Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 12, 2019

Dedola, a spectacular restaurant in Matera

While in Matera, the city of cave dwellings in Basilicata, we found the most amazing restaurant…in a cave of course.

We opened the door to a stunning white space carved out of rock.

The charming host gave us a tour of the labyrinth of rooms filled with the sculpted works of contemporary international artists.

We were shown to our table and the delicious food arrived. The service was excellent.

The name of the restaurant came from Dedalo, or Daedalus, father of Icarus, skilled craftsman and artist and symbol of wisdom, knowledge and power. He invented and built the labyrinth for King Minos of Crete, but shortly after finishing it King Minos had Daedalus imprisoned within the labyrinth.

He and his son devised a plan to escape by using wings of wax that Daedalus had invented. They escaped, but sadly Icarus did not heed his father’s warnings and flew too close to the sun. The wax melted and he fell to his death.

This left Daedalus heartbroken, but instead of giving up he flew to the Isand of Sicily.

This is written on the menu.

“It is said that after a long and perilous odyssey across the waves of the wind, there arrived a man, Daedalus, tired in body but strong in spirit, who decided to put an end to his wanderings and began to build his dwelling through sheer ingenuity and strength.

We like to imagine that this was the place where he landed and that he built a new labyrinth here.

Following Ariadne’s thread you will enter the heart of the hypogeum where there live undisturbed figures most redolent of Greek mythology. Briseis the beautiful slave of Achilles, Andromeda with her long hair, Cassandra the seer and Dionysus the god of wine.

As you continue along your path, you will catch the moment in which Demeter calls Persephone back to life on earth, snatching her from the very grip of jealous Hades”

As you can see, much imagination, thought and hard work has gone into making dining in this beautiful place a wonderful experience. We were very happy to have discovered Dedalo.


Via D’Addozio


There will be more on amazing Matera in the next post.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 2, 2019

Lecce, Pearl of Puglia

Lecce is often called the Florence of the south. It is nothing like Florence and doesn’t need to be. It is a delightful city with its own character and beauty.

This was our introduction to the city. It also happened to be our hotel…click Here for more.

After checking in we walked along Via don Minzoni to a park that has been a popular place for the people of Lecce to wander since the Middle Ages. It has had many renovations.

We entered the historical centre via Porta San Biagio. It is one of the original gateways to the city, rebuilt in 1774 and decorated with the coat of arms of the Bourbons and a statue of Santo Biagio on top.

On entering the centro storico were immediately surrounded by stunning baroque architecture.



We came upon Chiesa di S Matteo from the 17th century.

Not far away we caught a glimpse of the campanile of the Duomo of Lecce. It is almost 70 metres tall and was constructed between 1661 and 1682 by Giuseppe Zimbalo.

Around the corner we entered the enormous Piazza Duomo in front of the church. Entry is via the propylaea, or monumental gate.

Even though the piazza is huge I had to stand in one of the far corners to be far enough back to capture the whole church. The first version of the cathedral was built in 1144 and rebuilt in 1230 by bishop Volturio and again for bishop Pappacoda, by Guiseppe Zimbalo in 1659-1670.

On the way to the Roman Anfiteatro I was impressed by a group of houses behind a little square with a statue of Fanfulla from Lodi, an Italian commander.

I love the way ancient buildings are brought into the current era without losing anything of their character.

The Roman Amphitheatre was built in the Augustan era, 1st century AD. It was accidentally discovered in 1901. It is partly built in tufa and partly brickwork. Statues recovered during excavation are now in the Museo S. Castromediano.

There are many churches in Lecce.


Stunning architecture and baroque decoration is everywhere.


The shopping in Lecce is diverse and excellent and there are inviting cafes all over town.

Our favourite shop was this one, Valentina, just around the corner from the Duomo.

Here we met the delightful and charming Benvenuto.

He offered us a taste of his delicious dried figs stuffed with almonds, a speciality of the city and the very best dried figs I have ever tasted.

He also pointed out his letter from the Vatican.

Our favourite meal was at Volo, a very stylish restaurant.

Lecce was the highlight of our Puglia trip and one of the few places I would return to. The weather was awful, but we were able to duck in and out of the rain to see some of the wonderful buildings, eat and shop. We had one afternoon of sunshine when most of these photos were taken.

There is a lot more to discover in Lecce. We didn’t get it visit the museums and there are dozens of them. Don’t miss Lecce if you go to Puglia!

