressed in Medieval costumes, acting as feudal lords, courtiers, swordsmen, archers, flag throwers and street musicians.

Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Costumes at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Flag Thrower Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Medieval Festival Itri Italy

Medieval Festival Itri Italy

Musicians at Medieval Festival Itri Italy

There were also stalls selling traditional gastronomic delights and arts and crafts …..

Medieval Festival Itri Italy

and an exhibition of gruesome implements of torture.

Rack of Torture Medieval Festival Itri Italy

Chair of Torture Medieval Festival Itri Italy

Skeleton at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

The authentic atmosphere of Itri’s historic old town was just perfect for such an event and I think an enjoyable evening was had by all.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#Itri #Italy #MedievalFestival #castle



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

143 – Sermoneta and The Giardini di Ninfa

In mid April I finally flew back to Bella Italia accompanied by our friend Kay, who had decided to fit in a week’s stay at “Tre Cancelle”.  Feeling happier that things had settled down in the UK, it was good to once again set foot on Italian soil.

In my absence Paul had been staying on his own at TC , keen to take care of the dogs and get lots of work done in and around the house and olive groves.

One evening we were  invited to Luigi and Ornella’s house for supper. They had kindly bought a little present for Kay.

Kay especially enjoyed her drop of Prosecco !!!

After the meal “Luigiiiiiiiiiiiii” dug out his old guitar and we shared a very jolly serata in such excellent company.

During her stay Kay helped out with a few jobs, such as preparing the pool.  Sadly the weather was not quite warm enough for her to have a dip.

At the end of her week Kay had to fly back home,  but was to return again just six weeks later with another friend, Elsie, one of the Belly-dancing group.  Kay has by far been our most frequent guest at “Tre Cancelle”.  She had come over last year in July, then again in November with the “Welsh Girls” (to help with the olive harvest) and again at Christmas with daughter Kirsten, and Elsie.

During this trip Elsie was very keen to visit the Giardini di Ninfa as their stay coincided with one of the garden’s open days.  We suggested first stopping off at Sermoneta, a picturesque medieval town set high on the edge of the Monti Lepini.

The majestic well-preserved castle dominates the town which is enclosed by formidable fortified walls of limestone.

Sermoneta  is a maze of narrow, winding cobbled streets, alleyways and steep flights of stairs.

The town still retains much of its medieval charm with its characteristic Loggia dei Mercanti or old Town Hall in the central square.

At the heart of Sermoneta is the 13th century beautiful Romanesque Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo.

From Sermoneta there are magnificent views across the Pontine Plain to the sea.

In the afternoon we headed back down hill to find the Giardini di Ninfa.  This was to be my second visit, the first having been in 2010, see my previous Blog entry: 


Ninfa is a real treasure – a haven of natural beauty and tranquility and a photographer’s paradise. You can read all about Ninfa and its history at my website:  The Gardens of Ninfa

Being early June many roses were in full bloom.

My favourite area is down by the gently flowing river.

More about the fascinating Medieval town of Sermoneta:


More about the magical Gardens of Ninfa:


Closeby to Sermoneta and Ninfa is the clifftop town of



and the Cistercian  Valvisciolo Abbey


which also definitely merit a visit.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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

137 – Il Presepio Vivo di Maranola

This year at Christmas-time we thought it would be good to take our friends, who were visiting us from Wales,  to see an Italian “Presepio Vivo” – a “Live Nativity”. 

The little medieval town of Maranola, near Formia, has become well known for this popular event, and this Christmas of 2011 was to be the town’s 37th edition, with presentations being held on several evenings: 26 December; the 1st and the 6th of January (the Epiphany).

This is a wonderful event where the locals work closely together as a community to put on a re-enactment of the Nativity story. 

As “this is Italy” the event was a little late in getting underway, so as the queue of people waited patiently, some Ciociaria zampogna players (wearing their typical form of footware – le ciocie) began to pipe their traditional folk music and carols.

Finally as we began to make forward progress and at last we entered the old Medieval part of town though an ancient gateway.

It seemed as if we were taking a step back in time. Throughout the labyrinth of narrow winding streets and alleys of Maranola, scenes of  typical village life of years gone by was being portrayed by the townspeople.

In old store-rooms and cellars along the way, costumed locals, both young and old, depicted characters carrying out their various trades, every day chores and typical handicrafts.

There were groups singing and dancing to traditional music.

There were also stalls handing out tasters of local produce to sample enroute.

As we meandered our way onwards and upwards through the old town there seemed to be something of interest around every corner. 

As we neared the highest point of the town we came to the square by the old Caetani tower, which dates back to the 1300’s.  Here there was a charming live tableau depicting the nativity scene, farm animals, a stable with Mary and Jesus and a real little baby lying in the manger.

