Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Castle and Village of Vertine

A Medieval Jewel
Vertine seen from the air with its gate tower and castle keep tower and what remains of the curtain wall

The castle of Vertine is first mentioned in a document of 1013. Thus the village of Vertine is over 1000 years old. A statement like this can stagger. As a native of the Antipodes where white settlement goes back a mere 250 years, I am continually staggered, in this part of the world.

the castle keep, today an attractive B&B
Apart from being a castle and village for 1000 years, Vertine can almost certainly claim to have been inhabited over the same period. Not bad for a tiny village which must have seen wars, plague and countless other crises in its long existence.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Storms of Summer

When the Storms of Summer mean Summer's End

zoom-in on nearby Radda between storms
 Summer's lease may have all too short a date, but this summer has been a whopper, with record temperatures and record lack of rain. We couldn't wait for summer to end.
recent storms have given rise to 'trombe d'aria' or tornadoes such as this, seen off Massa Carrara (courtesy of

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Gardens of Villa Marlia near Lucca

The Ups and Downs 
of an 
Historic Garden

It is true that we arrived at Villa Marlia, Capannori, not far from Lucca, on an extremely hot summer's day during an extremely hot and dry summer. Yet our overriding first impression of the gardens was of neglect and decay.This impression was soon softened by splendid perspectives and some truly special gardens and features (the massive topiary hedges and bushes are most striking), but despite these, it is clear that the property has seen better days. It needs some saving.
 a portion of the lawn at Villa Marlia, with its spectacular topiary columns and spheres; one has to imagine the grass as green as per Capability Brown landscaping which it clearly imitates
magnificent, tall hedges leading to Clock House

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Fence at Last!

Le Ripe has its Fence at Last

It has been almost two years since the Le Ripe Saga of the Fence began (see side column for the whole gory story).
The principal reason for the Fence was protection against marauding and destructive wildlife.
On this very day we can cut the ribbon, pour the champagne, crow with joy and felicitation, for the Fence has been completed, thanks to our trusty gardening team.