Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 26, 2017

The rain came

Yesterday evening we could see the rain coming across the mountains to Casa Debbio.

This morning we woke up to a glorious spring morning. The trees are turning green before our eyes.

The garden is growing.

Now it is time to get to work planting the new things we bought at the nursery yesterday.

I hope they all grow quickly.


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 23, 2017

A car park in Lucca

I usually park my car near the station in Lucca. It is inexpensive, €1 per hour, and there are plenty of spaces.

Today must have been a busy day in Lucca as I had to drive right to the end of the car park to find a space. As I walked back I noticed some special parking.

Part of me finds it hilarious but part of me (the part that thinks these drivers are lazy and selfish) is cheesed off. There were at least a dozen wasted car parks where drivers couldn’t be bothered parking within the lines.

Worst of all, these 2 cars parked outside the allotted spaces, partially blocking the entrance and exit…well done!

On a brighter note, this was on the top of the walls of Lucca a few weeks ago.

This is today, spring is making its presence felt.



Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 16, 2017

Pre spring report from Casa Debbio

Spring is almost here in Italy. There are lots of early signs at Casa Debbio. The weather has been gorgeous, warm sunny days and cold nights. There has been a little rain, which makes for some lovely misty views. Vergemoli disappears and slowly comes back.

I like to be up early sometimes to catch the sunrise.

On fine days I am prowling around in the garden looking for signs of growth.

Daffodils are the first signs that spring is near. They are coming up all over the place. It is good that I have forgotten where I planted them, it is a lovely surprise to see them pop up.

Almost all of my peonies are making an appearance.

Some of the tree peonies are already showing flower buds.

There is some early lavender.

The weeping cherry will be in full bloom in a few days.

I have planted pansies.

Wild goats have been eating the rhododendrons. Some still have buds. They have also eaten the camellias and azaleas and they may not survive.

Our driveway has been prepared by Filippo and Rocco. We are planting a row of lavender on each side. There will also be pomegranate trees behind the lavender on the outside of the road. We won’t see a lot if growth this year, but it should look good by next summer.

Best of all, my lovely friend Moe (Maureen) has added to my green walls beside the house.

The chairs I painted last year now have wisteria and birds to keep them company.

The other side looks great too. Real wisteria will hang down over the walls in the next few weeks.

Everything will be turning green soon…there will be photos.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 12, 2017

Floats on parade

I don’t think there were as many floats in Carnevale Viareggio this year, but the quality was excellent.

After the Trump float, my favourite was the Walking Dead. At first it just looked like a group of zombies, but a closer look revealed something else.

From under the rubble under the huge fractured face came hands and arms then bodies…people emerging from destruction.

They then tried to climb over a wall into Europe, but the barrier moved upwards to prevent them doing so.

The meaning of some of the others was more obscure, for me anyway. I loved the jungle with books as tree trunks, but I am unsure of the message…any thoughts?

The ensemble in front did a great job and their costumes were fabulous.

There were 2 floats commenting on the state of arctic regions.

Poor Renzi got picked on a couple of times.

The next one was impressive. I love the green aliens.

This one was quite small. I don’t know who are the characters playing Romulus and Remus.

The next one is an American bison being followed closely by China. Make of it what you will.


I don’t know the characters represented in this float.

This one takes from the Venice Carnevale.

Here is the big, bad wolf.

A colourful tree with a message?

A lady in green and pink.

A walking garden.

There is always room for a semi naked woman.

I will leave with these 2 characters as they make their way off.

No doubt the floats are already being dismantled to make way for next year’s designs. I hope to be back to see them.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 9, 2017

Faces in Viareggio

I know I promised to show you the other floats at the Viareggio Carnevale, but it is taking me forever to sort and select the photos.

In the meantime, here are some of the fabulous faces and costumes of the people at the Carnevale. Some are participants in the float teams and others are part of the audience. There were far fewer in the audience than I usually see. The weather had been horrible and it was uncertain that the parade would go ahead.

The detail and time taken to dress is astounding.

Next time you will see the other floats.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 7, 2017

Trumped in Viareggio

I love to go to Viareggio to see the fabulous floats that take to the street at Carnevale time.

They are often a satirical take on politics. Donald Trump is an obvious target and his float was my favourite this year. The artists did a great job on his likeness.


I particularly liked his eyes…very lizard like.

Donald’s hair was spectacular. It pushed forward from his head like a wave. In fact the Statue of Liberty brandishing a gun surfed on a board from the end of his hair.


Carnevale Viareggio 2017

The float was led by a team dressed in red, white and blue.

Men on horseback were there too…with a native American in a cage.

A Mexican trio provided music.

At the top of the float 4 targets rotated in front of a gun toting cowboy.

Guns and violence were a theme.

The support team looked great.

Donald, please note the lack of an audience for you in the grandstand.

The float was, in fact, a huge success. (You pay extra to sit in the stand)

I will show you the other floats in the next post.




Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 4, 2017

Livorno, port city

Livorno, on the Tuscan coast, has some stunning buildings. It is not a beautiful city. It is a mish mash of different architectural styles and seriously needs some love and attention, but a walk through the streets, particularly by the water, reveals some wonderful surprises.

We parked near Piazza Garibaldi and walked past some pre WWII stark buildings on our way to the seaside.

A little further on we came to the San Marco gate, part of the customs barrier built on the orders of Leopoldo I in 1835.


