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!

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 14, 2017

Christian Dior Paris

The main reason for my trip to Paris was to see the Christian Dior exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs. It celebrates 70 years of Christian Dior, showing the work of Christian Dior and the 6 artistic directors who followed him to create fantastic clothes, accessories and perfume for the design house.

Alongside 300 dresses the curators have gathered together  documents, sketches, photographs, hats, jewellery, shoes and perfume bottles, as well as paintings, objets d’art and furniture which have helped to inspire the directors. Christian Dior loved art and gardens and his successors were equally inspired in the same way.

Christian Dior was a success from his very first show in February 1947. His revolutionary New Look was a triumph. Women were tired of the austerity of war and embraced the return to femininity.

He was the first to dress the entire woman from head to toe, dresses, shoes, hats, jewellery and perfume. It was the golden age of fashion photography and Dior surrounded himself with the best photographers. He was aware of the importance of the emerging women’s press and knew how to make an impact.

The exhibition begins with several rooms detailing the history of the man and the design house. Everything here is behind glass, so my photos are not perfect. There are full size dresses, photographs, doll sized creations and accessories.

There was a huge screen with a stunning photo of Princess Margaret and others dressed in Dior. The light changes and the actual dresses are seen behind the screen.

Christian Dior Paris

There is this iconic photography by Richard Avedon and the dress. (Both dresses were tiny with incredibly small waists)

Christian Dior Paris

Here are some of the delightful objects behind the glass.

Christian Dior Paris

Christian Dior Paris

The next section takes the viewer through a showcase of beautiful dresses in elegant settings representing the inspiration.

Christian Dior Paris

Christian Dior Paris

Cutout paper flowers fall from the ceiling in the next section, reflecting the floral theme of the garments.

Christian Dior Paris

This is one of my favourite dresses from the exhibition. It is a white cotton pique dress from the 1950s.

Christian Dior Paris

…and this

Christian Dior Paris

…and this

Christian Dior Paris

These 3 are all by Christian Dior himself.

From here the exhibition continues on the other side of the gallery. The famous New Look leads the viewer up the stairs.

Christian Dior Paris

Here we are led through a history of the creative directors who followed Christian Dior, beginning with Yves Saint Laurent…1957 – 1960.

Christian Dior Paris

He was followed by Marc Bohan who was with the house for almost 30 years…1960 – 1989.

Christian Dior Paris

Christian Dior Paris

Then came Gianfranco Ferre…1989 – 1986, who caused a stir…an Italian leading Dior?

Christian Dior Paris

Christian Dior Paris

John Galliano was next…1996 – 2011.

Christian Dior Paris

Christian Dior Paris

Raff Simons…2012 – 2015.

Christian Dior Paris

The current director is the first woman, Maria Grazia Chiuri who joined the house in 2016.

Christian Dior Paris

One of my favourite rooms is dedicated to the creators of the garments. Here you can see the detail and the work that goes into what sometimes looks like a simple garment.

Christian Dior Paris

Christian Dior Paris

A long walk along a hall lined with more fabulous garments leads to…

Christian Dior Paris

… a room decorated to look like a stunning ballroom.

Christian Dior Paris

The light changed.

Christian Dior Paris

There are dresses worn by movie stars, including Natalie Portman.

Christian Dior Paris

Emma Watson.

Christian Dior Paris

Julieanne Moore.

Christian Dior Paris

And yet another favourite, the dress worn by Elizabeth Taylor when she received her Accademy Award.

Christian Dior Paris

I would have had some more details of stars and dates etc, but a clever boy at the camera shop wiped all my photos. I recorded details of the clothes, designers and dates. I am working from memory here, so please excuse mistakes. Luckily I had uploaded most of the photos to my iPad or they would have all been lost and I would have been quite cross.

Take a look at the woman on the floor on the left of this photo. I think she was a bit overcome. I can understand this. It was hot and very crowded in the museum on both days I visited. It was difficult to take photos and even to breathe on some occasions, but it was worth every stifling moment to see this amazing collection.

