In spite of everything, I hope he cheers up a bit.

The alarm goes off at 4, as I had set it. I reset it for 10 past. But, as I have actually made the appointment, I get up within 5 minutes and get ready and go.

I arrive. He doesn’t recognise me from yesterday. I am, after all, wearing exactly the same coat, scarf and hat as yesterday. He is, to say the least, quite a miserable barsteward.

I give him my surname. He finds the appointment. I give him my phone number. He mistake a nine for an eight. I know my Italian pronunciation is not good but for goodness sake, otto and nove could not really be confused. I decide he is quite stupid really.

He tells me that if he doesn’t phone me that I am to come back before 7 (when they close).

I walk away, happy that I am, at least, doing the something that I should have done a month or more ago.

About 6 he phones me. I walk back to the place.

He is there. Some car is jacked up, without wheels. He gets inside. A man standing with him (who I realise is the car owner) wants something from inside the car. Between them they retrieve it. They speak some more and the man goes away. He starts swearing in Italian. The man has, obviously, pissed him off. I smile at him as if I understand what was going on. ‘Stupid customers’, I thought. He doesn’t smile back. I guess it’s not a good day for him.

I pay for my tyres and he gives me my keys. I have already seen my car and noted that, where they had parked it, there is a car blocking my way out. I ask him if he knows the car that is blocking it. Begrudgingly, he comes out and looks. Well, now, that’s a surprise, it is one of the cars in for a tyre change. He realises and retrieves the key to move it. We walk to the other side of the street and he goes to move the car but before he gets in, I notice some ‘packages’ on my back seat. I question him about why the tyres are not being stored in their storehouse – as we had talked about yesterday. He is not happy. He mumbles something and moves the car that is blocking my way out and then returns to the ‘shop’.

I follow. I don’t know what the hell is going on but I ain’t moving nowhere. He comes out and crosses the road. He gets out the tyres and puts them in the warehouse. This is not done with any joy. In fact, he is using the same swear words that he used with the last customer. At times like this I do wish my Italian were better – just so I could say something really sarcastic to him. This new law must have given them so much business and yet he is not happy about it! I imagine nothing makes him happy, really.

I go into the office with him. He takes down all my details. I ask if I need a receipt or something to prove that I have my tyres in their storehouse. Apparently not. He has all my details and that’s enough. I say I will come back in March. He suggests April is OK too. I set the date in my calendar on my phone. I set it for March because, if I am like I usually am, it will take me a few weeks to build up my courage to go back and go through all this shit again.

On the bright side, I have tyres and don’t need to worry about snow. Yay!

I hope that he cheers up a bit too.

I go to pick up F to go and get the lasagne. We were so impressed with the one for Christmas we have bought the same for New Year. It’s for 6 people so will last three days and it was truly wonderful. So creamy.

We talk about the fact that I have met P (a neighbour on my floor that knew F at the time when he was working in the shop). She has two dogs. She is staying home on New Year’s Eve for much the same reason as we are. The dogs don’t like fireworks and people go a bit crazy, here, with them. We agree that we shall invite her round for dinner. We have champagne, good wine, the lasagne, antipasto stuff and then the zampone and lentils. I will also do mashed potato (because F likes that). What more could you ask for?

Happy New Year!

Looking back over 2010, it wasn’t all perfect but, really, it was a pretty good year – for me, anyway.  I know that, for some, it was not so good, even bad or dreadful.

In any event and however bad or good your year was – here’s to 2011 and may it bring you joy and wealth and, most of all, happiness and contentment.


Just bloody well DO IT!

I know it. I’m quite lazy. I avoid things if they seem too difficult.

People think that it was quite something to come here with nothing – no job, no command of the language, no friends here, etc. But it’s simply not true. It was easy. We had money. Money means you can be quite stupid and don’t really have to work at it.

And, even if, now, I don’t have ‘money’, I still, sometimes, act as if I have. This is not only laziness but stupidity. However, some things are still just far too difficult and throwing money at them solves the problem.

