Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 16, 2017

Pruning lavender

Pruning lavender at Casa Debbio is one of my favourite gardening jobs. I put it off as long as I could because the plants were still looking good.  We have about 300 lavender plants now and some of them are shoulder height.

There were some wonderful sunrises at Casa Debbio while I was there.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

The dry summer meant our figs didn’t do well and the fruit trees didn’t grow much, but we did get raspberries, tomatoes and a few pomegranates.  The pomegranate trees turn a gorgeous golden shade.

Casa Debbio

The persimmon tree did very well and grew fruit. Unfortunately the wild goats tried to clamber up the tree to get to the fruit. I eventually pulled the fruit off and left it on the ground for them.

Casa Debbio

It was amazing to watch the trees change colour over the weeks I was there.

Casa Debbio

In my final weeks I pruned the lavender and some other plants that grew well in summer. The flowers were in my hair, pockets and shoes. There were trails of lavender everywhere.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Filippo came after I cut the flowers to shape the larger plants. It is much easier with his power tool than my shears.

Casa Debbio

My friend Paola came to cut lavender too. She makes lavender sachets.

Casa Debbio

Before and after.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

One lunch time called for a pizza with my new favourite topping, stracchino cheese and prosciutto.

Casa Debbio

I enjoyed my autumn weeks at Casa Debbio. The garden is now getting ready to sleep through winter. When I return in February my daffodils, jonquils and freesias should be poking through the soil. I look forward to seeing my peonies to come back to life. If they all survive the winter there will be 60 of them. There will be some new plantings next year…I can’t wait to get started.

Casa Debbio

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 12, 2017

Leaving Bagni di Lucca

I am now on my way home to Australia after several weeks in Italy. Autumn put on a great show this year.

Ponte a Serraglio, my little part of Bagni di Lucca, looked lovely as the leaves on the trees turned yellow and began to fall.

We had some gorgeous sunny days.

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

We had misty days.

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

We finally had rain and snow on the mountains. We need this after a hot, dry summer which came after a winter drought and a dry spring.

The leaves will soon be gone from the trees.

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

Autumn Bagni di Lucca

I always miss my Italian home when I leave, but I know I will be back in a few months for more adventures.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 8, 2017

First Snow

It is almost time for me to go home to Australia for a while. I am going back to sub tropical Brisbane, hot weather and beaches.

What could be a better send off than snow? When a friend and I heard that the first snow had fallen in Abetone we took off immediately to see it.

It was raining as we set off along the SS Brennero.

SS Brennero

Soon the rain turned to snow.

SS Brennero

The trees along the road became increasingly laden with snow.

SS Brennero

SS Brennero

Quite suddenly the road became very slippery and the car would not go any further. We reversed until we could find a place to put chains on the tyres. This may sound quite simple, but standing in heavily falling snow in puddles of icy water, reading instructions while trying to put on chains with freezing fingers is not easy.

It took a bit of trial and error and lots of laughs before the chains were in place and we were off again.

Snow chains

We were amazed at the amount of snow that had fallen overnight. Abetone was covered with a blanket of snow and it was still falling.

Abetone

Abetone

Abetone

We found an open restaurant and dried off over lunch.

Soon it was back down the mountain.

Abetone

Autumn is putting on a fine show in the mountains.

Snow Abetone

When I return next year I will be leaving hot summer for deep winter. Perhaps there will be snow in Bagni di Lucca and at Casa Debbio. I hope so.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 6, 2017

Helping hands

Lorenzo Quinn’s hands in the Grand Canal encouraged me to visit Venice. (Any excuse will do)

I went to Venice just for a day. I bought a day pass for the ferry and set off to see the hands emerging from the Grand Canal. They are at Ca’ Sagredo quite close to Rialto.

I saw them from the opposite side of the canal, from the same side, from underneath and beside.

Here are my photos from every angle.

Lorenzo Quinn hands

Lorenzo Quinn hands

Lorenzo Quinn hands

Lorenzo Quinn hands

Lorenzo Quinn hands

Lorenzo Quinn hands

Lorenzo Quinn hands

Lorenzo Quinn hands

The giant white hands remind us that we can play a role in helping to help the save the planet from climate change.  Cities like Venice will suffer from rising sea levels.

