The Sights and Scents of Autumn

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Today is my first full weekend at home in about three weeks. The harvest has finished at Poliziano and the 2012 vintage is now in the fermentation cellar and perfuming the air with yeasty deliciousness. The season is finishing up and as tired as I am after 11 hour days for 7 months straight, after the 3rd of November, my wine-slinging, tour-giving self will be surely be lamenting having too much time on my hands. In other words, Oh Crap Here Comes the Winter. I am a bit in denial, not yet having forked over the money for this year’s heating oil. Cinder is already burrowing under her flannel blanket at night, so I have maybe another week or two before I must give in and do it.

But today is gorgeous. Sunny skies and 70 degrees. Janet and I met up early this morning (okay 11:00 but that’s early for Janet who doesn’t have a Weimaraner who insists on 5:00 am) and we struck off to explore what was billed as a food market. In the end, it was much like the normal market that we see every Thursday. Don’t get me wrong it’s good stuff, scarves, jewelery, shoes, handbags, and tons of local cheese. But I had hoped for one or two stands with some nifty products from other parts of Italy that we don’t get here. Last year, there was a guy with dried cranberries and apricots, two things which are almost never found here. I bought a new tablecloth and the realized when I got it home that it is almost identical to the one I have!

I also trekked up into town to see my friends and had a good catch up chat with Antonella and Caterina.

The book!  First of all I want to say thank you to everyone who has been emailing me and messaging me and generally being supportive and lovely about the book.  I appreciate all of the wonderful reviews and I am so happy for the positive reaction and that so many of you have related to the story.  Yesterday, we got the final back cover proof and the book is on its way to the printer. For those of you who are waiting for the printed version, it should be for sale on Amazon within the week.   Just in time for Christmas!!!

I will post the direct link here again for convenience. 🙂

At Least You’re in Tuscany

My friend Terry hosted a lovely luncheon to celebrate my book’s debut. You are only seeing the picture of her house because too much champagne was drunk and I forgot to take pictures! Managgia!!!

Hand selection of the “Asinone” grapes at Poliziano.

Next step… the individual grapes are controlled by hand! It’s not rated one of the top ten wines in Italy for nothing, folks!

Autumn produce at the mercato…

Antonella set up a beautiful display of local pastas and jams outside her grocery store

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Dreams really do come true…

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Yesterday was an amazing day for me.  Well, also into the night as I was like a kid on Christmas morning and couldn’t sleep.  To the point where my editor, Kari who was getting lots of excited emails from me finally told me to go to bed!   The day started with the publication of my memoir At Least You’re in Tuscany, followed by the wonderful follow-up of emails from tons of friends and family.  So many of you have been on this journey with me, so it feels really great to be able to share it with you.  Also, I have to admit that I was wrong about Facebook.  While I was in the kicking and screaming camp of not wanting to do a page, I have been connecting with so many wonderful people that I finally had the aha! moment.  For someone like me who is terrible about keeping in touch, it really is a fabulous medium!

Thanks to all of you who have sent me notes saying you are already reading and enjoying the book.  And thanks to my sensational publishers at Gemelli Press, Kari and Michelle, who have been coaching me and guiding me in this process.

So here’s the link if you want to take a closer look.  And if you do read it, please let me know if you like it.  When the hardcover is out in a few weeks, I’ll put that up as well.  I know some of you are like me and just need the scent and feel of a real book!  I may have done facebook, but I still need to feel pages under my fingertips.  Baby Steps!!!  Happy Reading!

At Least You’re in Tuscany

A Cover is Born…

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Okay, don’t fall off your chair that I am actually writing another entry in less than a month, but big news calls for a little extra fanfare.  Dum da da dum…….. We finally have a cover for the book!!! 

For those of you who were expecting to see Ken’s painting… the sad news is that we will only be using that for some of the book’s publicity including the “prologue button” on this site which will allow you an advance read of the prologue.

But as you can see below, the happy news is that the final cover is beautiful.  Special thanks to Anahi Felch who designed it.  I don’t know about you but poppies in general make me want to dance around singing “I feel Pretty…”  My fabulous editors at Gemelli Press have already been showing it off, so I wanted to get in on the action.  We are just a week or two away from the debut of my memoir, At Least You’re In Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life, and I will be surely be posting more often in the coming weeks.  Thanks to everyone who has been asking when it will be available, I really appreciate the support!!!

La Novità

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Buongiorno Tutti!

