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, ┬ásomething entirely new for us…I can’t wait for it all to begin.