Trouble in Sorrento

Stairs in our new houseBay of Sorrento
Sorrento
On our arrival, there is a secret agents’ convention in the hotel. They all operate in pairs and are disguised as retired couples on holiday, so we had dinner with 458 elderly couples, not knowing which ones are deadly foes and which the genuine folk from Chelmsford. Some of them went off to the Sorrento Foreigners’ Club after; playing it by the numbers, we assumed they were the pros.
I bought a pair of desks
In Sorrento we met Giambattista de Curtis who told us his very sad & salutary story. He fell passionately in love with a girl on holiday from Milano, who worked in the postal sorting office there. When she went home he sent her dozens of love letters telling how much he adored her. But all his letters came back with “RETURN TO SORRENTO” written on the envelopes. So he wrote the famous and desperate love song “Return to Sorrento” which was recorded by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Meat Loaf, Dean Martin, José Carreras, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Beniamino Gigli, Mario Lanza, Franco Corelli,Giuseppe Di Stefano, Roberto Carlos, Alfie Boe and lots of lesser opera singers. And he sold a million 78rpm records and got a gold disk and won the IAFTA song award for 1924. He was famous but miserable. Now everyone agrees it is the greatest song ever written.
Listen to the true voice of Sorrento: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzg8DTzh4yk
And the moral of the story is, if you love someone, you must never let them go.
Museo palazzo muses
Recap report for Inspettore Mintalbini:
The pizza chef, the receptionist in the minibar & the parrot are all still dead. Rimedia Odora, the exploding vendor of organic remedies & cosmetics, is in a safe house. The grape treading Benedictine sister struck by laser, is in hospital being treated for PTSD. The humungus fart has largely dissipated, thanks to the Servzzi Fuoco, who hosed down the whole village. George & Connie are now serving their great country in Venice. The Smirnovsk gang are all busted and serving 144 years in San Quentin. David’s statue has not yet been returned. I am still in my nun’s habit with Christiane & Rosemary in little black numbers. Napolitani has survived and a new prime minister has been elected. The only fly in the ointment is that the penguin mother superior is out on the loose and Janet has been suspiciously silent.
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We decided to take the red bus around Sorrento. Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti & Andrea Bocelli, all let us down regarding a private performance of “Return to Sorrento”, so we’ll organise our own.

As we were setting out the chairs, I saw the shadow of Mother Penguin drawing her weapon on the far side of the Piazza. She shouted out “The price of one Faraglioni is a live boy child.”

We were on the harbourside,so in a flash, we leapt on to a day trip pleasure boat to Positano. The evil nun pulled an Uzzi automatic from her huge knickers and started firing at us. I launched my sports walking stick with pointy tip, like a spear and it pierced her abdomen; guts and dinner spewed out onto the harbour paving but she continued firing. I threw my tour-bus headphones as a sling to throttle her then I snatched Christiane’s Panama hat and flung it like a frisbee saucer, with all my strength, at the Mother. It sliced her head off clean, which bounced around on the ground for a few seconds. Blood gushed from her neck like a fountain high into the air, bits of nerve & muscle twitched, some residues of spinal cord & brain dribbled over her shoulders. Iris & Jade & Jean-Pierre were screaming at the top of their voices for gelatos, but we said “no” that would be disrespectful.
Stairs in our new house

To solve the whole case, now we only have to find and return the original David statue. Shouldn’t be too hard. The price of one Faraglioni is a live boy child.

LIFESTYLE SECTION

LIFESTYLE SECTION
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Yummy Capri Cake recipe
Ingredients: 300g chopped almonds, 250g butter, 250g sugar, 125g dark chocolate, 5 whole eggs, vanilla essence, icing sugar.

Cream together the sugar & diced butter in a bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each has been completely absorbed into the mixture. Add the almonds & chocolate, both chopped, and the vanilla essence. Grease and flour a cake tin of about 25 cms diameter and pour the mixture into it. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 40 minutes. Turn the cake out of the tin and leave it to cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar.
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Limoncello
Pure organic yellow, tastes of Capri. Microbottles to get through Ryanair weight limits – 5ml, $150.