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 17, 2019

Otranto by the sea

Otranto is the eastern-most town in Italy. It sits on the Adriatic coast in the province of Lecce in Puglia. It occupies the site of an ancient Greek city. Otranto was a city and an important port in Roman times and has had a turbulent past.

These days it is a pretty seaside town popular with tourists. The sun was out for our visit.

We walked along the boardwalk to the old town.


Cafes and restaurants sit on top of the ramparts and offer lovely sea views.



There is a beach of sorts. There are better beaches just outside the town.

The centre of the town is within the defensive walls, adding to its charm.

Once inside the walls a lively street scene unfolds. There are interesting shops, cafes and restaurants dotted amongst the old buildings.

On the edge of town we found the remnants of Torre Matta tower.

The huge 5 sided Castello Argonese was rebuilt by Alphonso II of Naples in 1495 – 98. Originally it had a single entrance via a draw bridge over a moat.

The Otranto Cathedral was consecrated in 1088. It has a spectacular mosaic floor, rose window and a crypt supported by 42 marble columns.

The figures on the roof are well weathered.

The cathedral was closed when we were there, but I found a fuzzy old photo of the crypt I took 10 years ago on a previous visit.

We were lucky to see Otranto on a sunny day…the rain returned soon after. I can see it would be a good base for a stay in Puglia.



Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 12, 2019

Ostuni, a white town in Puglia

Ostuni is white and sparkles in the sunshine near the Puglia coast. There was a howling gale, it was cold and rain came in waves, so it was not sparkling the day we visited.

Here is a photo taken by Orna O’Rielly on a better day. She lives near Ostuni and writes a fabulous blog…Orna O’Reilly: Travelling Italy.

The region of Ostuni has been inhabited since the Stone Age. The town is reputed to have been originally established by the Messapii, a pre-classic tribe. It was destroyed by Hannibal during the Punic Wars and rebuilt by the Greeks. The name comes from Greek, Astu neon, new town.

The houses were originally whitewashed to help lighten up the dark, narrow medieval streets, but later, in the 17th century the whitewash was used to limit the devastation of the plague.

Ostuni is 8 kilometres from the coast in the province of Brindisi. It has a population of 32,000 in the winter,  but it can swell to 100,000 in the summer. It is one of the main tourist towns in Puglia. There were a few people out and about on a cold, windy day in May.

We began our walk through Ostuni at the huge piazza at the bottom of the town.

From there a pretty street lined with shops and restaurants winds up the hill where the Ostuni Cathedral and Archbishop’s Palace sit at the top of the town.

There are lots of shops filled with colourful local ceramics. A couple of pieces have found there way to Casa Debbio and Australia.

We passed an old church which is now an excellent museum. We ducked in to escape an approaching squall.


The cathedral looms large as we approach from the side.

The facade is impressive.


The interior is too.

The sculptures both inside and out are stunning.


There is a lovely area in front of the cathedral that must look fabulous on a summer evening.

We would have stayed longer to explore some of the smaller side streets, but the awful weather drove us out. I don’t mind cold, but the wind was ferocious making things most unpleasant.

Ostuni probably has more to offer than we saw.


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 7, 2019

Martina Franca

Martina Franca is the second largest town (after Taranto) in the province of Taranto in Puglia. It has a population of around 50,000. It was pleasant to find a town with a bit of life in it! Many of the small towns we visited in Puglia were deserted. There are only so many whitewashed houses you can look at.

Piazza XX Settembre sits just outside one of the old entrances to the town, Porta Santo Stefano.

Just inside the historical centre is Piazza Roma with its triangular garden in front of the 17th century Palazzo Ducale.

Further along is the heart of the town, Piazza Plebicito.

The magnificent Basilica di San Martino is an excellent backdrop for the Piazza Plebicito.

Martina Franca has its share of narrow, winding streets lined with interesting buildings.

…a seriously narrow street.

Someone has a sense of humour!

The street flower pots are lovely.

We had lunch at Four Seasons in Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. (39 080 4301599)The restaurant was stylish, the food was great and there was a large wine cellar. The charming owner proudly told us about the wonderful local wines.

I would go back for the bread basket alone.

I ordered a typical dish from the area, broad bean pure with chicory and raisins And caramelised onions.

Because I love broad beans I then had the whole wheat fusilli with broad beans and bacon.

