Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 7, 2022

Pietrasanta again

Pietrasanta is one of my favourite towns in Italy. It is on the Versilia Coast and is an easy drive from our apartment in Bagni di Lucca. We usually go just for the day, but before we returned to Australia in June we decided to stay overnight to see a different side of the town.

Even though I go often to Pietrasanta I am still delighted by the lovely streets with hidden corners, great shopping, restaurants and a stunning piazza usually filled with art installations.

We checked into Hotel Paridis and set off to explore the town.



We loved our aperitivo in the piazza.

The town looks lovely at night.

The hotel was wonderful, take a look inside. It has a restaurant, 2 bars, an internal terrace a terrace facing the square.

A turret which formed part of the original defensive walls around the town is incorporated in the hotel.

We walked through it to the outside terrace where we had dinner.

The food was excellent.

The next morning breakfast was on top of the turret.

I think you can see why I love Pietrasanta. The historic centre in a little inland from the beach. There is another part of the town beside the seaside. One day I will venture there, perhaps when I return to Italy in September.

There are lots of posts about Pietrasanta…

Art and lunch in Pietrasanta

Medieval fun in Pietrasanta

Botero in Pietrasanta

Wet art in Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta revisited

Art and food at Pietrasanta

Art in Pietrasanta


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 30, 2022

Marvellous Montefalco

Earlier this year we visited Montefalco. It was in early spring before the busy season began. It is  a tiny hilltop town in Umbria. The town has been settled since pre-Roman times. Now the area is known for its wine, Montefalco DOC. The red wine comes from the highly localised Sagrantino grape. The Montefalco district is part of the food and wine itinerary of the Sagrantino Wine Route.

We parked at the bottom of the town and admired the view over the beautiful hillsides covered with vines and olive trees.

It is a short walk up from the car park to the centre of the town.

The main square, Piazza del Comune, is lined with the Palazzo Comunale from 1270, Palazzo Pambuffetti and Palazzo Senili, 14th century, Palazzo Santi-Gentili, 15th century and Palazzo Langeli and Palazzo de Cuppis from the 16th century.

The town is full of marvellous old stone buildings and remnants of fortification walls. It is worth a walk away from the main square to discover the delights of the town.

There are a lot of restaurants and shops in the town, surprising for such a small town. I was particularly impressed with a very large linen shop, even more so when I was told everything was from their linen factory nearby.

Obviously there are many wine shops and enoteca dedicated to the produce of the area, and this one, specialising in things to make you beautiful.


This wine barrel has been put to good use.

Montefalco was almost completely empty when we were there, but I could see lots of activity. Everyone was getting ready for the beginning of the season which lasts from Easter until well into October. The town is clearly prosperous and very well presented.

We were only in the town for a few hours, but it delighted me enough to want to return for a longer stay…the list of these places to return to keeps growing.

Here is my favourite photo from Montefalco. I poked my head around a corner to find this lovely narrow street.

For such a small town Montefalco packs a punch. We plan to return next year just a little later in spring to see it come to life.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 24, 2022

Van Gogh in Perth

While we were in Perth we went to see the Van Gogh Alive exhibition. It is the most visited multi-sensory experience in the world. The visitor gets to accompany Van Gogh on a journey through the Netherlands, Arles, Saint Remy and Aubers-sun-Oise, where he created many of his timeless masterpieces.

The exhibition allows you to be surrounded by his paintings and to step inside them. A classical music score adds to the experience.

The marquee is in the Elizabeth Quay area of Perth.


After the obligatory walk through the retail section (which is very good) and a cafe you enter the space and immediately become surrounded by ever changing images through Van Gogh’s life and work.


On the way out you walk through a field of sunflowers and sit for a while.

Van Gogh Alive is in Perth until August 7th. It will then move to other locations in Australia.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 17, 2022

A visit to Perth

We have just returned from a short visit to Western Australia to visit friends. The sunset from the plane window was spectacular.

Sunrise the next morning from Fremantle, where our friends live, was also stunning.

They live beside the sea and the winter weather was perfect for a walk on our first day.

Perth is a beautiful city. We enjoyed a walk beside the river at Elizabeth Quay, a relatively new area in the city.

I liked this terrace tucked into the facade of the building .

People living in the high rise buildings have a great place to walk.



There is an excellent choice of cafes and restaurants. We didn’t go hungry.

We were very impressed with the markets at Fremantle. There was something for everyone there, one of the best markets I have ever been to.

