Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 30, 2016

Florence shop windows autumn 2016

Despite the lingering warm weather the shop windows in Florence are brimming with winter clothing…cold weather will be with us soon. There have been some deliciously cool mornings and evenings to give us a taste of what is to come.

Neutral colours seem to be popular, along with florals, checks, black and white…a bit of everything really. See if there is something you can’t live without.

Autumn 2016 Florence

The ensemble above is men’s wear, but I love it.

Florence autumn 2016

Autumn 2016 Florence

Autumn 2016 Florence

Autumn 2016 Florence

Autumn 2016 Florence

Autumn 2016 Florence

Autumn 2016 Florence

Autumn 2016 Florence

Autumn 2016 Florence

I want this Fendi bag!

Autumn 2016 Florence

I don’t want any of the shoes.

I wonder if this little fellow in the fur coat found something to buy.

Autumn 2016 Florence

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 28, 2016

Searching for family

Fellow blogger, Victoria, who writes http://postcardzfromvictoria.com, has been staying with me. She was very keen to visit the Garfagnana area after finding out that her maternal grandparents were born there.

Her mother’s family came from Castiglione di Garfagnana, a beautiful fortified town on top of a hill surrounded by the magnificent mountains of the Appenine and Apuan Alps.

Castiglione Garfagnana

We went to the Comune office where we were helped by a charming young woman called Christina.

Victoria

She searched records and found the family, but not the birth records of Victoria’s grandmother. It seems she was probably born in an outlying community and her birth was not recorded at the Comune. Christina promised to look further into church records when she had more time.

Victoria

After wandering through the pretty town and chatting to several locals we went on to Pieve Fosciana to search for Victoria’s grandfather.

Victoria

Pieve Fosciana is just a few kilometres from Castiglione di Garfagnana, on the flat plain below.

Victoria

The Comune office was closed, but as luck would have it, we came upon a helpful gentleman named Francesco who searched one of the old books and found the records of her grandfather and his marriage.

Victoria

He then walked us around the corner to the house where her grandfather was born. It was quite emotional.

Victoria

Of course the house has changed in the last hundred years, but it is still there.

We were delighted to find 2 helpful people who didn’t hesitate to help with our enquiries. It is great that these records are so accessible and that is possible to look through history. It would be wonderful to know the stories of the names on those pages.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 25, 2016

Lunch on the wall

One of the restaurants on the wall of Lucca has extended to include a beautiful outdoor dining area…the perfect location for an autumn lunch.

The setting of San Colombano is gorgeous and the views over Lucca are wonderful.

Lucca San Colombano

Lucca San Colombano

Lucca

Lucca San Colombano

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

Sometimes when the setting is great the food can be mediocre, but not  in this case. The menu is interesting with lots to choose from.

San Colombano

I ordered ravioli stuffed with purple potatoes and duck sauce with hazelnuts…delicious.

San Colombano

San Colombano

My friends ordered vegetables with smoked scamorza. They declared it to be excellent and plans were made to try to recreate it at home.

San Colombano

The desserts sounded wonderful…and they were.

San Colombano

San Colombano

San Colombano

San Colombano

I love Lucca and the wall in particular. The trees are beginning to change colour.

San Colombano

There are a pair of lions either side of San Colombano. I wonder why they were put there many years ago.

San Colombano

The restaurant is on the part of the wall opposite the station. I will be returning to work my way through the menu.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 22, 2016

Casa Debbio autumn 2016

Filippo has done an amazing job keeping our garden alive over the summer. Between the time we left in late June and when I returned last week there was no rain, so he was at the house several times a week to water the garden. Luckily we have our own spring, but it is a huge job.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

The plants all look a bit tired and dried out after the heat, but most things have survived. Our local wild goats are now sneaking in to eat things and a porcupine has been burrowing for dahlia roots…I guess they have to eat too.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Even on a dull day the view looks lovely in the late afternoon.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

The autumn colour you see in the hills is not really autumn at all. The trees are stressed from the lack of water and the leaves have turned yellow. True autumn comes a bit later usually.

Casa Debbio

I think it still looks great, but the view when we left was lush and green and I had to drag myself away.

The only flower left in the garden, apart from a few tired geraniums is this oak leaf hydrangea. The locals call this flower ricotta, for obvious reasons.