Christian Dior Paris

The exhibition is on until January 2018. If you need a reason to visit Paris soon, this is it.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 8, 2017

Garden inspiration

A walk through the divine Tuileries in Paris is a walk through garden heaven…and delightful inspiration for Casa Debbio. I think I could manage some of the flowers.

Tuileries Paris

Tuileries

 

Tuileries

Tuileries

Tuileries

Tuileries Paris

I might have to do without the magnificent backdrops…

Tuileries

Tuileries

Tuileries

and the gorgeous statues.

Tuileries

I don’t have avenues of chestnut trees.

Tuileries

But I also don’t have the crowds of people walking through.

Tuileries

Wandering through Paris is an inspiration for many things. I will quote designer Valentino here.

“I love beauty…is not my fault.” (Imagine that with a strong Italian accent)

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 6, 2017

A pig in Paris

I began my morning yesterday with a walk along the Seine. The sun was shining and it was glorious. Imagine my surprise when I came upon this!

Pig in Paris

The little fellow was barely a string of pork sausages away from this.

Notre Dame Paris

I like the way the light was accentuating his/her eyelashes.

Pig in Paris

At that point the clouds rolled in and stayed all day, making some of my photos gloomy.

The sun is out today so I am off to walk the streets of Paris again. The Dior exhibition was so amazing I may go back. There will be photos soon.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 2, 2017

Autumn garden at Casa Debbio

I arrived at Casa Debbio on a damp, dreary afternoon. The garden looked a bit bedraggled with the lavender drooping under the weight of the rain drops. The perfume was divine as I pushed my way along the paths with wet lavender brushing my legs.

I awoke this morning to mist swirling through the valley below. Then the sun came up and brightened everything.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Filippo has done an amazing job with the garden over the summer. It was extremely hot and there was almost no rain, after a dry spring. He spent lots of time watering, weeding and taking care of new plantings. He walked with me this morning, pointing out the plants that did well and the ones the wild goats feasted on.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

The geraniums don’t like the extreme heat of summer, but are happy again now that the days have cooled.

Casa Debbio

Some of the lavender is shoulder height…I will have some pruning to do soon.

Casa Debbio

 

Casa Debbio

Wisteria is making its way over the pergolas.

Casa Debbio

I wish I had seen the oak leaf hydrangea when the flowers were new.

 

My scarecrow is still guarding the tomatoes even though her hat has drooped a bit.

Casa Debbio

The extremely dry weather meant that the fruit trees didn’t do so well, but there are a few pomegranates, tiny figs and, for the first time, cachi (persimmons).

Casa Debbio

Filippo has been scouring the hills around Casa Debbio for porcini mushrooms and brought me some fine specimens.

Casa Debbio

I cooked some in butter, garlic and thyme for lunch.

Casa Debbio

The afternoon was glorious at Casa Debbio.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

 

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

The views from Casa Debbio are amazing. Perhaps this is the place for your Italian holiday next year.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 1, 2017

Giacosa gone!

For the past 14 years my first stop in Florence has been Caffe Giacosa. I couldn’t believe my eyes yesterday as I turned the corner to find it gone.

The original Caffe Giacosa opened on the corner of Via Tornabuoni and Via della Spada in 1815. It was here in the 1920s that the Negroni was invented. Roberto Cavalli bought the site in 2001 and turned it into his boutique, but retained a section for the cafe and decorated it in his own style.

It was the very best place for people watching. The beautifully dressed staff from nearby boutiques, Gucci, Pucci, Fendi, Prada etc, would rush in for an espresso on their way to work. Elegant Florentines decorated the tables. The coffee was great and reasonably priced as long as you didn’t get table service at the outdoor area. I loved it!

Here I got to know 2 sisters who had been going to the cafe every day of their long lives. I will miss them too. They were always there when I visited, usually surrounded by chatty friends and there was a wave and a smile for me. I felt like a local.