Jim had gnocchi with caciocavallo cheese and rosemary pesto.

Everything was delicious, simple food beautifully prepared.

If I was to return to the area I would stay in Martina Franca rather than one of the smaller towns, many of which are deserted before the summer season. The town is well presented and there are dozens of great looking restaurants and cafes, interesting shops and galleries…well worth a visit.


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 1, 2019

Ceglie Messapica

Our wanderings through Cisternino didn’t take as long as we thought so we headed to nearby Ceglie Messapica, a town that doesn’t receive as much attention as the trio of Locorotondo, Cisternino and Alberobello.

That is a pity that is it not as well known as it has some interesting things to see and is quite different from the other towns. The style is almost Moorish.

It is one of the oldest towns in Puglia. It dates back to the 15th century BC. It has a well preserved historic centre which is one of the largest in the area.

The Ducal Castle dominates the skyline. It was having a bit of work done while we were there and the tower was covered in scaffolding, but we were able to wander inside. The first floor rooms have been put to good use as a library and meeting rooms, something not evident from its old exterior.

The main piazza of Ceglie Messapica is huge and very impressive.


The narrow streets hide some great looking buildings, many with  crumbling baroque balconies. Some of the houses were obviously much older than we saw in nearby towns.


We came another large piazza with a panoramic view over the surrounding countryside. Most of the piazza was taken up by a restaurant with a huge outdoor area. It must be wonderful on a summer night.

Ceglie Messapica is known as a gastronomic centre and we saw some interesting and well presented restaurants…pity we were there mid afternoon and there was little open.


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 28, 2019

Cisternino, Puglia

The territory of Cisternino was already inhabited during the middle Palaeolithic period by humans. Traces of their presence have been found. The old town appeared around the 8th century thanks to the Basilian monks who called it Cis-sturnium, on this side of Sturnium ( (Ostuni). The official birth of the town dates from the 11th century.

The Centro Storico is quite compact and easy to navigate. We entered through the Porta Piccene.

A good place to begin exploring Cisternino is the 17th century Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, the heart of the town.

Look for the Torre del’Orologio, clock tower, built in 1850.

We sat under that umbrella and enjoyed a coffee and pasticciotto.

The narrow streets are lined with pretty whitewashed houses, shops and restaurants with neat gardens.

I would love to copy this seat.


The Palace of the Bishop was built in 1560. On the last column there is an engraving of a rider and on the right, a horse.

If you squint you might just see them.

The church of St Nicholas was built on the older church from the 10th and 11th century by Basilian monks.

The interior is relatively plain.

There is a sculpture from 1517, Virgin Mary with baby by Stefano da Putignano.


In front of the church is a lovely park with views over the countryside. There is an excellent view of Locorotondo and some trulli houses below.


We found another interesting  church nearby.

It is quite small inside and has a pretty domed ceiling.

A small Presepe collection was to one side.

Further on we came to a lovely wide street lined with shops. Most were not open…waiting for the season.

Cisternino is pretty, but much like Locorotondo, it was empty when we were there and little was open. Someone needs to drag some of the crowds from Alberobello and share them around.


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 21, 2019

Locorotondo, Puglia

I’ll take you back to Puglia for the next few posts. We covered a fair bit of territory on our visit earlier this year.

Locorotondo means round town. If you were able to view it from above you could easily see that. It looks very pretty view from the nearby town of Cisternino.

Like many towns in Puglia (and all over Italy) Locorotondo sits on top of a hill.

We found a park not far from the Centro Storico and began our walk around the old town at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II where we found the tourist information office.

Walking on from the piazza the old town hall, now the municipal library, with the clock tower stands out.

Turning left into pretty Via Morelli the Baroque Palazzo Morelli comes into view. It is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Locorotondo.

Our next stop was the tiny St Nicholas church.

The magnificent  St George church was built in Neoclassical style between 1790 and 1825.

One of the first things you will notice is a particular style of house with a pointed roof. They are called cummerse and are mostly whitewashed.

The streets are narrow. The houses and shops are well kept and often have pretty gardens and house decorations.



There was not a lot open while we were there. It only took about an hour to wander through the historical centre and we were soon on our way to another town. I wonder how these towns survive on a tourist season that lasts just a couple of months each year.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 13, 2019

Mary Quant at the V&A London

“The whole point of fashion is to make fashionable clothes available to everyone” Mary Quant.

