Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 26, 2014

Lucy’s eyes

Some religious paintings can be very gruesome indeed. A little known painting by Tiepolo, The Last Communion of St Lucy, in the Capella Corner of Santi Apostoli in Venice, shows poor Lucy after her eyes have been put out. They are displayed on a tray at the bottom of the painting.





Lucy was a Sicilian noblewoman born in Syracuse around 300AD. She pledged herself to God, taking a vow of chastity and poverty. The man she was promised to in marriage denounced her to the Consul, accusing her of being christian.

She was committed to a brothel, but, filled with the Holy Spirit, she became immovable, and dozens of men could not move her. Finally, after having her sprinkled with urine (said to drive out evil spirits), then boiling oil mixed with pitch and resin, the Consul had the saint’s throat cut and her eyes put out.

Miraculously, Lucy could still speak after her throat had been cut, continuing to invoke the name of God. Poor Lucy is the patron saint of opticians and those suffering from eye diseases.

The church of Santi Apostoli is in Cannaregio, not far from the Ca d’Oro or Rialto Vaporetto stop.


We were pointed in Lucy’s direction by Secret Venice by Thomas Jonglez and Paolo Zoffoli…the best Venice guide book.


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 23, 2014

My son went to Iceland and all I got were photos of ice

…and a couple of selfies.























Thanks Brandon for the visit to Iceland…I must go there.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 20, 2014

Harvest and lots of lovely pineapples

Harvest is the latest exhibition at GoMA, Gallery of Modern Art, in Brisbane. It is a celebration of food in art. There are magnificent still lifes from the 17th century to today, contemporary photography, film and much more.

Some of the works relate obviously to food, but some are more obscure, including the large-scale installations by Tomas Saraceno. His work takes the form of webs and interconnecting spheres or bubbles.



Come for a walk through the rest of the exhibition.


My favourite part of the exhibition was Pineapple Express! Who would have thought that there are so many uses for pineapple related objects?

I really liked the pineapple candle snuffer…every home should have one.


And the pineapple tea set.



Imagine a sporan decorated with pineapples. Perhaps a pinapple tartan would be needed to go with it.




…pineapple earrings.



A ring with a Lego pineapple.


Is this an evening bag?


I have no idea what this is, but I love it.


Thank goodness an old question has been answered.


Harvest is on until 21st September and entry is free.


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 16, 2014

Melbourne, art and beauty

Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, Australia, is a beautiful city, full of gorgeous parks, fountains, interesting buildings and public art.



While in Melbourne I visited the Melbourne Art Fair held at the magnificent Royal Exhibition Centre.

I went to see the work of a friend, Michael Zavros. To quote art curator, Robert Leonard…” Zavros is an aesthete: he paints beautiful things beautifully.” He paints self portraits (he is very beautiful),  his beautiful children, high fashion, horses and other things in a photo-realistic way.

For this exhibition he collaborated with Rolls Royce to create a performance at the opening of the Art Fair with a Rolls Royce, twin models Zac and Jordan Stenmark, chocolate gold coins and flowers.

I missed the performance, but I was there the next day to see the car and the chocolate coins and the painting of 8 standard poodles arranged in the shape of the Rolls Royce.





The Art Fair finishes Sunday 17th. If you can’t go, you should take a look at Michael’s website to find out more about his amazing work.




Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 12, 2014

Lunch in the Langhe

It is fun to visit places that have been in movies. A recent film starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, called The Trip to Italy,  began in the Langhe region of Piedmont in the North West of Italy.  There was a particular restaurant that they went to called Trattoria della Posta.  The food looked amazing and we knew a visit was needed.

We enlisted the help of local experts Robert and Leslie Alexander who run Travel Langhe specialising in Wine and Food Tours.  Before we tempt you with our fabulous lunch, take a look at Robert’s gorgeous photos of this spectacular part of Italy.

After a tour  with Robert, who is very passionate about the area and its delightful villages and vineyards, we arrived at our lunch destination. The Massolini family has been operating a business since 1875, when Sabino Massolini opened a rest and stabling point for travellers in Monforte d’Alba.

Subsequent generations have developed the resaurant to become one of the centres of Langhe cuisine. In 2000 the family moved to their current location on a beautiful hillside a few kilometres from Barolo, home of the iconic wine.


…and now to lunch. The focus is on fresh, seasonal food from the area, especially mushrooms and truffles. The service is both efficient and friendly. Take a look at our scrumptious courses, including the onion dish served in the movie, foie gras and stuffed zucchini flowers.

Thank you to Travel Langhe and Trattoria della Posta for a great day, and to The Trip to Italy for the idea.


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 10, 2014

Alice in New York

One of my favourite things to do when I am in New York is to walk in Central Park. It is wonderful in any season. I always try to visit the delightful Alice in Wonderland sculpture near East 74th Street.


The bronze sculpture was constructed in 1959 by Jose de Creeft under the commission of philanthropist George Delacorte in honour of his wife Margarita, who liked to read the book to her daughter.

The design for the sculpture was patterned off the original illustrations of John Tenniel that were used in the first published edition of the book. Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865.

The centerpiece of the work is Alice, who is said to have the face of Creeft’s daughter, Donna.



Alice is seated on a giant mushroom, reaching toward a pocket watch held by the White Rabbit. Peering over her shoulder is the Cheshire Cat. The other figures include the Dormouse, Alice’s cat Dinah, the Mad Hatter, a caricature of George Delacorte and a few extras. The words around the edge of the sculpture are from The Jabberwocky, Mrs Delacorte’s favourite poem.