Casa Debbio

The lavender plants produced huge numbers of flowers. They are finished now, but you can see how thick they were. We lost about 6 plants to the heat, but we can easily replace those in spring. We only lost 1 of the 35 peonies, but I will plant more of those anyway.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

There are still a few tomatoes in the garden. The goats have finished of the strawberry plants.

Casa Debbio

I love to get up early to watch the sun come up over the mountains.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Soon I have the job of picking all the lavender and pruning the plants…all 200 of them. There will be even more next year when we plant them along the road up to the house. I want to plant artichokes next year as well. I love the look of the plants and if you let the artichokes turn to flowers they are gorgeous.

I’ll show you some more when autumn really hits.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 18, 2016

An evening in Lucca

I am back in Italy. I arrived in Bagni di Lucca in the late afternoon after a whole day of travelling, just time to get ready for aperitivo.

This was no ordinary aperitivo. We went to Lucca to climb the Guinigi tower…famous for the holm oaks growing on the top.

Guinigi tower Lucca

It is a 230 step climb to the top. I like to stop occasionally to admire the view.

Guinigi tower Lucca

Guinigi tower Lucca

A bit of rain fell as we got to the top, but it didn’t dampen spirits. Lucca looks stunning from this vantage point, especially in the fading light.

Guinigi tower Lucca

Guinigi tower Lucca

Guinigi Tower Lucca

Guinigi Tower Lucca

Guinigi Tower Lucca

Guinigi Tower Lucca

Guinigi tower Lucca

Guinigi Tower Lucca

Guinigi Tower Lucca

Guinigi tower Lucca

Guinigi Tower Lucca

Guinigi tower Lucca

Guinigi Tower Lucca

Guinigi Tower Lucca

Prosecco time.

Guinigi Tower Lucca

It had been planned that we would be serenaded under the holm oaks by 2 lovely young musicians, but the rain sent us downstairs. It was great anyway.

Guinigi tower Lucca

Guinigi Tower Lucca

Thank you Paul and Paola Moschino for a great evening…and Paris Boheme, for the delicious dinner that followed. It is good to be back.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 12, 2016

First spring swim

Tomorrow I will be jetting off to Europe again. One of the things I really miss about Australia when I am gone is the beach. I grew up living beside one of the best beaches in the world, Main Beach on Queensland’s Gold Coast. I went back to my childhood beach for a swim before heading off.

I like to get up early to walk along the water’s edge before diving into the waves. It had rained all night and the sun struggled to appear through the mist, but finally it was beaming down on the early morning beach fans.

Main Beach

Main Beach

Main Beach

Main Beach

 

Main Beach

Main Beach

Col, the wormer, was out and about and Bob, a fisherman I have met before was trying his luck.

Main Beach

Main Beach

Southport surf lifesavers were practising their moves.

Main Beach

The water was cold, but after the first dive into the waves it’s great. I will keep that feeling with me until I get back in November.

Main Beach

norfolkapartments.com.au

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 10, 2016

Gorgeous garden things

We are always on the hunt for interesting things for the garden at Casa Debbio. After our interesting interlude at Rose Barni we thought we would try another exit from the Autostrada. Just past the Alt Stazione at Montecatini is Garden Forest, a wonderful jumble of great things you didn’t know you needed, but once seen become a necessity.

We called in on a rainy day and wandered among the treasures…come for a walk.

Garden Forest

Garden Forest

Garden Forest

Garden Forest

Garden forest

Garden Forest

Garden Forest

A bird bath now resides at Casa Debbio.

Casa Debbio

Several terracotta heads have found homes among the plants.

We found the prices to be very reasonable and I know several more pieces will find their way to Casa Debbio when I get back in about a week.

gardenforest.it

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 8, 2016

Adopt a rose

For years we have driven past Rose Barni, beside the Autostrada in Pistoia. It looks very impressive from the highway and it was a natural choice when we were looking for Banksia roses for Casa Debbio.

While it is in a very obvious position it proved to be quite difficult to get to. We were over confident and failed to find an actual street address and drove in circles for quite some time before stumbling onto it by accident.

Rose Barni

Rose Barni

For future reference the address is Via del Casello, Pistoia. Rose Barni has been operating since 1882…five generations in the one family. They know about roses.

We entered the office and were shown to a waiting room until we could be seen by an attendant. It felt as though we were about to be interviewed to make sure we would be suitable parents to our new rose.

We watched while other expectant parents were called to the counter to view their newly wrapped roses.

Soon it was our turn. Questions were asked about the type of rose we were looking for, where it was to be planted, colour etc. We were assured that they had something for us and the attendant went off to prepare our roses.

