Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 21, 2015

New/old things for the garden

With spring now upon us I will begin planting the terrace below Casa Debbio very soon. I am slowly gathering plants as they appear in the nurseries. I found a fabulous pomegranate which is too big to fit in my car…I’ll find a way of getting it to the house.

The terrace is quite large and I would like some large pots, or perhaps a statue or 2 to place amongst the plants. With this in mind, I went to one of my favourite shops in Forte dei Marmi…although I don’t think the word shop describes this place well enough.

This is Il Giaggiolo.

Il Giaggiolo

 

Il Giaggiolo

It is an enormous area filled with fabulous things collected from old houses and gardens. I could easily load a truck with things for Casa Debbio.

Il Giaggiolo

 

Il Giaggiolo

These old tiles would be great…somewhere.

Il Giaggiolo

Il Giaggiolo

I especially love these pots…they are very big and very expensive.

Il Giaggiolo

I think this would look great in my garden.

Il Giaggiolo

They have an indoor area full of good things too.

Il Giaggiolo

This is Emilio, the owner. He would have been happy to load a truck for me. In fact, he offered to do just that.

Il Giaggiolo

I wouldn’t mind the gates as well.

Il Giaggiolo

 

Il Giaggiolo,

Via G.B.Vico, 25,

Forte dei Marmi. 0584 787350

www.ilgiaggiolo.it

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 18, 2015

Meet Camille

From the Autostrada to Florence the other day we spotted an amazing orange helicopter at the little airport at Capannori near Lucca.

We know someone who knows someone and a few days later we were allowed to get up close and personal…meet Camille.

Camille the helicopter

She is an Erickson Aircrane visiting Italy to help out with some heavy lifting. The helicopter is used to lift huge pylons into place in difficult to reach places…among other things.

It really does look like a dragonfly.

Camille the helicopte

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

It is amazing to see these things in action. It was a different orange helicopter I saw at Vergemoli last week carrying long poles through the valley below, but I can imagine what Camille can do.

Mechanics were working hard to get her ready for her next job, probably in China.

There is an Erickson helicopter nicknamed Elvis that goes to Australia to help with bushfires. It can carry up to 9,500 litres of water, making it very useful for firefighting.

In case you are interested the Italian word for helicopter is elicottero.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 15, 2015

Eat at Al Corso in lovely Lucca

A new restaurant has opened in Corso Garibaldi in Lucca. This is the gorgeous street lined with magnolia trees, many of which are in full bloom right now.

We enjoyed a delicious Sunday lunch at Al Corso today. Although it is brand new, the owners, Elise and Andrea have had lots of experience in their other restaurant, La Conca, just outside Lucca.

Elise and Andrea at Al Corso

The room was friendly and inviting and it was good to see lots of people in such a new place.

Al Corso Lucca

Al Corso Lucca

 

The first heavenly bread was eaten very quickly and 2 new packets appeared (and were also devoured)

Al Corso Lucca

I ordered rabbit which was rolled around zucchini and served with a very tasty sformata.

Al Corso Lucca

My friends ordered chestnut ravioli with pine nuts and pancetta.

Al Corso Lucca

…tortelli with ragu.

Al Corso Lucca

…and mixed seafood, which was in a very light and crisp batter.

Al Corso Lucca

In the name of research we ordered 2 desserts, raspberry, strawberry and pear sorbet.

Al Corso Lucca

…and mille foglie with marscapone with chocolate sauce. Both were excellent.

Al Corso Lucca

Al Corso will definitely become a regular place for lunch or dinner in Lucca.

If you hurry you will see the magnolias.

Corso Garibaldi magnolias

Corso Garibaldi magnolias

Corso Garibaldi magnolias

I will repeat a quote I found in a book on Lucca…because I love it.

“If you will be there around the half of March you’ll find the emotion of walking between the wings of magnolia trees, whose leafage full of flowers look like a big rose-coloured fireworks even though…unnaturally static.”

Al Corso, Corso Garibaldi 137/139, Lucca

Open for lunch and dinner. Closed Tuesday.

0583 057069

alcorso2015@gmail.com

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 12, 2015

Waiting for spring at Casa Debbio

I am at Casa Debbio waiting patiently for spring, to begin planting the terrace below the house.  I am also waiting for Rocco and Filipo to build a low fence which will form part of the new garden.

Here is my sunrise this morning.

sunrise at Casa Debbio

We are 600 metres above sea level here, so it is a bit cooler than Bagni di Lucca. There are few signs of spring in the forest around Vergemoli.

