Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 14, 2018

What’s new at Sarva?

I am now back in lovely Brisbane for a few months. I would normally do a Pop Up shop soon, but I have changed the way I am going to do it. Instead of a Pop Up a couple of times a year I am going to open the door at Sarva once a week. I will open every Saturday from 10.30am  until 2.30pm.

The foot traffic in the street has increased since a couple of new restaurants have opened beside us. In the last few Pop Ups I have noticed more locals dropping in, which is great.

Sarva and I will be making new things each week and we hope you will come to visit us. Sarva is busy every day making to measure and doing alterations and normally you need to ring the bell to enter the shop, but on Saturdays I will be there with the door open.

Here is what’s new at Sarva this week.

Sarva Pop Up

We still have linen and cotton summer clothes for sale, with more coming each week.

Come and say hello on Saturday from 10.30 until 2.30 at Sarva.

Cnr Boundary Street and Corbett St, West End. (Beside Flora, vegan restaurant)

 

Sarva

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 9, 2018

Starbucks in Milan

I admit to being surprised and horrified that Starbucks would come to Italy. In my humble opinion I think Italy has the best coffee in the world. Why would they need Starbucks?

On the way back to Australia I stayed a couple of days in Milan so I decided to see for myself what the new addition to Milan’s coffee scene looks like.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened on 7th September in the stunning Poste building in Piazza Cordusio in the centre of Milan, not far from the glorious Duomo.

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon to find a queue that stretched around the corner. We didn’t join it.

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

The following morning we went back early and found it almost empty.

Starbucks Milan

The interior is huge and amazing. No expense has been spared. It is said to be the most beautiful Starbucks in the world. I have only visited a few fairly ordinary looking Starbucks in New York, so I can’t really compare them, but the Milan offering is spectacular.

There is a giant fully functioning coffee roaster, an enormous main bar, a mezzanine bar where specialty cocktails are made and a bakery with wood fired oven…a lot to take in.

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

 

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

A clackerboard lets you know what type of coffee is being roasted.

Starbucks Milan

A floor to ceiling brass wall is engraved with a representation of Starbucks history.

Starbucks Milan

In front of the wall is Starbucks merchandise for sale.

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

The seating is either on high stools or on chairs with low tables, neither of which appeals to me.

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

The pastries looked delicious.

We ordered a plain croissant and one filled with frittata, both were excellent.

Starbucks Milan

The coffee came in a large mug. I prefer a smaller cup as there is far too much milk in a mug. At least it wasn’t served in a huge paper cup. The 2 croissants and 2 coffees cost €18. At my local cafe in Bagni di Lucca the same things would have cost around €5. I guess you are paying for the experience.

The staff appear to be chosen for their good looks and ethnic diversity. They were cheerful and eager to please.

We went to the bathroom downstairs with its impressive wash basin which sits between 2 rows of toilets.

Starbucks Milan

Strangely there are only 4 female and 4 male toilets for a place that holds a lot of people. There was already a queue before we left as the building filled up quickly in the short time we were there.

There is far too much to take in on one visit and the photos don’t do it justice. I will probably return for another look out of curiosity, but I prefer smaller bars where after a couple of visits the barista gets to know you and you become a local. It will be interesting to see how Starbucks fares once the novelty wears off.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 31, 2018

Things I will miss in Italy

It is time to make my way back to Australia. I will miss lovely autumn in Bagni di Lucca.

Bagni di Lucca

 

Bagni di Lucca

 

Bagni di Lucca

Bagni di Lucca

Bagni di Lucca

Bagni di Lucca

Bagni di Lucca

Bagni di Lucca

 

I will miss the stunning drive to Vergemoli.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

…our road to Casa Debbio.

Casa Debbio

And of course I will miss my beautiful house and garden.

Casa Debbio

We have pomegranates, persimmons and lots of chestnuts this year.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Most of all I will miss the views from Casa Debbio, even the stormy ones.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

See you next year Casa Debbio.

Casa Debbio

 

I will return in February to winter…I love that too.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 26, 2018

It’s raining

Our run of glorious sunny autumn weather in Bagni di Lucca has come to an end. This morning the clouds rolled in and light rain began to fall. I think it looks wonderful.

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Leaves are falling rapidly.

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Trees are changing colour.

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Pomegranates decorate the trees.

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Two wet birds.

