Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 27, 2016

2016 travels

2016 has been a busy year for travel. We started off early in the year with a trip to Tasmania in a bid to escape Queensland heat. Our first stop was with our lovely friends Roz and John at their gorgeous seaside house in Binalong Bay…a very beautiful part of the world. (Click the names in bold type to see the original post)

Binalong Bay

Then it was to the other side of the island to some friends we met in Italy, Michael and Kathy. The lucky devils have their own rainforest, alive with pretty birds.

Australian bird

Further south we stayed at Macquarie Harbour, former penal colony…what a tragic past for such a beautiful place.

Macquarie Harbour

Not long after I headed off to Italy, via Helsinki, of course. I had a couple of snowy days before making my way south. There a white duck had made himself at home with the wild ducks

Helsinki duck

I stayed in heavenly Bavaria with my friend Moira. She took me driving through the postcard perfect country side to Bad Tolz, just one of the quaint towns in the area.

Bad Tolz

Then it was over the Alps to Italy.

flying over the Alps

Bagni di Lucca beckoned and I arrived to cold winter days. I love this winter view from my balcony.

Ponte a Serraglio

The daffodils have bloomed on my balcony for the last time. They were taking over the pots and now live at Casa Debbio. Time to plant some new ones.

My daffodils

We had one snowfall in late winter and the road to Casa Debbio was a bit difficult to navigate, but it does look pretty with its snow blanket.

Casa Debbio in snow

My friend Paola and I visited Arezzo, one of my favourite towns in Italy…I have many. We were there for the monthly antique market.


I couldn’t get any takers to join me to see the Donkey Palio in Torrita di Siena, so I went alone…what a treat. I am going again in 2017. As well as the hilarious donkey race there was music, flag throwing and great constumes.

Torrita di Siena

Torrita di Siena

This is one of my favourite photos of the year…I love the expressions on their faces. This little town knows how to put on a show.

Torrita di Siena

I found it difficult to drag myself away from Casa Debbio in the spring while my peonies were flowering.

My peony

… but Calabria and Sicily called. We drove south stopping first in Ischia where our friends Paul and Stephanie had invited us to stay. We absolutely loved Ischia and can’t wait to get back to see more…and to see them in Lucca in 2017.


We visited Pizzo, Scilla and Tropea on the Calabrian coast.

The ferry to Sicily proved to be remarkably easy to find and use and soon we were in Taormina, probably the prettiest town in Sicily. It has an incredible ancient theatre with views of Etna.



The coastline is pretty.


The ceramics in Taormina are exquisite.


We drove a couple of hours south to Ortigia, the tiny island off Siracusa and found we liked it even more than Taormina. It seemed more authentic and certainly less crowded with tourists.


By this time we had developed an addiction to granite and cannoli.

Ancient ruins in Sicily make the trip worthwhile all by themselves. We visited Agrigento, Segesta and some amazing Roman mosaics I haven’t written about yet.


We hadn’t expected the exquisite countryside we encountered in Sicily. I think early spring would have to be the very best time to visit. Everything was green and lush and in many places the wild flowers were as high as the car.


Scicli was an unexpected delight. Our good friend Luis from Paris Boheme had suggested and and we were so glad he did. It is one of the Baroque towns in southern Sicily including Noto and Ragusa…Scicli was our favourite.


Cefalu on the northern coast was another place in Sicily we really liked even though a fierce wind kept us off the beach and any other exposed place. Fortunately the narrow streets offered protection.


On the way back we dropped into Pentedattilo, a ghost town in Calabria, where the wind almost blew us off the edge.


We don’t need any excuse to stay along the Amalfi Coast. This time we called into Salerno…


…and Amalfi, surely one of the most delightful places on earth.


We revisited Bagnoregio, sitting in a precarious position on a disappearing tufa plug. I wonder how much longer it will last.


La Foce is one of the loveliest gardens in Italy. It makes me want to rush back to Casa Debbio and plant more flowers and trees.

La Foce

On my way back to Italy in September I revisited Fiskars, a town in Finland inhabited by artists and craftspeople and previous home to those orange handled scissors.


In October I rediscovered Pistoia and fell in love with the town. It has been named city of Art and Culture for 2017 and it is easy to see why. It has much to offer and is not overrun with tourists….yet. Thank you Michela for showing me your lovely home town.


On my way back to Brisbane I managed to be in Helsinki for the first snow of the season, lucky me!


Throughout the year there were many visits to lovely Lucca, fabulous Florence, marvellous Modena, Castiglione Garfagnana with Victoria, Bologna and Parma with Cathy for the antique fare (I’m going back with a truck next year) Main Beach, and lots of day trips. 2017 is going to be just as busy.

As well as Finland and Italy we will be travelling to Iceland,  something entirely new for us…I can’t wait for it all to begin.