Take, for example, the legal requirement (probably soon) to have either snow chains or snow tyres on your car. It was supposed to be the law from about 15th November. Pietro, who is always so helpful, guided me to a place to get snow chains. These are the cheapest option of course.

I waited and waited. Not for any particular reason other than I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of getting them. Pietro texted me in the last week possible to say that the law had been ‘postponed’. I was grateful. I didn’t have to go. I didn’t have to look and not find. I didn’t have to try to ask someone who, undoubtedly, wouldn’t speak English. I didn’t have to get the wrong thing. I wouldn’t be there at 6 a.m. one morning trying to put the things on the car when it had snowed in Milan. I procrastinated.

We had snow. I learnt that my car is not fantastic in snow. Sure, I can manage. I’ve done it for 20-odd years. But it’s not pleasant.

Then the snow went. Through my mind, every time I got in the car was ‘I must do something’.  Every night, on the way back from work, at the start of my street, is the tyre place I used one time. It was always busy. ‘I’ll do it tomorrow night’, I thought. ‘I’ll go and ask and see how much they are'; ‘It will be better to have tyres’. Each time, fixing, in my head, the maximum I would be prepared to pay, knowing that the snow chains would cost only €50.

But tomorrow came and it was too cold or too much hassle or I just wasn’t in the mood. And those of you who have followed my blog long enough will know that I don’t like garages. And tyre places are the same as garages, for me.

I had a cheque from the UK yesterday. I had to pay it in. Banks here are just so weird. There’s a new branch of my bank in Porta Venezia. My branch is near where I work. I know, from past experience, that although they are the same ‘bank’, because they are two different branches, they might as well be completely different banks. But I also know that I CAN pay the cheque in at this branch. They, of course, will not ‘pay the cheque in’ but, rather, send it to my branch who will pay it in. This means an additional couple of days for the post. However, since I am not back at work until the 10th, it makes sense to use this service. There’s no point in driving all the way to work to pay in a cheque.

So, I go. I pass by the tyre place. I note that it is closed until 2.30. It is lunchtime. They close for two hours. Siamo in Italia, after all.

I pay in the cheque. She explains that she has to send it too the branch. She phones the branch. She will fax over the details – but, still, she will have to send it – and then my branch can pay it in. Here it seems we are stuck somewhere in the twentieth century. Still she is nice and it is done now. It will still be quicker than waiting until the 10th.

I decide to take a walk up Corso Buenos Aires. I am going to look in Zara. I might get a jumper similar to the one I bought F for Christmas – when the sales start, of course. And a hat. And some gloves. On the way I spot some nice watches. They are Moschino. Plain and simple, just as I like. One white and one black. They are about €140. I CAN afford it but why would I want to. Still ……..

I get to Zara and see some nice coats that are not so expensive. And a hat that is cheap. But I will wait for the sales when, undoubtedly, nothing I want will be reduced and, again, I won’t buy anything. We shall see. The sales, according to F, start on 6th January.

I walk down and decide to go to the Carrefour in Via Modena – near F’s place. On the way I pass Esselunga. I should go there but I have a fidelity card for Carrefour (actually it is F’s) and it’s a nice day, the sun is shining, it is cold but bearable. I walk on. I finish shopping in Carrefour getting everything I need except lentils – because they had none. It’s the tradition here for New Year. Cotecchino or zampone with lentils – the lentils signifying money. The cotecchino I buy anyway. It’s better not to know what’s inside. It would never catch on in the UK. Cotecchino is a kind of very large sausage which is boiled and zampone is a stuffed pigs trotter which is done in the same way. For both, I expect, the filling is more or less the same. Some herbs and spices and meat from the pig that they can’t sell you as slices of meat. But the taste is good and I do really like it to eat. F will have only one slice as he doesn’t really like it – he just does it for tradition.

It’s now gone 2 p.m. I will walk back to the tyre place after all – even if it is out of my way. I approach the place (which is round the corner) and note that I will still have 10 minutes to wait before they re-open. Hmm. I toy with the idea of doing it another day but decide I will wait. After all, I can just ask. Maybe.

