cani di Lucca

The Lucchese love their dogs. It’s not unusual to see them joining their humans for a meal,

1.breakfast in lucca

though they don’t often have a seat at the table.

1a.lunch

Caffetteria Turandot, in Piazza San Michele, is the perfect location to enjoy a beverage and watch the parade of four-legged lovelies.

2.cane in Lucca

Some are content to wait patiently until their bipedal companions are ready to move on.

4.Golden Retriever3.Piazza San Michele

Others are somewhat reluctant and need a bit of coaxing

5.Italian greyhound

but most are happy to just go where life leads them.

9.Piazza San Michele

12.Piazza San Michele

Being on a leash doesn’t mean you can’t have fun when you meet a friend.

13.boxer & friend

This gentleman was unaware of my subject matter and stopped to pose for the camera, he certainly made me smile.

20.friendly local

Arimia

We had worked up an appetite with a morning walk along the spectacular Meelup Trail and lunch at Arimia had come highly recommended. Australia’s most westerly commercial vineyard, the unusual name is a blending of the owner’s daughters, Ariann and Mia. The cellar door and restaurant were airy and welcoming.

1.cellar door & restaurant2.restaurant3.restaurant

We chose a table on the sunny deck

4.alfresco

amid the relaxing atmosphere of the peaceful bushland setting.

5.garden

Accompanied by winery dog, Bess,

6.Bess

we took a pre prandial stroll around the immaculate grounds.

7.garden8.garden9.veggie patch10.garden11.garden12.garden13.alfresco

We enjoyed our delicious meals and superb wine

14.meal

under the watchful eye of Bess.

15.Bess

A perfect way to end our wonderful Margaret River experience before travelling back to Perth, a back seat snooze inevitable.

Al Vecchio Fontanile

For our last night in Italy, I had found a B&B situated in the rural outskirts of Rome, only a half hour drive to the airport. We had a few issues with the GPS, it seemed some of the road names were different to the directions we had been given. After a few trips up and down the same stretch of road, we eventually arrived at Al Vecchio Fontanile. The stone farmhouse was only a few years old

1.the farmhouse

and was surrounded by fruit trees and olive trees.

2.the orchard

The younger family members were very welcoming and well behaved.

Our room was comfortable and beautifully finished, it felt like we were in a much older house.

5.our room

I love the detail in the curtains.

9.curtains

The quality and style continued in the bathroom.

10.bathroom

After relaxing with a restorative beverage or two, we drove to a nearby ristorante, Il Sogna and enjoyed delicious ravioli, gnocchi and panna cotta. We were bestowed with complimentary biscotti and homemade grappa before wending our way back, without the help of the GPS. The breakfast spread the next morning was sensational.

11.breakfast

Served in a lovely sunny room it was the perfect way to start the day.

15.breakfast

wistful walks

Poppy is usually accompanied on her walks by Michael but he has fallen victim to a nasty virus and so, Poppy has been taking me instead. We have been exploring the different paths and finding all sorts of interesting things. The morning mist as we start the River Walk is breathtaking

1-river-walk

and the forest is serene.

2-river-walk3-river-walk

Despite the lingering cold and wet, the spring flowers are trying their best.

I haven’t been along Spooky Path for a while. Soon after we moved here, I was walking this path with Poppy and was unnerved by the thumping sounds around me. Memories of the movie, ‘Predator’, whipped my nerves into a frenzy along with my imagination. Hence, Spooky Path was named. Where the path becomes swallowed by scrub, the valley drops out of sight to the Blythe River below and the ridge opposite seems so close.

13-spooky-path14-spooky-path

Poppy found some special newcomers in the forest.

14a-baby-birds

They grew very quickly and soon flew the nest.

14b-baby-birds

Down in the rainforest, the water is tumbling along in the stream

17-stream

and the manferns are lush with new growth.

On a damp morning

21-raindrops

we walked Pat’s Path, named for my sister who first discovered the path when she came for a holiday soon after we moved here.

22-pats-path

The views of the rainforest are stunning from this higher ground.

23-pats-path24-pats-path

After a while, the path disappears into the trees and we have to retrace our steps.

25-pats-path

You never know who you might meet on the way back home.

26-parrot

Of course, Poppy is always ready to do one more path.

27-poppy

Lugliano

On a warm, sunny morning, while the boys were busy building guitars, I drove with two of the wives to a nearby village in Bagni di Lucca – Lugliano. Having learned how narrow the village streets can be, we opted to park at the church

1.chiesa di San Jacopo

and discover the rest on foot. Lugliano dates back to 853 AD and as we had anticipated, the main road

2.main road

soon became narrow, cobbled streets

3.walk4.walk

7.walk

full of wonderful surprises.

The village had a serenity, enhanced by the sunshine,

21.walk

20.walk

the four legged residents were testament to the tranquility.

The views across the mountains

31.view32.view

and the valley below were spectacular.

33.view

36.view

I couldn’t resist the intriguing doorways

as we returned to our starting point.

44.walk45.walk46.walk

The Chiesa di San Jacopo was magnificent when viewed from the village.

47.chiesa di San Jacopo

The wildflowers were lovely

and the gardens had colourful blooms.

We wandered up the road in the other direction

53.walk

and discovered the village cemetery

with a striking view across the mountains.

59.cemetery view

It was time to return to Benabbio for lunch, with one last view of the Chiesa di San Jacobo.

60.chiesa di San Jacopo61.chiesa di San Jacopo