Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 30, 2011

Looking back over 2011

It has been a busy year – again. 

2011 started with floods in Brisbane.  The city was devastated when the Brisbane river rose and inundated thousands of homes, destroying everything in its path. A house we own was flooded and the renovation has just been completed in the last week. This is what it looked like in January 2011.

when the water went down

There is a series of posts covering the rain that lead to the floods, the mess and the cleanup. Click here to see the first one – Raindrops keep falling on my head. At this point I had no idea what was ahead of us. At the bottom of each post is a link to the next one in the ongoing saga. 
In February I headed off to Italy again, this time via Dubai, where I had a brief stopover.

old and new Dubai

Click here,  here and here for more on this incredible city in the desert. 

I had a short stay in Milan on the way to Bagni di Lucca. I was there at the right time to see the beautiful spring fashion appear in the shops. Click here for more.

in the window at Valentino

I planted pansies in my window boxes and on the bridge at Ponte a Serraglio.  Click here to see more on the pansies and here for my solitary peony.

my pansies on the bridge

I visited Bologna and climbed the tower and was Freshly Pressed for my post about the climb.

the view from the top of the tower in Bologna

 Click here to see the full story and here to see a very ugly fish in Bologna.
The Carnevale in Viareggio was amazing  – again. The floats were incredible and the atmosphere  wonderful.  Silvio Berlusconi came in for some criticism.

showered with confetti

 Click here to see more of Silvio and here to see my favourite float, the Big Green Man. There is a category devoted to the Carnevale in Viareggio as there was far too much to put in a couple of posts.
Italy turned 150 this year. It was great fun to be around for the celebrations.

the huge flag on the Devil's Bridge

Click here to see the festival at Ponte a Serraglio and here for the flags flying in the village. 

Jim and I drove to Spain in April. The Mezquita in Cordoba was a highlight.

inside the Mezquita in Cordoba

Click here to see more of this incredible building and look in the Spain category to see Madrid, Ainsa, Toledo, Seville, the windmills in La Mancha, Cadiz, Granada and the Alhambra and more. 

Spring in Tuscany is magical and we drive through the picture postcard countryside whenever we can.

along the road to Asciano

Click here to see more of the spectacular drive to Asciano and here to see Pienza and here to see Volterra.
Our house in Vergemoli is coming along, thanks to our lovely builders.

what lovely smiles

Take a look in the New house in Vergemoli category to see our pile of rocks grow into a beautiful house.

On the way home from Italy we stayed a while in Helsinki. The blog received a Blogger of the month award from Easy Jet  for a post called Beautiful Helsinki. Click here to see this gorgeous city.

the strong men at the station

Back in Australia for our wonderful winter, I worked again at the Ekka. I dragged myself away from dressing beautiful models to photograph prize chooks.

a legal chook - he looks a bit like a barrister

Click here to see these amazing birds and here to see some very large bulls.
Southbank Parklands was restored to its beautiful self after months of work to remove the filthy mud left by the flood. Click here for the post.

Southbank Beach

Brisbane put on some spectacular winter weather. I come home for this.

Brisbane river

 Click here and here to see our beautiful river.
Liz’s post on winter at Sunrise Beach offered another reason to be in Queensland at winter time.

winter at the beach

 Click here for more Sunrise Beach photos.
Then it was back to Italy for October and November. It was the most beautiful autumn this year. The weather was excellent most of the time and the autumn colours were exceptional.

autumn colour

Click here and here for more of autumn in Bagni di Lucca.
A highlight for me this autumn was the Chestnut festival in Lupinaia, a lovely village in the mountains above Bagni di Lucca.

roasting the chestnuts

I went with Heather Jarman of Sapori-e-Saperi Adventures and after sampling the delights of the festival we wandered back to the car along an old mule track. Click here to walk the track with us.
I took myself off to discover Naples for the first time and fell in love with it.

the heart of Napoli

Click here and here to see my adventures in Naples.
In S’Agata, near Sorrento I visited the family of my first husband. I lived in S’Agata nearly 40 years ago and when I sit at the kitchen table with them it is as though I never left. Click here to see Maria and Agata and here to see Angelo.

Maria and her brother Fernando

There was also the Sagra del Tordo in Montalcino which was absolutely amazing. You have to go there one year for this.
Montalcino’s Festival of the Thrush

The costumes and the spectacle of this were wonderful. It was great to see the whole town involved. Click here to see the costumes and the archery competition.

Of course there was much more. Take a look in the archives to see more of lovely Bagni di Lucca, Lucca, Florence, Tuscany, Spain, Helsinki, eastern Europe, Paris, France, Venice and other fabulous places.
I am going back to Italy in early February to collect more photos and stories. I hope you will come along for the ride, and leave the odd comment so we know what you think.
Any suggestions for places to visit???
Have a wonderful 2012!


  1. Hi Deb,

    I have loved reading your blog and looking at all the interesting photos.During this year,we hired a camper, ( May through to July ) and travelled from Adelaide along the eastern seaboard to Bowen, returning home via Tamworth and the Murray River. We are planning to hire a camper in Feb. ( Tasmania ) and August (McKay to the Daintree ). Italy and Prague in 2013. Looking forward to keeping up with your travels in 2012.