As I turn the corner, I see they are open. I go in. The guy and I ‘communicate’. I want to know how much they will cost. He doesn’t have the tyres here and wants to make a phone call. I explain that, first, I need to know how much they are. He tells me the price for one set. It’s too much. But another make is €80 cheaper. And it’s almost within my ‘set price’. Yes, OK. Thinking about putting snow chains on, I agree. He makes the phone call. They only have the expensive ones. I thank him and say goodbye. As I am leaving he calls me back. They have the cheaper ones after all. They will store my current ones for €25. I say OK. We agree I will go back tomorrow afternoon.

So, tomorrow, at 4 p.m., I will have snow tyres. I hope we have some bloody snow now, this winter. But, if we do then, at least, I won’t be struggling to put chains on at some stupid hour in the morning. We’ll see if they really make a difference.

At least, finally, I’ve done something about it, even if I took the lazy way out.

Some restaurants I should have mentioned

Of course, since the ‘tidy up’ of the kitchen, I am no longer ‘allowed’ to have random bits of paper on the kitchen table, near the computer. I had moved it all, temporarily, to my chair in the bedroom and today, whilst sorting out (and putting away) the Christmas presents, I also sorted the bits of paper.

Amongst the things I ‘found’ were some cards from various restaurants I have visited in the last few months. Unfortunately, for one of them, my mind is a bit hazy as to exactly what I had – but that’s OK. I still have the impression from them all.

So, the first one (and oldest re: visit) that I have is Kapuziner Platz in der Stadt. This is the one in Viale Monte Nero. This is a German ‘pub’. The beer is, erm, German. The food is, erm, German (with an Italian touch, of course). Unfortunately I have forgotten what I had. I know F had a cottoletta milanese (wiener schnitzel). I suppose I had lamb – or beef. Anyway, the place is nice, the food was good (not fantastic but good) and I seem to remember it was reasonably priced.

The second one was Momà  Restaurant. The only link I could find was one through Facebook. We went there with Al and R and a friend of theirs. The meal was wonderful. OK, so it’s not so cheap but the antipasto (including burrato) was very, very good and the meat (Al and I shared a plate of meat) was fantastic. The wine we had with it was exceptional. One word of warning – don’t have antipasto and primo and secondo. The portions were very generous and to have all three would mean you would be unable to leave the table! I would go back there in a second.

The final one is outside Milan, in the ‘Hinterland’. And, unfortunately, this was dreadful. This was lunchtime and is in the town where I work. We had gone in on a public holiday to do some stuff and, for lunch, went here (as there’s not so much choice). It’s supposed to be good and, I have to admit, I have been there before when it seemed OK. This time, however, it was awful. The restaurant is Papillon. They’re supposed to have their own website (it says on the card) but it doesn’t work. A little like the restaurant. We all had pizza. Mine was (to be on the safe side) Diavola – with spicy salami. It wasn’t the very worst I’ve tasted – but it was close. The service was so slow and people who came in after us got served before us and, for what we had it’s expensive. Avoid it like the plague!

There – now I can put these cards away too :-D

That was the Christmas that was!

And so, that was Christmas.

In the end, it wasn’t just the four of us. Christmas Eve, I was chatting to one of my students on Facebook chat and she asked me what I was doing so I told her. Obviously, I asked what she was doing and she said that she was on her own. So, more obviously, I invited her to join us for Christmas lunch. Well, it is the season of giving and goodwill to all men (and women) and all that sort of stuff, isn’t it? The thought of someone I know (even if only a student) on their own on Christmas day would have been unbearable.

There was plenty of food. In fact we didn’t do everything that we had planned. But we did have antipasto and cold meats, followed by the lasagne (which was fantastic) and then my roast veal (which was OK – but not as nice as it should be) and the Yorkshire puddings failed – I have to find out why – it doesn’t make sense – but everything else was good – including my mince pies.

And we had presents. F was really happy with my main present to him. After the camera thing (that he decided to buy himself), FfI suggested I buy him a printer to print pictures – and knowing he likes doing compilation CDs for everyone, I bought him a printer that does photos and CDs as well. He was really happy. And I bought him a jumper from Zara that he said he had looked at in Madrid and nearly bought. So, a great success. Luckily I had also bought the scarf made by Lola – so instead of F getting it, I gave it to S (the waif and stray student). She was overjoyed with it. So, thank you Lola – without that I would have had nothing to give her.

