Fresh produce and home made pasta photo Penelope Beveridge

A Taste of Italy in Broke
In the small village of Broke Fordwich population approximately 525 people the local winemakers, farm producers and community will celebrate and share their 8th year of  "A Little Bit of Italy in Broke on  April 13th and 14th.  This picturesque tranquil destination is just 2.5 hours from Sydney.   There is approximately 36 vineyards, 20 wines brands and 11 cellar doors, spoiling you with choice.  Its  home to the oldest vineyards in the Hunter Valley region and many well known established wines brands like Wyndham Estate, Lindemans, Tullochs, Pooles Rock and Oakvale drawn some of the their grape supply from Broke.  The high quality minerally soils are highly sought after for the whites and the rich volcanic basalt soils produce fine reds.  Marry the wines with locally grown produce,  organic seasonal veggies and orchards of olives and fruits trees and you have a match made in heaven.  Margan Restaurant and Family Wines on Milbrodale Road Broke is a favourite with a long list of  awards  for their wines and dining  including the prestigious NSW Tourism Awards, Gold Award for Hunter Tourism Awards from Restaurants and Catering as well as the SMH Sustainable Restaurant of the Year.   The restaurant also boasts a one acre "kitchen garden" nestled in between the vineyards. 

Each year  the "Little bit of Italy" wine and food trail attracts over 3,000 people.   You start at the "Passport Office" in the main street of Broke plus sample local drop from your souvenir glass while listening to the sounds of music.  There are 12 participating venues offering premium wines, produce  We love this part of the Hunter Valley and over the years its a foodies playgroup with its charm, beautiful landscapes, food and wines.  Here an opportunity to discover 'The Tranquil side of the Hunter' and visit the friendly owners cellar doors in one of the most scenic regions in Australia.

Olive Groves in Broke photography by Penelope Beveridge
Sunrise in Broke Photography by Penelope Beveridge
Vineyards in Morning Mist photography by Penelope Beveridge
Andrew Margan winemaker from Broke photography by Penelope Beveridge
Sunset dining at Margans photography by Penelope Beveridge
Veggies from the Kitchen Garden organic and fresh photography by Penelope Beveridge
Broke The Romantic Landscape
Broke offers a strong relationship between its wine and heritage as the vineyards and farming lands as its situated south and west of two World Heritage areas.  The Greater Blue Mountains and Wollemi national Park.   This boutique wine district have won many hundreds of pretigious awards and prizes overseas and in Australia.  The massive Yellow rock escarpment stands above Broke village and has many beautiful vantage points from the surrounding valley.   I am emotionally stirred when photographing  this wonderful location.  We are often treated to breathtaking sunsets and sunrises across damns and vineyards and the afternoon shadows formed  numerous olive groves that ribbon across the landscape is just magic to any photographer.   On many occasions I would wake to the most tranquil scene of low lying mists like clouds through the grapes. Written by Penelope Beveridge
Amalfi coast Fishing at Sunrise ©Penelope Beveridge

Tuscany to Amalfi Italy is a photographer's dream, foodie's culinary delight and an Artist inspiration .  Venice is beautiful with 118 small islands separated by canals and bridges it is the easiest place to get lost in and that's part of the adventure.  The most common Venetian dish is polenta cooked various ways.   In San Gimignano the food was quintessentially Tuscan-Sienese, simple made with fresh ingredients, locally produced and traditional peasant foods like  the "leftovers" soup made from day old bread and vegetables.  Continue down the coast to Amalfi where seafood is abundant and the landscapes is covered with  emon trees growing in cliff edge terrace gardens.  This world famous "limoncello and delizie al limone" is made.  You must treat yourself to "scialatielli ai fruitti di mare" a typical Amalfi dish of seafood such as shrimps, redfish, pezzogne, bream, sea urchins, molluscs and octopus.  Here are a few highlights on our journey.

The Amalfi Coast in Italy is a dramatic coastline rich in little bays and beaches.  Positano built vertically on the face of a cliff and one of Italy’s most romantic vacation spots.  Originally the locals were poor fishermen but changed when it began to attract large numbers of tourists in the 50s especially after Harper's Bazaar writer John Steinbeck wrote a story about the area.  There are still fishermen working in the area who are famous for their secret method of catching squid which has been handed down tradition through the generations.  In September there is a special town festival completely dedicated to fish.  It takes place on the Fornillo beach involving all the local population.  Restaurants cook fish and distribute on the beach delicious dishes like fried fish, squid and potatoes, swordfish and other traditional dishes strictly based on fish. 

