239 – November in Sperlonga

When friends come and visit we usually take them for a little run in the car to show them around our local area of South Lazio.

In November our friend Annette and her friend Sarah came to stay with us at Tre Cancelle for a few days.

The girls at the Cafe Centrale in Itri – Hot chocolate so thick you need a spoon.

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The weather was still calm and very mild, so we of course took them for a snack lunch to the Miramare at Sant’Agostino beach.

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Sarah and Annette

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Sarah, Paul and Annette

Then on to Sperlonga which can be very beautiful at this time of year.

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The Torre Truglia.

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The harbour.

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Sarah and Annette

View of Sperlonga’s Ponente Beach.

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View of Levante Beach.

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The Grotto of Emperor Tiberius.

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A square in the old historic centre.

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Wandering through Sperlonga’s maze of little alleyways. There is something to see around every corner.

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A wedding in Sperlonga.

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Sperlonga sunsets.

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Sunset over San Felice Circeo.

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Come Discover Beautiful Sperlonga !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#sperlonga #italy #SouthLazio #beaches #

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri

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.

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Isn’t it just amazing !!!

Florisa with some of her home grown strawberries.

Grazie Carissima  Florisa xxx

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All  photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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

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

 

 

227 – Visit to Pastena

At the end of April we welcomed two lovely ladies, Lissa and Debra, from the USA.  This was to be their first trip to this area of Italy and Lissa was keen to visit her ancestral home of her family, namely Pastena.  Pastena is a small but picturesque medieval village which is in the province of Frosinone and belongs to the ancient region of Ciociaria.

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As Lissa and Debra didn’t have a car we offered to drive them to Pastena, which is along an interesting route, passing through Fondi and then heading inland towards Lenola and beyond. Finally we reached the verdant plain of Pastena surrounded by  hills and mountains. Here the soil is rich and fertile thus agriculture has always been the mainstay of the economy in these parts.

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As we approached Pastena we saw a hill which at its peak has modern sculptures representing the patron saints of the town, Sant’Elena and San Sinforo.

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Lissa first wanted to call in at Pastena’s Register Office or Anagrafe in the Town Hall.

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We were received by the registrar who seemed to be rather flustered and busy, and he insisted that he did not have time to look through the records to try and find out more about Lissa’s ancestors. However he did take details from her and promised to look for them during the next few days.  Feeling slightly deflated we went for a stroll around the old town.

Close to the Town Hall is a museum – “Il Museo della Civiltà Contadina e dell’Ulivo” or Museum of Country Life and Olive Cultivation.This is  housed in a palazzo which was once the home and an ancient olive m of the Trani family.  Among the interesting exhibits are the original old mill-stone and press, tools related to olive farming, tilling the soil, animal husbandry, wine making, cheese making, basket making, spinning and weaving of linen.  Also there are examples of traditional clothes, musical instruments and general domestic items of everyday Pastena life in times gone by.

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Lissa also wanted the visit Pastena’s cemetery which was situated a little way out of town. She was hoping to find some of her ancestors’ graves.

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We went back into Pastena to wander through the characteristic Medieval centre. At the highest point of the village is the main square and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. On the facade are two niches which house images of the patron saints of the town.

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We noticed that there were festive lights mounted throughout the town. We learned that the following day was the Feast of “Il Maggio” or “la Festa del’Albero della Cuccagna” -a festival to celebrate the coming of Spring.  We soon made plans to return the following day, with our friends Pat and Melinda, to see the celebrations for ourselves.

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On the 15th April the local men go out into the woods to choose the best tall straight cypress tree. Once this has been selected a cross is carved out of the bark mark it.  At sunrise on the morning of 30th April many of the local men folk will gather around the chosen tree for a traditional ceremony where the parish priest recites prayers.  The master of ceremonies takes the axe and makes the first cuts into the tree, in the presence of the calf, with each of the participants taking their turn to wield the axe. The actual felling of the tree is marked by gun shots and a drum roll. The tree is then cleaned of the bark and branches etc.

