2011-11 (Nov 2011)


30 November 2011

Italians love their dogs, and dogs love everyone whether friends or strangers. I guess they are not there to guard one’s property but rather, to be an extension of their master’s hospitality.



29 November 2011

This road namesign in Scarlino is getting invaded by ivy, it looks charming though…

28 November 2011

Went for a walk near the train station of Scarlino and noticed this seemingly abandoned unfinished building.  The scaffolding attached to it gives the impression that work is happening ….


…but it looks more like just an attempt to “reinforce” the concrete columns to prevent it from collapsing!

27 November 2011

Anna, the B&B owner, is hosting a dinner party for 7 diet-conscious guests and this is the antipasto that the chef has prepared for tonight. Different fingerfoods such as baked polenta, baked aubergine with cheese and squash paste wrapped in thin pastry sheets…with balsamic vinegar as dip….absolutely delish!

26 November 2011

Visited stunning Siena today…post coming soon..

People-watching in Siena

25 November 2011


Lovers who wear the same colours  stay together longer…..
Follonica, Tuscany

24 November 2011

Another “cena” (pronounced “che-na”, meaning dinner) is being held tonight for 15 people and in-between washing plates and helping the chef, we get the privilege of tasting champagne courtesy of Anna, our host.

23 November 2011

A visit to the fortified town of Castiglione delle Pescaia
Tuscany, Italy

A restaurant in Castiglione delle Pescaia
Tuscany, Italy

A ceramic shop in Castiliogne

22 November 2011

A Tuscan sight to behold

Another one….

21 November 2011

One of the benefits of working for a B&B is the chance to stay in the kitchen and watch the chef cook. Here she is preparing biscuits for arriving guests. I have never done biscuits before so when I go back home, I will be concocting my own biscotti!


A dinner for 5 people is being prepared tonight so we volunteered to help the chef for the 4-course seafood meal.  Here H is about to clean and cut the “polpo” (octopus) to be cooked as the “secondo piatto” (main dish).


This is the Primero Piatto – fish baked and presented in a scallop shell, accompanied by polenta topped with smoked herring.

20 November 2011

Patchwork of olive trees!


A quick tour in Massa Maritima

Massa Maritima, Tuscany, Italy

One of the sculptures next to the cathedral is the She-wolf and the  twins, Aschio and Senio. 

Legend goes that these sons of Remus were chased out of Rome when Romulus had killed his brother. Senio and Aschio escaped riding a horse taking with them the symbol of Rome which is the she wolf.  


The 13th century Romanesque-style Massa Maritima cathedral

19 November 2011

That red villa on the top, that’s where we are!
Scalino, Tuscany, Italy

18 November 2011

The Port of Scarlino attracts sailing enthusiasts from around the world due to its yachting competitions, regatta, etc….


The landscape around us are purely agricultural.  Here, a farmer is preparing his farm for sowing wheat.

17 November 2011

Stumbled upon the fruit shop in town and were amazed to see these clementine selling at 50sentimes a kilo! I asked the lady shopkeeper where it comes from and she replied, “Sicilia!” It tastes so sweet!

In Tuscany, the art of making prosciutto (ham) goes back as early as the 15th century.
Scarlino Scalo, Tuscany, Italy

16 November 2011


We arrived in Scarlino, Tuscany late last night after driving for 5 hours. This is the view from the grounds of the Bed and Breakfast hotel where we will be working as volunteer helpers, hopefully, until February next year. 
Scarlino, Tuscany, Italy

We have practically 360deg view of the valley with the mediterranean sea infront of the hotel. Scarlino, Tuscany, Italy

We see both the rising and the setting of the sun which create lovely colours each time… perfect for practicing photography!

the swimming pool

15 November 2011


We are leaving for Tuscany today but first, H had to go to the pharmacy at the next village for some medication. This is the main road of the Roya Valley which we have to negotiate everytime, a bit snaky but the scenery is out of this world. “Just like in a filmset!”, one guest remarked sometime ago. Indeed it is, it is already popular place for film shoots!

Alpes-Maritimes, France

14 November 2011


Tracing my steps in Saint Paul de Vence….The last time I came here must be ten years ago!

South of France


Saint Paul de Vence, France

13 November 2011


“Bye-bye, Silvio!” …..”Resign, Resign!”…..”Disappear!”….”Finally!”

These are just few of the insulting words hurled by the crowd at the departing ex-PM after submitting his letter of resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano.  Out of humiliation, and to prevent untoward incident, he had to get out through the back door of the Quirinale Palace in Rome, the seat of the Presidency.

12 November 2011


The pretty bell tower of our village church

Roya Valley, South of France

11 November 2011


Autumn fruits of Italy

Mortola, Liguria, Italy

10 November 2011


Stepping up a new life for old buttons!

