196 – Helping Hands In The Groves

A few days after Elsie’s party a couple more good friends arrived from Cardiff, Nicki and Callum, who had volunteered to help out for a week in the “Tre Cancelle” olive groves.  This was their second visit to Itri. 

Sadly this year once again we had no olives.  It is not just us, though, it is the same in many of the olive groves in Itri, because there were strong winds back in early May when the trees are in bloom and the flowers failed to set. 

We have recently got some workers in to help with some pruning in the lower section of the grove, and they had left behind piles of branches and twigs that littered the ground. 

Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

The job in hand was then to chomp out and separate the chunky branches from the smaller twiggy ones, called “frasche”, using pneumatically powered secateurs.

Then all the small branches have to be gathered up and burned.

Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

Bonfire Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

The burn ferociously because of the amount of oil in the sap.

We all got stuck in and worked our cotton socks off for several days and managed to clear several of the terraces.  In fact it became a quite a challenge as to how many terraces we could conquer.   Callum is only 14 but he worked so hard. Nicki you should be so proud of him.

Bonfire Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy


Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

Firewood Pruning Olive Grove Itri Italy

Dog Max Olive Grove Itri Italy

Max Olive Grove Itri Italy

Sunset in Olive Grove Itri Italy

However, it wasn’t all work and no play that week.

We all went out for a special birthday meal at the “Casareccia” in Campodimele and were joined once again by our American friends from Ohio, Florisa and Patrizia.

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

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

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

Meal at  La Casareccia Campodimele Italy

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

Chocolate Cake Tre Cancelle

Chocolate Cake Tre Cancelle

You can come and stay again Callum !!!

On their last evening we took Callum, Nicki and Kay to the Bellavista.

Here Callum had a one to one lesson in art of pizza making, by the expert himself – Massimo !!!

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

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

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Callum made a special pizza for his mum ……

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Making Pizzas at La Bellavista Restaurant Itri Italy

Making Pizza at Bellavista Restaurant Itri Latina Italy

Pizza at the Bellavista Restaurant Itri Latina Italy

Bellavista Restaurant Itri Latina Italy

Bellavista Restaurant Itri Latina Italy

Bellavista Restaurant Itri Latina ItalyNicki, Anna and Kay

Thank you Kay, Callum and Nicki

for all your support and hard work during that busy week. 

We couldn’t have done it without you !!!

#olives #gaetaolives #itriitaly #lacasarecciacampodimele #bellavistaitri



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments

Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy


175 – Emma and Aneurin’s Return To Italy

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

 Tre Cancelle Itri Italy

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

Tre Cancelle Itri Italy

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

Monte Marano Itri Italy

Another local view.

Mountains Itri Italy

Aneurin amongst the olive trees.

Olive Groves Tre Cancelle Itri Italy

Olive Harvest  Itri Italy

Olive Harvest Itri Italy

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


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

Horses at Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Itri Italy

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

Fresh Artichokes Italy

Cookery Lesson in Itri Italy

Cookery Lesson in Itri Italy

Cookery Lesson in Itri Italy

Friends in Itri Italy

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

View of the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Civita Itri Italy

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

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

View from the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Civita Itri Italy

View from the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Civita Itri Latina Italy

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

View from the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Civita Itri Italy

Sanctuary of La Madonna della Civita Itri Latina Italy

Well at the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Civita

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


All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#itri #italy #latina #MadonnaDellaCivita #sanctuary #CookeryLessons #olives #OliveHarvest



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

171 – A Busy Busy November

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


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


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


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


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


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






Gradually they were introduced to Pino. 


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


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

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


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




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

Of course Aneurin helped too.


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




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



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

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



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

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

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



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



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

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


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

152 – La Racolta And The Return Of The Belly-Dancers (part 2)

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




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





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


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

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







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


Bobbie, Karen and Elsie

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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

151 – La Racolta And The Return Of The Belly-Dancers – (part 1)

Just where does a year go !!! November – Olive Harvesting time again. 

By the end of October a good proportion of trees were heavy with olives.


Our friends Kay , Elsie and Karen are regular visitors to “Tre Cancelle” and had volunteered once again to help us out.  This time they recruited a new member for their team, Bobbie, who was eager to experience the harvest.

Unfortunately,  at the beginning of their stay, the weather was not so helpful, as there were several days of rain and strong winds which scuppered our plans. Thankfully as the week went on the weather began to improve.  The girls were keen to get stuck in.


On the first terrace, we spread out the nets around the bases of the trees.  Elsie commenced on the higher branches using the mechanical shaker.



Meanwhile the rest of us girls gathered any olives that which we could reach and pick by hand.

Some of the trees had grown over tall, so Paul set about killing two birds with one stone, giving the lofty bushy branches a good prune, which then allowed us to gather the olives from them more easily.






We also set aside the thicker branches which could be used as winter fuel for our wood-burning stove.


The olives were poured into plastic crates to take down to the local olive mill in Itri.





I sorted some lovely plump olives to be cured in brine to make into delicious table olives.


Paul was unable to overdo things, because of his heart condition.  He was finding  that he tired very quickly. Thankfully, on several days our builder friends also offered their services which was grand as they are a very fit and strong gang.






All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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

139 – Gaeta Yacht Med Festival 2012

We recently took a short drive to the nearby picturesque seaside resort of Gaeta, during the Yacht Med Festival which was being held between 20th and 29th April. 

Gaeta has ancient maritime traditions as it has long been an important  port of trade, a key export being “Itrana” Olives, which are more commonly known as “Gaeta Olives” .  The Gulf of Gaeta has a spectacular backdrop as the Aurunci Mountains tumble down to meet the sea.