Mary Quant and her husband and business partner, Alexander Plunket Greene launched a fashion revolution. They were at the forefront of the youth movement in fashion, young people designing for young people. They opened their groundbreaking Bazaar on Kings Road in London in 1955.

Mary Quant wanted her clothes and accessories to be eye catching, strong and colourful, to offer freedom for the young and be totally unlike the clothes their mothers wore.

Her signature style became synonymous with the Swinging Sixties, which is when I picked up on it. While I didn’t have an original Mary Quant, there were many copies available here in Australia. I remember thinking I was Christmas in a Prue Acton white empire line crimplene dress with a nylon scarf threaded through loops around the neckline. Crimplene was the most hideous fabric, much like wearing a plastic bag, but we thought it was marvellous as teenagers.

She also produced dress patterns for Butterick and I made my own…a lot.

While in London recently I was delighted with the Mary Quant exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The first dress in the collection is the dress she wore to collect one of her many awards in 1966.

The exhibition is a timeline of Mary Quant’s fashions. She introduced new fabrics, or new interpretations of old ones and showed them on the iconic models of the time, Jean Shrimpton, Twiggy and more.

Her fashion parades featured young models dancing to new music, a completely new concept.

She used PVC for clothing for the first time. It took her almost 2 years to work out how the sew the fabric effectively.

The clothes became more colourful as the 60s went on.

There were dolls and cutout figures to dress.

She made underwear. I can recall wearing steppins…Yuk! As if a 14 year old needed these awful things. I also remember wearing pantyhose for the first time, so much better than stockings and suspenders. I did have Mary Quant pantyhose. The packaging was great.


She did makeup and had cartoon like illustrations showing how to use it.


Her accessories were fabulous, and much copied.

I’m pretty sure I had this Butterick pattern.

It was fun to take a walk back through my teenage years, but the exhibition is excellent for anyone with an interest in fashion. There are hundreds of garments and accessories including unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive.

The exhibition continues until 16th February 2020

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 7, 2019

Oxfam Giant Doll’s House

While we were staying in London with our lovely friends Anup and Poorna we went with them to an evening at Oxfam.  Anup is a volunteer with the charity. He had just returned from a trip to Rwanda.

Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan is home to 80,000 Syrian refugees, many of them who have been there for years. People are working to make new lives for themselves having crossed borders, fleeing with little more than their memories of home.

The Giant Doll’s House project is an independent international arts project started by Catja De Haas. It asked participants to make a room in a shoebox. Maybe a vision of home, memories, hope for the future or something they felt like making on the day.

The boxes are linked by ropes, ramps and ladders to create a giant doll’s house. This web of connected spaces and stories brings people’s dreams and aspirations together in a dramatic installation.

The project team spent 4 days in Jordan with residents of Za’atari refugee camp making all kinds of boxes. There is a volleyball pitch, a mini art gallery and a simple bedroom with a view. The rooms explore themes such as home, displacement, safety, community and the future. In the U.K. they worked with schools, artists and refugee groups. Each contribution has a personal, unique story behind it.

Keep in mind that the camp is a barren tent city. Here are some of the stories behind the boxes.

Sameha 45 and Suha 36.

We designed a wedding shop and we put a model wearing a white wedding dress. In Damascus, I used to run a wedding shop. I dream of rebuilding my house and restarting my fashion business.

Abdelrahman Omari  13, Mahmoud Omari 11 and Ali Omari 10.

We made a kitchen and the idea around it is to help our mothers in preparing the food. Our message to the children in U.K.: to help your mothers at home making and preparing food.

Mariam 12.

I am optimistic, I like many things in this life, sewing, making and creating fashion design and dresses. I made a fashion shop to present the clothes that we have designed. My dream is to become a fashion designer or an engineer or a journalist.

Zuhair 47.

I designed a natural scene of spring in Syria. I put a sun, clouds, river, Ducks, trees, flowers and stone. I was always excited to see the flowers and greenery coming through and as a family we would go to the country for a picnic.

I work in agriculture outside the camp and I created this because I like nature and I am from a rural area from Homs.

Nour 11 and Shahed 12

I want to become a lawyer to help and defend people who need help. We created an art exhibition because we like art and we want to have our own art exhibition in the future. I have many drawings at home and I thought could make an art gallery and add my drawings. I love art and I love drawing a lot.





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