So, although it didn’t all go as expected, I think it was a success. After we took the dogs for a walk and S had left, we went to watch ‘Prancer’ (La rene – in Italian) – that I gave F last year because it is his favourite film for Christmas. But he fell asleep within a second – and so we stopped watching it. Then there was Ratatouille (in Italian) on the TV.  We watched it for a little.  F fell asleep again.  So I tidied up the kitchen and took the dogs out and went to bed.  I was asleep before 11.  F was still asleep lying on the bed, fully clothed.  He woke up and felt cold so got into bed with me and we both went to sleep.

During the day he had phoned S (his ex) and we chatted for a few moments.  S asked what we were doing for New Year.  I said we were just staying home. He laughed and said that F never wanted to do anything except stay at home.  And it is true.  But now I realise he has always been like this.  But, for me, it is fine.  In fact, it is good and exactly what I like to do.  I suspect that this thing was one of the reasons that they broke up in the end.  After all, that was more like V &; I – V wanting to go out more than me.

And, we have had more of cleaning.

“I’ll just clean a little bit the flat”, he says.  I have never corrected his English on this.  It’s kinda cute and I like it a lot.  There has been much ‘cleaning a little bit the flat’ – although the bedroom remains a major thing to be ‘tidied up’.  In fact, this morning he says ‘That has to go’ – to a bag full of envelopes.  It’s OK.  It means he is much more comfortable here.

Rufus has been bad again since yesterday.  And he ‘staggers’ sometimes – falling forwards or sideways – unable to stand upright so well.  Poor thing.  However, it’s a good job we didn’t go to Vienna with him like this.  I would have felt so guilty.  And it’s much more comfortable for him to be in his own environment – the place that he knows.  Bless him.

And now F has gone to work.  He has to re-do the shop window.  I need to do some shopping and I have a lesson tonight, unfortunately.

In the meantime, I give you the photo of the mince pies :

Homemade Mince Pies

It seems I collect plastic carrier bags. Who knew?

I can’t find the post where I first mentioned it but I’m sure I did.

I certainly told a lot of people.

And then, yesterday, finally, it happened.  It starts off like a normal day except that it isn’t a normal day at all.  Firstly, I am on holiday.  Secondly, I have found a recipe for mince pies – which includes making your own mincemeat.  I’ve never done it before and finding all the ingredients was, shall we say, a bit of a challenge.  In the end I didn’t find everything but I did, eventually, find stem ginger which for me was the most important part.  Mixed spice doesn’t have to be mixed spice (but can be a mixture of spices I can find) – suet can be replaced by butter, special sugar can be replaced by other sugar, etc.  But stem ginger couldn’t really be replaced.  I found some and so it was a green light.

So, I start the mincemeat.

I had promised to go visit FfC, picking up FfI (who is now living, not in Isola but in V’s flat) so I could pick up my cushions for the sofa.  I was late.  When I got there, as usual, she huffed and puffed about the fact that it was too late and she didn’t think she would go now.  I’m like ‘whatever’.  It’s the cutting off the nose to spite the face thing and it annoys me a lot.  I don’t bite.  I don’t say ‘Oh. please come’.  I really don’t care.  If she comes she comes and it will be nice and if she doesn’t then it will be nice too.

She decides to come.  I think ‘Don’t try these games on me lady – I lived with V for over 20 years!’

She tells me that FfC has done lunch!  I wasn’t expecting that.  We go.  FfC’s mother is there, over from Canada.  FfC now has a baby.  It is lovely (the time, not the baby).  I have a nice time and I really love FfC.  Her baby is a baby.  Her Mum keeps trying to give it to me.  I decline.  Several times.  She asks me who I think it looks like.  I explain that I don’t do that.  Babies look like babies and I can never see any parent in them.  They all look, more or less, the same – like a baby.  I’m not really a baby person.