This Mediterranean festival was to focus on the economy of the sea, sailing, fishing, the environment, culture and tourism. Along the long seafront boulevard there were numerous exhibition stands promoting an array of products and services related to these themes.

On show were of course many boats of all shapes,  sizes and prices.

The Guardia di Finanza had opened one of their training ships to the public.

For the first time we were also to enter the premises of the Guardia di Finanza’s Scuola Nautica at the end of the peninsular known as Punta Stendardo. It was most interesting to see the beautiful old town and its cathedral from new vantage points, which gave the vistas an entirely new perspective.

Here on show were martime exhibits including a model of the John Cabot’s (or Giovanni Cabot0’s) ship  the “Matthew”. It is believed that he was born in Gaeta, although other sources give his birthplace as Genoa. He became an English navigator and explorer, having settled in Bristol in the 1490’s.  He set sail from Bristol in May 1497, and landed in June on what is now called Cape Breton Island.  Then he sailed along the coasts of Labrador, Newfoundland, and New England, believing that he had reached north-western Asia.

Across the bay echoed the sound of strong rhythmical drumming. As we wandered back through the old town it became apparent that the reverberations were emanating  from a troop of drummers and  flag throwers, dressed in colourful medieval costumes.

We looked on as the sbandieratori seemingly effortlessly  waved, twirled and tossed their heraldic standards into the air. 

Traditionally, in times gone by, such bands of brave men would have lead their troops into battle.

Returning to matters nautical – Gaeta is the home port of the 6th Fleet Flagship USS Mount Whitney.

On the 20th May Gaeta will be in the forefront of the sailing news, as it is to be the starting point of the 2012 Rolex Volcano Race. From Gaeta the crews will race past the Pontine Islands and reach Capri to complete the first leg of the event. After the stop-over on the Isola Azzurra, the boats then race across the Tyrrhenian Sea and towards the Aeolian Islands which include Stromboli, Vulcano and Alicudi, a volcanic archipelago just north of Sicily. The long distance race of more than 400 nautical miles will finish at the beautiful Island of  Capri.

We wish all the contestants fair winds and God speed.

By the way – I have recently updated my webpages about the beautiful and interesting town of Gaeta – Please do take a minute or two to take a look:


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

133 – Start of the November 2011 Olive Harvest (part one)

Two of our friends, Kay and Elsie, who are regular visitors to Tre Cancelle, volunteered to come and help us with this year’s olive harvest.  Elsie also recruited two of her friends, Karen and Sylvia, who all belong to a popular Belly-Dancing group in South Wales.

Itri’s undulating hillsides are tinted with the silvery green foliage of olives trees, indeed Itri has been noted for the quality of its olives since Roman times.

The “Itrana” cultivar is exclusive to this specific area, thriving as a consequence of the unique environment, quality of the fertile soil, temperate micro –climate, sea breezes and fresh mountain air.

So for the last month the olive groves around Itri have been a hive of activity, with the cheery banter of workers laughing and jesting whilst preparing for the olive harvest, strimming grass and weeds and trimming and burning suckers.  Little “apes” (pronounced Ah-Pays, which translated literally mean “bees”) – small three wheeler vans noisily buzz and rattle along the local lanes, sometimes with a husband and generously proportioned wife cosily crammed inside the tiny driving cab.

By November many of the olives have grown round and plump and are gradually turning from bright green to dappled pink. Those harvested in November / December produce the much sought after “Early Harvest” Extra Virgin Olive Oil and / or Green Table Olives.

Other farmers prefer to harvested their olives when they are fully ripe, during February / March, to produce the “Mature Harvest Extra Virgin Oil and / or Purple / Black Table Olives.

After the well received comments from our last years November oil, we elected to harvest our olives early in the season, which whilst it produces less in volume, yields a wonderfully green and intense olive oil.

The weather seemed to be in our favour being set fair for most of the week.  The “Welsh Girls” were keen to get stuck in.

We started by carefully spreading out nets around some of the trees on the first terrace to be worked. Paul fired up the compressor to which can be fitted a variety of pneumatic tools, in this case a mechanical rake on a 4 meter telescopic pole, which is used to comb and vibrate the laden branches, causing the olives to cascade onto the nets below.


Elsie and Kay

 Some of the trees had grown very tall, and required pruning back, so Paul climbed up a ladder, and with his trusty chain saw, and lopped off the tops to a more manageable height of 4 meters,  thus allowing the olives to be easily harvested at ground level.

This is done by hand either by using small rakes or by gently running one’s fingers over the fronds, popping of the colourful fruits, a task I find enormously satisfying.



Inevitably the odd stray olive manages to bounce off the net so we scrambled about under the trees collecting these up.

The nets were then carefully gathered up and the olives rolled to one edge, where stray twigs and leaves are pulled out before pouring the olives into the waiting plastic crates. The huge nets were then lugged to the next batch of trees to be harvested.

Elsie, Kay and Karen

Kay, Elsie, Sylvia and Karen

  Ideally the olives need to be processed within 48 hours of being harvested, to preserve the very best of their natural characteristics.

The minimum batch size to take to the olive mill is 200 kilos, or 2 quintale, to ensure that your olives are processed in a single lot, and that you retrieve your own oil at the end of the process, and that it is not a mixed with someone else’s olives.  We think this is very important because by choice we do not use pesticides and herbicides whereas some other producers are not so ecologically minded.

Therefore, in general we tend to work two days on and one day off.  Our team of volunteers worked well and following the first 2 day harvest we were able to take 209 kilos of olives to the mill.

The following day the “Welsh Girls” deserved a well earned day off. 

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


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