Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 13, 2016

Black is black

Fallow is one of the most interesting and beautiful shops I have seen anywhere. Natalie, a lovely friend from my fashion past, created her shop in 2008. She scours the world for beautiful things outside the mainstream…mostly black.

The shop is exquisite…take a look.

Fallow

Fallow

Fallow

Fallow

There are many covetable items to be found in Fallow.

Fallow

Fallow

Fallow

The elegant interior is all the more amazing when you see what they started with. The space was the office of a mild mannered accountant before it was completely transformed.

Fallow

A couple of things were retained…the fabulous wallpaper…

Fallow

…and the old phone, which still works.

Fallow

Fallow is one of the most elegant I have seen anywhere in the world, and it is in my hometown, Brisbane.

Drop in and say hello to Natalie and her team at Fallow.

Level 1, Cameron House.

354 Brunswick St,

Fortitude Valley. Brisbane.

fallow.com.au

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 9, 2016

Surprising Salerno

Salerno is the capital of Salerno Province in Campania. It is bigger that many of the other towns along the Amalfi Coast. As well as a very well preserved medieval centre it has a more modern area nearby.

We stayed a couple of nights there on our way back from Sicily and were delighted by the town. We stayed in the new section, but it was just a short walk to the narrow streets of the old part of town.

Salerno

Via dei Mercanti was the main street in medieval times and is still a thriving shopping area. New businesses are to be found among old facades, doorways and crumbling stone columns, making for some interesting strolling.

Salerno

Salerno

Above the town is the first European Botanical Garden, Giardino della Minerva. The gardens are set in terraces on the side of a steep hill. There is not a lot of space, but it has been used wisely.

Salerno

Salerno

On each level is a trough or fountain, part of the clever watering system.

Salerno

Salerno

There are excellent views of Salerno from the gardens.

Salerno

In the centre of the old town is the duomo built in 1076. The Romanesque entrance is called Porta dei Leoni.

Salerno

It leads to an atrium surrounded on 4 sides with a portico.

Salerno

Salerno

Salerno

The interior of the church is magnificent. The inlaid marble alone makes it worth a visit.

Salerno

The belltower was constructed in the middle of the 12th century from travertine, bricks and columns that possibly came from the ruins of nearby Paestrum.

Salerno

The seafront promenade, Lungomare Trieste, was created in the 1950s. It is 8 kilometres long and is lined with rare palms.

Salerno

We came across a beautiful park.

Salerno

The view from the park is stunning.

Salerno

Street art is everywhere in Salerno. Some are small and interesting and others cover the entire side of buildings.

Salerno

We ate at a wonderful restaurant, Vicolo della Neve, a Salerno favourite. It has been there for 3 generations and was the haunt of poets and artists. Enrico Caruso was a famous guest.

Salerno

Breakfast was excellent at Puro.

Puro Salerno

The sfogliatella was delicious.

Puro Salerno

A well dressed local joined us for breakfast.

Puro Salerno

Salerno is a great place to stay on the Amalfi Coast. It mixes old and new very well, and there is lots to see and do. Boats leave regularly to other towns along the coast, making it very convenient.

Salerno

 

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 6, 2016

Amazing Amalfi

Many years ago I lived in a small village on the Amalfi Coast. I visited most of the other towns along this fabulous coast, but didn’t get as far south as Amalfi.

On the way back from Sicily earlier this year,  I finally got to see this shining jewel at the foot of Monte Cerreto. Like the other coastal towns, Amalfi clings to the edge of the sea. In the 1920s and 1930s it became the place to be for the British upper class and aristocracy.

Now, it seems, Amalfi is popular with everyone. The town was crowded with eager tourists when we were there at the beginning of May.

Arriving by sea is an excellent way to get a great view of the town.

Amalfi

The entrance to the town from the water’s edge is via an old portal.

Amalfi

Piazza Duomo, the heart of the town, soon appears, with the magnificent cathedral of Sant’Andrea looking on from above. Between the 9th and 11th centuries Amalfi was the seat of a powerful maritime republic. The Arab/Norman cathedral with its striped Byzantine facade survives from this era.

Amalfi

Amalfi

The front door of the church is most impressive.

Amalfi

The interior is very elaborate.

Amalfi

Amalfi

Behind the church is the lovely Chiostro del Paradiso, Cloister of Paradise. It was built between 1266 and 1268 by Filippo Augustariccio and was used as a burial ground for noble families of Amalfi. The white columns and pointed arches reflect Arab influence. It is absolutely beautiful, with frescoes and views of the campanile.

Amalfi

Amalfi

The view from the church over the piazza is excellent.

Amalfi

We wandered down to explore the town. There is an interesting fountain in the square.

Amalfi

Amalfi

The main street is long and narrow.

Amalfi

The Amalfi Coast is famous for its huge lemons…and Limoncello, the delicious lemon liqueur. It is on sale in bottles of all shapes and sizes in shops all over town…along with lemons.

