Posted by: Debra Kolkka | May 13, 2020

Bits and pieces

I have been at Casa Debbio for 10 weeks. In the last 10 days we have been able to move around a bit more, which is great.  It does make a difference knowing there is a little more freedom. I went down the mountain yesterday to visit a friend in Ponte a Serraglio to wish her a happy birthday. I combined it with a shopping trip, but it was great to be able to see a friend.

It has been raining heavily for a couple of days and today is cloudy, so there is no watering the garden.

My garden bed is coming along nicely. The seeds I planted were eaten by birds, so I had to give up on that idea. I bought some small plants and they are growing. Some seeds might still grow. I don’t want this to be neat, I want a confusion of plants.

A couple more peonies have opened. Luckily most are still buds. If they had been open in the rain they would have been sodden and drooping.

The Banksia roses are thriving. We bought these several years ago from Rose Barni near Pistoia. It was quite an experience. Read about it…Adopt a rose

The red roses in front of the house are beautiful.

The pink roses will soon be open.

The stunning red ones behind the house are open.

Hydrangea flowers are opening.

We have 2 sambuco trees covered in flowers.

Lizards run and tumble all over the garden. They are fun to watch. I wish I could get a photo of the iridescent green ones. They are gorgeous and look like mini dragons.

I have been cooking. I made a delicious chicken pie…thank you Not Quite Nigella. Take a look at her blog, her recipes and travel stories are excellent.


I ate too much and rather than curl up like a cobra to digest it I went for a walk to the village. The house looks great from below.

The road to the village is delightful in spring. The forest is thick and the sun doesn’t shine through much. The trees are still their bright spring green.


I came to the edge of the village, but didn’t walk in. Maybe next week when the bar might be open.

Sometimes lunch doesn’t involve cooking. I found this cute little burrata, perfect with tomatoes and Tropea onions. I don’t buy any other onions here in Italy.

We went to Tropea in Calabria a few years ago, the home of these delicious onions. See more about them…Know your onions and gorgeous Tropea… Tropea, Hercules was here

Today I made a zucchini slice. The thyme and parsley was from my garden. I’m hoping for cherries, raspberries, garlic and zucchini before I leave.

The weather has been all over the place, sun, heavy rain, wind and low clouds.

I have very pale skin and prefer to keep it that way. I am paying for a youth spent at the beach. I always wear a hat in the garden and put sun block on my hands and arms, but I forgot about my legs. For the first time in more than 40 years I have brown legs. To most people they would still look pale but you can see the difference when I take my gardening shoes off.

We have heard that bars and restaurants might be open with seating next Monday, 18th May. There will be restrictions, but I am really looking forward to sitting with a couple of friends to eat something someone else has cooked…very exciting. Also exciting, I saw the first fireflies in the garden last night.


  1. Plants are so beautiful.. makes my heart to bloom..😍

    • I love the garden here at Casa Debbio. It has made lockdown OK.

  2. Your garden bed is fantastic! It’s so whimsical and a riot of fun colors. And your chicken pie, zucchini slice, and caprese salad all look beautiful and tasty. Like you, I am looking forward to taking a break from cooking soon, as much as I enjoy it. Not sure yet when that will happen, but it’s fun thinking about. When do you think you’ll depart Italy?

    • I am happy with the progress of the garden bed after a slow start. I am really looking forward to actually sitting in a restaurant, hopefully next week.
      My original flight home was cancelled. I have a ticket for 1st July and at this stage it is still happening.

  3. Your posts are simply delightful! Each time I receive one, I want to digest it in order to respond. I actually get quite emotional looking at them, the beauty, your never-ending skill with the camera, your cooking (oh my – today’s!!) all the glory of your garden/s (we have the heating on!! – tulips barely standing erect from the cold….snow) that I never seem to return to make the comment; one that would rave about the view, your commentary and (really!) exquisite photos….the one where you stacked flowers behind your kitchen tap, with a curtain held up with ribbons…I wonder if you really know the Joy that accompanies the post/s. I miss Italy, I miss what it meant to me (mangia cake – Canadian) and so, without really trying very hard, you inject that stimuli in the most touching of ways. YOU have a gift – and good fortune. Many THANKS for sharing it!!

    • I started writing about my isolation here as a diary for myself. This is (I hope) a once in a lifetime occurrence. Some days I struggle to find meaningful ways to occupy my time, but I have to remind myself how lucky I am to be in a beautiful place with no worries about having enough to eat, or being safe, or losing a job or a business, and just get on with it.
      My garden is a delight. It has been interesting watching the changes every day. It is not so much fun discovered the wild animal damage, but that’s what happens when you have a house in a forest.
      Let’s hope this awful situation ends for every body soon.
      Thank you for you kind words and taking to time to write to me.

  4. Your flowers are beautiful. What a wonderful part of the world you live in!. I’m going to try that chicken pie, but I’ve got a chunky steak pie to cook first! Enjoy meeting your friends and I will too.

    • It is a beautiful place to be in isolation, but let’s hope our loves return to some kind of normal soon.