We resumed our seat and waited breathlessly. 2 perfect Banksia rose plants arrived about 15 minutes later and were handed over with love.

They now grace the terrace in front of Casa Debbio and I will be back there soon to see how they have fared over summer. They have been left in the loving care of Filippo. Just before I left in June they had begun to flower. I hope they are enjoying their new home.

Casa Debbio

Buying a rose from Rose Barni is a wonderful experience…we will return.

Here are some of their gorgeous roses.

Rose Barni

Rose Barni

 

http://www.rosebarni.it

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 5, 2016

It’s all Greek to me

One of the highlights of our Sicily trip was our visit to the Greek ruins just outside Agrigento. The site is called the Valley of the Temples. We were not sure we were heading in the right direction, but soon a temple loomed in front of us from its lofty position above the plain…it is on a ridge, not in a valley after all.

Agrigento

The site is well managed. There is an enormous car park at one end, beside the ticket office. From here it is possible to take a taxi to the upper end of of the site. If you enter through the car park end, small vehicles like golf buggies will take you through the site to the end. It is 2 kilometres long and on a hot day walking both ways can be a bit much. We chose the taxi option. The entry fee was €10 and the taxi about €8.

The first temple we came upon was the Giunone, built between 450 and 440BC.

Agrigento

Agrigento

This is the highest part of the ridge and offers great views of the site and the city of Agrigento in the distance.

Agrigento

What a pity these ancient olive trees can’t speak and tell us of what went on over the years.

Agrigento

Part of the 12 kilometre wall that surrounded the Ancient Greek site remains.

Agrigento

Agrigento

You can get up close to see how it was constructed.

Agrigento

There are cavities in the rock face with curved upper surfaces. These are tombs called arcosolia  and were built between the 4th and 7th centuries AD.

Agrigento

Agrigento

Agrigento

Excellent sculptures have been recovered on the site. This one is a togati statue uncovered in the excavation of 2005.

Agrigento

Naturally there is a cafe for lunch or a snack…this is Italy.

Agrigento

A little further on is the Doric Temple of Concordia built between 440BC and 430BC. It is well preserved thanks to a  much later modification when it was covered with white stucco.

Agrigento

Agrigento

When we were there Igor Mitoraj’s sculpture Ikaro Caduto (2011) was resting comfortably in front of the temple. It seemed appropriate. I have seen Ikarus in Pietrasanta…he gets around.

Agrigento

In 1921 Sir Anthony Hardcastle, a captain in the British army, built a villa on the site and lived there until his death in 1933. He financed many of the excavations.

Thanks to him 8 columns if the Temple of Hercules were re erected and many ancient monuments were discovered. I can’t imagine that anyone would be allowed to build a house nowdays, but at least he did good things. His bust sits in the courtyard in front of his house.

Agrigento

Next stop on our wandering was the Temple of Hercules.

Agrigento

Agrigento

Agrigento

The nearby Temple of Zeus has been reduced to a pile of rocks, which is a pity as it was the largest Doric Temple in the western world. It was built from local calarenite stone probably between 488 and 472BC. The stone has been looted for centuries. In the 18th century it was used as a stone quarry for the construction of the dock of Empedode (1749-1763)…criminal really.

Agrigento

Agrigento

The next area we visited was the Sanctuary of Chthonic Deities and the Temple of the Dioskouroi. Demeter and Persephone, mother and daughter team, were the patrons of fertility.

Agrigento

Agrigento

Agrigento

Agrigento

We wandered in the warm, spring Sicilian sun for several hours being amazed and awed by these incredible ruins. The site is well managed and kept in excellent condition.

Huge numbers of people descend on the ruins every day, but the area is vast and certainly didn’t seem too crowded the day we were there.

Agrigento

Don’t miss the Greek ruins at Agrigento!

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 28, 2016

Spring Pop Up

My spring Pop Up begins on Friday 2nd September and will go until Saturday 10th September at Sarva, 239 Boundary St, West End, Brisbane. I will be open from 9.30 until 3.00 pm every day.

Spring Pop Up

I have been busy sewing cool summer clothes in cotton and linen. I brought white linen in Italy and I have dyed the fabric with indigo. I also gathered some pretty scarves on my last trip and fabric in Helsinki to make cushions.

Take a look…

Spring Pop Up

Spring Pop Up

Spring Pop Up

Spring Pop Up

I hope you will all drop in to say hello.

 

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