Our visit was only a couple of days. There is much to be seen in and around Perth, we will return soon.

The sunset over the ocean was brief but spectacular.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 3, 2022

Beautiful Burleigh beach

I grew up on the Gold Coast in Queensland. I no longer live there but my love of the beach will never leave me. I am not thrilled by some of the development along the coast but the beach is as wonderful as ever.

This week I went to Burleigh Heads. It is winter in Australia and the day was a bit windy and sometimes overcast but the beach still looked great. If not for the wind I might have been tempted to venture into the surf.

The building in the photo below is on the site of the pool where we went for swimming lessons when I was at high school.

I have always loved the Norfolk pines along the beach front at Burleigh Heads.

Now there are pandanus trees as well.

Rocks on the beach are quite unusual on the Gold Coast, apart from some of the rock walls built from time to time to help with erosion.

65 years ago my father took the photos below of his growing family on the rocks at Burleigh Heads beach.

I was 4 years old, my brother 2 and my sister just a baby. Another brother joined us about 10 years later. I feel very lucky to have grown up on the Gold Coast in the late 50s, 60s and early 70s, probably the best time to be there.



Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 23, 2022

Beautiful Brisbane

It is great to be back home in Brisbane for a while. I love winter here. Right now the days are sunny with daytime temperatures around 22 degrees, perfect for walking around the city.

Brisbane has a wonderful green area close to the city centre. Southbank was created on the site of Expo 88 when it was finished and has continued to develop since. I was a volunteer for the 6 months Expo happened. It was a fun time to be in the city and it is great to see people continuing to enjoy the area.

Brisbane is full of cranes and building sites. The area on the other side of Southbank will include a casino and public spaces beside the river. It should be open sometime next year, along with a new walking bridge to join it to Southbank.

The city is full of high rise buildings, but there are a few older buildings remaining.

I love the boab trees in Anzac Square in the centre of the city.

…and the upside down elephant in front of GOMA, Gallery of Modern Art.

The Story Bridge opened on the 6th July 1940 and is the longest cantilever bridge in Australia.

City cats offer excellent transport on the Brisbane River. We have a couple of new Kitty Cats, small vessels for the shorter, cross river trips. The service is almost back on track after flooding destroyed many of the pontoons along the river.

You can see our beautiful blue skies over the city. I managed to miss the months of rain that fell earlier in the year. I wish some of it had fallen in Italy in spring where we had almost none.

I am enjoying catching up with friends and family I haven’t seen for almost 2 and a half years and eating some of our delicious seafood and the excellent range of international food available here in Australia. I feel very lucky to be able to live in 2 great countries and make the most of what they have to offer.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 10, 2022

Happy in Helsinki

I am back in Australia now. I like to stopover in Helsinki on my way home from Italy. It might seem a little out of the way, but until recently (it is no longer possible to fly over Russia and you wouldn’t want to)  it was a shorter flight. Even without the shorter flight, I love Helsinki and enjoy being there for a few days.

The weather was patchy for my recent stay, but I don’t mind cool days. There were a few showers but it didn’t stop me covering a lot of territory in the city. The centre is compact and flat, making it easy to see a lot.

Late spring is a lovely time to be in Helsinki. There are flowers and green trees everywhere. A lot of care is taken with flower boxes all over the city.

Oodi library is a stunning building, inside and out. There is an outdoor terrace on the roof…a great spot to enjoy a coffee on a sunny day.

The grounds around the building are impressive as well. Nearby is the music centre, opera house and art gallery, which is now under scaffolding.

The giant pike sculpture makes a statement.

The nearby Toolonlahti area is great for walking in beautiful surrounds.


Right now the Barnacle geese have fluffy chicks to take care of.

I also spotted this little bird that was not bothered by my presence at all.

On June 4th the National Parade for the Finnish Defence Forces’ Flag Day filed through the city, beginning at Tuomiokirkko, Helsinki Cathedral. The parades have been held annually since 1952 and fall on Carl Mannerheim’s birthday. He was Finland’s most famous military leader.


I found the tanks in front of Tuomiokirkko quite disconcerting in view of the war in Ukraine. Seeing tanks roll down city streets seems ominous. I prefer Tuomiokirkko without tanks.

Esplanadi is gorgeous in spring. The lovely park that runs down from Mannerheim St to the harbour is always full of people out walking, especially when the sun is shining.