  5. Beautiful photos. Will you have to isolate when you come back to Oz or will you spend all summer in Italy?

    • I have a flight home on 1st July. My earlier original flight was cancelled. I hope I can return at this time and I am not sure whether I will be isolated when I get back. Things are changing all the time so I guess I will find out closer to my return.

  6. Your chicken pie looks delicious. I’m glad you got down to see your friend for her birthday. That must have been special. I love your “confusion of flowers”. 😍

    • I was very happy to visit my friend. She is one of the first people I met when we bought our apartment here 17 years ago and has been an important part of our Italian lives.
      My garden has been a great place to be isolated. Luckily it is spring and I can watch it change every day.

  7. Love your garden as I say in every single post from Casa Debbio and now especially as the roses are blooming, and your salad and chicken pie are delicious but had to laugh at that little sun tanned foot – think you’ll be ok, and yes we do know how you look after your skin (Finnish heritage) in the sun.

    • It looks as though I am wearing white shoes when I take my real shoes off. It is overcast here again today and the garden it wet, so no foot tanning.

  8. So pleased that you are finally able to catch up and have some social interaction with friends. The garden is looking especially beautiful after all the love and attention this year.

    • It was Tina’s birthday. She is holding up very well and is very philosophical about lockdown. It was great to sit a chat for a while.

  9. ohh what a beautiful walk to the village..

    • It is lovely. I am usually lazy and drive down, but I have lots of time now .

  10. Hopefully there will be a relaxation soon – we are having more relaxed rules

    • Just being able to go down to Ponte is great and I was delighted to spend some time with Tina.

  11. Glad to hear that you are surviving the confinement. It is very hard on all of us. Looks as if it starting to ease, but I am worried that some people are not going to respect the distancing rules and not wearing a mask and this could trigger a second wave.
    I can see that you are enjoying your beautiful garden and cooking.
    Beware of the sun!

    • I hope people are sensible too. It would be awful if the virus got a second wind. Going back to isolation would be too much.

  12. Debra, your posts are such a delight to me, reading about your passion of gardening, following how all your plants are blossoming and trees beginning to bare fruits. Especially right now, it gives me the joy of walking through a garden I wouldn’t have access to in those times. I thank you, Debra.

    • I have been very lucky to spend isolation in such a beautiful place. It would have been grim indeed to be stuck inside with no place to walk. I feel for people in that situation. Let’s hope things continue to improve.

  13. Always look forward to your Posts (it is like waiting for a magazine subscription to arrive in letterbox) so exciting.For the walk to Village you must have needed sturdy walking shoes, but must have been a pleasure to see all the green trees. The view of Casa. Debbio is beautiful& the red roses stand out against the stone. We love your garden bed & the mix of colours. Peonies superb. What are Sambuco trees? Love the terracotta girl, is she anxious about the lizard. Envious of your tomatoes, we never get tomatoes here with such flavour. The Tropea onions do look good & looked them up on your Post. Casa Debbio looks magic in whatever the weather – in full sun the flowers stand out, & looks beautiful under cloud & mist. Yes we can see the sandal marks on your feet. Just like we can tell who are the tradesmen because of the sock marks around the ankles. Staying at Casa Debbio must have made the lockdown easier for you.

    • Sambuco trees are elder trees. The flowers and berries are used for cordial and elderberry wine. They are also used to flavour Sambuca, the Italian liqueur They are beautiful trees. The big one behind the house has been here for years. The smaller one in front was growing amongst a tangle of acacia trees. We cleared a whole area to allow it to grow.
      Casa Debbio has been a great place to be isolated, I am very lucky.

  14. My goodness, if you had to be stranded and isolated you couldn’t be anywhere better than Casa Debbio and it’s beautiful garden. Stay well

    • Casa Debbio has been the perfect place to isolate. I am very lucky.

  15. Your garden is gorgeous and I want a piece of that pot pie!

    • The pie is easy to make. Not Quite Nigella has some great recipes.

  16. Your garden bed is straight out of a dream 😀 I’m putting it on my wishlist to visit Casa Debbio one day and see it in real life. Thank you for making my pie and for the kind words x

    • Cooking is one of the things I can do to keep occupied. I like your recipes because they are easy to follow and they are delicious.

  17. Hello debra i am in my home in fairbanks alaska. My garden is wild plants that survived 30 below 0..winter. The birch trees in full bloom. How could i send a photo so you could enjoy alaska blooming as i absorb the beauty of life in Italy..thank you for seeing beauty and giving us your joys of your life in the midst of sheltering..we too have health and safety and slowly have restrictions lifted. I saw a friend in their workshop in the woods and see life at home as a blessing and close friend time as a harbor for hugs and smiles…we reach out and find surprise ..see i found your blog and was transported to Casa Debbio…karen from fairbanks alaska …will send photo of our life here in our wild garden oasis we enjoy each day…thoughts on how to send photo to you?

    • I would love to see your garden! You can email them to me at
      The weather today was awful. We have had rain squalls, fierce bursts of wind and flashes of sun. We need the rain, but the wind is destructive.
      I look forward to your photos.

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