  1. What a great year it has been for you, Debra! Toucwood and Happy Travels in 2017!

    • Having our own base in Italy makes travels easier and more affordable. I am looking forward to my next trip.

      • I am most certain of that. Sigh!

  2. Lovely places to visit!

    • We thought so too. We have some decisions to make in 2017.

  3. Beautiful images, and you know, as many photos as I’ve seen of Pentedattilo, I haven’t ever come across it framed as you have. Complimenti!

    • Pentedattilo is an incredible place. It must have been a difficult place to live.

  4. Wow, wow, wow. You DO get around. How many flights do you take a year??

    • There are 3 flights each way between Australia and Italy, so I do 12 flights a year plus any extra trips. Luckily I quite like flying and I never get jet lag.

  5. Deb did you take that photo of La Foce? It’s amazingly beautiful. Ever thought of selling some of your prints, maybe to a photo library? Look into it. Hope we catch up again soon.

    • I took all the photos on this post. Thank you for your kind words.

  6. Nice round up. I have enjoyed following you for another year!

    • I’m pleased to have you along.

  7. Quite a year! And the photos are great. Looking forward to 2017!!!

    • I’m looking forward to new adventures too.

  8. What a wonderful year of travel you have had to such beautiful and diverse locations. You are my travel idol!

    • Having a place in Italy has enabled us to travel widely in the country. We are very glad we bought our apartment almost 14 years ago.

  9. Oh, what a wonderful year of travels, Debra! I revisited Sicily through your photos – you definitely went at the best time of the year for the wild flowers! Pentedattilo is on my list but I doubt I’ll get there now. I must get back to Italy soonish….

    • Sicily was excellent. We want to go back to see some of the things we missed and to spend more time in the places we liked the most.

      • I loved Sicily, and hope to return sometime

  10. What a fantastic year of travel you have had! I wish you the same for 2017 đŸ™‚

    • We have a few things in mind for 2017. I’m sure it will be interesting.

  11. Deb, I thought my travel days were over. However, your wonderful photos have rekindled the fire.

    • It was my neighbour when I was young who inspired me to travel. I would be happy to responsible for inspiring others.

  12. Your photos are outstanding Debra! what a wonderful year!

    • Thank you. I look forward to my next adventures.

  13. Gosh Debra, what a fabulous life you have. Do you detect a note of jealousy in this comment? No, never.

    • I know I have a very interesting life. There is a fair bit of background work to make to all happen, but I feel privileged to be able to do so much travel.

  14. A toast to your love for travel and many thanks for sharing it with us.

    • It is fun taking others with me,

  15. Debra

    Thank you for your kind mentioning of us and your days on Ischia…..we look forward to seeing you in Lucca come February…..our first “doing” will be going to carvanale in Viareggio……maybe we can meet up in the grandstands. I am trying to get Laura and her husband to come also. Come this Friday we are eight weeks from arriving in lucca and cannot wait….ciao for now and I continue to tell anyone I meet coming to italy to look at and read your blog……you are my idol.

    • Our days with you were a highlight. I look forward to Italy. Perhaps we can go to Carnivale together. It is great fun.

  16. A range of wonderful places and memories. We hope we can visit some in the new year.

    • I look forward to seeing you again.

  17. Wow! What a year! And we have loved reading every one of your blogs Deb.

    • We went to lots of great places. I am planning some more in 2017.

  18. You live an exquisite life Debra! Such delightful locations and views.

    • We really enjoyed our travels this year. I’m sure 2017 will be excellent too.

  19. Deb I absolutely loved revisiting all your travels- so look forward to 2017 and the next instalments cheers

    • I head back to Italy in February for some more adventures.

  20. What a wonderful year Debra! I have throughly enjoyed following you along! Sicily looks incredible. Looking forward to seeing your travels in the new year!

    • Sicily was great, we will definitely go back there. Naples is on the cards this year. Jim has not been there and I love it.

      • Can’t wait to hear all about it Debra!

  21. What a fabulous post, Deb! We feel privileged to be part of your year and hope to catch up again. I am so envious :mrgreen:

    • I think you need to come back to Italy, if only to see how the garden has grown at Casa Debbio.

  22. Lovely photos and narrative Debra, brings back many memories. I’ll be in Italia May and June, hope we can link up in Bagni di Lucca. Felice Anno Nuovo!

    • I will be in Bagni di Lucca then. Let me know when you will be in the area.

  23. I think THIS is one of your most stunning entries – breathtaking in fact. You have a gift(s); and luckily we get to share it; just by ‘tuning in’. I hope you
    realize the value of your efforts; enjoyed by many; an awesome journey with your keen eye, dialogue and photographic expertise. Happy NEW Year and
    Happy and Safe Travels.

    • Thank you, you are very kind. I feel lucky that I get to do what I like best…travel in lovely Italy and beyond. Have a great 2017.

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