    Happy and safe New Year to you and your family.

    Cheers Judy

    • It sounds as though you have been having a great time. I hope all goes well in 2012.

  2. There are some very cool photos there Deb. x

    • It has been an interesting year.

  3. This was an incredible retrospective. Simple and yet complete. The photos, were as usual amazing! Big hug and a wonderful 2012 to you!!!

    • I hope 2012 is wonderful for you and your family.

  4. I will be coming for the ride in 2012 !!
    Looking forward to your new adventures.
    Suggestions : Aeolian Islands north of Sicily or even Malta

    • I went to Malta and Sicily many years ago(so it doesn’t really count) and I would love to go back to both.

  5. Being born and raised in Brisbane of Italian parents (one from the Province of Lucca), I love this blog. Can I suggest you visit Barga, just north of Bagni di Lucca, the English phone box there and perhaps Sommocolonia (my father’s town in hills near Barga)?

    • We love Barga! The view from the top of the old town is beautiful. I will go there when I get back in February and try to get a good photo from there. I have not seen the village of Sommocolonia, but I will definitely look for it. There are so many villages around us to be discovered.

      • Let’s go together up the mulattiera from Catagnana to Sommocolonia. It’s in perfect condition. I started up it late one afternoon, but didn’t realise how long it would take. I think I was within 10 minutes of Sommocolonia when sunset forced me to turn back. I’d love to make it to the top this time.

      • You have a date! I want to explore more of the villages around Bagni di Lucca. I have been to a few, but there are hundreds more to discover. I think 2012 is going to be busy.

  6. Although your Bologna post is one of my favourites from this year, there are several others I think should have been FPed as well. Your photographs are always stunning!

    By the way, Willie figured out why you’ve got such a good eye for photo composition . . . 🙂

    • Thank you! And what was Willie’s idea?

      • He mentioned your interest in design . . . which I now see you’ve also put on your “about” page. Anyway, it explains a lot about how you see and photograph things.

      • I had never really been interested in photography before I started the blog and I think my photos have improved in the last 2 years.

  7. I have enjoyed each blog with you. Thank you for sharing your colourful life and look forward to 2012.

    • I’m sure there will be lots of new things to discover.

  8. A great overview. I wonder how Carnevale will fare this year without Berlusconi! I look forward to seeing you again here in Bagni di Lucca ‘next year’ and to seeing the rest of the world through your beautiful photos.

    • There are bound to be new people to pick on and they are probably not finished with Berlusconi.

  9. Absolutely loved your Looking Back post. I can while away hours on your site Debra. It is addictive. Perhaps I can water your pansies for the two weeks I’ll be at your apartment in June? But please leave instructions, I might kill them instead! I’m not a gardener, just love looking at gardens.

    • By the time you get there the geraniums will be planted for the summer and they are particularly easy to care for.

  10. I didn’t know what happened to your house, I am sorry to hear this. But now I am glad you have a new house. Good Luck for this one. But you know we met in the other half of 2011… And you are one of my beautiful blogger friends that I love to follow and to watch and to read…. And you are also the one who travels mostly… I love your travel notes and photographs… I remember now one of them, Breakfast series… It was so beautiful. Thank you dear Debra, you made me to have a voyage at my desk, without passport and luggages… Happy New Year! Angels be with you always. With my love, nia

    • Thank you for your concern. Our house is fixed now, and we were very lucky, we had insurance. I hope you come along for the ride in 2012.

  11. What an amazing year!! Have loved following your travels..and now – seeing your year in snapshots. Here’s wishing you a full and creative new year!

    • I hope you have a wonderful New Year. I hope I can find some new and interesting things in 2012.

  12. That’s a lovely run through your year. How sad about the devastation in Brisbane. I love the pansies in one of the images, they are a cheering sight on what is a grey rainy day in this part of the world.

    • Many houses here are still not habitable. Some people lost everything in the floods. I look forward to planting my flowers again in Ponte a Serraglio in 2012.

  13. I have so enjoyed your blog this year Debra and look forward to your wonderful photography next year.

    Happy New Year and safe travels

    Pam Proctor

    • Happy New Year to too. Perhaps we will meet again somewhere in the world.

  14. Greetings from snowy Toronto. I am a recent follower of your blog so
    was very interested to see what I had missed from earlier in the year. I especially liked the pansies and the shot of the road to Asciano.

    Happy New Year – I am so looking forward to seeing what you have in store!

    • My son has just been in Toronto. He loves it there. If you click on the highlighted word you can see the whole post about Asciano. We do this trip every time we are in Italy, sometimes more than once. It is truly delightful.

  15. Certainly, a lovely year (forget the floods…) which has enabled you to write these wonderful posts, full of incredible photos. We have also had a great year, a welcome change after more than 4 years of family problems and it looks as if the trend continues. It has also been the year in which we have met at Ponte a Serraglio and we do hope that we will continue meeting in Bagni and sharing new stories as we uncover them.
    Have a wonderful 20012!