Amalfi

Amalfi

Shops are also full of beautiful ceramics and colourful beach clothes.

Amalfi

Amalfi

Amalfi

Amalfi

There is a very strange, and not particularly attractive, fountain in the street. It is called De Cape ‘e Ciucci, and refers to an old custom when donkeys (ciucci) came down from a village above laden with fruit, vegetables and wood to drink at the fountain.

Since 1974 the fountain has  been a centre point for a nativity scene made from limestone and tufa.

Amalfi

We had a delicious lunch at a very busy restaurant, Locanda del Marinaio. Our friendly waiters were delighted when I told them used to live nearby and declared me an honorary local.

Amalfi

Amalfi

Amalfi

The weather was a bit patchy, with clouds and occasional sun. It began to rain just as we left, but it didn’t matter. I absolutely love the Amalfi Coast, all of it. I love the colour, the food, the shops, the people, the sea…everything.  I can’t wait to return.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 1, 2016

What a difference a year makes

Last year at Casa Debbio we decided to plant a new garden on the terrace below the house. We had some pine trees removed, which has allowed a walnut tree and a fig tree to get more light and space, and gave us a new area to plant.

Casa Debbio

This is what the new terrace looked like at the end of spring last year.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Here is what it looked like at the end of spring this year.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

We are absolutely delighted with the results. Weeks of rain may have ruined the roses and geraniums, but it certainly made everything grow. Last spring was quite dry and I spent hours every other day watering the new plants. This year I didn’t have to do it at all.

The garden behind the house is growing well too, the peonies and hydrangeas have done very well.

Casa Debbio

Watching the garden for a whole year is amazing.

Here is the entrance to the house in February.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Here it is in early spring.

Casa Debbio

…late spring.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

 

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

 

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

 

Casa Debbio

The terrace in front of the house is looking good with the new pergola.

Casa Debbio

I can’t wait to see what happens next year. We are going to plant lavender all along the road up to the house. I think it will look great.

We have left the garden in Filippo’s capable hands until we return. He takes great care of everything as well as meeting our visitors and introducing them to Casa Debbio.

There are still a couple of weeks available for rent at Casa Debbio this summer…tell your friends.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 27, 2016

Fiskars and orange scissors

I’m sure many of you have a pair of these scissors in your possession.

Fiskars scissors

Perhaps you don’t know where they come from. They were originally made in a place called Fiskars, about one hour west of Helsinki in Finland.

Fiskars Bruk was founded as an iron works in 1649 and gave rise to the company Fiskars. In 1822 John von Julin bought the iron works and began the production facility and Finland’s first workshop in 1836. They produced utility items from scissors and knives to ploughs.

In the 1980s Fiskars began to move operations to make use of more modern facilities. Now the old factory site is a centre for Finnish art and design. 600 people live in the area and it is popular with artists, artisans and designers.

It is also popular with visitors, including us. Some Finnish friends, Helena and Lasse Kinnunen from Brisbane, have a summer studio in Fiskars. On the way home  from Italy we stopped in Helsinki and drove across to Fiskars to visit them and see the beautiful village.

Their studio is set in a pretty forest. It is a perfect show room for their beautiful crafted furniture.

Fiskars village

Fiskars village

Helena and Lasse very kindly showed us around the village. The buildings in the village are scattered around the river which was an important transport route. The 3 rapids in the river provided power for the blast furnace, machinery workshop and electric power station. Come for a walk around lovely Fiskars.

Fiskars village Finland

Fiskars village Finland

Fiskars village Finland

Most of the buildings are used as studios for the artists, or shops to sell the lovely things they produce. There are also restaurants, cafes and hotels for those who would like to stay a while.

I particularly liked the blacksmith, where we found lots of things to buy for Casa Debbio. I will have to return with an empty suitacase.

Fiskars village Finland

I have been collecting these cute cups for a few years now and I was surprised and delighted to meet the designer, Riita Talonpoika, in a Fiskars shop. She also has a nearby studio which I would love to see.

Fiskars village Finland

Fiskars village Finland

In the Onoma shop we found lots of wonderful things.

Fiskars village Finland

As well as beautiful furniture Lasse makes these lovely necklaces for sale in the shop.

Fiskars village Finland

At the other end of the building is the Fiskars shop where there is an amazing range of Fiskars products as well as a display of the history of  Fiskars.

Fiskars village Finland

Fiskars village Finland

Here I found the story of the orange scissors, and why they are orange.

In the year 1967 the first model was to be made. The designer wanted the scissors to be black or green. As the prototype went into production the machinist decided to use up the orange colour already in the machine. The result was that the prototypes were made in 4 colours, of which orange and black were the favourites.

A final decision was made after an in-house vote, and the orange Fiskars scissors were born. The colour, Fiskars Orange, was registered as an official trademark in Finland in 2004 and the U.S. in 2007. Orange scissors are found all over the world. We Fiskars product often in our travels.

Best of all there is a gallery chock full of interesting things.

Thank you Helena and Lasse for a lovely day in heavenly Fiskars…we will be back.