The summer is once again flying by. It’s caldissimo here in Tuscany this summer. 90 degree days have been the norm for months and we have had only 20 minutes of rain since May. Very worrying for the grape harvest this year. The foliage is starting to get a little yellow and you can just see the grapes are thirsty. With no irrigation of the vines allowed, we are just holding our breath for a good result!

The blog got a little makeover yesterday and I now have a link to facebook. I know I know, who thought I would actually move into this millenium! Nevermind that it took me all day to do and that one of my editors Michelle had to help me fifty thousand times with the facebook stuff. Patience of Job that woman. GRAZIE!!

Anyway, the reason for the new spiffyness is…my book is about to be released. Gemelli press is the publisher and I think we may have an excerpt up soon for anyone who wants a sneak peek. The new (and final) title is AT LEAST YOU’RE IN TUSCANY: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life.  Intriguing, eh?  We are still waiting on the cover art, but the ms has been sent for typesetting so we are getting close. I am hoping by mid September that you can find in on Amazon! I will keep you posted and also put up a picture of the cover as soon as we have one. The process has been very interesting, a lot of give and take as I worked with two great editors to get the book in the best possible shape. I am very pleased with the result and the readers who volunteered to read it in advance have been very positive! Whew!

In other news, I just celebrated another birthday and spent it first working, and then relaxing over a delicious dinner with my good friends Janet and Ken. I highly recommend birthdays with them, the champagne never stops flowing. I also had a lovely evening that weekend with a handsome Florentine that I have been seeing for the past few months. And also lots of wonderful gifts from my friends Terry, Gill, Janet and of course, mom and dad! All in all, I have to say this year I don’t feel older… just happier!

I got my new computer also and so I am grateful to be typing again on a full-sized laptop. Doing all of the edits of the manuscript on the teensy borrowed one was not ideal and it actually made my right hand numb for almost a week. But thanks again to Anna for lending it to me because I surely couldn’t have survived my poverty of the winter without that little thing to get me through!

Cinder is still with me and just celebrated her 14th birthday. (that’s 98 in doggy years). She can barely walk, is now becoming incontinent but her spirits are good. I just ordered her another big bag of dog food, so she knows she’s not allowed to leave me for another couple of months. I somehow think she’s hanging on until the book comes out so she can have her fifteen minutes of fame!

I am off to see what excitement is going on in town. August is my favorite month here as all the contrade are having their dinners before the kick off of the Bravio. When I get off the bus after work I am assailed by the sensational perfume of grilled steaks and sausages. One of those comforting smells of summer that always reminds me of my Dad!

A presto ragazzi!

La Vecchietta

The cellar at Poliziano during the only rain we had all summer

Janet wins award for most beautiful flowers thanks to Ken’s watering obsession

My contrada Gracciano’s flags are flying high on the corso

Tuscan countryside in August

Cinder, who spends most afternoons in Marinella’s garden, waits patiently to greet Marinella even on Sunday morning…

Spring Time in Tuscany

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Hi Everyone,

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. My computer died during the winter and I am using a tiny borrowed thing that is not enjoyable to type on. That being said, I do have some news to relay, so here goes:

I finally got my Italian citizenship in January. This is of course very exciting after all of the hoops I jumped and crawled through. But the even more exciting news is that I sold the book that I wrote about my first year living here. Woo Hoo!!!! It will be coming out this summer. I wish I could tell you the title, but it keeps changing so I will update you when it’s fixed. After ten years of writing, I am over the moon that this is finally happening!

Other than that, I don’t have tons to tell you. Back at work at the winery for another season of slinging vino! Long days and fun clients are making the time fly by!

Cinder is still hanging in with me and though she sleeps almost the whole day, she doesn’t seem ready to leave yet. For this I am grateful.

I promise to be back online soon with a new computer and more news about when the book is coming out! Also some more recipes that I’ve been compiling throughout the winter. A presto…

Cinder strolling in Maggio

bella vista!

You know you’re becoming Italian when…

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It’s November and as I sit in my kitchen with smoke wafting in from Marinella’s woodstove, I hear the echo of the words of one of my dear friends in New York… “the stores have Christmas decorations and your last entry was June.”

I know I have been extremely out of touch, but only because I was working at the winery like a fiend this entire season. I opened and served more wine that I thought humanly possible and gave so many tours that by October I was wondering if they were still interesting. My mind was put at ease by one visitor who wrote in the guestbook: “Best tour since the Vatican.”