Vergemoli in winter

 

Vergemoli in winter

If you look closely though, there are signs. This may not look like much to you, but I am thrilled to see it.

magnolia bud

It is a bud on my magnolia tree in front of the house. We cut the pine trees last year and I planted the magnolia in the hope it will eventually supply shade over the terrace where we have lunch.

I love mufloni, the tiny wild goats that live in the forest around us, but the little devils have eaten all the leaves of my camellia and have been picking at the rhododendrons. I will have to fence the plants until they get a bit bigger.

mufloni eat camellia

I wish my bright bird would frighten the goats.

Casa Debbio bird

My wild daffodils have come up.

wild daffodils

The ones I planted are appearing.

my daffodils

Some tiny ones have appeared in a pot. (I forgot about these)

my daffodils

Here are some of the plants I have started buying for the new garden. I am going to need about 100 lavender plants, some azaleas, roses, peonies, hydrangeas and anything else that will fit into my pink, lilac and white theme…there is some work to do.

my new plants

This afternoon I watched a bright orange helicopter, that looked like a dragonfly buzzing around, fly backwards and forwards to the river below Vergemoli. It seemed to be picking up long poles and delivering them somewhere in the mountains.

Vergemoli

It isn’t much of a photo, but it took a slightly different route each time and would appear where I wasn’t expecting it.

Buds are appearing on my fruit trees and my weeping cherry is about to flower…I can’t wait to see that.

weeping cherry

I will show you the transformation that will happen here in a couple of weeks.

Casa Debbio terrace

This terrace behind the house will turn green any day now. The hazelnut, chestnut and cherry trees will have leaves and blossoms. There will be a carpet of blue flowers and lots of wild flowers. My neighbour tells me that people have been find truffles all over our area. Maybe we will find some.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 9, 2015

On a happier note

Life is returning to normal in Bagni Di Lucca. Most places have electricity, although we lost power again last night for a while. I thought the worst of the damage was in La Villa, but it seems several other villages have been badly hit. In some, every roof was damaged and I have heard that insurance may not cover all of the repair costs.

It seems a chimney on my roof is broken, so I will have to get a brave soul to venture up there to fix it, but that is minor when you consider what others have been through.

Casa Debbio survived without a scratch, making me pleased we cut the pine trees around the house last year. It looks a bit bare, but with a bit if luck and the arrival of spring, things will look better soon.

The good news is that spring is definitely on the way. In Lucca the other day we saw the gorgeous magnolia flowers appearing on the trees in Via Garibaldi.

Magnolias in Lucca

Magnolias in Lucca

Magnolias in Lucca

Magnolias in Lucca

The daffodils in my pots are looking beautiful.

my daffodils

Spring makes everything look better…not long now.

Despite your efforts (thank you) Bagni di Lucca and Beyond did not win anything in the Italy Magazine Blog Awards.

However, Bella Bagni di Lucca, won runner up in the Best Single Art and Culture Post for a post I did on a delightful business here that still makes by hand the figurines the area was once famous for.

I am really happy that Arte Barsanti will get a bit of extra attention as a result.

See the post here.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 7, 2015

Update on the tornado

Things have settled down in Bagni Di Lucca and the clean up is well underway. Most of the damage here has been to roofs, with tiles being blown to the ground, leaving gaping holes.

Roof damage

The rest was done by falling trees. A lot of trees fell across roads and in some cases electricity wires. Most villages now have power, but Enel is obviously stretched and some houses are still without electricity.

Fallen trees

Fallen trees

The park in La Villa is fenced off and woodcutters are busily cutting the trees into more manageable pieces for removal.

Fallen trees

One man was killed when a rock, loosened from beside the road, hit his car. His passenger was hurt, but is OK. Another man was hurt when a tree branch fell on the cabin of his truck on the road to Lucca. I have not heard of other injuries.

Florence was damaged, and nearby Pistoia was badly hit. Its many plant nurseries have been damaged right at the beginning of the spring season.

Skiers in the Dolomites had to be rescued when strong winds trapped them in ski lifts.

Forte dei Marmi on the Versilia Coast has been very badly damaged by the fierce winds. Houses and shops have been devastated and hundreds of trees blown down.

Who would believe so much damage could be done by one weather event? Please add anything you know in the comments.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 5, 2015

A tornado hits Bagni di Lucca

I was woken early this morning by a strange noise. When I got out of bed I saw that all the lights were off in the village and a howling wind was roaring along the river.