The gate features 2 towers decorated with the symbols of trade and war. On top of the arch is a Carrara marble lion sculpted by Nencini. The gate is richly decorated with marble, cast iron, rosettes and Corinthian columns.

Old canals started to appear just past the gate.

After walking through some very ordinary areas we arrived at the Fortezza Nuova. It was  part of an intention to develop a new urban plan at the end of the 1500s. It is a pentagonal shape surrounded by canals. Work started in 1590 and was finished in 1604.


The Fortress was badly damaged in WWII. Most of the buildings were destroyed. Its restoration was completed in 1972 and it is now a public park and centre for events and display.








There were some cute boats moored in the water.

Opposite the Fortress is the enormous Piazza della Repubblica. This huge square was built over one of the canals, Fosso Reale, to connect 2 sections of the city. The part of the canal covered by the square continued to be navigable.


Piazza della Repubblica is 240 metres long and 90 metres wide. There are statues at either end.

A little further on a lovely bell tower made me look up.


It led us to the Piazza Communale with some interesting buildings and roof lines.

The nearby canals reminded us why the area is called Quartiere Venezia. Some fishermen were sitting solving the problems of the world.

We wandered past an imposing church.


Livorno turned on some gorgeous skies for us.



I have no  idea what this building is, but I liked the fish on the roof.



We were too late to see the fish market in action.


The remarkable Fortezza Vecchio appeared on the other side of an evelated highway which runs through the area.

This massive construction was completed in 1534 under Alessandro de Medici. It was built of red brick with sloping walls. It has a perimeter of 1500 metres and was equipped with 24 cannons to protect each side. The land on the side toward the town was excavated in order to have the Fortress surrounded by water for better defence.







Cosimo de Medici built an imposing palace in 1544 but it was destroyed in WWII.

Soon after we found the Monument of Four Moors, dedicated to Ferdinando I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The first part of the work was commissioned to Giovanni Bandini in 1595. The marble statue of Medici arrived from Carrara by sea to Livorno in 1601.

Sculptor Pietro Tacca added the first 2 of the Moors. They were made in Florence and came by barge along the Arno in 1622. The other 2 were added in 1626. The statue was moved in the time of the French occupation and again during WWII. It is looking good after 2 recent restorations.


Directly behind the statue is the hotel and restaurant Gran Duca. It was time for lunch.





As I said at he beginning, Livorno is not a beautiful city, but it has much to offer. I will return to discover more.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 1, 2017

When I’m 64

In 1967 when the Beatles released that song I was 13. 64 seemed very old and a long way off, but it seems quite young now that I am there. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me?”

I suppose I am needed. I can feed myself, but after 63 years of doing so I still manage the occasional food dribble down my shirt. I must keep practising. Today I practised with spaghetti vongole.

spaghetti vongole

John Lennon wrote “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”  I think I need to make serious plans for the rest of my life…there is much to see and do.


Thank you for all the birthday messages. I have woken up to a gorgeous winter morning. Here is the view from my balcony.

Ponte a Serraglio

My daffodils are drying in the sun after a rainy night…all is well with this little part of the world.

Ponte a Serraglio




Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 25, 2017

Spring shop windows 2017

On a rainy day when there was nothing to be done in the garden I went to Florence to see the spring fashion. It is cold and wet, but that doesn’t matter.

Some of the recent autumn runway shows have been a bit scary. The clothes in many cases were ridiculous so it is a relief to see that by the time they get to the shops they are toned down considerably. The autumn collection is going to need a serious workover. If you don’t believe me go online and look at Gucci for the autumn/winter season.

Anyway, I took these photos from the shelter of my umbrella.

Roberto Cavalli has pretty florals for the spring.

Roberto Cavalli

Max Mara always has elegant, wearable clothes…and great windows. I love walking into the shop in Via Tornabuoni. It was once a bookshop, you can see some of the elegant bookshelves and there are stunning frescoes on some of the walls.

Gucci is too frilly and fussy for me.

Dolce & Gabbana is subdued this season after a gorgeous, flamboyant collection last year.

Dolce & Gabbana

Local chain Patrizia Pepe does a good job in a much lower price range.

Patrizia Pepe

Miu Miu is having a retro moment.

Prada has belted leather jackets.

I think this is Valentino…I should have taken notes.


Alberta Ferretti is a favourite of mine.


I like the fun of Moschino.


Pucci looks great. The black hat is a bit of fun, but your hands would be kept busy parting the fringe so you could find your way to the beach.


Fendi has great windows.


Celine is elegant.


Handbags this season are a mixed bag…mostly small and embellished. It seems we are over large handbags.

These are from Gucci…

…and this one is from a low cost chain.



Shoes are high, flat, sometimes plastic and sometimes worn with socks…no thanks.

Here are some slippers for your Yeti from Miu Miu. They look a bit like the Cookie Monster wearing a pearl tiara.

Miu Miu

Did you see something you like?


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 23, 2017

My Ponte Balcony

Yesterday I planted daffodils and pansies on our Ponte a Serraglio balcony. In autumn last year I had to take the old daffodils away as they were taking over the pots. They now live at Casa Debbio and are just about to flower.

My new plantings look a bit meagre, but the pansies will grow and be gorgeous in no time.

Ponte daffodils

Ponte Daffodils

Ponte daffodils

Ponte daffodils

They certainly brighten up an overcast winter day.


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