Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 1, 2023

20 years ago today

On the 1st of March 2003 I first set foot on the bridge in Ponte a Serraglio. It was my 50th birthday and it was decided that this was where we would buy a house. Yes, that means that today is my 70th birthday. This seems quite strange to me because I think I am 35. Of course, when I look in the mirror it becomes obvious that I am not 35.

Anyway, buying here in Ponte a Serraglio has been a great success. I love my life in both homes. Brisbane, Australia is a great place to live and so is our little part of glorious Italy. I have the best of both worlds.

Having a place in Italy allows us time to explore the country. We have been to almost every region and have found things to love in all of them. Then we get to come back to our apartment and feel at home.

It is the last of winter now. The days are a bit cold and damp, but I love it. This is the view from my balcony right now.

I love to walk along the river below our apartment.

There are signs of spring, it isn’t far away. The changing seasons are a delight.

There will be lots more photos of spring and our travels soon.


  1. Have a great day, Deb for this special number birthday,xx

    • Thank you! A friend and I are going to Florence, first stop Caffe Gilli.

      • How wonderful. I certainly miss Italian coffee.xx

  2. And your decision certainly influenced our decision

    • …and a few others. It is a great place to be.

  3. Thanks for sharing Debra and thanks for introducing Jan and I to Bagni❤️

    • I love sharing this lovely village!

  4. Of course you think you are 35… you’re 35×2. Happy Birthday!

    • Age doesn’t really matter and we must make the most of every day.

      • Indeed. I was being lighthearted and playful about the numbers. Happy 70th. I enjoyed mine more than my 35th. 😊

  5. What a place to celebrate your 70th ! Such a beautiful part of Italy.
    Happy Birthday Deb.

    • Thank you! I have had quite a few birthdays here.

  6. You will have a very happy birthday in your beloved Bagni do Lucca. If you feel like you are 35, then that is the age you can be. Jeni

    • 35 seems like a good age, I think I will stay there.

  7. Happy Birthday Debra, and many more in good health! Thank you so much for your posts about your life in Italy! I’ve been dreaming about living in Italy for quite some time now!

    Peter K. (Ridgewood, Queens, NYC, USA)

    • Thank you! We love our time in Italy. I need a few more lifetimes to see it all.

  8. Happy Birthday! You are living your best life!

    • Thank you! We have to make the most of every day.

  9. Happy Birthday Deb. Enjoy your day. Should always celebrate birthdays. I had my 70th last year big day with family.

    • It hardly seems possible. I remember the day we watched the moon landing.

      • It seems like a lifetime ago

    • It seems like a lifetime ago

  10. Happy birthday, Deb! Keep on enjoying life.

  11. Thank you! All is good.

  12. Hello Debra, It’s been such a pleasure to follow your journeys, as well as the detail and photos which accompanied those posts. I’ve also stayed at some of the accommodation at which you’ve stayed, so many thanks for the recommendations. I’ve not commented on your posts until now as I’ve not been sure of the ‘how to’ 😉
    Congratulations on your 20 years! I visit bella Italia frequently, especially in recent years as I’m not getting any younger 😎

    Grazie mille

    Margaret Boughen

  13. Hi Debra, I neglected to send Birthday greetings! Hoping you have a wonderful day, with appropriate celebrations tonight 🥂 🎂 🎊

    • Thank you, it is still my birthday. I am in Florence with a friend.

  14. I wish you a beautiful birthday. 18years ago I met you in Lucca! I had given myself a birthday (the 60th) trip to Lucca and we met in the Italian course! I hope to come again!! Thank you for this wonderful blog!!

    • Thank you! That seems a long time ago.

  15. Debra, have a wonderful birthday….numbers are only numbers….thank you so much for all your beautiful photos over the years from Bagni! We have a place up in San Jemignano outside the town and up the hill beyond Gombereto! Its such a beautiful area !

    • Thank you! I feel lucky to be able to travel as much as I do,

    • Wishing you a very Happy Birthday from David & I. It may be a “big” Birthday but the number doesnt matter just keep living the life you love in Italy or Australia.

  16. Happy birthday, Debra!

    • Thank you! It is a bit warmer here than Helsinki.

  17. Buon Compleano Debra 🥳🎂
    Here’s to many more years of happy travel through Italy and elsewhere!

    • Thank you! I am hoping for lots more years of travelling.

  18. 20years in Italy! Congratulationa and a very happy birthday too!

    • Thank you! My first trip to Italy was in 1972 when I lived for a time on the Amalfi Coast.

  19. Happy birthday

    • Thank you! Miami High School was a long time ago.

  20. Having been to Italy, and also to your special part of the country, I totally understand your love for it. Can’t wait to go back there in the near future, and hopefully have a stay at Casa Debbio.
    Wishing you a happy 70th birthday, and remember it is only a number that not everyone has the privilege of reaching. Enjoy your day 🎂🎁🎉💐🍾

    • Thank you! I hope you come back soon to lovely Italy.

  21. Happy Birthday Deb! I so enjoy your blog and photos. They bring back such lovely memories. I wish you many more happy years 🥂

    • Thank you! I hope you come back one day soon.

  22. Happy birthday, Debra! Judging from your past posts on Bagni di Lucca, I think you made the right decision when you bought a house there. I wish you more happy and memorable moments in Italy, back home in Brisbane, and anywhere else in between.

    • Thank you! It was definitely the right decision to buy our apartment. We love it here.

  23. Happy Birthday Debra! What a lovely story. I have loved following your blog so much and your love of Italy always shines through. Enjoy your day and thanks for sharing your world with us!

    • Thank you! Once Italy gets under your skin there is no going back.

  24. Hi Deb, From a Euro Brisbane boy, heartiest congratulations and welcome to the 70’s club…all the very, very best…x Pete

    • Thank you! It is all good.

  25. Happy birthday!

  26. Pleased to see you back in Italy. Arriving myself on 1 May starting in Venice. Pity some of the canals have dried up. Hope it rains before then! Will enjoy watching your travel adventures.

    • It is nice to be back. Venice is fine. The low water in some of the canals is perfectly normal. The media is beating this up.

  27. Happy birthday, beautiful!

  28. Happy happy birthday. I too will be turning 70 next year. I started cycling to France and Italy only 2 years ago, and I know that I have another 20 to go! Andiamo!!

    • Thank you! Now that I am 70 it doesn’t seem that old.

  29. Hello, we are coming to the region late March…with 2 children. I wondered if there are places you can recommend to access the river for a paddle in the local area….just a kids feet paddle, and play, not canoeing! Also any play parks or other recommendations? Children are 8 and 5….thank you. Helen

    • I have sent an email with some suggestions.

  30. Happy birthday lovely Debra!! What a significant moment and may there be many more. I also think I am younger than I am, sometimes I feel like a kid! xxx

    • Thank you! I hope we never feel old.

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