At a supermarket in Ventimiglia, Italy09 November 2011


The Cuneo-Ventimiglia-Nice line which cuts through our village is considered as one of the most daring railways of Europe.

Roya Valley, South of France

08 November 2011


The green shutters of Ventimiglia. 

Liguria, Italy

07 November 2011


Surprised to see a Dubai-registered car plying the motorway of the French Riviera! 

Somewhere near Monaco

06 November 2011


Took a detour to the port town of Piombino to check on the ferries plying to Elba and Sardini, two more Italian destinations we would like to visit someday.  This poster is displayed in one of the art and culture noticeboards of the town and I thought it would be nice to share it with my readers!


It’s a Sunday morning in Italy, a  day where sports enthusiasts like these cyclists hit the road as a group. 


05 November 2011


Went to check the marina of Scarlino and these pine trees along the road make a very pleasant scene.  The image we always have of Tuscany is that of cypress and pine trees and we were not mistaken.  It must be the conifer capital of Europe!


I am standing from the driveway of the hotel and this is the landscape I see.  On the horizon is the mediterranean sea and on a clearer day, the island of Elba (Napoleon’s exile island) is easily visible.

04 November 2011


The next day, we went exploring the surrounding area of the hotel and in a nearby olive orchard, we saw this farmer doing some serious trimming job.  The Olive harvest has just finished and the next job is to prune the trees so that air easily circulates on the branches thereby encouraging a higher fruit yield for next year.


The Tuscan landscape is mainly agricultural.  Vineyards, olive and other fruit orchards mesh in perfect symmetry where cypress trees serve as territorial borders.

03 November 2011


Today H and I drove towards Tuscany to do a 3-day trial stay at a Bed and Breakfast villa which we found at Helpx.  No, we are not going there as tourists, rather, as volunteer workers in exchange of food, accommodation and most of all, the experience to live, work and breathe the Italian way of life.  Toscana (or Tuscany) became onen of our dream destinations  after reading so much about it from novels, books and travel magazines.  Yes, we always dreamt about coming to this region and now it is really happening!  We are so excited and looking forward to another adventure albeit immersion trip!


The long, steep and windy road towards the hotel.  It is set on top of a hill, the only house standing!  Could it be that they own the entire poggio (hill)?

Scarlino, Tuscany

02 November 2011


Went for a short walk up the hill and saw this apiary of our neighbour. I’m sure it produces exquisite honey considering the mountain air environment we live in.

Vallee de la Roya, France

01 November 2011


It’s All Saint’s Day and we did our traditional visit to a cemetery. This one is of our village. As in most cemeteries I’ve seen in rural France and Italy, they are situated on higher grounds, in a beautiful setting surrounded by cypress trees.

Vallee de la Roya, south of France

2 thoughts on “2011-11 (Nov 2011)”

  1. Ciao!! Nice places it reminds me 3 years ago when we went in Tuscany we stayed in Follonica .Talamone is also beautiful, Porto Ercole,Pitigliano,Montepulciano, Montancino, and so much to exlpore in that region of Italy.There is a natural termal called Saturnia and free it’s good for the cold weather try it.South of Italy is also beautiful sometimes i can’t find the right words to describe.

    Travel is our passion with my husband, I would say we have in common. During winter we stayed in Spain and Portugal for about 2 months and I love nomadic life.I hope we can meet someday.Bye for now. Salute!!


  2. Ciao Marissa!

    Grazie pour la tua lettera! hehehe!!

    That’s the beauty of this volunteer work in Italy – we get to learn the Italian language, live the life of an Italian and get to travel to
    even more staggeringly beautiful places such those in Toscana. We live close to the border of Italy in the south of France, in fact,
    the area we live in used to be Italian but after the war, was ceded to France so most of our elderly neighbours have Italian-
    sounding surnames. We do our shopping in a supermercato in Ventimiglia (Liguria) as that is much closer than the nearest
    supermarche in France. When we are home, we spend half our weekends sightseeing, picnicking or attending i feste in hilltop
    chitta e villagi which are not far away from where we live. That’s how our love affair with the land of La Dolce Vita started.

    Thank you for suggesting those places. I quickly googled them and they look very picturesque, one is even quite similar to
    Portofino! Definitely we will try to visit them all. We were in Siena last Saturday and it was like walking in history! Everything
    was preserved to the way it used to look like in medieval times.

    I met a lot of Pinoys in Torino early this year and one thing I can say is, they are all very friendly and welcoming. I can never
    forget their kindness even inviting me to sleep in their house on the same day we met! Do you live in Italy, too? Yes, I wish we
    could meet up someday. We both seem to be trying to escape the winter cold each year. We spent it in Corfu (Greece) and Dubai
    last time and now, Tuscany!


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