Ponte a Moriano

An easy walk from Villa Boccella, the lovely town of Ponte a Moriano had everything we could possibly need. A butchers shop,

1.Macelleria Pierotti

bakery with stupendous custard tarts

as well as another pastry shop we didn’t sample.

4.Pasticceria Furio

On the opposite side was a rather impressive gelataria that we again, sadly, didn’t try.

5.Gelateria Sauro

Further down the road was a bar next to a small supermarket

and heading out of town, the Melody Caffè advertised live music along with good food, beer and wine.

8.Melody Caffè

Of course, the collection would be incomplete without a $2 shop or, in this case, a €1 & €2 shop.

9.Uno,Due Shop

A very unassuming façade disguised the presence of a fabulous restaurant, Da Pinzo, where we enjoyed a delicious meal or two.

10.Da Pinzo

Tuesday was market day and we wandered down to Piazza Cesare Battisti on a beautiful, sunny morning to see what was on offer. There were colourful plants

and clothing

and more plants

and vegetables.

Satisfied with our purchases, we explored the town further and came across an old wall with steps that led to the other side.

21.old wall22.old wall23.old wall

From the top of the wall we could see the Ponte di Sant’Ansano. The bridge was built in 1828 to replace the original medieval wooden structure, built in 1115, that was destroyed by floods in 1819.

24.Ponte di Sant’Ansano

Ponte a Moriano means, ‘bridge in the Moriano locality’ but the actual bridge is named after Saint Ansano, the patron saint of Siena who died in 304 AD. In the centre of the bridge, there is a statue of the Virgin and Saint Ansano.

25.statues of the Virgin and Saint Ansano

The view downstream is peaceful, the gentle sound of water tumbling over rocks a salve for the soul.

26.Serchio River27.Serchio River28.Serchio River

This lovely home has prime position.

29.riverside house

Once across the bridge,

30.Ponte di Sant’Ansano

we could look back at the town and the riverside homes upstream.

31.Ponte a Moriano32.Ponte a Moriano33.potting shed

The magnificent Convento dell’Angelo was clearly visible, the white walls contrasting vividly with the green of the hillside.

34.Serchio River upstream

The church and adjoining monastery was built in the 1820s for the Passionist Fathers and is now home to the Academy of Montegral.

35.Convento dell'Angelo

There were so many things to appreciate in Ponte a Moriano, one that really stole our hearts was this little Fiat. I want one.

Guinness is good for you

I was never really keen on Guinness before our trip to Ireland but I certainly developed a taste for the dark brew while I was there. To consolidate my learning experience, our first port of call in Dublin was the Guinness Storehouse. There was no shortage of signage to help us find the door.

The building was constructed in 1902 as a fermentation plant for the St. James’s Gate Brewery and was used for this purpose until 1988 when a new fermentation plant was completed.

2.nearly there

Converted to the Guinness Storehouse in 1997, there are now seven floors to explore surrounding a glass atrium in the shape of a pint glass. It is the largest beer glass in the world and would take 14.3 million pints to fill.

4.made it

Starting the self-guided tour on the ground floor, we were introduced to the four ingredients in beer; water, barley, hops and yeast. Contrary to popular belief, Guinness is not made from Liffey water even though the brewery is right there on the banks of the river. The crystal clear water is pumped from the Wicklow mountains to the south.

5.Wicklow waterfall6.Wicklow waterfall

Roasted malted barley gives Guinness its dark colour and unique flavours, along with a generous helping of hops.

7.hops

The extra ingredient in Guinness, the fifth, is the most important. In 1752, Arthur Guinness inherited £100 from his godfather and set up his own ale brewery in County Kildare. Seven years later, he moved to Dublin to try his luck, signed a 9,000 year lease on a property at St. James’s Gate and the rest is, as they say, history.

8.to Arthur

As our tour continued through the other floors, we passed copper fermenting tanks

9.Copper

and an old copper lid that was installed in the Guinness Park Royal Brewery when it opened in 1936.

10.Copper lid

Kegs travelled past on a conveyor belt

11.kegs on conveyer belt

and barrels were stacked, full of the famous brew.

12.barrels

A whole floor was dedicated to the world of advertising.

13.advertising

The Guinness harp was adopted in 1862 and is modelled on the 15th century Gaelic harp displayed at Trinity College in Dublin. It faces right instead of left to differentiate from the Irish coat of arms.

14.harp

We reached Nirvana on the seventh floor, the Gravity Bar, with fabulous views of Dublin and a free pint of nectar. We had heard that Guinness tastes better in Ireland, particularly in Dublin. Why is this so? One theory is that it is always fresh, the tap flows all day and it hasn’t sat in the pipes for long. Another is that the locals know how to serve it at the right temperature, in the right glass and with the right head. They have perfected the two-stage ‘double pour’ which should take exactly 119.5 seconds. So, what is the secret behind that creamy head? In 1959, Guinness began using nitrogen instead of CO2 which produced smaller bubbles and therefore, a smoother consistency. Whatever they have done, they have done it right. Cheers!

15.Gravity Bar

tiger tenants

The seasons have turned here in Tasmania and our long days of summer are behind us. Once again, we shared the garden with our reptilian residents for a few months but they have now found cosy homes for the winter. We can’t blame the snakes for wanting to live here, after all, we have created a paradise for them.