There follows a ritual “funeral” procession for “the tree of sacrifice” that has been taken from the “sacred forest”.  Slowly but surely it is hauled up to the village with the help of a numerous pairs of strong oxen, lead by the sacred calf.

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During the long procession loud firework were periodically set off, and  unnervingly groups of hunters shot rounds from their rifles and shotguns into the air.

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We then walked uphill back towards the town. As we entered the square in front of the town hall we were spotted by the register who eagerly tried to flag us down.  He told Lissa he had looked in the registers and had found several more generations of Lissa’s family. He lead us into his office where he handed over the paperwork.  Lissa was happy and we were so pleased for her.  We took a photo of the Registrar, Lissa and Debra to remember this very special day.

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Debra and Lissa

A little more about the “Il Maggio” festivities ….

On the 1st May the tree is cleaned in the main square, in front of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.  The top of the tall tree trunk is adorned with May flowers of broom.  A hole is prepared and then the men work together using ropes to gradually winch the tree trunk into an upright position.

On the 3rd May, on the feast day of the Santissima Santa Croce, when the statue of Sant’ Elena on her throne is taken from the church and carried around all the districts of the town followed by a solemn procession.

Typically the womenfolk  have previously prepared a type of sweet bread / doughnut in the shape of a decorated ring called a Ciambellone, these are carried during the procession as a symbol of religious devotion.  The procession is accompanied by ceremonial gunfire.

Later in the day the tree trunk is raised into position in the main square, having been covered in grease. This is known as the “albero della cuccagna”. Then there is a competition amongst the young men of the village, when they attempt to scale the slippery pole. At the top there are prizes for the successful climbers. In the evening there are more celebrations of musical entertainment and fireworks.

The tree trunk remains in place in the square until September, when it is cut down and distributed as firewood to the local inhabitants of Pastena.

All  photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#pastena #festival #ilmaggio #familyhistory #spring #italy

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

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.

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Bethan, Caitlin, Niamh – “The Three Graces”

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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.

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The main streets were decorated with brightly coloured illuminations.

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

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

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

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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 !!!

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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.

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

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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. 

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

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

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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.

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Jenny and Andrew

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Caitlin and Bethan

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Niamh and Caitlin

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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.   

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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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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photo © Melinda Abbott

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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.

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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”. 

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There were numerous performances by local dance groups

and musicians from Minturno.

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

Mexico, Panama and Poland.

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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.

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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

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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:  

http://minturno.shapcott-family.com/

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri, South Lazio

204 – Itri’s June 2015 Infiorata

Each June to celebrate the Sunday of Corpus Domini, held on the 9th Sunday after Easter, Itri stages a wonderful festival of flowers, known as The “Infiorata”. This was to be the 29th edition of this community event and people young and old gather to work on the various designs.  

Our American friends Pat and Melinda were keen to take part, so a day or so before the actual event we turned up in Itri, in a side alley off Via Della Repubblica,  each armed with a pair of scissors.

We were warmly greeted and allocated some chairs and we set to work. There were bucketfuls and bucketfuls of carnations of various colours. 

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The first task was to snap off the flower heads from their stems and collect them into crates. All the remainder of the greenery was set aside to later be put through a shredder machine.

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Pat and Melinda

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These lovely French ladies travel to Itri every year just to take part in the Infiorata.

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When all the flower heads were detached, the next job was to snip off the petals just above the green base of the flower. The fresh confetti of petals were collected into crates, the bases were thrown into another basket for later use.  Nothing of the flowers is put to waste.

There were people of all ages and walks of life helping with the preparation of the flower petals. There were children with their mothers, grandmothers with their grandchildren, pensioners, school children, teenagers, all were happy to lend a helping hand.

