Welcome Everyone.

Welcome to News From Italy, my blog about our Italian Adventure. Although this blog has now ceased publication I will be continuing to blog and I am sincerely hoping that my many followers here will move with me to Travel Tales blog to follow my next adventures wherever they may take me. The links to my other blogs are:-

I look forward to keeping in touch with you via them, thanks once again for all the support you have given 'News From Italy' over the years.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our Garden in May - Il Nostro Giardino in Maggio


The end of May is here and we had a dilemma last week because our cherries were already ripe and ready for harvesting. There is a local tradition that cherries should never be harvested before the first of June, this is a as problem everything is so much earlier this year and they are ready!  If we had postponed the harvest until our return from a wedding next weekend the birds might well have had them all! Unlike our neighbours we have not obtained dead magpies to hang in the cherry trees to keep such predators at bay. Last year they were not ready to harvest until mid June so this situation did not arise.

In fact it is interesting that in my garden post for May last year I was bemoaning the lack of sun and the fact that the garden was suffering from an excess of water. This year the spring weather has been hotter and drier after a very cold and dry winter. Our Garden in May 2010  The orto has also suffered with no potatoes germinating, last year they rotted, everything else is very slow to get going this year, even the strawberries, but hopefully growth will catch up soon now the weather is warmer and we have started watering.

A busy time ahead and a wedding to enjoy means I will be away from my computer until at least the middle of next week. When I return I will post about this years Sagra del Latterino and The Cherry Harvest. Here are the links to last years posts if you would like some information in the meantime. XXXV Sagra del Latterino 2010     Cherry Harvest 2010

I also hope you will enjoy the selection of some of my favourite photographs of our garden taken during the last month, that I have chosen to share.  The full album is also available to view on Flickr.com where you can view all the photographs in full size or as a slideshow.

Our Garden in May 2011

The Roses have been beautiful this month, particularly the deep coloured rose that climbs amongst the Kiwis.

Rose climbing over the kiwis


May has altogether been an excellent month for flowering plants with Philadelphus, Roses, Irises, Gazenia, Sweetpeas, Fuschias, Lilies, Impatiens. Lobelia, Cactus, Lantana, Tradescantia, Geraniums, Yucca, Verbena and both Wild Poppies and Californian ones all producing beautiful blooms.

As this is very much a productive garden it is good to note that besides the cherries and strawberries ripening this month, that our other produce is progressing well, with even buds starting to appear on the olive trees.

Kiwi Flowers.


Peaches and Pears

The lettuce have done very well!

Finally as promised for a friend a selection of our plantings on the terrace and front porch.  Gazenias, Cactus, Geraniums and Verbena.

Lobelia and Lantana

Copyright All rights reserved by LindyLouMac Photo Collection

I hope you have enjoyed sharing this peep at our garden plants this month and remember if you would like to see more photographs of the garden taken during 2011 please visit the collection of albums at Flickr.com Our Garden 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Italy in Books Reading Challenge - May


  Poison in the Blood, The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia by M.G. Scarsbrook.     

  Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011


  • Paperback: 267 pages
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services 2011
  • Source: eBook provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
  • Review Quote: "Anyone who enjoys Medieval Italy, love, betrayal and a strong, resourceful heroine on a knife edge, will enjoy this well researched and well written book." Historical Novel Review



The May post with a list of books that the other people taking part are reading this month has already been posted. May Reviews

Until fairly recently the only historical novels I read on any sort of regular basis were those of Philippa Gregory but thanks to LindyLouMac's Book Reviews and the opportunity to review some other historical writers my horizons have been expanded. I have always considered my tastes very eclectic but am nowadays more likely to consider reading this genre, than I have been for years. With the themes of the stories based on real life characters it can be an interesting way to learn a little history. I admit to knowing very little about the historical background surrounding Lucrezia Borgia before reading this novel, so this easy and quick read was a pleasurable way to learn a little more about her.

