Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 20, 2016

Marvellous Modena

Modena is an ancient Etruscan town more recently known for the famous cars made in or near the city…Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, Pagani and Maserati are, or were located in Modena.

The centre of Modena, Piazza Grande, is a Unesco World Heritage site.

Modena

Here you will find the magnificent Cathedral of Modena. It looks great from all angles.

Modena

Modena

Modena

Modena

Modena

Modena

Modena

It was built between 1099 and 1106 by architect Lanfranco. The gorgeous sculptures were carried out by Wiligelmo in the 12th century and the Maestri Campionesi in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The interior of the church is stunning.

Modena

The terracotta nativity scene dates from 1527.

Modena

The Renaissance Clock Tower in the Town Hall was built in the late 15th century. The building was constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries from pre-existing buildings.

Modena

La Bonissima, dating from 1268, stands on the corner of the building, keeping a eye on things.

Modena

Pietra Ringadora, a huge stone slab, was used between 11th and 13th centuries by orators and a stone of shame for insolvent debtors. It was also the place where justice was administered and commercial transactions were carried out. Now it is a good spot to lean bicycles.

Modena

The impressive Ducal Palace is where Italian Military officers are trained. It is not open to the public but looks stunning from the outside.

Modena

I want one of the lion’s head chain holders at the front entrance.

Modena

As well as the wonderful historic buildings, Modena is chock full of beautiful things to see. The elegant streets are full of great looking cafes and modern shops.

Modena

Modena

Giuseppe Giusto, a famous deli was recommended by a friend as a must see.

Modena

There are 4 tables at the back where you can have a delicious meal, but it was fully booked when we were there..next time.

The covered food market in Modena is excellent.

Modena

Modena

A charming fellow in the markets recommended a good place for lunch nearby. I don’t remember then name of the restaurant, but it was upstairs opposite the exit from the market.

Modena

Modena was a pleasant surprise for us. It is a city that mixes old and new very well. There is an excellent museum full of treasures. I think it is going to become a regular place for us to visit. We drove from Bagni di Lucca across the mountains in about 2 hours, but it is also an easy place to get to by train…don’t miss it.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 13, 2016

Picturesque Pistoia

Pistoia doesn’t attract as many tourists as it should. It is a gorgeous medieval town with some stunning buildings. I have been several times and I love to wander the streets enjoying an authentic Italian city.

At the centre of town is Piazza del Duomo. There is something amazing to see on all sides, including the Duomo…

Pistoia

Above the entrance is a magnificent Della Robbia arch.

Pistoia

Baptistry…

Pistoia

and Palazzo del Pretorio…

Pistoia

and this building, the name of which I don’t remember.

Wednesday and Saturday are market days when the streets bustle with shoppers.

Pistoia

I particularly like the food markets.

Pistoia

On the way to the markets we walked down a wonderful old street where the original shops with their display benches are still there.

Pistoia

Pistoia

Pistoia

The food shops in Pistoia are very inviting.

Pistoia

This restaurant called to me…next time.

Pistoia

A very popular place to meet for coffee or something delicious to eat is Le Grand Cafe du Globe.

Pistoia

We were delighted to meet Michela Ricciarelli, who writes a great blog about Pistoia. She took us to her favourite cafe where I had one of the best pastries I have eaten in all of Italy. I would go back to Pistoia just for another apple pastry.

Pistoia

Pistoia

This is gorgeous Michela.

Pistoia

Be sure to check out her blog…Passion 4 food 4 fashion. She loves Pistoia and is a perfect ambassador for the city.

Here are some more photos of picturesque  Pistoia.

Pistoia

Pistoia

Pistoia

Pistoia

Pistoia

Put Pistoia on your list of Italian towns to visit. It is only 30 kilometres from Florence and is easily accessible by train from there. Don’t miss it.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 9, 2016

The Duomo at night

The stunning Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiori looks even better at night. It is incredible to believe that the cathedral was begun in 1296. It was completed structurally by 1436 with the help of Filippo Brunelleschi, who designed the famous dome. The façade is relatively new…it was completed in the 19th century.

Duomo Florence

Duomo Florence

Duomo Florence

Duomo Florence

Duomo Florence

It’s great staying over night in Florence. We don’t do it often as the city is an easy day trip from Bagni di Lucca, but it is a treat when we do. The crowds seem to melt away and everything takes on a magical quality.