Ethical caprese Espadrilles
The special buy this season are hand-made espadrilles. Don’t be seen dead in your cruel chinese espads this year. These little beauties are ethically sourced from organic grasses which are sustainably grown under humane conditions. The stitching is done by a refugee project to create employment for displaced women. The women are given regular tea breaks and are paid in real money. You can buy one espadrille at a time, if you prefer, but this does work out just a little bit more expensive. In red or lime green polka dots, sizes 35 to 45, $450 pr.
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Giardino sculptuarios
From a genuine caprese stoned artist – roman arches, model Fiat cinquecentos, reproduction pizzas, skimpy bikini tops in marble or granite or rusty old cast iron. $10,000 per kg, shipping extra.
Imagine coming all this way and NOT seeing The Blue Grotto. Sadly the grotto is closed for maintenance and so we will miss a thrill. Also it is raining and Capri is not very well adapted to rainy days.
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PERSONALISED JEANS
Have your jeans personally distressed and torn by an expert – at the knee, at the thighs, round the bum, wherever. You need never again have the same tears as the next person. Luigi Jinstireesi will prepare for you a unique item of fashion apparel, for just $997 + cost of jeans. “mmmmmmm”
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Diamonds, coral, gold, silver, platinum
Rings, bracelets, bangles, pendants, necklaces.
oooooh! aaaaah! ooooh! aaaaaah!

Sponsor customer orientation training
We have been conducting a small covert war against Citalia’s main taxi driver. He lacks all social graces and eau de toilette,he is uncouth, bossy and obnoxious. But the campaign is not going very well, because he is their only taxi driver at the harbour and we cannot get back to the harbour any other way. So we are now planning to withdraw our forces and having trained the locals, we are confident that Citalia will be able to maintain their own customer relations standards, but we may station some reserve trainers here on a long-term basis. This is a crowd-sourced project, so if you would like to contribute, send $25.00 quickly to Mark Neuman, a/c no 1234, Lehman Bros Bank, New York = You know it makes sense.
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Animal Welfare Appeal
We want the French and United States Governments to stop anyone using puppies and kittens as shark and alligator bait. Together we WILL put an end to this!

Because this is horrendous and hideous. Can you imagine the fear these animals must be in the last minutes of their lives? No living being deserves to be treated and used this way. These are private fishermen and the penalty is ONLY 2 years and a…See More at http://www.causes.com or don’t.

Diamonds, coral, gold, silver, platinum
Rings, bracelets, bangles, pendants, necklaces.
oooooh! aaaaah! ooooh! aaaaaah!

JUNIOR NEWS:AT LAST SOME REAL BIG/LITTLE NEWS FOR YOU

PLEASE SEND CONGRATULATIONS AND WARMEST BEST WISHES TO AMY & ANDI & BABY “LOOK”
Look

YES, it’s true, this blog has scooped the news that Amy & Andi are expecting a baby called “LOOK”, on 11.11.13.
They are getting a nice new baby room:

A DECENT HOTEL ROOM
A DECENT HOTEL ROOM

The number of children keeps growing and now we must apologise for not having “Look” in this intro:

And here is the main act today:

We also went to the Blue Grotto, the Green Grotto, the White Grotto, very nice:

CAPRI – BLING BLING FLING STING

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The plot thickens. Hiding out as a novice in the nunnery, Rimedia Odora beckoned me to a quiet corner of the yard, to speak one on one. She whispered “the penguin of Capri has kidnapped the parrot”, but, just as I was about to unravel this cryptic clue, we were distracted: the sister treading the grapes, Maria Farta Confessopettes, was zapped by some kind of laser-taser beam of red lightning. The poor girl collapsed in the grapes, lay almost lifeless and then suddenly let out the most humungus explosive fart you ever heard. The stink was overwhelming, they eat a lot of cabbage, birds and flying insects fell from the sky into the wine pulp. Rimedia Odora said “you see: this is not just a Kiss Kiss Bang Bang B movie!”. Now we have to reach Capri, and in a hurry.

We take the 8.02 Chianti regionale express from Siena, then the inter-city 125 from Chiusi to the South. At the harbour, a HydroJetSkiFoil disgorges 967 Korean daytrippers and picks us up for the crossing.
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The Capri penguin is mother superior of the order. She runs the biscuit business: in Siena it is Garibaldi, Napoli is Bourbon town. Capri is caprese capricious.

Yippee skippee dippee we reach CAPRI
In the old days, they liked to build in really awkwar places like on steep mouuntainsides and at the end of narrow tortuous paths, hanging over the cliff. The most instantly striking feature of Capri is No cars or taxis to your hotel. Nothing is allowed to detract from the film set of bling bling bling shopping. Every last luxury brand name you ever heard of, is here in cute little boutiques with sheer vitrine displays. Rich people look much like the rest of the population, but they wear their jumpers on their shoulders, so you can tell them apart.
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Here are some of the beautiful people we have met in the last couple of days:
We bumped into Richard & Liz in the harbour. So charming.
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Don’t you just love the necklace?
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But the air is balmy and breezy, the birdsong quite wonderful. The nightingales sing all around the rock cliff from dawn.