Set in Renaissance Rome in 1497 it also was a good choice for my May entry for the  Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011  The daughter of Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia Borgia leads a sheltered life amongst the glamour of the Vatican City. Yet after a brutal killing shocks the city, she learns that all is not as it seems and that her father’s court holds dark secrets. She discovers that her own brother, Cesare and father are willing to commit murder to protect their own lifestyle and love of power.

Written as a memoir narrated by Lucrezia in the first person the blend of fiction and historical fact makes her come alive on the pages as she relates to us the intrigue and tragedy of her fathers court. There is no doubt in my mind that Pope Alexander VI was a nasty and brutal man, I disliked his character immensely. Even I knew of the historical connections of the Borgia family to poison, plus the title of the book so it was no surprise that the poison aspect brings the suspense to a story which I recommend to fans of historical novels looking for a quick read.

M.G. Scarsbrook

M.G. Scarsbrook

The biographical information and photograph included here are courtesy of the authors Goodreads profile

Matthew Scarsbrook was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1981 to British parents and he has spent most of his life in England although he has studied in the USA and Canada as well as Great Britain. He is now living in Southern California. For the adaptation of his book The Marlowe Conspiracy into a script he recently won Writers On The Storm Screenwriting Contest, out of 1000 entries.

He is author of the historical suspense novels The Marlowe Conspiracy and Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia.
He is also the editor of several nonfiction collections:
The Life & Legend Of Lucrezia Borgia
The Life & Complete Works Of Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

M.G. Scarsbrook's Blog

I found this interesting article written by the author that he invites us to share and enjoy, taking him at his word I am reproducing the post here as it makes for an interesting background introduction to the novel

Lucrezia Borgia: The Most Evil Woman In History… Or The Most Wronged?
By M. G. Scarsbrook

Once described as the ‘greatest whore there ever was in Rome’, the legend of Lucrezia Borgia has long captivated people for centuries with wild accounts of her crimes. Some have called her a poisoner, an evil seductress, a femme fatale, and many artists have portrayed her negatively in books, plays, and operas.

But who was Lucrezia exactly? Did she really deserve her poor reputation?

In 1492, when Lucrezia Borgia was still a young noblewoman, her father became Pope Alexander VI and raised her family into one of the most powerful forces in Renaissance Italy. Known for his ruthless ambition, Alexander VI immediately started to eliminate all political enemies in his path, while also elevating his children – including the cruel and clever Cesare Borgia – to prestigious positions within the church and state.

The reign of the Borgias swiftly became the most scandalous era in papal history, marked by constant wars, assassinations, murder, unbridled extravagance, debauchery and allegations of incest. Many political rivals to the Borgias were stabbed, strangled, or poisoned, including cardinals, ambassadors, and the barons of prominent roman families. It was claimed the Borgias dispatched many of their enemies with a custom-made poison called ‘Cantarella’. Lucrezia herself was said to possess a ring with a tiny poison capsule which she used to secretly empty venom into drinks at banquets.

An interesting legend… but is it true?

Probably not. Almost no one in her own time accused Lucrezia of the plots and killings attributed to her family. Nor is there any historical evidence to suggest Lucrezia ever participated in the crimes of Cesare and Alexander. Her contemporaries in Rome merely felt her reputation was tarnished by tales of incest and promiscuity – unlikely allegations made by enemies of the Borgias.

In reality, during her tumultuous life, Lucrezia managed to repair her damaged reputation. After her father died in 1503, and her brother was soon imprisoned, Lucrezia was no longer used as a pawn to increase the power of the House of Borgia. Instead, she left Rome and married a Duke in the distant lands of Ferrara, quickly settling into her new role as a Duchess. Over time, she reinvented herself as a generous patron of the arts, a loving mother of seven children, and a kind benefactor of many charities. By her death in 1519, many people mourned her loss and she was buried with great honor in the highest church in Ferrara, the disgraceful allegations from her past now long forgotten.