1.pond paradise2.pond paradise

We named our first lodger Suzy. She was quite small and liked to try out a variety of spots to capture the warmth of the sun.

Strangely, our large goldfish liked to keep her company.

5.Suzy

After a while, she left to make a home for herself in the forest and someone else moved in. He was looking rather dull and spent a lot of time among the rocks.

He then took to burying himself in the mulch, a bit worrying as there were times he was completely hidden. We assumed he was preparing to shed his skin, I was hoping to witness the process but I think it was done in private, we never did find the evidence.

8.tiger in mulch

It was at this point we realised we had two occupants, with one under the mulch and another in the favourite afternoon dappled shade position.

9.sleeping tiger

A short time later, perhaps after shedding, one moved out and the other remained. We would see her every morning catching the sun on the eastern side of the pond and then on the rocks under the callistemon in the afternoon. We had visitors for a couple of days in January and there was no sign of our tiger tenant until the afternoon of their departure, when she moseyed across the lawn to resume her residency.

10.tiger returns

Supposedly, tiger snakes don’t stay in one place for long but it seemed as though it was the same snake. She knew our voices and routines and was quite comfortable to lie undisturbed by our presence, we had a mutual respect for personal space.

13.tiger

We had a couple of very hot weeks in February where we saw no snakes and assumed she had moved on to start a family in the forest. One evening, we saw her (we like to think it was her) making her way up the driveway straight to the low birdbath we have for the wrens. I have never seen a snake drinking before, she was very thirsty.

14.thirsty tiger

When she had finished, she once again curled up in the shadow of the callistemon. You can watch a video of her drinking here, you’ll see the shadows of the wrens flying around, they weren’t happy.

 

Villa Boccella

When we returned from our first trip to Italy, we couldn’t help sharing our experiences and our fascination with this wonderful country. Our friends’ daughter was starting to think about her future wedding and the seed was set for a Tuscan location. Of course, we made it quite clear that we would be attending, what better excuse for a return visit? Nevertheless, we were very excited and honoured to receive the invitation, not only to the wedding, but to stay for a week in a villa with the bridal party and other guests. After our two nights in Lucca, we collected the hire car and drove the ten kilometres to Villa Boccella.

1.Villa Boccella

It sounds simple but we had great difficulty finding the entrance gate and, finally asking directions from a local, we were the last of the party to arrive.

2.arrival

There are six properties on the estate and our accommodation was to be in the two limonaie where, originally, lemon trees in pots were moved to in winter to avoid damage from the frosts. Limonaia Grande is the larger of the two

3.Limonaia Grande4.Limonaia Grande

and became the hub of activity with its fabulous kitchen

5.kitchen

and dining room,

perfect for a wedding feast.

11.wedding table

The enticing sofas in the sitting room

12.sitting room

were bathed in the light flooding through the French windows.

13.sitting room

The ample bookshelves were well stocked and quirky ornaments adorned every surface.

There were two options for al fresco dining, one with barbecue and pizza oven

22.al fresco

and the other overlooking the swimming pool.

23.al fresco24.pool

Across an orchard of peaches, plums, figs and cherries, Limonaia Piccola faced Limonaia Grande and was equally as opulent as her big sister.

25.Limonaia Piccola

The large windows downstairs captured the light no matter what the time of day.

26.sitting room27.sitting room28.dining area29.kitchen

Our upstairs bedroom was gorgeous

30.our bedroom

with a magnificent view across the orchard to the mountains beyond.

32.view from bedroom

Between the two limonaie, we could see the 17th century main villa in all her glory

33.main villa

and a glimpse of Boccellina, the original gatehouse to the estate.

34.Boccellina

For outdoor relaxation there were several settings to choose from.

35.garden chairs

The rose covered pergolas were in full bloom.

37.outdoor seating38.outdoor seating

Terracotta planters scattered colour around the garden

50.planter

51.planter

and the orchard still held some surprises.

56.garden

A pair of blackbirds were lucky to have such a beautiful home.

As well as our wonderful memories, we have a special gift to remind us of our time at Villa Boccella. The bride & groom had commissioned an artist in Darwin to create an illustration of Limonaia Grande as a memento for the guests.

62.illustration

Thank you all for an unforgettable week.

quirky cupboard

Following the success of the bespoke bureau,

1.bureau

we used the same recipe for our next cupboard. Selecting a Huon slab from our stash,

2.Huon slab

Michael went to work with the reclaimed timbers for the frame.

We continued the theme with the rusted steel panels for the side

and created the shelves from old fence palings.

7.shelving

After much discussion and mind-changing, we decided on fence palings for the doors.

Why would you make two doors alike when they can be different?

10.doors

A few coats of Cabothane brought out the grains and colouring in the timbers.

The Huon top was precision designed to fit snugly in position, the beautiful markings enhanced by the varnish.

13.top14.top

Another successful trip to the salvage yard rewarded us with the perfect hinges and a pair of door handles that, in a previous life, were used to hang fire extinguishers from. The brand new shiny bolts were given the rusting treatment.

Unfortunately, Dulux have seen fit to discontinue the Duramax 2-pack we used on the steel of the bureau and the alternative product we found dulled the colours a little.

18.rusted steel panel

Nevertheless, we are very happy with the result

19.finished

and the cupboard has pride of place by the door.

20.perfect fit

On with the next project….