Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016

I think many people will be pleased to see the end of 2016. So many of the people who have been part of our lives in so many ways left us this year. For me the hardest to say goodbye to were Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. Perhaps it was just that they were the last in a long line of people lost.

I was named after Debbie Reynolds, I was born around the time of Singin’in the Rain, the movie that made her famous. I have loved her movies and the bits of her life she shared with us. She really packed plenty into her 84 years.

I remember taking my 4 year old son to see Star Wars in 1977. I was as hooked as he was as soon as those letters appeared across the screen…and what was not to love about Princess Leia? My son grew into the nickname Chewbacca. He is very tall and has long dreadlocks and does excellent Chewbacca impressions.

These women and the other famous people who died this year will leave lots of people with happy memories. For most of us, friends and family will remember us for a while and that will be it. It must be intesting to think that you would leave lasting recorded memories through movies or songs or good (or bad) deeds.

Possibly the only lasting thing I might leave behind will be our garden at Casa Debbio. It is now 3 years old. The blackberry bushes that covered the property were torn out by the very strong and hard working Alfredo.

Alfredo clearing brambles

I reluctantly had some large trees removed from around the house. The people from the village reported that pines are not native to the area and have shallow roots meaning the trees can easily be blown over in strong winds.

Our lovely friend Bardhi planned the first part of the garden, on the terrace beside the house.

Casa Debbio

Filippo and Rocco cleared the terrace below the house.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio Filippo and Rocco

It has been a delight to plant things and to watch them grow. I particularly love the weeping cherry that turns pink each spring, with more blossoms each year.

I am excited that peonies like my garden and put on a spectacular show for me. I just want to stand and stare at them when they bloom.

Our latest terrace is coming along very well. I think it will be even more beautiful next spring and summer. It will be years before it is looking the way I want it to, we keep adding bits,  but it will be fun to watch the progression.

Casa Debbio

One day the 60 fruit trees we planted will grow tall and bear lots of fruit. We already have figs, cherries, pears and quince. This year we will plant another 100 lavender and some more pomegranate trees along the driveway.

The residents of Vergemoli love to come up and see the progress. They are happy to see the property live again. I hope the garden continues to delight for many years to come. I hope someone will love it when I am gone.

Have you thought about what you might leave behind?

I hope we don’t lose too many treasures in 2017.

Happy new year anyway…get out there and do it while you can…and may the force be with you.



  1. Happy New Year Debra and may 2017 be happier and kinder to all of us.

    • Yes, especially to you and Rafael.

  2. Iam sure your garden will delight many people who will visit, let’s hope for a few decades to come. A beautiful legacy to leave.
    Not sure what I will leave behind but a few beautiful glowing skins, but then again they will be gone just like me.
    Lets hope we have a few good years to go.

    • I’m not planning on checking out any time soon.

  3. Yes Debra —-nice nostalgic pics — I recall a drizzly BBQ christening at Casio debio……. looking to ’17 with great gusto and more of life’s wonders — we are truly lucky , whilst we are reminded of friends who passed to the other side .

    • That was a very wet day. You must return and we will try for some sun. Have a great 2017.

  4. Lovely photos. Hope to visit you some day. We have two small patches of garden at the apartment we just purchased in Pienza – one about 2x4m that will be an herb garden, and one a bit larger, but with two apricot trees. How much of the year are you in Italy, and how do you keep up the garden while you are gone? I am thinking I will have to just ask around to see who might be interested in a little extra work.

    • You must come our way soon. I spend 6 months every year in Italy. Filippo looks after the garden in summer when we are not there. In winter it doesn’t need anything. I will be back in mid February until June. I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding someone to help out.
      Have a wonderful new year.

  5. Beautiful garden Debbie… you are lucky to have the opportunity to be so creative…The two I will miss most are Alan Rickman (that magnificent voice) and Leonard Cohen… Both will live forever in film and sound xx

    • Lots of very talented people left us in 2016. I fear it will continue. I wish you health and happiness.