Caffe Giacosa

And there was the beautiful boy sighting.

Giacosa

One day a well dressed chap came in with his bulldog who was dressed in a clear plastic raincoat with a diamonte collar. I wish I had a photo of that.

Roberto Cavalli’s business has not been doing well lately and the shop and cafe closed at the end of July this year. It will be missed.

Caffe Giacosa

Caffe Giacosa

Caffe Giacosa

There is a possibility that Caffe Giacosa will reappear in the future. I hope so.

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 28, 2017

Autumn begins at Ponte a Serraglio

I am back in Ponte a Serraglio, our little bit of Bagni di Lucca for a while. The weather is heavenly. The mornings and evenings are deliciously cool and the days are warm and sunny.

The view from my balcony is a constant source of delight.


Autumn in Ponte a Serraglio

Signs of autumn are beginning to appear.

Autumn Ponte a Serraglio

 

Autumn Ponte a Serraglio

The leaves in the Tiglio tunnels are turning yellow.

Autumn Ponte a Serraglio

The village still looks green, but there are subtle changes.

Autumn Ponte a Serraglio

Autumn Ponte a Serraglio

The park at Villa Fiori has become a home for gnomes! See more on Bella Bagni di Lucca. http://bellabagnidilucca.com

Villa Fiori

I love this time of year in Italy!

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 25, 2017

Helsinki stopover

I always fly Finnair when I fly to Italy. The trip includes a stop in Helsinki, one of my favourite cities in the world. I feel completely at home here and this time I was lucky to spend a gorgeous blue sky early autumn Sunday in the city.

I stayed at the Seurahonne hotel beside the station. The strong men are still holding their lights.

Helsinki

There was an international food fair on in the park beside the station.

Helsinki

Helsinki

The park in Esplanadi is still green and bright.

Helsinki

Helsinki

Roses are still blooming.

I arrived very early in the morning and had the entire city to myself. I walked down to the harbour and around Toolonlahti.

Helsinki

Helsinki

Helsinki

Later on people ventured out to enjoy a gorgeous day in the sun.

Helsinki

Helsinki

Helsinki

Helsinki

Helsinki

I discovered that my camera is not working on my first walk and had to return to the hotel for my back up, which is not as good. I hope I can get it fixed!

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 21, 2017

Goodbye spring, hello autumn

I am about to leave beautiful spring in Brisbane.

Spring Brisbane

I will arrive in Italy to enjoy wonderful autumn.

Autumn

Brisbane breakfast…

Brisbane breakfast

will be exchanged for Italian breakfast.

Italian breakfast

I love both places. I am keen to get get back to Italy and my garden at Casa Debbio. Filippo, who takes care of things while we are away, has told us cinghiale have been digging up the garden looking for food. I hope they haven’t caused too much damage.

I will be heading up to Paris to see the Dior Exhibition and south to Sorrento to visit my relatives. I am planning a few more excursions as well. I hope you will all join me for some new adventures.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 18, 2017

Worn faces

The stunning Trieste Cathedral is dedicated to San Giusto. It was consecrated in 1385. It is an amalgamation of two 5th Romanesque churches.

Trieste Cathedral

The church has a Gothic Rose window and a short bell tower constructed in the 13th century using Romanesque debris. It has a 14th century sculpture of San Giusto holding a martyr’s palm and a model of Trieste.

Trieste Cathedral

Trieste Cathedral

Inside the church are Byzantine mosaics created in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Trieste Cathedral

Trieste Cathedral

I find it amazing that it is possible to walk on centuries old floors and admire art created by long dead artisans. It was worth coming to Trieste for this building alone.

Trieste Cathedral

I particularly loved the worn faces on the exterior of the building. I wonder who the models were.

Trieste Cathedral

 

Trieste Cathedral

Beside the church are the remains of Roman Forum.

Trieste Cathedral

The cathedral is high above the city in a beautiful park. It is possible to climb to the top of the tower for great views, but we were there too late in the day. We must return.

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