There wasn’t much I could do except pull the shutters closed and go back to bed. I didn’t sleep though, there were loud crashes and bangs that continued until dawn.

At Ponte a Serraglio there seemed to be little damage except that many roofs had their tiles blown to the road.

La Villa, however, is another story. Huge trees have fallen on rooftops, the streets were absolutely covered with broken terra cotta tiles and branches.

The beautiful park has been devastated. Some of the uprooted trees were hundreds of years old and can never be replaced.

Here is some of the damage.

Damage in Bagni di Lucca

Damage in La Villa

Damage at La Villa

Damage in La Villa

Damage at La Villa

Damage in La Villa

Damage in La Villa

Damage at La Villa

Damage in La Villa

 

Damage in La Villa

La Villa damage

We still have no power and phone and it is difficult to know how widespread the damage is. I hope to find out more over the next few days.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 3, 2015

Look at our lovely mountains

I love winter here in Bagni di Lucca. Our mountains are very dramatic, and never more so than when there is snow on top.

We went for a drive up to Montefegatesi and on to Prato Fiorito. Lots of snow has melted recently, but there was enough left.

Mountains in Bagni di Lucca

mountains in Bagni di Lucca

Bagni di Lucca mountains

Prato Fiorito means field of flowers and soon it will be covered in wild flowers.

Prato Fiorito

Prato Fiorito

Prato Fiorito

Montefegatesi is the highest of Bagni di Lucca’s villages and the view of it from the road to Prato Fiorito is not bad.

Montefegatesi

A walk through the village is always interesting. I am very impressed by the roofs with the rocks to weigh the tiles down…it gets windy up there.

Montefegatesi roof

I even managed to find a renovator’s delight for you. There are quite a lot of houses in the forest on the way to the base of Prato Fiorito. You can’t see them in the spring and summer when the trees have leaves, but they are all on show now.

Prato Fiorito

Prato Fiorito

Prato Fiorito

We have sun today, but rain and possible snow is forecast for tomorrow.

Spring is just around the corner. Soon this area will look completely different…I will be back.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 26, 2015

Florence leather market

The street markets around San Lorenzo in Florence are popular with tourists for lots of reasons. It is possible to buy all kinds of souvenirs from colourful stalls that wind through the streets. Most stalls are in Via dell’Ariento where you will also find the wonderful Central Food Market.

Florence leather market

Florence leather market

There are leather jackets, handbags, wallets, belts, key rings, clothes, scarves and paper goods…among other things. The stalls are often fronts for the shops behind them.

Florence leather market

Florence leather market

 

Florence leather market

Florence leather market

If you like to bargain you will probably have fun here. It is a great place to find gifts to take home…you are bound to find something you like.

 

Voting in the Italy Magazine Blog Awards closes on 28th February. If you haven’t already voted (even if you have…it seems you can vote as many times as you like) I would love it if you click here and vote for Bagni di Lucca and Beyond in the Best single Art and Culture Post.

Winners will be announced 3rd March. I will let you know as soon as I do.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 24, 2015

Viareggio Carnevale 2015

Fortunately I arrived in Italy in time to revisit the dazzling Carnevale in Viareggio.

As usual politicians come in for some ruthless comment. On the first float I saw poor Angela Merkel dressed as a showgirl. Occasionally she would give birth to a little naked man, (I think it is Renzi) while being led by an army of sperm…poor Angela.

Viareggio Carnevale 2015

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

World leaders warming their hands on a burning globe was a standout float. I was most impressed by Putin’s blue eyes and lips and Obama’s blue eyelids, shown off when he blinked.

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

 

Renzi looks cheerful…

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

 

Politicians and the Pope always make an appearance.

A 2 sided theatre showed a happy, colourful side and a dark, sinister side.

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

Pinocchio gets some dark treatment.

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

Some themes are a bit obscure. Maybe I need to know more about current affairs in Italy.


Burmalacco made an appearance.

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

Dinosaurs are always popular.

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

A city changes from from black and white to full colour.

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

A cake opened up to reveal a lively centre.

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

…a complicated one.

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

…a clever clown.

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

There was a very impressive elephant.

Carnevale Viareggio 2015

This is a wonderful event. It seems chaotic. People wander in and out and all around the floats while they are trundling down the street. There is loud music, confetti, children, dogs…all together having fun.

Some of our very carefully choreographed events in Australia could learn some lessons here.

Take a look at Bella Bagni di Lucca for some Carnevale faces.

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