  6. Have a wonderful 2017 Debra… keep growing.

    • My garden will spring to life again in a couple of months. I can’t wait to be there to see it. Enjoy 2017.

  7. its looking lovely well done i must visit soon sy x

    • We are delighted with the progress of the garden. It will be bigger and better in 2017. Have a great year.

  8. A delightful combination of looking back and looking ahead. You have done so much at Casa Debio! Such beauty. Happy New Year to you!

    • It has been a lot of work to start the garden, but it is all worthwhile. Have a wonderful 2017.

  9. Casa Debbio’s garden is truly a piece of art that id forever changing and being enjoyed day to day, month to month and year to year by you, friends and neighbors. It is a treasure you will long be remembered for…..a gift of visual beauty and floral aromas. I hope to see it again this spring. Felice anno nuovo.

    • You will definitely see it this spring, you will see a huge difference. Have a great year.

  10. Buon Anno Deb

    • Happy new year to you too. I hope to see you again soon.

  11. I’m all for Carpe Diem… Happy New Year to you, Debbie 🍾🎉

    • Exactly, grab it and run. Happy 2017.

      • Thank you!

  12. Happy New Year Debra!

    • The same to you Roberto. I hope 2017 is kind to you.

  13. Lovely thoughts and the garden will surely flourish after we are all gone. It is looking beautiful. We are at Granaiola but weren’t able to visit this year. I met your sister at her vineyard 2 years ago. I will contact you when we are next in Granaiola. I love reading the blog and seeing pictures of our lovely mountains.

    • I will be in Bagni di Lucca from mid February until early June. I hope to catch up. Have a great 2017.

  14. Sorry the above is from Kathy Sanders

  15. Deb, thank you for sharing the wonderful photos of your garden “in progress” as well as the lovely flower shots – the peonies are gorgeous! i wish you all the best as we head into a new year.

    • I have 40 peonies. I hope they all flourish this year. They are my favourite flowers. Have a wonderful year.

  16. Happy New Year Debra! I love what you wrote. Another blogger I follow and actually got to meet in person is Debbie from Rewind and Retired in Nicaragua and she was named after Debbie Reynolds too. Yes it has been a crazy year. For us, losing Prince who is from Minnesota and we grew up with his influence was hard. Then David Bowie whose music I love. Then Carrie Fisher and her mom. Then George Michael. Then losing the election (I am so utterly fearful for the future). It has been a lot of loses but I’m remaining positive. Can’t wait to see your spring flowers perk up and bloom in Italy. I have enjoyed watching your life there grow. Happy happy 2017!

    • It has been a crazy year. I am concerned about what you incoming president might do. It is a worry for the world. All we can do is hope for the best and be the best we can be. Have a happy and healthy 2017.

  17. Happy New Year. You have put much time and effort into your garden. It is beautiful.
    The greatest loss for me in 2016 was that of my mother in February…gone but not forgotten…

    • Happy 2017 to you…they are never forgotten.

  18. May 2017 be memorable for many good reasons. Safe travels and good health to you and your family. Thank you for sharing. It is a pleasure to receive your posts and looking forward to what may come through your lens and creative mind.

    • I hope 2017 is a great year for you too. Thank you for you lovely comments. I am looking forward to some new adventures.

  19. Happy New Year and Travels, Deb. A beautiful garden is a wonderful legacy and that garden looks so very beautiful. I once heard something on the radio about what would we do if we knew we only had 24 hours to live – and I instantly thought “ooh, I’d have to finish the ironing”. !!!!

    • Ironing is always such jolly fun. Hope you basket wouldn’t use up the whole 24 hours.

  20. Seeing your lovely photos brings back memories of my visit to Casa Debio with you in September – a VERY beautiful and special haven…

    • I am looking foreword to being back there soon to start the new planting.

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