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PM10440722_10207085063068434_8798950205324739827_nOn the Sunday morning we travelled down to Itri to see people working on the creations.  Each design measures 4 x 7 metres.  This  is at truly amazing type of street art, a Floral carpet flower petals that only lasts for one single day.  Some of the designs are very elaborate. This year they followed a modern theme.

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K11427188_10152958666998963_5690021273640806369_nIn the afternoon, after Sunday lunch,

people flock to admire the completed designs.

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The ceremonial altar and a design of La Madonna della Civitá –

the Patron of Itri.

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K11407153_10152958667023963_6732031142755339241_nAfter the religious procession has wound its way through all of the districts of the town, the Priest, carrying the holy sacraments walks over the tapestry of flowers.

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It was very satisfying to know that we had played a small part in this wonderful community event.

Photos by me – Louise, Kay McRobbie, and Patrick and Melinda Abbott

#itri #infiorata #SouthLazio #italy #flower #festival #CorpusDomini

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You might also like to take a look at some of my past posts relating to the Itri Infiorata:

162 – Preparations For Itri’s June 2013 Infiorata

163 – The Completed Designs of Itri’s June 2013 Infiorata

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

202 – Our New 2015 Video For Tre Cancelle Farmhouse and South Lazio Italy

I (Louie) have been beavering away once again on the old computer.

Using  my own photos I have  put together a

new 2015 Video Slideshow of our Tre Cancelle Farmhouse.

Please do take a look – We hope you will enjoy it ………..

2015 “Tre Cancelle” Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

We also have a video about this beautiful and interesting region of

South Lazio in Italy:

“Beautiful South Lazio”

This beautiful mountainous / coastal region of South Lazio (within the provinces of Latina and Frosinone) is rich in history, architecture, culture and natural beauty.  Indeed it is blessed in many ways :

The beautiful coastline of the Riviera Di Ulisse / Ulysses Riviera (sometimes also know as the Costa Pontina or Pontine Coast) is considered to be one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Italy.  

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Sperlonga Coastline

It takes its name from Greek mythology.  According to Homer’s ancient work the “Odessey” and Virgil’s later work the “Aeneid”, the legendary Greek hero Odysseus / Ulysses, having fled from the Aegean following the fall of Troy, for 10 years navigated the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and eventually set foot on these golden Italian shores.  

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Odysseus / Ulysses

This picturesque Riviera Di Ulisse, with its numerous golden sandy beaches, rocky coves, hidden caves and sheltered harbours, and the pretty seaside resorts of Sperlonga, Gaeta, Formia, Terracina, San Felice and the Pontine Islands, is noted for its temperate climate, and rainless summers.

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Sperlonga

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The rocky cliffs are a haven for Free Climbers.

Yet close by are the dramatic Aurunci, and Ausoni, mountains which border the Southern Appenines and the Abruzzo National Park.  This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a diversity of landscapes:  Pretty medieval hill towns; verdant tranquil hillsides; olive groves; rivers, lakes; craggy peaks and protected nature reserves.

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Itri Nestling In The Aurunci Mountains

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View of Bella Itri

South Lazio is ideally positioned midway between Rome  and Naples making it an ideal base for taking day trips to these noble historical cities and also to  Pompei, Herculaneum and Vesuvius, to Montecassino,  to the Royal Palace of Caserta and Anzio.

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The South Lazio area is popular with Italian visitors during the month of August, however out of season it reverts to a peaceful setting that is still largely undiscovered by international tourists.

So …

Come And Discover Beautiful South Lazio !!!

For more details about our

2 Comfy Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

and other local Holiday Villas  

please go to our Website at :

http://trecancelle.shapcott-family.com

 

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#holiday #apartments #sperlonga  #itri #italy #vacation #homes #rentals #villas #SouthLazio

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201 – Celebrating Pasquetta With Friends

Our friends  Pauline and Filippo, who have a house in the Migliorano district of Itri, kindly invited us to their home on Easter Monday. You may remember that we were invited there for the family feast of Ferragosto last August.