The trail next lead us into the nearby church, the Chiesa di San Luca Evangelista, who is Maranola’s patron saint. The church  has some ancient frescoes.

Next we entered the beautiful church dedicated to Santa Maria dei Martiri which is ornately decorated.  Here there was a beautiful crib with hand-made terracotta figurines which are said to date back to the 16th century.

Thank you to the people of Maranola and the Associazione Culturale for their hard work in putting on such a wonderful Presepe Vivo.  Well done to each and every one who took part.

For more information about the town of Maranola see my website:  http://maranola.shapcott-family.com


The tiny town of Campodimele, near Itri, also put on a “Living Nativity” this Christmas. 

Sadly this event was severely marred by some very inclement wet and windy weather, but I did manage to take a couple of pictures. It was such a shame as the villagers had worked so hard to organise this event. 

I love their wooly hats – but it really was freezing cold !!!

I hope the villagers of Campodimele will try to hold this event again next year, if so we will be there for sure !!!

For more information about the town of Campodimele see my website:  http://campodimele.shapcott-family.com

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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

136 – The Belly-Dancing Extravaganza

When Elsie, and two of her belly-dancing friends, Karen and Sylvia, volunteered to come and help us with the olive harvest, I begged them to bring their costumes, so that perhaps we could put on a little show. 

They have been attending belly-dancing classes for several years, perfecting the necessary muscle control and complex choreographed manoeuvres of this dance form. They belong to a dance troupe who perform locally in South Wales.

I organised for the “Belly-Dancing Extravaganza”  to take place one evening at the Bellavista Restaurant, which is run by our good friends – la famiglia Riccardi.

We had invited several of our Italian friends from Itri, some of whom have known Kay and Elsie for many years now, but in true Italian fashion, up until the last minute we had no firm idea of how many people would be able to attend.

We arrived in good time, so that the girls had time to dress and prepare themselves.

Then, one by one our invited friends started to come through the door and it soon became apparent that there was going to be a good turnout for the evening’s entertainment.  This resulted in augmenting  the girls’ pre-performance nerves, which were already running somewhat high. 

The girls looked absolutely stunning as they elegantly swished their way onto the dance floor.

Their glamorous costumes were richly bejewelled with sequins, glass beads and jingling coins.

Each had taken great care in putting together their exotic, eye-catching ensembles.

Sylvia dressed in rich purple …..

Karen dressed in vivid scarlet …..

and Elsie in opulent black and gold …..

As the rhythmic music began the girls began to gracefully undulate and gyrate, whirling and twirling, with a shimmy or two of the hips.  Their elegant flowing movements were seemingly effortless. 

The audience was totally captivated by their magnificent performance.

Especially Massimo !!!

Later members of the audience were invited onto the dance floor to try their hand at some of the typical moves.  Some individuals turned out to be somewhat more competent than others, which resulted in much hilarity !!!

The evening proved to be a great success, and was enjoyed by all.

A big Thank You to the Belly-Dancing Girls from South Wales !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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

135 – Start of the November 2011 Olive Harvest (part two)

The next day the “Welsh Girls” were keen to get back to work.

We threw down the gauntlet saying that the most olives ever gathered to take down to the mill in a single drop was 400 kilos.  The girls were determined to beat this record over the next two days.

We all got into the swing of things, and worked really hard and efficiently as a team.

Yet there was also time for a great deal of joviality, general larking about and of course cups of tea.

Dont mess with these girls !!!  Elsie and Kay

Kay and Sylvia

Elsie and Kay

Kay and Sylvia

Karen, Sylvia and Kay … Dance of the 7 Veils _???_

Sylvia practising her Belly Dancing routine !!!

Karen … Just looking cute !!!

That afternoon Moustapha, our 7 ft Senegalese friend from the market, also volunteered to lend a helping hand … he was ideal for reaching the loftier branches with the olive clapper !!!

“Just a bit higher Mousapha !!!”


Moustapha enjoying and English cup of tea

The next morning the girls were up early and worked all day like crazy to fill more cases with olives.

By the end of that day we had gathered 408 kilos of olives, beating the previous record by 8 kilos.

Well done everyone !!!

Karen, Kay, Elsie

Sylvia, Paul, Karen, Elsie, Louise

Elsie, Karen, Paul, Kay, Sylvia

We then loaded up the car with the 21 cases of olives.

Sincere thanks to Kay, Elsie, Karen and Sylvia, and not forgetting kind Moustapha for their hard graft and sterling efforts over the past week.  We couldn‘t have done it without you.  Well done !!!

You may have thought that the “Welsh Girls” would have been exhausted after their laborious day …..

But No !!! They went on to perform a Belly Dancing Extravaganza at the Bellavista Restaurant in Itri that evening !!!

See next post !!!

The Belly Dancing Extravaganza !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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