We like to stay at Hotel Scoti , perfectly located in Via Tornabuoni, just around the corner from my favourite Café Giacosa where we go for breakfast.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 4, 2016

Cherub with dolphin

Every time I go to Florence I like to drop in to the Palazzo Vecchio to see the little cherub in the courtyard at the entrance.

Putto with dolphin

He has been under cover recently while he was cleaned. I was happy to see him sparkling clean and out on show again on my last visit.

Putto with Dolphin

Putto with Dolphin was created by Andrea del Verrocchio in about 1470. The water flowing from the dolphin’s mouth comes through pipes from the Boboli Gardens.

Putto with Dolphin

The statue was designed to look good from any angle…and it does.

Putto with Dolphin

Putto with Dolphin

Putto with Dolphin

He has the cutest little bottom.

Putto with Dolphin

This boy with a dolphin is a copy. The original is on display on the second floor.

Unfortunately it seems a bird left a message on the little cherub. No doubt someone will climb up and wipe it off soon.

It is free to go into the first courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio and I suggest you do…it is gorgeous.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 31, 2016

Ragusa

Ragusa is the third of the  Baroque towns we visited in Sicily.

Ragusa

It is built on a wide limestone hill between 2 deep valleys. The 1693 earthquake killed  5,000 inhabitants and destroyed much of the town.

It was rebuilt with several Baroque buildings scattered through the new town. There are 2 districts, the higher area and the older, lower Ragusa Ibla, where we stayed.

It is a perfect town to wander in. The narrow streets are full of fascinating buildings.

Ragusa

Ragusa

Ragusa

You must remember to look up at the balconies with their interesting decoration.

Ragusa

Ragusa

Stone walls seem to crawl like caterpillars on the surrounding hills.

Ragusa

Ragusa

The main piazza is dominated by the huge church.

Ragusa

Ragusa

Ragusa

Ragusa

The photo below is a photo of a photo, I don’t have a drone to take photos from this angle.

Ragusa

 

At the Botton of the town is a beautiful park with its own churches, Giardino Ibleo.

Ragusa

Ragusa

Ragusa

We stayed at Iblaresort hotel. It was well placed on the main street. The room was extremely comfortable and there was a lovely terrace at the top of the hotel where we enjoyed aperitivo.

There were great views from the balcony as the sun faded from the sky.

Ragusa

Ragusa

The next morning we were up early to be on our way, but not before breakfast in the tiny common area.

Ragusa

Because we were in Sicily it seemed perfectly normal to have cannoli and pastries for breakfast.

Ragusa

Ragusa

It was a bit cool to sit on the balcony.

Ragusa

…just one last look at the view from the breakfast room.

Ragusa

Ragusa is an interesting place to stay. It seemed to have few tourists. The piazza was full of locals of all ages enjoying some gorgeous spring weather. There are inviting shops and cafes and some excellent restaurants…we will have to stay longer next time and try them all.

Some of the Montalbano episodes were filmed here…must go back and watch again.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 27, 2016

Scicli, a delightful Sicilian surprise

When I told my good friend, Luis,  from Paris Boheme, that we were going to Sicily he said we must visit Scicli. He spent many happy summers there when he was a child. So we made a point of looking for Scicli when we left nearby Noto.

We had no idea what to expect and were enthralled from the moment we made a dramatic entrance into the steep ravine where Scicli sits basking in the sunshine.

Scicli

Scicli

We could see ancient cave dwellings dotted around  the cliffs edges. There was nowhere to stop so I had to take photos from the car.

Scicli

The town grew up around  2 valleys divided by steep ridges. The same earthquake that destroyed Noto in 1693 damaged Scicli, so it has some Baroque buildings too. I think the setting is much more interesting in Scicli and there were no crowds at all.

The buildings are impressive and there are several lovely piazzas, perfect for enjoying the spring weather. Our eyes were constantly drawn up to the huge buildings above the town.

Scicli

Scicli

Scicli

There were pretty balconies.

Scicli

I absolutely love the quirky decorations that appeared everywhere we went.

Scicli

Scicli

Scicli

I was most amused by this rooftop…old and new together.

Scicli

Luis told us of his favourite pasticceria, Giannone, the oldest and most famous in town. We arrived at lunch time and caught it just before it closed for siesta. We bought a very delicious selection of pastries.

Scicli

In the park in the centre of town I was surprised to see a huge poinsettia plant. It is the official flower of Brisbane and this one was a long way from home.

Scicli

With everything closed it was time for lunch. Tre Colli was recommend by some locals and the location offered great views over the centre of town.

Scicli

Scicli

Our lunch was delicious. The pasta sauce was very local, based on fava beans.