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

The last of the roses.

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

The rain looks set in for a while, winter is on the way.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 20, 2018

Old things in Lugo

Vintage fairs can be a lot of fun in Italy. The fair in Lugo takes over much of the centre of town.

Lugo

Lugo is a town in Emelia Romagna, between Bologna and Ravenna. The dominant landmark in the centre of the town is the Rocca Estense, which now houses the Town Hall. Its dungeon of Uguccione della Faggiola dates from 1298, while most of the architectural features are from 16th century.

Lugo

Another prominent structure in Lugo is the monument to Francesco Baracca (1936), an aviator hero of WWI.

Lugo

The Paviglione lies opposite the fortress and beside Francesco Baracca. It was built in the 18th century. It is an imposing square surrounded by loggias on its four sides.

This is the heart of the vintage fair. From here stalls radiate out into the surrounding streets.

Lugo

Lugo

Lugo

There is lots to offer the vintage enthusiast…here is a small sample.

Lugo

Of course there are lots of great places to take a break for coffee or lunch, including a few cute temporary offerings.

Lugo

There is also an excellent permanent vintage shop in Lugo, A.N.G.E.L.O. Vintage Palace. Here 3 floors are stacked with a wonderful collection of vintage clothing and accessories. The top floor has a historic archive, not for sale, but can be rented for creative research, fashion shoots and exhibitions. Fashion professionals and researchers can visit the archive by booking an appointment.

Lugo

Lugo

If this isn’t enough vintage for you, there is another vintage fair coming up in Forli.

Lugo

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 8, 2018

Medieval fun in Pietrasanta

We returned to Pietrasanta on the weekend to enjoy the medieval festival that takes over the lovely piazza in front of the churches.

Pietrasanta

Many shops decorated their windows to enhance the theme of the festival.

Pietrasanta

Of course there were some stalls selling interesting things.

Pietrasanta

Above the piazza there was an area where we found archery, falcons and an owl (don’t ask me why there was an owl).

Pietrasanta

Here some of the participants feasted before the later performances.

Pietrasanta

We came upon an archery lesson.

Pietrasanta

There are always interesting faces in the crowd.

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

The first to entertain us was a troop of dancers.

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

The Tamburini followed.

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Then the sbandieratori.

Pietrasanta

We couldn’t see well so we manoeuvred a better position on the steps. (Where we had set ourselves up, but had been moved on. Foolishly we moved only to have others dive into our spots)

A display of fighting was next.

Pietrasanta

…then some more with sticks.

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

The group left the piazza and the sbandieratori came back.

There is nothing I like better than a bit of flag throwing. These men are amazing. A flag is dropped onto an ankle, flicked to the foot in front and tossed into the air and the throwing begins.

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

 

Pietrasanta

All the players left the piazza and a group of musicians took over.

Pietrasanta

 

Pietrasanta

We wandered off to enjoy some porchetta before a last look at the piazza.

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta is truly one of my favourite towns in Italy.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 3, 2018

Pietrasanta revisited

Pietrasanta is one of my favourite towns in Italy. I try to fit in a few visits whenever I am here. I am never disappointed.

We were in town for the last day of the butterflies. They were being taken down as we walked along the main street .

Pietrasanta

In the main piazza wonderful art pieces are on display.

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

There are other things dotted around the town.

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

I love this doorway.

Pietrasanta

The bell tower in the piazza is spectacular.

Pietrasanta

For the first time we found it open and could see the amazing interior. The tower is 36 metres tall and was begun in 1519. There are 100 steps inside and there are 3 full turns in the spiral steps. It is believed that Michelangelo was involved in the design of the tower.

Pietrasanta

We had lunch at 41, where we have eaten several times before. The food is always good.

Pietrasanta

The piazza looked quite different after lunch when the sculptures were shining in the sun.

 

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

I’m sure there will be time for at least one more visit to Pietrasanta before I go home.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 30, 2018

Well done Jim

Our lovely friend Jim cycled into Ponte a Serraglio yesterday afternoon after his marathon 7 day cycle (8 if you count the day he had to take a train back to his previous stop that pick up vital equipment left behind) from Switzerland. He cycled 660 kilometres.

Jim did the ride to raise money for the Beaumond House Community Hospice to thank them for the special treatment they gave to his beautiful wife Liz, who wanted to spend her last days at home with her family. Without their help this would not have been possible.