How d’ya like them apples?

How d'ya like them apples?
How d’ya like them apples?

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Now, in the relentless search for the gang leader, we must check out the Blue Grotto, the White cliff rocks and the dirty brown stain in the shower.
Imagine coming all this way and NOT seeing The Blue Grotto. Sadly the grotto is closed for maintenance and so we will miss a thrill. Also it is raining and Capri is not very well adapted to rainy days.

We have been conducting a covert war against Citalia’s main taxi driver. He is uncouth and bossy and obnoxious. But the campaign is not going very well, because he is their only taxi driver at the harbour and we cannot get back to the harbour any other way. So we are now planning to withdraw our forces and leave Citalia to maintain their own customer relations standards.

SIENA – THE REALLY GOOD STUFF

DIET
Living as a committed fruitarian can be tough. Today for breakfast I am focussing on the “Relaxfirming Program”, which stresses full-cream yoghurt with fresh plums, avocado and red fruits that are rich in anti-oxidants . I’m leaving the “remise-en-forme program” till tomorrow with its plentiful waters, and its fibres, whole grains & kiwis. Yesterday the “relax-anti-age program”, I think I had slightly too many prunes and glasses of orange juice.
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GUMSHOE
We have to get into San Girolamo Benedictine closed convent and find out why the herb vendor exploded on the train. So first we went to the Fancy Dress shop (negozio modas masccheria). Christiane and Rose went to the front entrance in little black numbers. I disguised myself with a dirty old habit and climbed over the back wall of the orchard. Under her new name, Sister Rimedia Odora Salvia Rosmarina Tima, was there, but I had never seen remedies & cosmetics prepared that way before.
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Obviously the sisters make the olive oil and wine by the traditional organic methods and I was not surprised to find them treading the grapes and working the olive press lustily while small rivulets of juicy substance trickled out and formed large droplets that jiggled gently before falling into the waiting bed of the runnel to the vat. The weather was sunny and , the white heat of the sun refracted on the walls and flagstones of convent yard. The sisters had begun their work in heavy robes but, only naturally, they got a bit hot doing such physical activities and they needed to cool off as much as possible. They sang and whispered tenderly to each other as they went about their duties, sharing Vaseline and chianti. The most amusing aspect of the scene was that they did not know that I am not a woman like them. My habit covered an altogether different configuration.
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Meanwhile, at the front entrance, behind a small grill, a window slid open in the great wooden doors to reveal a spy hole. An automatic digital access device said “Entrare il suo passaporto”. On the gravel ground of the inside courtyard, just within sight, Christiane and Rosemary could see a dead parrot. So they cried out loudly “Il vostro parrotto e muerto” and an old crone hobbled out of the concierge gatehouse. She appeared to be deaf because they called out again “Il parrotto muerto”, but she did not react and they could not get in.
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SIENA
Siena is divided on the postcode gang system with 17 different “contrade” protection rackets running the neighbourhoods of the town. Every street & cafe table & aspect of life is marked as belonging to one gang or another. Very rootsy, but isn’t it taking tribalism a bit too far?

Monte Dei Pasche are everywhere - streets, cafes, events, social services, ambulances, nurseries, banks.
Monte Dei Pasche are everywhere – streets, cafes, events, social services, ambulances, nurseries, banks.

In the mid 1400s the Black Death killed two thirds of the population of 130,000. The old town is built on several steep hills and the result is many streets of steps and ramps, every short walk requires lots of ups and downs.2013-05-03 14.32.10
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DUOMO
This is a fine building but I understand they have to change the carpet every 3 weeks due to the numbers of people are walking round and choirs stopping to sing a few verses in the transept. Underneath the ground floor there are 4 levels of basement cellar, each about 6m high, called the crypta. In old times these were used for car parking, for storing groceries & weapons against the danger of riot and for partying. They got some famous decorators like Caravaggio in to paint the walls & ceilings and it’s all very nice.
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O but pity the poor tourist: sore feet, tired, limping, with a neck crick from gazing upward at domes & vaulted ceiling paintings, nursing arm ache from holding the tablet or ipad steady for filming, suffering arthritis in the Nikon finger, thirsty & parched, affected by brain ache from looking at too many Jesuses, shoulder ache from a heavy bag, wallet pain from the cost coca cola, and developing knee problems from too many stairs and steps.
In Jesus time there were many many lions in Tuscany. We have the evidence of this from the numerous statues of lions in all the churches, chapels, squares & public buildings. One PhD student from Oklahoma University counted 422 lion statues in Piazza del Duomo neighbourhood alone.
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MONTE DEI PASCHI
Monte Dei Paschi founded in 1472 is the Godfather bank with its HQ in one of the finest medieval palazzos of old Siena. They were looking for a popular sport to sponsor because soccer had not been invented and someone thought of horse-racing. So they hung out banners and gave the riders shirts with the bank’s logo and it all worked a treat and so was born the annual Palio in the Campo square, and loads of other sponsored civic services. Monte dei Paschi became “Babbo Monte,” or Daddy Monte, the city’s largest employer and greatest patron.
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Going back into the mists of time, it paid for charities and civic works. The charitable Monte dei Paschi Foundation, has long operated as a sort of shadow government here, as banks controlled by politicians provided loans and jobs in return for votes, and sponsored charities and civic organizations to buy good will. The chief financial officer of Siena’s soccer team, likened the system to the way the Roman emperors kept their citizens happy with bread and circuses.