Children are invited to climb on the sculpture and thousands of hands and feet have polished the surface smooth.


Don’t miss Alice and friends if you visit New York.



Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 6, 2014

Thar she blows

We went whale watching today. It was a perfect winter day in Brisbane and we headed off early this morning to Redcliffe to board the purpose-built whale watching boat Eye-Spy.



Every year the magnificent southern humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to warmer waters. They feed, mate and play in the clean blue waters of Moreton Bay on their way north and the return journey south.

There was a welcoming committee sunning themselves on the rocks near the dock.


Soon we were in the capable hands of Captain Kerry Lopez and her helpful crew.


We sailed towards the northern point of Moreton Island.


In about an hour we were in position and waiting for the whales to appear.



We didn’t have to wait long for a pod of whales to approach the boat. Whale-friendly, low noise propellers minimise underwater noise, and electronically controlled engines reduce fuel usage and exhaust emissions.

The whales seemed unbothered by our presence and came very close, even swimming under the boat, perhaps to scrape the barnacles from their backs. Kerry was excellent at spotting them and directed our eyes towards approaching whales and other pods in the distance.











We were close enough to see the markings and barnacles on their skin. They were happily frolicking in the water around the boat. They didn’t jump into the air and breach, but we didn’t mind, they are magnificent up close and seemed to be as curious about us as we were about them.

We also saw dolphins and turtles enjoying the bay, but they were a bit more difficult to photograph.

After a delicious lunch it was back to dry land.


On the way back to the car we came upon a flock of cockatoos playing and feeding in a Norfolk pine, rounding off a very good day.

I have been whale watching before. I have a photograph somewhere of my father holding 1 year old me in his arms in front of a slaughtered whale at the Tangalooma whaling station on Moreton Island. Whaling was carried on there from 1952 until 1962.

There was a yearly quota of 600 whales, which was easily reached in the early years. One whale could yield more than 8,000 kilograms of oil, which was used to make margarine, glycerine, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. In August 1962, only 68 whales had been caught and the whaling station was closed. In the 10 years of operation, 6,277 humpback whales and one blue whale were killed and processed.

The operation seriously decimated the east coast population of humback whales to less than 500 individuals from the original population, which was estimated at 15,000. In 1965 humpback whales were placed on the Protected Species list.

It is estimated that $32 million was earned each year from whaling in Australian waters. Currently whale watching earns about $70 million per annum.

It is clearly much better to watch them than kill them.



Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 4, 2014

DIY smoothie

We came upon this ingenious idea at the James St Food and Wine Trail on the weekend. Choose your fruit from the delicious selection.



Then hop on the bike and pedal your way to a fruit smoothie.


Perhaps every kitchen could have one and you could pedal up a cake mix or pizza dough, think of the savings! You would save on power and get some exercise at the same time.

There were lots of other great things at the food festival. We really are very lucky in Brisbane to have such a great range of delicious things to eat…take a look.


It was a gorgeous day to be out enjoying the winter sunshine.



James St, Fortitude Valley is a great place to shop.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 1, 2014

The winged lion and the man on the crocodile

A winged lion and a man on a crocodile stand guard on top of columns at the edge of the canal in the Piazetta di San Marco in Venice.




The Lion of Venice is an ancient bronze winged lion which came to symbolise Venice after its arrival in Venice in the 12th century. It has a long and interesting history. It is a composite of different pieces of bronze created at different times. Some of the oldest parts probably date from the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd centuries BC. The statue took its present form sometime in the Medieval period.



Napoleon pinched it and took it to France while on his 1797 campaign in Italy. It was damaged at this time and was restored by French sculptors. It was dropped and badly damaged when it was returned to Venice and was stored at the Arsenal before it was restored by Bartolomeo Ferrari and returned to its column in 1816.  His tail was altered and now sticks out behind him; it was previously tucked between his hind legs. The book under his paws was recast.

The winged lion also symbolises St Mark, one of Venice’s patron saints. There are many winged lions all over Venice.

The man with the crocodile standing on the western column represents St Theodore of Amasea, patron of the city before St Mark. He is holding a spear and stands on a crocodile which represents the dragon he is said to have slain. It is also made up of parts of ancient statues. It is a copy, the original is kept in the Doge’s Palace.

I have not seen the man with the crocodile anywhere else but on the column in the piazetta.


The best view of the sculptures is from the terrace of the Basilica of San Marco. It is worth paying the small fee to see the museum and the view from the terrace.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 29, 2014

An elegant place to stay in the centre of Florence

Hotel Scoti is in the very stylish Via De’ Tornabuone, one of the best shopping streets in Florence. Gucci, Pucci, Armani, Prada and many more iconic fashion houses will be your neighbours if you stay there.

The entrance is directly opposite Fendi.



A lift will take you up from the foyer.


The hotel is in a 16th century palazzo. The 17th century floor to ceiling frescoes have been retained in the living room.

All the rooms have been lovingly restored and the common rooms will make you want to stay for ever. There are single and double rooms, each with ensuites.  Breakfast is available.



It is just around the corner from my favourite cafe in Florence, Giacosa, making it the perfect place for me to stay in the city. The charming owner speaks English and Italian and has an extensive knowledge of Florence which she is delighted to share.

Our stay at the Scoti was too short, but I know we will be back.

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