My last day in fact was Friday so I now have plenty of time on my hands as well as a good splash of panic as the winter looms ahead. The good news is that it was great season and I had work that gave me a lot of pleasure. The grape harvest finished and the olive harvest began. I just sampled the new oil last night, freshly pressed from the harvesting of last weekend with friends Adrian and Gill. It is delicious. Which made me start thinking about all the things here in Tuscany that I love and although the road has been a poor one, how I have found pleasure in even the simplest things. I still don’t have my citizenship, but I have planted some roots here and in my heart if not on paper, I am becoming Italian.

You know you’re becoming Italian when…

You take inordinate delight in the olive harvest, carefully gathering every last olive because you know that after they are pressed you will feast on a deep green, spicy oil that awakens your mouth and makes you feel one with the earth.

You can tell the difference between the Vino Nobile produced by Poliziano and all other wineries.

You take pleasure in hanging out the laundry during the summer knowing that it will dry crisp and fragrant from the hot Tuscan sun.

You are resolved to having damp clothes in the winter because the sun has gone south for the winter and his cousin, the fog has moved in.

You find it wasteful if you have a light on or something plugged in when not in use.

You don’t cringe when you are dining with friends and they serve you tripe, or tongue.

You have abandoned some of your obsessive tendencies and learned to eat pork sausage without cooking the hell out of it.

You get excited for the first walnut of the season so you can make your wish.

Hearing sirens is an oddity and brings immediate concern for your older neighbors.

Scarves have become a major part of your wardrobe.

You carry a twenty tucked in your wallet for taxi fare in the event of an unplanned bus or train strike.

You know your bra and shoe sizes without looking up the conversion.

You can make bread or pizza dough without measuring ingredients and it is delicious.

The last sangiovese grapes to be harvested this year

Cinder snuggling in for a long winter's nap...

 

 

Che caldo…Madonnina

Friday is July.  I can hardly believe it.  I know it’s summer because it’s hot, but I feel like it’s flying by.  I’m sitting in my kitchen, spooning up gelato because frankly it’s my favorite way of beating the heat.  That and with my long days at the winery, the last thing I want to do when I stumble in the door is cook.  And besides summer in Tuscany just lends itself to gelato.  It’s been really hot here these last few weeks.  As I give tours of the vineyard, melting tourists huddle under the shade of nearby mulberry bush while I regale them with everything they ever wanted to know about Sangiovese grapevines…and more.  The hardier souls who hale from warm climates brave the sun to snap a few photos of the rapidly growing grapes on the vines.  Their reward is a trip inside the cellar where they are greeted by cool temps and the pleasant aroma of aging wine.  And then of course the best part…the tasting.  I never knew I could like a job so much, but really working and learning about wine has been great.  I’m even thinking of taking a Sommelier course this winter.

The other thing I love about working at Poliziano is meeting such fun people.  I had clients a couple of weeks ago who had lunch with us and shipped a huge amount of wine back to NY…and then invited me and Fabio to their rented villa for dinner.  He didn’t go.  I did.  It was terrific.  Joan and Patti were a riot and I spent a wonderful evening with them and their husbands celebrating Joan’s birthday.  They grilled the huge steaks this area is known for and I of course brought some wine to accompany it!  It was a treat for me to spend some time with such fabulous New Yorkers.

Tomorrow I’m spending some time with some clients from Holland who come down every year to buy wine.  They are searching for some old photos of Montepulciano so Fabio and I spent an hour on the phone trying to track down someone who sells them in this area.  It was harder than you’d think.  The only problem after we located someone was that he doesn’t speak English and they don’t speak Italian.  So I’m off to some old man’s house in Sant’Albino to see what treasures he has unearthed and will play translator.

My teaching has dwindled this summer so I’m just doing a few lessons on the weekends.  This works well since it’s my only free time for writing, reading and spending some time with Cinder.  13 in two weeks she’s still hanging in there, but her back legs are getting worse. I’ve upped her arthritis medicine and I’m just hoping that she’s with me a while longer.  She’s had a good life, but selfishly I’m not ready to say goodbye yet!  Marinella has been keeping Cinder in her garden in the afternoons and so she’s been hanging out with Ozzy and five cats… and this week two deer that were abandoned and brought to her son’s veterinary clinic.  Next stop will be a reserve since they now couldn’t survive in the wild.

I’m still awaiting news on my memoir.  It’s been with an agent for almost two months so fingers and toes crossed for some good news. Send some positive vibes my way per favore!

Oh and I’ve been here two and half years now and I’ve had one visitor.  Hint hint….

New friends Joan and Patti who invited me to a bbq at their villa

Bistecca gigantica!

Patti's husband Ross grilling our dinner!

Babysitting five kids means Cinder has learned a lot of patience...

Marinella's heart and her garden are big enough for a few new guests

Move over bambi...meet Mario