Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 26, 2016

Heavenly marmalade

When I was in Pistoia, my lovely friend Michela took me to a fabulous sweet shop called Le Golosita di Pratesi Marilena. It sells all kinds of delicious things to eat and drink, including chocolates by Roberto Catinari, a famous son of Pistoia.

Pistoia chocolate shop

They have a small supply of marmalade made by cloistered nuns. It is made from wild oranges that grow inside the cloister. The oranges are plucked, washed and grated one by one to eliminate the part of the skin from which essential oil is made.

The oranges are cut in half and the seeds taken out. Pectin is made from these and later added to the marmalade to thicken it. The halved oranges are kept in water for 3 days, changing the water 3 times a day. At the end if the third day they are boiled for 45 minutes. They are drained and rinsed with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Then they are chopped and mixed with the pectin and equal parts of sugar. (For 1 kilo of oranges, 1 kilo of sugar)  The mixture is cooked and put in airtight sterilised jars. They are boiled again to vacuum seal them.

Everything takes place within the cloister.

Of course I had to buy a jar. I can report that it is excellent. I could see the nuns hard at work while I was enjoying it.

Pistoia marmalade

Pistoia marmelade

Next on my list to try are the figs in Vin Santo made nearby. On my next trip Michela is going to take us to the winery where the Vin Santo is made…there will be a report.

Pistoia figs

If you go to Pistoia you really must visit Le Golosita di Pratesi Marilena in Via Roma 28. I dare you to come out empty handed.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 22, 2016

I want to live in Pistoia

Pistoia is a beautiful, sophisticated, modern city in an ancient setting. There are wonderful old buildings…as you would expect.

Pistoia

Pistoia

Pistoia

My past visits to Pistoia have been day trips, but this time I stayed overnight. The city comes alive as the sun goes down. People are out walking, shopping and the restaurants begin to fill. The atmosphere is fun and vibrant.

Pistoia

Pistoia

Pistoians have an excellent selection of stylish shops. More investigation is needed.

Pistoia

The food markets are full of delicious things.

Pistoia

I was most fortunate to have the charming, beautiful and stylish Michela Ricciarella to show me her favourite things. She is a tour leader and has to be Pistoia’s best ambassador. She loves the city and knows it like the back of her hand.

Michele

Michele invited me to the family restaurant, Pollo d’Oro, Golden Chicken. The restaurant was begun by her husband, Stefano Parenti’s father, who famously brought the first rotisserie to Pistoia, hence the golden chickens.

The ground floor of the restaurant is modern and spacious. The cellar is more traditional and cosy.

Pollo d'Oro Pistoia

We had a delicious pizza with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and nduja, a spicy Sicilian salami on a great base. It is easy to see why the restaurant has been popular since its inception in 1962.

Pollo d'Oro Pistoia

Thank you Michela for a wonderful time in Pistoia. I like that the city is not overrun with tourists. I saw just one group while I was there. The atmosphere is lively and fun and there is much to see and do…I could happily move in.

I can’t leave Pistoia without a visit to Cafe le Damier in Via della Madonna. They do the best pastries and coffee.

Pistoia

Look for Michela’s blog…http://passion4food4fashion.com She writes with love for her home town and her enthusiasm is infectious.

I stayed at a gorgeous B&B recommended by Michela. It is very close to the centre of town and is elegant and charming. Locanda San Marco…Via Porta San Marco, 28…http://locandasanmarco.com

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 18, 2016

Through the mist

As I drove up to Casa Debbio the mist closed in around me. A thick fog enveloped Gallicano on the way through. As I got higher the mountains reappeared.

road to Casa Debbio

Road to Casa Debbio

road to Casa Debbio

Here is where I parked the car to take the photos.

road to Casa Debbio

At Casa Debbio I was above the mist…a glorious day.

Casa Debbio

Time to begin the task of pruning the lavender.

lavender

Here are 2 tiny mushrooms near the house, no taller than my finger.

mushrooms

They won’t last long in the sun.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 15, 2016

Reflections

I pass the very beautiful Ponte della Maddelena every time I come or go from Bagni di Lucca. Sometimes when I pass there is no wind and the river is like glass…as it was the other day.

The day was cloudy and dull, but the bridge still looked great.

Ponte della Maddelena

Ponte della Maddelena

Ponte della Maddelena

Ponte della Maddelena

Ponte della Maddelena

Ponte della Maddelena

Ponte della Maddelena

Ponte della Maddelena

…still looking good after 900 years.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 12, 2016

Pink

I saw a bright pink Fiat 500 the other day. I like it and would consider it, but I suspect my husband might be less enthusiastic. What do you think?

Fiat 500

Fiat 500

I was most impressed by the jewelled side mirrors.

Fiat 500

We have a baby blue Fiat 500. I love this colour.

Fiat 500

The pale blue is now discontinued, but I like the new colour.

Fiat 500

I like coloured cars, much better than boring silver, like most of the cars in Italy. We drive the blue Fiat in Australia. In Italy we drive a silver Toyota Corolla…it was the only second hand automatic in the car yard.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 9, 2016

A rainy day at Casa Debbio

Despite the gathering clouds I drove up the mountain to Casa Debbio.

I love the views from the road up the mountain.

The road to Vergemoli

The road to Vergemoli

The road to Vergrmoli

Clouds closed in as soon as I arrived.

Casa Debbio

Mists swirled around Vergemoli and the mountains beyond. I think it looks stunning.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

At one point the village disappeared altogether.

Casa Debbio

Rain and mist make everything look great.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

…including the road out of the house.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Autumn is a beautiful season.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 7, 2016

Vintage delights

I have been in Bologna staying with a friend and neighbour from Brisbane. She has a great apartment right in the historical heart of Bologna, one of my favourite cities in Italy. I feel very lucky to be able to stay in such a wonderful place with a friend. I get know a city through the eyes of a local.

We have a similar interest in vintage clothing, accessories and jewellery so we boarded the train for nearby Parma to visit the enormous Mercantien Fiera. We only had a day so we had to miss most of the pavilions full to the brim with gorgeous antiques. Pavillon 6 had the vintage things we were looking for.

Vintage fair Parma

Vintage fair Parma

Here is a sample of the clothing and accessories on offer.

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

I love old buttons and Bakelite and other jewellery.

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

…some faces on show.

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

vintage Parma

There were lots of gorgeous paintings.

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

…and lots of other wonderful things.

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

Vintage Parma

I do wish I had taken a truck…and lots of money.

One day is not nearly enough. Next year perhaps I will return for longer.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 2, 2016

The way in

What is it about old doorways that is so fascinating? These weathered entrances hold many tales…we wish they could speak and tell us of the years of comings and goings.

This little collection comes from Castiglione di Garfagnana, the site of a previous post.

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

Doors Castiglione di Garfagnana

There is an endless supply of these treasures in the ancient villages in our little bit of Tuscany.

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.

 

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