In January, Beppe Grillo, delivered a tirade about Monte dei Paschi’s longtime connections to the Democratic Party, which for decades was the dominant political force in the city.

The bank’s real problems began in 2008, when it bought another bank, from Santander. The price of 9 billion euros ($11.9 billion) was regarded as wildly inflated, and to make matters worse, Monte dei Paschi paid cash. In order to pay this, Monte dei Paschi raised about a billion euros with securities that deliberately confused whether the repayment notes were bonds or shares. The Italian Central Bank thought Monte dei Paschi concealed certain features of the transaction, and said: “M.P.S. did not disclose to the Bank of Italy significant parts of the operation in question”.

Later, Monte dei Paschi got help to conceal losses of 730 million euros, from Deutsche Bank and Nomura. A real philanthropic organisation eh? The Italian government hastily arranged a bailout worth $5.1 billion.
Country view from Gimi
I read today in International Herald Tribune that 4% of Neanderthals in Europe survived and moved to Billiricay. This has been proved by DNA tests, and they practised cannibalism just like the early settlers on East coast of US.

GIMIGNANO

May Day 2013
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From ancient Etruscan and Hellebore times onwards, centurions going home to Rome, businessmen on their way there from France, and pilgrims, used to take the old road through the hamlet of Pugiano in the valley of the Riguardi river, rather than taking the autostrada which was risky and had terrible traffic jams. The enterprising Mayor of this little village, made a tidy sum selling them Gauloises & Gitanes, and offering duty-free French perfume and French-style hotels. So the route became known as “The Via Francigena” and the village grew wealthy.
San Gimi 1
Shard
Gimi was bishop of Modena and, by making a miraculous apparition on the walls of the small town, he helped the residents fight off the hordes of barbarians who were coming as day-trippers with no refinement. Later he became a martyr but no one quite remembers why, so they made him a saint and renamed the village after him.
Corner view
Then the villagers all got the contagious medieval virus of building fancy tall towers to enjoy the views and they blew all the profits from their tourism industry ventures on erecting 223 towers. Everyone in Gimignano had a tower, but no-one was allowed to build higher than the mayor’s town hall tower of 1311 at 54m above ground , which still stands to this day along with 17 others.
Country view from Gimi

In this one small burg: Basilica Santa Naria Assunta, Chiesa San Lorenzo Ponte, Chiesa San Bartolo, Chiesa San Agostinho, Chiesa San Al Tempio, convent of Santa Chiara and paintings by every great artist of the 1200’s & 1300’s. There were problems between the Ardinghelli Guelphs and the Salvucci Ghibellines and in 1348 the Black Death killed 8,000 people out of a population of 13,000. This brought the town down and under the domination of Firenze.
Men on bench

There are many wild boar in the cafes & restaurants & tourist shops & gelaterias of this area, and quite a few in the woods around Toscana. There are berries and truffles, but you need a dog or a boar to catch them. The trouble is that the boars eat the truffles and the dogs eat the berries. This part of Toscana has the best life-style in all of Italy.

The countryside is a dream panorama and Christiane says that she understands why the British aristocracy love it. This must be where Berlusconi brought Blair, wearing that ridiculous skull-covering bandana.

We are in San Paolo which is a 17 star Wellness spa hote,l with swimming pools and tennis court and some very rude and expensive treatments indeed like passionfruit & crème fraiche wrap and “lover’s dream”, which can only be done in a private room with courgettes & mint yoghurt (treatment list price 200 Euros). We had one free session and spent all afternoon in the pools, on the bubble slabs and in the Hamam showers, the Aroma Booths, and Jacuzzis and Waterfalls and Saunas and Footbaths and Ice Douches. My skin is now a smooth & silky delight to the senses.