This is the story I explore in my latest novel, Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia. Set in Renaissance Rome, during the height of Borgia power, my novel follows Lucrezia’s struggle to escape her dangerous family before they destroy her life forever. After discovering that her new husband is next to die, Lucrezia must help him flee the city before the assassins strike. But as tragedy looms ever closer, and her plans gradually, fail, she finds herself confronting an enemy far more sinister than she ever imagined…

Thanks for taking the time to read this today! To learn more about my novels or me, please visit:

Website: http://www.mgscarsbrook.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authormgscarsbrook
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4447495.M_G_Scarsbrook

Share and Enjoy  Original post link The Hot Author Report



I also post these ‘Italy in Books’ reviews on my other blog

LindyLouMac's Book Reviews

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Peonies - Peonie - Centro Botanico Moutan

At the beginning of the month we visited Centro Botanico Moutan somewhere we have wanted to visit since a friend told us about this Peony Centre a couple of years ago. Of course although it is open all year round for purchases, if one wants to see the peonies in flower timing is of the essence to view this unique collection of Chinese Peonies at their best.
The centre was founded in 1993 and the name ‘moutan’ is a direct translation of the Chinese word for tree peony. The founders had for many years been passionate about peonies and decided to grow a themed garden, this desire grew as they studied the varieties and species available throughout Asia. Importing them to Europe and collecting them in one place whilst studying and promoting their cultivation has today led to this fifteen hectare estate cultivated almost entirely with peonies nestling at the foot of the Cimini mountains in the Viterbo region.
During April and May the estate is open for visitors to stroll amongst the peonies, over 100,000 thousand plants belonging to around 600 different varieties. It is a fantastic display and ones sense of vision and smell are literally bombarded, quite an experience.  I am not sure if our visit was timed for the peak flowering but it was nonetheless impressive.
At prices ranging from Euros 30 to 90 for mature plants these often rare specimens belong to many different species, some of which cannot be found any where else in the world. I have a catalogue of the species but not being an expert on peonies I shall not attempt to try and label my photographs in case I get them wrong. I hope you will enjoy the selection I have chosen to share with you, they were all so stunningly beautiful, the full album of my photos can be viewed at Flickr.com Centro Botanico Moutan. It was very difficult to choose just a few to publish here, so I have concentrated on close ups, more general views of the centre can be seen in my Flickr album here !    

The centres own website is also well worth a visit and is available in English, French and Italian Official Website - Centro Botanico Moutan this is where I gleaned the information quoted in this post and you will also find a lot more detailed information.
You may have noticed that I am experimenting with putting a signature on my photos. I did this via Picnik from Flickr but it is a time consuming process as each photo has to be dealt with individually and saved again within the editing programme. Do any of my photography friends know if there is an easier way to do this, direct to the original maybe? I would be grateful for any advice you may have. By the way none of the photos are edited in any way, apart from the signature addition.
Today I am linking this post up with other garden lovers over at Fishtail Cottage for Cottage Flora Thursday

Cottage Flora Thursday
Welcome to ‘News From Italy’ to the other participants Cottage Flora Thursday, thankyou for calling by. I hope you have found some pleasure here today.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Song – Eurovision Song Contest 2011 – Raphael Gualazzi


The Eurovision 2011 official logo.


The Italians chose their entrant well with Raphael Gualazzi to represent them. The following quote is taken from his Official Website

‘Try as we might, it is impossible to compare Raphael Gualazzi with anyone. He is ‘different’ from just about everything. He is, however, at the centre of music – of good music, that is, music that is composed and played like it should be. Especially jazz, but also all the rest, as seen through the lens of jazz and the stride piano.

Raphael Gualazzi is unique.

In February I featured him in my Sunday Song post on the 61st Festival della Canzone Italiano San Remo 2011 as he was the winner of the newcomers section this year with a song he wrote himself, “Follia d’amore” - ‘Madness of Love’. The twenty nine year old from Urbino was chosen to represent Italy at this years Eurovision Song Contest 2011, the final of which was held in Dusseldorf, Germany, last Saturday evening, May 14th 2011.

Whilst researching the earlier post I found out via Wikipedia that it was this Festival of Italian Music that was the original inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest which incidentally the Italians are entered this year for the first time since 1997! Out of the 43 entrants Italy did extremely well by taking second place. Congratulations to Azerbaijan for taking first place!