I agree to take FfC to the butchers so she can get her turkey.  F calls and suggests that I call by at his office to collect boxes, as I have the car.  I then drop FfI off at a bank and make my way to his office.

He has shoe boxes.  A lot of them.  We fill up the space in the car that remains after the cushions had been put in (they are BIG).  We drive home to my place. He helps me with carrying stuff up and decides to stay rather than go home.  In itself, this is unusual.  But I like it.

He starts suggesting that, perhaps he should do a bit of sorting out of the lounge.  Or the kitchen.  This thing that he has been threatening to do for a while now (and for which I can’t find the post).  I am nervous.  We would have done it last Sunday but An couldn’t get back to the UK. But I’m not really prepared for it now. However, if he wants to do it ………..

It seems he does.  He starts.  I am supposed to ‘throw things away’.  Hmmmm.  He is shocked by my collection of carrier bags.  I collect them to line the rubbish bin.  We find so many I will never need to have another bag for a year, probably!

Things get put into shoe boxes with the contents written on the outside.  Boxes get stacked in cupboards.  He is going to be here next time my cleaner is here, he says, to explain to him how to clean properly.  He is like a mad man.  Every surface has to be cleaned.  It is quite scary..

The kitchen is slowly re-ordered.  Everywhere is cleaned.  It seems he is in his element.  All the items on the top of the kitchen cupboards get put somewhere else (inside a cupboard).  All the bottles and things on top of the fridge get put inside cupboards.  It is hard work and, mostly, I am watching!

I would have stopped after about 1 hour.  He is going to finish it because ‘I won’t sleep if anything is left to do’, he says.

At half past ten, I take the dogs out.  At midnight I go to bed.  At 2 a.m., or thereabouts, he comes to bed.  The kitchen is the same and yet changed.

‘I will check it once a week’, he says.  I laugh.  ‘I am serious’, he says.  ‘I know you are’, I reply, laughing still – laughing because I know he will.

This morning, it being Christmas Eve, I must go to the supermarket and get the veg.  He tells me I must also get some things for the bathroom.  He is going to ‘do’ the bathroom.  Maybe later today.

Tomorrow, he will do the lounge as I am doing the cooking and as he is preparing the dining table.  He will too.  He says he enjoys it.  He is, in fact, quite crazy.

But, I wonder?  What if this is the start of us living together?  Maybe he has this idea, now that we spend most of our time here, that he might as well make the house more as he would like it.  And if I can keep it more or less the same (i.e. perfectly neat and tidy), he will be happier to stay here.  And then, his house becomes more like ‘a room’ that is his?

And, so, gradually, he moves in without there being a definite move, if you see what I mean?  No point at which we are ‘living together, officially’ just a point at which he doesn’t really go to his home much any more?

Maybe?  We shall see.  In the meantime, the kitchen is better and I do, quite like it.

But now I must get on and make the Lemon Meringue Pie (for a birthday party tonight) and finish off my mincemeat and make the mince pies.  The mincemeat, after being left overnight does actually smell like mincemeat now, too!  I am very happy about that.

Have a good Christmas everyone.

And lots of love from me, F, Rufus and Dino.

Weak Snow ………….. but not if you’re in the UK, apparently.

I catch myself saying things in the way that Italians say them.

“I hate”, says F, quite a lot.  I have corrected him a few times.  I just repeat and add ‘it’ at the end. But I find myself saying it to him, now.  It’s easier.

‘We are in three’ – a direct translation from Italian but really should be translated as ‘There are three of us’ – when asking for a table in the restaurant, for example.

At first, it made me smile when I heard English people saying it.  Now I say it too!

And, now it is snowing.  These are big flakes.  Pietro said, the other day, it was ‘weak snow’.  I laughed.  I love the fact that Italians use words that make sense but are not what we would say.  I explained we would say ‘light snow’ but I like the idea of weak snow.  Of course, it implies that the opposite is ‘strong snow’, which is even funnier since snow is not really strong!