Here is what the artist, Lorenzo Quinn, has to say about his work.

Lorenzo Quinn hands

The hands are modelled after the hands of one of his three children. He worries what kind of world we will leave to our children.

The sculpture, weighing 2,200 kilograms, was made in Barcelona using the “lost wax casting” method. The hands are constructed from resin-coated polyurethane foam.  The pieces of the sculptures were carried down the Grand Canal and lifted into place.

Time is running out to see the sculpture in place. It is there until 26th November.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 5, 2017

Amalfi Coast

The drive along the Amalfi Coast is a wonderful experience. Here are a few photos taken from the bus. The windows weren’t all that clean and there is a bit of reflection, but you will get the idea.

The road is narrow.

Amalfi Coast

The views are amazing. Be sure to sit on the sea side of the bus. After stopping in Positano (see previous post) we went on to Amalfi.

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

We stopped for a cool drink in front of the beautiful church in Amalfi.

Amalfi Coast

The campanile is quite intricate.

Amalfi Coast

We took the boat back to Positano for a different view of the coast.

Here we are leaving Amalfi.

Amalfi Coast

Along the coast.

Amalfi Coast

Comimg into Positano.

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Chez Black, where we had lunch, getting ready for dinner.

Amalfi Coast

Sunset from Positano.

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

I will be back to this gorgeous area in spring.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 1, 2017

Sorrento

I love Sorrento. I admit to bias here. My son was born in Sorrento 44 years ago, so it will always be special to me.

As I have said before, the best way to arrive in Sorrento is by boat. Ferries leave Naples regularly and travel along the coast to Sorrento past the impressive Vesuvius.

Sorrento

Coming into port in Sorrento is great. The town sits high above the water on vertiginous cliffs. I am very pleased there is a little bus to carry me from to port to the town. I am prepared to walk down, but the walk up does not excite me.

Sorrento

Sorrento

Sorrento

Sorrento

This narrow shopping street hasn’t changed all that much in 44 years except that it is now more crowded. Even in mid October the people keep coming.

Sorrento

Sorrento

Don’t miss Sedile Dominova, an open loggia created in the 16th century. What was once a place for noblemen is now a beautiful meeting place for workmen.

Sorrento

We ventured to the cliff at sunset. People were still swimming and relaxing beside the sea.

Sorrento

Sorrento

Sorrento

It is always great to drop into the gorgeous 14th century cloister of San Francesco.

Sorrento

Sorrento

We spotted a couple of great places to eat. This one looked especially lovely.

Sorrento

It belongs to this beautiful hotel. Il Marzialino.

Sorrento

We decided on this one, La Lanterna, on the recommendation of my niece, whose shop is nearby.

Sorrento

For some reason there are Samuri warriors dotted around Sorrento at the moment.

The harbour was busy the next morning as we set off for Capri.

Sorrento

Sorrento makes a great base to explore the Amalfi Coast. There is lots to see and do in town and lots of transport to the towns and islands nearby.

As well as the boats from Naples there is also a train. It leaves from one level below the Trenitalia trains at Naples station. The Circumvesuviana has been updated a bit since 1973, but is is still awful and travels through some unattractive areas. First timers must wonder what they are coming to. It is usually very crowded and you may have to stand for the entire journey…take the boat.

 

Sorrento

There are buses from Naples railway station and the airport to Molo Beverello where you catch the ferries.

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 28, 2017

A short visit to Capri

While staying in Sorrento on the amazing Amalfi Coast we took the boat to Capri, just a short trip across the blue sea.

The ferry arrived at the quaint Marina Grande.

Shops and restaurants line the edge of the harbour, all designed to tempt you to spend money. Blue, and fish themes, it seems, are popular.

Capri

Capri

I took the funicular to the Piazzetta above the harbour.

The views from this lovely terrace are spectacular.

Capri

Capri

Right now the scene is decorated by a swimmer, “Survival of Serena” by American artist Carole Feuerman. Mount Solaro provides a stunning backdrop.

Capri

Capri

Capri

Look up at the clock tower and campanile of Santo Stefano to see a very special balcony with a view. I think you might have to book well ahead then get that table.