The Eurovision Song Contest has its own Website and Facebook Page if you are interested in listening to any of the other countries entries.

Italy represented by Raphael Gualazzi

Photo from Official Website




Lyrics for “Follia d’amore” (“Madness of Love”) in Italian then English (Listen carefully, as there are a few words of English amongst the Italian lyrics).

Dire si dire mai
non è facile sai
se tutti quanti siamo in orbita nella follia
io non so più chi sei
non mi importa chi sei
mi basta perdere l’incanto di una nostalgia
ma vedrai un altro me in un sogno fragile
riderai come se
non ti avessi amato mai
cercherai un altro me
oltre all’ombra di un caffc
troverai solo me
se mi fermo un attimo io non so più chi sei
qui si vive cose
day by day
night by night
e intanto il mondo si distoglie dalla sua poesia
non dipingermi mai non costringermi mai
abbandoniamoci alla soglia della mia pazzia
e vedrai un altro me disarmato fragile
perchè quello che sei
non lo cambierai mai
neanche se fossi tu
come il tempo a correr via
ma rimani con me
non mi perdo neanche un solo attimo di te
e vedrai un altra te
quasi invincibile come non mai
viva come non mai
ed è li che tu mi avrai
oltre false magie l’orizzonte sarai

Say you say never
is not easy to know
if all of us are in orbit in the madness
I do not know who you are
I do not care who you are
I just miss the charm of nostalgia
but you will see another me in a dream fragile
laugh as if
I had not ever loved
I will try another
beyond the shadow of a coffee
there is only me
if I stop for a moment I do not know who you are
Here you live things
Day by Day
night by night
and while the world turns away from his poetry
never paints do not make me ever
wallow to the the threshold of my madness
and you'll see me another unarmed fragile
because what you are
not ever going to change
even if I were you
as the time to run away
but stay with me
I do not miss a single moment you
and you will see another
almost invincible as ever
alive like never before
and it is them that you will have me
false spells over the horizon will be

A worthy comeback for Italy I think it is a great song, what do you think though?

More Sunday Songs can be found by visiting Sunday Session at Doireallywannablog an Australian blog that I link up with on Sundays.

Sunday Session

Buono Domenica Tutti

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

San Pellegrino in Fiore


San Pellegrino in Fiore is an Annual Show which takes place in the the narrow streets of the medieval quarter of Viterbo. Local businesses mainly of a floral nature, although some shop keepers and B and B proprietors do participate, decorate the squares, streets and stairways with floral displays.

It has been noticeable in recent years that the recession has taken its toll and that displays are not as lavish as they used to be, however it is still worth visiting as a lot of work goes into the event.  It is not just a flower display but a chance to purchase plants, local produce and the work of local artists and other artisans.

We visited this year on Sunday afternoon May 1st, we had an enjoyable stroll around the centro storico and I took some reasonable photos, certainly enough to find a selection to share here and if you are interested the full album can be viewed on Flickr.com in my album entitled    San Pellegrino InFiore

Azaleas in forecourt of Commune (Council) Offices in Viterbo


Cacti are very popular.

A little colour brightens up a communal washing area in the centro storico.

Fruit and Vegetables.

These Romano Cauliflowers are not just beautiful to look at, but tasty as well!

I am looking for an old ladder to try this idea myself!

Even some of the fountains had been decorated, this is just one example, there is another one in my Flickr Album.  San Pellegrino InFiore


We were tempted by the many beautiful Clematis for sale, but our garden is just too exposed. In fact many of our plants have suffered wind burn recently so really glad we did not succumb to the temptation to bring one home with us.

Clematis such a beauty.

If you would like to see more then please visit San Pellegrino InFiore or I have featured this Festa on News From Italy before the previous post is to be found at  San Pellegrino in Fiore 2010


I am linking this post to Outdoor Wednesday today to share these images with other lovers of the great “Outdoors”.

Outdoor Wednesday: Click on the picture below to learn more...Welcome to ‘News From Italy’ to the other participants, thankyou for calling by.



Due to this posts popularity, I have chosen it as my entry for The Post of The Month Club for May.