    • I am looking forward to catching up in Bagni di Lucca in 2012. I am so glad we met. Have a great New Year.

  16. What a fun year you have had! Maybe next year it’s time for Sicily or Piedmont. Wherever you go, I look forward to reading all about your travels. Happy New Year, Debra

    • I love Piedmont!! We have been several times, mostly before I started the blog. We will definitely be going back to the area and I can’t wait to get to Sicily.

  17. Oh boy has this year flown when I read back about the floods and your amazing trip to Spain, where on earth did the time go? Trips for 2012, how about Edinburgh? Come visit me in Edinburgh! The Aeolian Islands would be wonderful and how about the foot of Italy or the heel? The Basilicata region is begining to get popular. I never made it to Calabria this year sadly. Illness stopped me. I am hoping to make it there next year, but my first trip is to Malta April/May. If you do decide to go there let me know. Wishing you a Very Happy New Year.

    • I went to Edinburgh several years ago and absolutely loved it. I would love to visit again. There are so many gorgeous
      places in the world. How can we get to them all???
      We have driven all over Puglia and liked parts of it, but not others. We loved Matera and would like to go to Calabria. Italy is so diverse and so very beautiful and interesting.

  18. Loved this year at a glance! Thank you for each of your wonderful posts and I will definitely be along for the ride in 2012! All the best in the new year, Debra.

    • I hope the New Year is kind to you. I still have some photos from 2011 to get through before I start on the next lot.

  19. It’s been a great year of blogging with many amazing posts. I still think the chicken post should have been Freshly Pressed, as well!

    Happy New Year, my friend!


    • I loved the chooks! They were very hard to photograph and I missed so many wonderful shots because they wouldn’t hold a pose for me. They were amazing looking animals. I always go to the chook pavillion at the Ekka. Have a great New Year. I look forward to more of your wonderful stories.

  20. Wow Deb! What a year and what a great post! Happy 2011 and looking forward to reading your fabulous blog!!!

    • It was a fun year, I hope next year is good too.

  21. A great, colourful post Debra! And that chicken does indeed look like a barrister! Happy New Year! 🙂

  22. I’ll be here too – odd comments a speciality

    • I look forward to your comments!

  23. I’m sorry to hear your house was flooded. I had no idea. Good to hear the repairs and renovations have now been completed. Happy New Year!

    • We don’t live in the house, so it was not as awful for us as it was for others. Happy New Year to you too.

  24. I hope that 2012 is every bit as wonderful as the year 2011 has been! Despite the watery beginnings – it looks as though the remainder of the year treated you well!
    Looking forwards to your posts in the coming year 🙂
    Happy New Year!

    • I’m sure 2012 is going to be a great year, with lots of new things to discover. I hope yours is wonderful too.

  25. Debra also add to this year’s review the great success your blog is having!
    So well deserved! thanks for sharing your journey and the great fashion pictures that are my favorite always.
    Happy new year Debra!

    • I will keep you in mind when I go to Rome and Milan this year. Have a great 2012 Mirella!

  26. I have been luchky to be part of your readers this year.
    I’m ready for the 2012 virtual ride!
    May the new year -all of it- be full o f light for you.

    • Thank you for being such a regular commenter. Have a wonderful 2012 Maru.

  27. Oh, this was a lovely reminisce, I remember every one of those posts! Thanks for a great year of reading, Deb and Liz, and all the best for a wonderful 2012!

    PS. You forgot David Beckham’s crotch in your wrap-up.. 😉

    • Oh dear! How could I forget David and his undies??? He is one spectacular specimen. Have a great New Year and say hello to the chooks for me.

  28. Happy New Year! Looking forward to all your newsy posts for 2012 🙂
    It has been a fun year reading your blog. Thanks for all the great photos!

    • I hope you have a great 2012. Thanks for coming along.

  29. What an incredible year! I hope I can one day travel to the extent you do. Keep the posts coming so I can keep dreaming!

    • I am very lucky to be able to travel as much as I do. Buying the house in Italy has opened up a whole new world.

  30. You have such a great blog – I want to learn how to blog as well as you do! The year in review is brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

    • I didn’t know what a blog was when I started. It is just trial and error.

  31. Great stuff Deb – a very eventful year, and that photo of the storm over the river in Brisbane is particularly wonderful! I didn’t realise you were caught out in the floods, that must have been so stressful, and right after a renovation too. I eagerly await what 2012 holds, no doubt many more interesting stories and photos!

    • Those clouds over the Brisbane river were amazing. I was lucky to be walking across the bridge at just the right time. The flooded house is a rental property, so not quite so personal as the apartment we live in. The new renovation is now complete and hopefully the river won’t flood again. I am looking forward to lots more lovely travel this year. Good luck in all your ventures.

  32. Love your recap of an interesting year! I’m looking forward to more and hope that disasters will be kept at bay. Here in Tokyo we started out the new year with a shake. An earthquake measuring 7. Enough already.

    • That’s a bit scary! Stay safe.

  33. Wow, what a year you’ve had! A little jealous of your travel!!!

    • I’ll be setting off on 5th February to do it all again – not all the same places and hopefully some new ones.

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