Capri

On the other side is a a tempting terrace. I can see myself sitting there.

Capri

I walked on to the famous Piazza Umberto I and sat for a moment with a shakerato, my new favourite drink.

Capri

I watched the passing parade. Even in mid October the crowds on Capri are thick.

Capri

Moving on, I discovered beautiful streets lined with elegant shops.

Capri

There are some stunning places to stay.

Capri

The shopping choice is excellent.

Capri

 

Capri

We took the super packed bus up to Anacapri, the highest part of the rocky island. This bus trip is not for the faint hearted. If you are on the sea side of the bus is seems that the bus might be within inches of the edge and you hope that the driver is not on his mobile phone.

We had very little time in Anacapri, which is a pity as it is much more calm and peaceful than the lower areas.

The views over Marina Grande are gorgeous.

Capri

 

We waited in line for the bus to go back, keeping an eye on the time…we had a ferry to catch.

In the end we gave up and took a taxi. It was a good choice as it turned out. The cars are open and the fresh breeze makes the trip much better than the hot, crowded bus and you get to look at the gorgeous scenery without clinging on for your life.

Capri

Capri

 

A couple of tips.

Get up early and catch the earliest ferry possible to make the most of your time on the island. Allow plenty of time to buy your ferry ticket, or buy it the day before. Buying tickets in Italy can be time consuming.

Even better, stay overnight on Capri. I think many of the tourists are day trippers. I’m sure it would be much more pleasant in the evenings and early morning.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 25, 2017

Positano, pearl of the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful areas in all of Italy. A jewel in this crown is Positano, a stunningly gorgeous little town nestled into the side of a cliff facing the sea.

We caught the local Sita bus from Sorrento, an experience in itself. The bus hurtles around the hair pin turns, narrowly avoiding traffic coming in the opposite direction. Buses sometimes have to stop to pull in their wing mirrors before moving on. The noise of the horns will stay with you forever.

The bus stops at the top of the town. Come for a walk down the hill with me.

We were lucky to have a glorious blue sky autumn day for our visit. Positano sparkles in the sun.

Positano

Positano

Positano

This must be one of the most photographed trees in the world.

Positano

Positano

The beach soon appeared, blue umbrellas waiting for their guests. You can see that more people have gathered on the free part of the beach.

Positano

Positano

Positano

The dome of the little church appears as we round a corner.

Positano

A tree with pink blossoms provides a lovely frame for the view.

Positano

Positano

 

Positano

Positano

Positano

There are some wonderful places to stay, eat and shop in Positano.

Positano

There are colourful pots filled with flowers even though the season is almost over.

Positano

The streets leading down to the beach are narrow, winding and steep.

Positano

Positano

Positano

By the time we got to the beach crowds had gathered and the restaurants were filling up.

Positano

Positano

Positano

We had  delicious lunch at Chez Black. It has been around since 1949 and I remember an excellent lunch there in 1972.

Then it was back up the hill to take the bus on to Amalfi.

The blue umbrellas had attracted a few more people.

Positano

The church dome still looked lovely.

Positano

And the tree still cut a fine figure.

Positano

This ruin sits on the edge.

Positano

….a last look at the view.

Positano

 

Tips for the bus.

The Sita bus leaves from in front of the railway station in Sorrento. There is usually a line waiting to catch each bus, so be early if you want a seat.

Sit on the right side of the bus (looking forward) to get the best views of the coast.

The bus fare to Positano is €3 or you can get an all day ticket for €8 which will take you along the coast and back.

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 22, 2017

Blue sky over Paris

My first full day in Paris was overcast. The city looks stunning in any weather, but I was very happy to wake up to blue sky the next day.

My wanderings took me along the Seine and into the Marais. I got a bit lost around the Place des Vosges, but that didn’t matter. Everywhere there was blue sky, beautiful rooftops and things to admire.

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris must surely be the most beautiful city. I will be back next year!

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 17, 2017

Signs

I love badly translated signs. People go to the trouble of having a sign painted without checking with an English speaker.

I spotted this one in S’Agata sui due Golfi, near Sorrento, where I was visiting family.

Signs

What fun!

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