Fiskars village Finland

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 20, 2016

Time to go home

I have been in Italy for 4 months and it is time to return to Australia. It is always difficult to leave, but I know that I will be back in September.

I arrived in Bagni di Lucca in winter. Our little village changed in the time I have been here.

I do like winter and the scenes it brings.

Bagni di Lucca winter

Bagni di Lucca winter

Bagni di Lucca winter

The view from my balcony is always good.

Bagni di Lucca winter

Bagni di Lucca rain

My daffodils were out when I arrived. Unfortunately they were much too crowded in the pots and left no room to plant pansies and later geraniums, so now they live at Casa Debbio. I hope they put on a good show next spring.

Bagni di Lucca winter

When spring begins I can see things turning green before my eyes. I plant pansies on the bridge in front of our apartment.

Ponte a Serraglio spring

Ponte pansies

Ponte pansies

This year we had lots of rain, sometimes it seemed it would never end. At times we almost disappeared in the mist and rain.

Ponte a Serraglio rain

Ponte a Serraglio rain

Ponte a Serraglio rain

All the rain makes for a very green spring.

Ponte a Serraglio

We left very early this morning. True to form the day began with cool mists.

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

We are now in Helsinki. We arrived to warm sunshine, warmer than it has been in Italy for a while.

When I return it will be autumn…a favourite time for me.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 15, 2016

Easy Peasy Paola

Last night we were invited to a fun evening at Villa Catureglio at Borgo a Mozzano, a few kilometres from Bagni di Lucca.

Before I left Australia for Italy earlier this year I met a group of Australians who like to travel. They have known each other for 30 years and visit fabulous places all over the world. This year they are staying at Villa Catureglio as part of an Italian visit.

Who can blame them for wanting to stay here?

Villa Catureglio

 

Villa Catureglio

As part of their stay they wanted to have an Italian cooking lesson, so I introduced them to my lovely friend Paola. I thought she would be a good fit for this fun group.

When we arrived the lesson was well underway.

Paola cooking class

Paola cooking class

The best part of a cooking lesson is that you get to eat the results.

Paola cooking class

Paola cooking class

Thank you Maree, Michael and friends for including us in your delightful evening. I hope the rest of your trip is excellent.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 9, 2016

Casa Debbio spring 2016

Spring has been wet and cooler than usual. The garden at Casa Debbio seems to like this. It is thriving. The roses have appeared, new peonies appear every week…we have 35 peony plants and they seem to bloom at different times, which is great.

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Tomatoes are growing.

Casa Debbio 2016

There are some gooseberries on the bush.

Casa Debbio 2016

The lavender is growing like mad. The first plants are now 4 years old, the next row are having their third summer and the plants on the lower terrace are turning 2. They are all looking great and they smell divine even though the flowers aren’t open yet.

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

Our pergola is finished and the terracotta table is in place.

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio 2016

I am hoping wisteria and Banksia roses will cover the pergola in the next couple of years to provide shade.

The bench has found a home at the side of the house.

Casa Debbio 2016

The pergola we had built last autumn is starting to attract wisteria and roses from above.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio 2016

Our chestnut trees are in blossom.

Casa Debbio 2016

The path on the terrace is starting to look good. The plants are growing and by next summer will be looking the way I want them to.

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

I painted the wall beside the house. It was dull grey before.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

The geraniums got severely knocked around by the constant rain, but they will bounce back soon.

I am delighted with the progress at Casa Debbio this year. Filippo has done a wonderful job helping us in the garden. He also helped Vittorio build the pergola and we love it.

This morning we almost disappeared in the mist.

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbio 2016

Casa Debbbio 2016

Casa Debbio is available for rent. Please share the post with someone who may be interested in our peaceful mountain retreat.

 

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 5, 2016

Casa Debbio weather

Spring has been wet, especially May. It has rained constantly, which means we haven’t had to water the garden at all.

It is looking green and lush and the misty views are spectacular.

I love early morning at Casa Debbio. The village below disappears in the mist and reappears minutes later.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

image

I could never tire of the view as it changes constantly.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

The photos above are all taken from the kitchen door.

At the end of the driveway it is completely different.

Casa Debbio

Soon it will be time to leave it behind for a few months. I will give you a garden update soon.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 3, 2016

Chicken wire chap

In Pizzo, Calabria, we discovered a clever piece of public art. I called him chicken wire chap. He was sitting on a ledge gazing out to sea. He was large.

Chicken wire chap

He was difficult to see from some angles.

Chicken wire chap

Chicken wire chap Pizzo

…but quite clear from others.

Chicken wire chap

Chicken wire chap

Weeds were growing through his hand…and a few other places I won’t mention.

Chicken wire chap

Chicken wire chap

He was clear at night.

Chicken wire chap Pizzo

I wonder how long he will last before rust gets the better of him.

My friend Kathy, from Cannon Hill Chronicles, found some information about the artist. Take a look, he does some amazing things. Click HERE.

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