Here is Jim happily arriving at Bar Italia.

Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson

Jim and Liz have been a popular part of the Ponte a Serraglio community for several years and there was a welcoming committee and a cool drink waiting for Jim.

Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson

We have been following his journey on his Facebook page. His son-in-law Duncan accompanied him on the first 3 days then he was on his own.

Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson

Jim achieved much more than his goal. What a wonderful tribute to his beloved Liz.

Beaumont House Community Hospice

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/James-Wilson109

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 25, 2018

Autumn begins at Casa Debbio

I am delighted to be back at Casa Debbio. Filippo has done a wonderful job of taking care of the house and garden in our absence over summer.

On my first morning I awoke to mist covering the village below.

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

It soon cleared to become a glorious sunny day.

On the second morning a golden light appeared, highlighting the beginning of autumn colour.

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

The garden is beginning to fade after the summer, but it still looks great. The geraniums are still thriving.

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

 

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

There are a few tomatoes left on the vines.

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

We have some kiwi fruit.

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

The quince tree has produced quite a bit of fruit.

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

The pink roses at the back of the house are still growing.

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Wild goats and deer have chewed off all the roses in front of the house.

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Wisteria is growing well over our pergola. It should provide plenty of shade by next summer.

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

I can’t get enough of the views from Casa Debbio.

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

 

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Casa Debbio autumn 2018

Soon I will start pruning the 300 lavender plants and several other things that need a trim.

Casa Debbio will be available for rent next year. Please share with anyone who might like to spend some time in the glorious mountains of northern Tuscany. I would like to see someone enjoy a couple of months at the house and experience an authentic Italian village.

Just 100 people live in Vergemoli. It is a pretty village with well kept houses and gardens. There are few foreign visitors, but in summer lots of families return to houses which have been in the family for generations to enjoy the wonderful weather and take part in the summer parties and celebrations. Our guests are invited to join in and are welcomed into this delightful little community.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 22, 2018

Happy in Helsinki

I love my stopovers in Helsinki on the way to Italy. It feels like coming home. I am now very familiar with the city and enjoy visiting my favourite places.

The weather was a bit overcast, but the temperature was good, perfect for wandering.

First stop was Johan and Nystrom for a coffee and an interesting breakfast.

Johan & Nystrom Helsinki

The view of the harbour is lovely from here.

Helsinki

Helsinki

Esplanadi park never disappoints. Summer is over and it is officially autumn, but the gardens are still looking pretty.

Helsinki

The change of season is coming.

Helsinki

Street plantings in Helsinki are beautiful.

Helsinki

Lunch at Fazer.

Helsinki

There is always something new for me to discover in Helsinki. This time it is the new gallery Amos Rex. It is underground on the site of an old bus station. The above ground bit is stunning and creating a lot of interest…a novel way to get light into the gallery below.

Amos Rex Helsinki

Here is the entrance to the gallery. The guide book I was given is written in Finnish, so I can’t give too much information, but come for a walk through the rooms.

Amos Rex Helsinki

The first room is called Black Waves. Ever changing waves surround you.

Amos Rex Helsinki

The next is called Graffiti Nature: Lost, immersed and Reborn. Here in an enchanted garden the viewer, part of the scene, wants to reach out and touch the plants and wandering creatures.

Amos Rex Helsinki

Amos Rex Helsinki

Walk on to the Vortex of Light Particles. I felt as if I was inside a jellyfish.

Amos Rex Helsinki

In the last of the special effects rooms…Crows are Chased and the Chasing Corws are Destined to be Chased as well, Transcending Space…the audience is invited to stand for 4 minutes and listen and watch.

Amos Rex Helsinki

Amos Rex Helsinki

Amos Rex Helsinki

There is a more traditional room with impressionist art, the collection of Sigurd Fosterus. He admired and collected Colourism that emerged in Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

Amos Rex Helsinki

Amos Rex Helsinki

The collection is amongst the earliest significant private collections of foreign and domestic modern art in Finland mostly gathered between 1905 and 1915 when Fosterus was an active art critic and essayist.

On the way out I noticed a few things I had not seen on the way in. The ceiling is stunning.

Amos Rex Helsinki

Amos Rex Helsinki

Amos Rex Helsinki

Now I am now in Italy for the next part of my adventure.

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