And, whilst we’re on the subject of the weather, we are not having it anywhere near as bad as the UK.  Although it is interesting that most airports in the UK seem to be open – with the exception of Heathrow.  Heathrow, being, apparently, the busiest airport in the UK is closed or partially closed.  Other airports can stay open except the biggest!  Hah!

But, I am quite annoyed by the complaining people. The complaints can be divided into basic groups:

    The government should do something about it!

Why?  If you are told not to travel except if it is necessary, then don’t blame the government if you get stuck in traffic.  And I question if your journey is really essential?  I read in some comments, yesterday, someone saying how they had travelled to see family to give Christmas presents.  I’m sorry but this is NOT a necessary journey.  By making this journey you are helping the congestion on the road and you are selfish.

    The local councils should use more grit.

Apart from the fact that below about -5° the grit has no real effect, if the councils overspend and therefore raise the council tax to pay for it, are you going to say it’s OK?  No, I thought not.

    This should have be planned for.

Why?  The UK is not Finland.  It does not have a continuous blanket of snow for 5 or 6 months of the year.  And planning for it means spending money.  The money must come from somewhere.  This means that everyone has to pay more OR that other things must be cut.  So, you can have your necessary grit and snowploughs if you are prepared to have less teachers in the school or stop paying for cosmetic surgery on the NHS.  Will that be remembered when someone doesn’t get taught to the right level or where someone who has been disfigured in an accident can’t have surgery to make it right?  No, I didn’t think so.

I don’t like the Daily Mail at all but I’ve started reading it online because it gives me an insight into the mind of moronic, bigoted people.  And this article shows exactly what is wrong with people.  Some stupid woman leaves a very warm, southern-hemisphere country to fly back to Britain just before Christmas.  Lucky her for being in a warm place.  She comes wearing flip-flops.  She has obviously forgotten that Britain tends to be a little chilly.  Or, more probably, she is stupid and has no idea of forward planning.

I then rugby tackled a woman from the airline. ‘Where do I go to ask about my flight to Heathrow?’
‘I have no idea.’
‘But you work for the airline. You’re wearing a badge.
‘I’m just directing people to the self-service check-in.’

Hmm. As she works for the newspaper, perhaps she can tell me where I can go buy a few tonnes of printing paper? No, I thought not. But she works for the paper!

‘How do I do that?’ I was given a piece of paper by another mute employee; this had a phone number on it. (Anyone without a mobile – old ladies, nuns, the weak, the injured – were culled.)

Hmmm. Old ladies, nuns, the weak and the injured probably HAVE mobile phones. If they don’t then there are things called ‘pay phones’. You go, you pay money and you dial. This reminds me of the time at the Paris Airshow when someone came up and asked where the entrance was (there were a LOT of entrances) because she was meeting a friend. A friend who didn’t have a mobile phone! In this day and age? And I question why you would travel in these days WITHOUT a mobile phone.

Eventually, at 9.35pm on Sunday, I was put on a flight to Birmingham. I did not want to go to Birmingham.

If it had been me who was serving you you would not have been going to Birmingham. You would have been staying in the airport at Schiphol. Excuse me, but if you didn’t want to go to Birmingham, why did you go? No one was forcing you onto the plane, were they? Oh yes, that’s right, it was better than staying in the airport and there was a chance you could get to where you wanted. Now, if you had been on a plane already in the air that changed it’s flight plan then you would have a better reason to write those words.

I don’t really care about the case, but I do mind that I was stripped of my humanity, and tipped into a world where nothing matters but petty rules, and spectacular indifference.

Ummm. Excuse me. You were NOT stripped of your humanity. And if you don’t want to be in that world then don’t travel by air. You were stupid enough to travel from Bolivia to the UK at the end of December wearing only flip-flops. You are stupid and ignorant and deserve everything you get!

Oh, yes, and you write for the Daily Mail. Still, I suppose stupidity and ignorance are a job requirement for that paper so you must feel right at home!

Given a second chance the restaurant serves up a good meal

I’ve tried to find it but I can’t – unless I didn’t give the real name, of course.

