Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 26, 2015

A year of travel

2015 was an interesting year of travel for me. Here are some of my favourite places visited this year.

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In January we drove to the beautiful Granite Belt to stay near Stanthorpe for Australia Day. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at a local winery and the Australian bush.

Australian bush

My lovely friend Poorna is studying in Oxford and invited me to spend a few days with her on my way to Italy in February. The city is full of amazing things…and I met my first robin.


Oxford robin

I arrived in Italy in time to see the fabulous Viareggio Carnevale. I go every year if I can. It is a spectacle not to be missed.

Viareggio Carnevale

Bagni di Lucca was hit by a freak tornado in March, not long after I arrived. The noise of the wind was terrifying in the middle of the night and we awoke to destruction in some of the villages.

Tornado in Bagni di Lucca

Lucca is just 30 minutes from Bagni di Lucca and I visit often…even in the rain.

Lucca in the rain

I headed off to Verona with a friend in April. It is one of my favourite cities in Italy.


Spring finally arrived at Casa Debbio and my plants began to grow. There were fruit blossoms on all the trees and my newly planted terrace started to take shape.

Blossoms at Casa Debbio

I visited a magnificent garden in Tuscany. La Foce was begun in the 1920s by Iris Origo and it is now open to the public on certain days…I will be back, I loved this garden.

La Foce

May was a busy month. The Giro d’Italia came through Bagni di Lucca, right past our apartment, causing much excitement.

Giro d'Italia in Bagni di Lucca

Soon after came the most beautiful road race in the world, the Mille Miglia. Once again, it came past our place.

Giro d'Italia

We visited Poppi, Castiglion Fiorentino , Cortona and Arezzo, a firm favourite. I don’t know why more tourists don’t visit Arezzo, but I’m pleased they don’t.


In late May we drove to Barcelona, stopping at Arles along the way. It has one of the biggest food markets I have ever seen.

Arles food market

The town of Arles is quite lovely, no wonder Van Gogh was drawn to it.


Everyone should go to Barcelona at least once. It is worth a visit for Gaudi alone…but don’t miss the great food at the Boqueria markets.

Gaudi in Barcelona

On the way home from Barcelona we stopped at the sea side town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer.


We stayed the night at Eze, a beautiful little town perched on top of a rock overlooking the sea near Monaco.


Then it was home to Brisbane for a while to enjoy our lovely winter.

Brisbane City beach

It was back to Bagni di Lucca in September in time to renew my drivers licence. Official things are always fraught with difficulty, but they must be done. It is just as well Italy is beautiful and we can forgive it for these things.

Ponte a Serraglio

I took myself off to Padova to the the Giotto frescoes and fell in love with this underrated city.


Florence is an easy day trip from Bagni di Lucca. I go often and it is always fun to see the shop windows full of fabulous designer fashion.

Roberto Cavalli Florence

My sister showed her Curly Flat wine in shows in Stockholm and Helsinki, so I went up to help. Stockholm is a gorgeous city.



I can never get enough of Helsinki.


Autumn is a time of chestnut festivals in the Garfagnana and one of the best is in Cascio. It was a glorious day in the mountains.

Cascio chestnut festival

I had to leave my garden at Casa Debbio in late October. I shut down the house for the winter and dragged myself away.

Casa Debbio

I had a brief stop in Rome on the way back to Brisbane and explored the Jewish Quarter behind  Teatro Marcello.

Teatro Marcello Rome

Back home we went to the beach…a good reason to be in Australia.

Main Beach

My Pop Up shop went well. It was great to see some faces from my days in retail in the Brisbane Arcade. I am now busy sewing for my next one at the beginning of February.

Pop Up shop

Now 2015 is almost over and it is time to start planning next year’s travels. I will be back in Bagni di Lucca in mid February. I can’t wait to get back to Casa Debbio to continue with our garden.

We are planning to go to Sicily in spring. We will drive down, stopping in Naples and Calabria on the way. I hope you will all come along for the ride.




  1. Not a minute to get bored, but what an interesting and enjoyable year! Thank you for sharing it with us.nwe wish you an even better 2016!

    • I am never bored. There is always too much to do and see. I love my travels, but I also love working in the garden at Casa Debbio and sewing when I am back in Brisbane.

  2. Awesome post and pics as usual Debra. I didn’t realize the Giro d’Italia cane through Bagni di Lucca! How wonderful!!

    • The Giro was very exciting and we got a new road through some of the villages. Everybody was out to watch the race.

  3. Those beautiful paper barks always catch my eye

    • The Australian bush is very beautiful. I love the smell of it.