 

The town looked very impressive from above as we drove out.

Scicli

Scicli

Get yourselves to Scicli while it is still relatively unknown. There are plans to restore some of the cave dwellings. As well as that it is one of the film locations for Montalbano, so it is bound  to become busier. We loved it…thank you Luis.

There are sandy beaches on the coast nearby, but we didn’t go there, we headed off to Ragusa, which will be the subject of the next post.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 24, 2016

Noto, Baroque theme park, Sicily

Noto is famous for its fine buildings of the early 18th century, many of which are considered to be among the finest examples of Sicilian Baroque style.

The town’s striking architecture is due to an earthquake that struck Sicily in 1693. The old town was completely destroyed and the new town was built several kilometres away.

The entrance to the Baroque section of the town is through Porta Reale.

Noto Sicily

It leads to the Main Street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which is lined with amazing buildings.

Noto Sicily

There was a sign which gave an excellent description of the town.

Cesare Brandi, an art historian, defined Noto “The stone garden”. About 50 churches and religious institutes, 15 noble palaces, residences of ancient aristocrats, are the flowers of this garden. 

The Baroque dwells in the town; it is splendid and conceited in the historic centre, tender and almost elusive in the high area of the town and in its characteristic quarters. There are many climbs, many staircases and some streets which are less large than one metre. Let curiosity guide you and Noto will show you itself”.

We let our curiosity guide us.

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

As in all Italian towns, we came across a group of older gentlemen sitting together solving the problems of the world.

Noto Sicily

The one thing I was not prepared for was the crowds. We arrived early in the morning, which was just as well. It was already busy and a steady stream of buses were dropping hoards of people into the town.

Noto Sicily

Noto Sicily

I also admit to not having much interest on Baroque buildings as it turns out. I can see that the buildings are stunning, but there are other eras I prefer.

We covered most of the town and got out before we were completely swamped by tour groups. We were there in mid April, long before tourist season. It must be hell in summer.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 19, 2016

Segesta…a temple in Sicily

On the road between Trapani and Palermo in the north of Sicily, just outside the ancient city of Segesta, is a beautifully preserved Doric Temple. It sits magnificently on a rise surrounded by rolling green hills and rocky cliffs, setting it off perfectly.

Doric temple Segesta

Segesta was one of the major cities of the Elymian people, one of the indigenous inhabitants of Sicily. The population mixed with the Ionian Greeks and it was an Athenian architect who designed the temple. It is thought to have been built in the 420s BC.

It was not finished. The columns are not fluted and the roof was never built. It somehow avoided destruction by the Carthaginians in the 5th century…lucky for us.

The temple attracts quite a crowd, as you would expect, but the area is huge so there is plenty of room for everyone to walk around the temple and see it from every angle.

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

 

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

We were there in spring and the wild flowers were spectacular, making the views even more beautiful.

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

Further up the hill is a semicircular theatre built about the same time. It is a bit of a climb but the thoughtful people looking after the site provide a bus to take you to the top.

There would have been no need for stage props with a view like this.

Ancient theatre Segesta

Ancient theatre Segesta

Ancient theatre Segesta

Ancient theatre Segesta

Ancient theatre Segesta

Ancient theatre Segesta

The theatre is still used today.

We walked down the hill from the theatre to get some views of the temple from above.

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

Doric temple Segesta

We stayed at a great B&B, Villa Palmeri, on top of a nearby hill.

Segesta

We had amazing views of the temple as well as the gorgeous hills.

It looked beautiful at night.

Doric temple Segesta

…and the next morning.

Doric temple Segesta

Sicily is full of amazing things…we will return.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 15, 2016

Know your onions

Tropea was one of the wonderful towns we visited on our drive through Calabria. Cipolla di Tropea, or Tropea onions are a particular type of red onion which grows in a small area of Calabria named Capo Vaticano, near Tropea.

In 2008 the European Union registered the Protected Designation of Origin mark for red onions grown in this particular area.

We saw them on sale everywhere as we walked through the town. I love these onions and would dearly love to have taken some with us, but I didn’t think they would like to be sitting in our car for a couple of weeks.

Tropea onions

Tropea onions

Tropea onions

When I am in Italy I don’t buy any other type of onion. They are not as strong as regular red onions and are delicious sliced finely in salads. They are also great baked in the oven, by themselves or mixed with other vegetables.

Look out for them, you won’t be disappointed. I am yet to discover them in Australia, but I keep looking.

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

 

 

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