I can make mistakes.  Well, sort of mistakes.  I remember going, one time, with A.  Not long after it opened.  I suggested it.  It was an alternative to K2 since I never rated K2 that highly.  I came away from this one disappointed too!  For me, it seems that Tuscan restaurants outside Tuscany were, in some way, lacking.

An has been over.  She is Milanese but has been living in London for the last 6 years or so.  She came over for an interview for a job here, in Milan.  She got the job.  So, Friday night we went to the Imperiale for L’s birthday.  An came too.  We had a fabulous evening.  L and her partner, D, were fabulous hosts and, anyway, it was the Imperiale – what could possibly go wrong?

In a word – nothing.  It was fabulous.  By far the best Chinese in Milan ……………. AND, I live round the corner!

Saturday lunchtime An was leaving to return to the UK.  Unfortunately (for those of you in the UK), in case you hadn’t noticed, they’ve had a bit of what we could call ‘weather’.  The UK was almost closed.  No problem, the flight was delayed.  It would be leaving at 8 p.m.  To be honest, reading about what was going on, I didn’t think so – and I told F that.  He decided not to tell An.

So, about 7 p.m., she returned to the airport.  She was back about 9.  The flight had been cancelled because the crew had to go off shift (which is what I thought may happen).

Sunday she re-booked whilst we went out with the dogs.  Then F suggested we go for a plate of pasta at lunchtime.  He asked me where would be open.  I love that I can advise Italians who live a stone’s throw from me what is likely to be open and, mostly, give an idea of what might be good.  I remembered that the restaurant would be open and that it was Tuscan.  I told him that I thought it was a bit expensive but that it was OK.  To be honest, I didn’t remember it that well.

We walked up the street (since it is in my street) and looked at the menu displayed by the door.  F said that it wasn’t too expensive (and he was right, really).  We decided to go for it.  And, so, we entered Alle Colline Senesi.

It was full.  It is only a small restaurant.  Probably about 30 places.  There is a couple before us.  We, on the other hand, ‘are in three’.  A table for 4 becomes available and so we get to have it.  We offer to share with the couple but they really don’t seem to do that here, very much.

The menu was tempting – as was the food we saw being delivered.  We decided on some mixed antipasto.  Followed by some pasta for me, some soup for F and some melanzane parmigiana for An.  F asked about having some mix of meats but he also wanted crostini (small slices of bread with, usually for Tuscany, some rough liver pate or meat or tomatoes).

The meat arrived.  It was good.  the prosciutto was hand cut so was thicker than usual and much more like it would be in the UK.  I love it.  F was a little bit worried as the crostini (which, we were told, would come anyway, without the need to order) didn’t appear.  Then I remembered what was the worst thing about this restaurant – the service.  So slow.

We had finished the meat and were about to ask about the crostini – when it appeared.  F was happy.  The crostini consisted of one each of the rough liver pate, lardo and tomatoes with garlic.  Wonderful.

Then the main course came.  F’s soup (brodo) was thin and clear with huge pieces of ravioli; An’s parmigiana looked like something the cat had thrown up (but tasted wonderful) and I had pappardelle with cinghiale – a kind of roughly cut up lasagne or larger tagliatelle with a wild boar sauce.

The food was fantastic.  After, rather than have a main course (the portions having been more than a little generous), we had sweet.  F had zuppa inglese (like a tiramisù without coffee and with chocolate instead), An had the chestnut (or as she says, chesternut) tart and I had the poached pears.  The tart was nothing special (to me) and the poached pears could have done with cream or mascapone, in my opinion – but still, they were nice.

The whole lot, including a bottle and a half of house wine (quite good) and a bottle of water came to about €90.  Not bad really.  The service was so slow but, as F pointed out, it’s not the waiting staff that are causing the problem but that the kitchen was making everything (more or less) at the moment of serving and the waiting staff had to wait until it was ready.  And the tastes were great.  I think I could have eaten the roast pork chops with potatoes as well but I was full enough.

The thing is not to expect your meal to be done and dusted within half an hour.  We were there a couple of hours – but for a Sunday lunch that is perfect.  And, if you are prepared, for an evening meal it is fine too.  Worth the effort and I only give it 4 stars because it was a bit too slow for me.