      • Me too!

  4. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thanks for sharing your blog.

    • Thank you for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment. I hope you have a great 2016.

  5. Yes Deb, you have had a wonderful 2015 and I know that 2016 is shaping up to be just as fabulous. I wish you fun, peace, happiness and most of all good health. Happy 2016. See you soon Lyn

    • It seems there is never enough time to do all the things I would like to do. I am looking forward to new adventures and revisiting my favourite places. Have a fabulous new year.

  6. Better than any travel experts article. Well you are a travel expert really. Adored the photos and interesting factual and often witty captions
    Tho I miss you when you are away I do look forward to your blog. Buon Anno and great travels ahead dear friend.

    • Writing the blog makes me much more observant than I would otherwise be. The notes I take are handy for me too, when I return to a place. Thank you for your kind words…have a wonderful 2016.

  7. What a fabulous year you’ve had. I’m so jealous. I spent mine trying to work out the logic of computers, in Melbourne’s very cold, very lon, winter, though I did manage a week at Airley Beach to get my brain working again. I love your photos.

    • Thank you. 2015 has been a good year with lots of lovely new things to see and do. I am looking forward to the new places I will visit next year. We are off to Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain in late January, which should be fun.

  8. Great memories – I loved Eze too – for me it will be Ponte Serraglio in June

    • Eze is a gorgeous place. We have been twice and will no doubt return one day. June in Ponte a Serraglio is hard to beat.

  9. What a lovely review of your year and your posts. How fortunate you are with the travel, and thank you for taking us along through your writing and photos!

    • I know I am lucky to be able to travel as much as I do. The reason we bought our apartment in Italy was to allow us to spend more time there. It has worked very well.

  10. You certainly fitted in so much into one year.. So come on 2016. Happy travels.

    • I’m hoping for lots of new places in 2016.

  11. An amazing year of travel again Debra….and thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you for following. I think next year is going to be good.

  12. I enjoy your travels so much – my metaphorical bag is packed and I’ll be along for the ride!

    • Thanks for joining in. It wouldn’t be much fun without you.

  13. It’s always interesting seeing your photos and reading the comments Debra, thank you for sharing them. I’m just back from 11 weeks in France, Germany, Malta and Italy visiting some new places and also some familiar favourites. You’re right, there is so much to see and so many wonderful places to visit, it would take another lifetime and then some. There is just something special about Italy though. Look forward to your travels next year. Happy New Year. Buon Anno.
    Cheers, Robyn

    • I went to Malta many years ago and would like to return. I need at least one more life to see all I want to see.

  14. Have a fabulous year, Debra. I loved visiting every place virtually with you. I hope we can meet someday. Have a lovely new year and enjoy Italy in spring .. It’s not far away.

    • I will be in Italy in spring…see you there.

      • I hope I am there. Tuscany is definitely not on the cards. Il still keep in touch.

  15. I’m tired just reading about your year! So beautiful and varied. Thank you so much for sharing through your blog.

    • It has been a busy year. I am hoping for the same next year.

  16. What a year Debra! I love following you around and learning about all these beautiful places. Best for 2016!

    • Thanks for coming along. I hope you have a great 2016.

      • Happy New Year to you too Debra!

  17. A wonderful year, full of gorgeous sights. I loved seeing your photos of Eze. I would love to go someday. I find the village captivating.
    Happy New Year to you!

    • Eze is amazing. We fell in love with it many years ago and were delighted to return.

  18. Love tagging along Debra! 😀

    • We will actually get to do a couple of things together in 2016.

  19. You are so wealthy. And I’m not talking figures but the richness you get when you travel. I remember that fountain in Verona very well. The Viareggo Carnevale sounds very interesting!

    • I know what you mean Romel. Having our apartment in Italy has opened up a whole new world for me. It has enabled us to travel widely within Italy and nearby countries. We rent it when we are not there to help cover costs and it works very well for us. I do appreciate that I am in a very good position in my life.

  20. Debra,

    Great post. What a year you’ve had.

    Every trip to Rome is like going to a new city, with all of the different neighbourhoods! I totally agree regarding Arezzo and Padova is on my list for next visit. I shared your Marimekko post with a friend who is a fan as inspiration for her next European trip.

    I hope you LOVE Sicily. I blogged about it on my defunct (but still available site) Ten weeks in Italy. Here’s a link to the site. look at the Sicily link in the tag cloud for just Sicily posts!

    Happy 2016


    • I agree with you about Rome. I love it. I am really looking forward to Sicily and will certainly look at your posts.

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