Cheese is among the important products of Italy and Tuscany.  The main ingredient of cheese is milk and different kinds of milk yield a very different kind of cheese.  There are five large families of Tuscan cheese:  “goat cheese” from goat milk,”percorino” from sheep milk, “raviggiolo” from cow or sheep milk, “riccotta” from sheep, cow or goat milk and “caciotta” from cow milk.  These goats are farmed for their milk for cheese making.

The climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre di Pisa) is 296 steps.  A necessary hike to capture Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo).  The height of the tower is 55.86mm (183.27ft) from the ground and the tilt is due to inadequate foundation in the soft ground on one side causing a horizontal tilt of approx 3.9 meters from a vertical position. The lean is very slippery in wet weather and many tourists miss the opportunity to see Pisa from the approx 900 year old tower.  When we reached the top of the tower it started to sprinkle, fortunately we were permitted outside.  Edging my way to the low safety fence I saw Bar Duomo and many customers checking maps, drinking, talking and eating.  There was a bell tower in my way which meant I had to lean as far over the side, held by a very anxious husband behind me to capture this aerial view. 

San Gimignano, Tuscany Italy originally boasted 72 towers and today 14 towers remain.
In order to photograph the Tuscany Towers, (built 1311) I walked up several staircase with photography backpack,  camera and 5 lens and experienced a short claustrophobic moment edging my way up the last spiral staircase and 10 ladder rungs to reach the top.

The Tower and House Towers are stunning architectural structures that originally belonged to a merchant and financial aristocrat, who competed with one another through their massive buildings to rise above all the others.

Once on top, the view is spectacular with 360 degree view of the San Gimignano countryside.  To my surprise looking through my lens I noticed two people drinking wines and enjoying their dinner on the top of a privately owned tower.  The actual height of the tower is 54 meters (177 feet) high.

Tuscany is home to some of the most notable wines like Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and  grapes grown in San Gimignon the Veraccia grapes are  are planted in sandstone based vineyards producing rare wines. Vernacci is a white Italian wine and produced in and around the hill town of San Gimignano.  It has been considered one of Italy's finest white wines dating about to Renaissance times.    There are 201 producers of Vernaccia di San Gimignao with a total output of about 5.5 million bottles annually. 

The Vernacci wine was the first Italian wines to be awarded the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in 1966.  Then in 1993 this wine received the highest level of Italian wine appellations, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG).  (Appellation is the geographical indication used to indentity where grapes for wine are grown)

Thanks to the noble Venetian people  and to their richness, in the area around the river Piave the first Italian specialized vineyards were planted. This new way of making viticulture and oenology gave a deep impulse to development of culture and art of wine making in Italy.  No trip to Italy would be complete without an opportunity to sample some of the best wines in the world and learn their age-old production techniques. Italy produces some very fine wines and Veneto is the place where wine is 'Tradition'.

Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions, both for quality and quantity.  The region has a variety of wines, both dry and Spumanti. The narrow streets “calli” and maze of waterway, “canals” requires wine, bread and other products to be delivered by cargo boats.  Apart from the car parks by the mainland bridge, and a private port area, all transport in Venice is by boat.

Wine Merchant in Venice Italy ©Penelope Beveridge
Goatherd in Pisa Tuscany ©Penelope Beveridge
Bar Duomo Pisa ©Penelope Beveridge
Vineyards in San Gimignano ©Penelope Beveridge
Breakfast on our Amalfi Terrace watching the sun rise ©Penelope Beveridge
The stunning vineyards of Tuscany ©Penelope Beveridge
There are people drinking and eating on the top of the San Gimignano Towers ©Penelope Beveridge


    Penelope Beveridge pro photographer and food styling has been published in numerous magazines, books and advertising worldwide, awarded numerous photography awards including 36 awards from the International Photography Awards New York since 2008, Vice President of the Australian Commercial and Media Photography Association. 

    Sean Beveridge  career has been entrenched in software development and information technology.  He has worked with some extraordinary and talented people, and  enjoyed many successes through a number of successful start-ups and am now working for one of the largest IT companies in the world.  What Sean brings to the table is an intense passion for cooking and exploring new ideas,  a self confessed foodie, fine diner, lover of fine wines and beers , an adventure traveler and delicious food writer. 


    March 2013
    February 2013


    Culinary Adventures
    Food And Wine Tourism
    Food Tourism
    Italian Wines
    Travel Photography

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