As usual Filippo’s family were also coming from the nearby coastal town of Formia, where Filippo was born and bred.  I explained that we had our special friends the White family staying with us over the Easter period. Pauline just said “the more the merrier!”  Also a new acquaintance was invited to also come along – Frank from California in the USA. (I will add more about Frank on a future blog post.)

We arrived at around Noon and we were warmly greeted by all of Pauline and Filippo’s family.

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Frank, Andrew and Bethan

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Andrew, Bethan and Jenny White

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Bethan, Jenny and Pauline

The weather had turned unseasonably chilly this Easter in Italy.

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We were told that we would be eating inside where there was a welcoming fire in the grate.

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Typically the Italian women folk were already busy in the kitchen which was full of tantalising delicious aromas.

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A rich sugo with clams and tomato was simmering on the hob and the pasta was almost ready to serve. There would be 17 of us sitting around the table !!!

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The clam sauce was absolutely delicious.  Next some typical tiella pies were served with various fillings.  There were also omelettes and some special savory Easter breads with eggs baked in them and flavoured with cheese and pancetta. In addition there was grilled chicken, some greens – namely scarola and broccoletti tossed in garlic and olive oil,  and of course, Filippo’s wonderful roasted peppers.

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Tiella

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Wild Asparagus Frittata

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Roasted Peppers

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This was followed by grilled fish.

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Fragolini

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For dessert there were several homemade Pastiera Napoletana cakes, made with ricotta cheese. Just wonderful.

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Photo *

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Salute – Cin Cin !!!

Here is Filippo’s mother who has recently celebrated her 90th birthday.

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Sincere thanks  to all of Pauline and Filippo’s family for inviting us and our friends to share their Easter celebration with us.

* photo by Mattia Luigi Nappi   cc By-Sa 3.0

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#pasquetta #easter #food #itri #italy #italian #SouthLazio

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

200 – Always a Warm Welcome at the Bellavista

We have some very close friends that run a Restaurant and Pizzeria in Itri.   The Bellavista is situated up on a hillside overlooking Itri with a splendid view of the Castle and old town  nestling in the beautiful Aurunci mountains.

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The Bellavista is a family business run by two brothers, Giancarlo and Massimo, and their Mamma Anna.  The restaurant has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and the tasty food is quite reasonably priced.

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We are always made so welcome there and it is one of Kay and Elsie’s favourite places when they visit us in Itri, and we recommend it to many of our friends and guests.

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Giancarlo and Monica have a sweet little girl named Chiara.

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They already have Chiara helping in the kitchen to make pizzas from time to time !!!

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Occasionally Massimo kindly gives our friends a lesson in the art of pizza making.  It is not as easy as you may think.  Here is Massimo teaching Bethan some of the special techniques.  

The prepared dough had been been made the day before.  It was shaped into small balls and had been covered with a damp cloth and left to prove overnight.

By the next evening the risen balls of dough were ready.  A floured work surface was prepared and each one of the little rounds of dough had to be gently flattened by pressing out with the fingertips, whilst at the same time the dough had to be rotated to maintain a circular shape. Here Bethan is preparing some Focaccia.

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Then Massimo demonstrated how he lifts up the dough and gently stretches it over his knuckles and over the backs of his hands, and as the pizza stretches more and more then over his lower arms.  The dough has to be finely stretched and manipulated to become thin, almost transparent, without creating any holes.

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Bethan was really getting the hang of it. Well done Bethan !!!

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Bethan made her Focaccia into a heart shape and drizzled it with some olive oil which she spread over the surface with her finger-tips. Finally a sprinkling of sea salt and some finely chopped rosemary can be added if required.  The next tricky stage is to get the dough onto the pizza paddle and to transport it to the wood fired oven, where it only needs a few minutes to cook.

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Eccoci qua – Bethan’s Focaccia.

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All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#pizza #focaccia #bellavista #LaBellavista #pizzeria #restaurant #ristorante #itri #italy #southlazio

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