There is not much progress with the investigation, but the herbal remedies & essences vendor who exploded on the train has been discharged from hospital and we plan to interview her. The problem is that she has now sought refuge in the San Girolamo convent which is a closed order institution – no woman ever emerges from there after being admitted. [We may need daring unorthodox tactics.] There is still a dragnet out to find us, since Lucca, but they take a caffe break around 11.00am and that’s precisely when we slip through their grasp.

4 Towers
The gardens and views are wonderful, just like Antonio Carlucccio and his mate promised on tele in “Two greedy Italians”.
Corner view
We met two research chemists who are trying to find a pill which prevents flu in animals, but I think it dropped down the back of the sofa and now they can’t find it.
Doorways

Rose & Kiki in street
The fashion for cut-off jeans is big this year and jeans deliberately frayed at the knees are selling well; but the biggest trend of all is pre-dirtied Converse basketball pumps. They are daubed in mud and come in various colours, and command top dollar in the fashionista boutiques.
Diplomatic district

<a There is balsamic vinegar from Modena, and a T-bone steak called Fioren Tina, which looks very enticing, but Tina couldn’t possibly eat one on her own: it is so huge that it needs two serving staff to carry it in and another to slice it off the bone. Anyway, we can’t afford one. There is ragu of wild boar, which is less gamey than you might think. There is Schiacciata pudding with eggy custard and icing sugar dusting and a drop of Limoncello in the cornflour sponge, really toothsome.href=”https://markneuman.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/bridges-in-mist.jpg”&gt;Bridges in mist

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BREAKING NEWS: QUEEN ABDICATES SHOCK HORROR !

YES I’m not wrong, the Queen is abdicating and leaving the throne and the crown to her son, Prince William Alexander! Beatrix of The Netherlands is hanging up her sceptre and going into retirement. Now there’s a thought, and you heard it first from me.
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Fruitarian hero
Janet is leaving clues in fountains. Silvia says that my lips are in a far far better place than my mouth. Sauro says to focus on the mosaics, and he thinks we got money from the CIA. Well the truth is WE DID NOT KEEP A DOLLAR; every last dime of that ransom went straight to the UKIP gang’s account, in Smirnovsk . Peter says it’s about an election scam, but he’s got it under control, with a beer truck. Some people think we are in Italy. It’s a mystery!
Drinking Fountain 1

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I went to Ospedale Maria Nueva for my second INR – altogether more cool and laid back than Sant Orsola Bologna. It’s like guys, chatting as they work – one sticks the needle in, the other applies the sticky tape, and they know some jokes, and they went for a few drinks the other day. In comparison, Bologna was all matrons, exclusively female staff – no joking, but lots of control.

The town is in every direction so overwhelmingly grandiose, so elegant, stylish and appealing. Poggi was an amazing designer contractor, credited with stunning houses, villas, palazzos, museums, public squares, roundabouts, roads, towers and parks all round Firenze. He designed Baroness Von Meck;s house where Tchaikovsky stayed, but we are assured that their relationship was purely epistolary.
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David’s statue was oriented to face in the direction of Rome when his statue was erected. As he scowled and had his sling ostentatiously on show, this was taken to mean that Firenze was warning Rome “leave us alone or you could get some too”.

Feelin groovy, we’re on our way to San Gimignano, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Well, actually a small place just 4kms outside San Gimignano. Like a bridge over troubled water, Ponte Vecchio lays down and we say bye bye love to Firenze. In the car it’s all the sound of silence, because it’s been raining and we’re scared of slip slidin away. The driver says don’t worry, I am a rock and you are homeward bound.

UFFIZI

I am very sorry about the shaky camera work, I am in fear of international gangsters and on the run from a murder rap.

The Uffizi Gallery is an unending tsunami of humanity, moving just one step at a time and listening with earphones to very cool radiocomms devices which hang around their necks in standard neon colours. The group leader or art guide has a small mike hanging under her chin and speaks into it discreetly, sometimes waving aloft a pennant with a teddy bear or some such tourist group mascot, that the followers can follow.

There is a delightful roof terrace café, in the open air among other roofs and towers. Stupidly, I started a new war in the Caucasus because I wanted to get a good shot of the Duomo roof from this angle. This required that I stand briefly on one of the few rest benches around the edge of the cafeteria, in order to get a clear shot over the parapet of the terrace. But all the benches were fully occupied by exhausted tourists who would not relinquish their rest place.

I chose the best located bench and waited blatantly for someone to move. They were four Russian ladies, who were having a fag and had no intention of being good Samaritans. In fact they brought in a fifth associate with a quick feint to right & left while the gap was covered. To get my own back, I stood stubbornly in their group photos and looked at the camera. Once shots were fired, there was no going back, and I found my reflexes took over – with a lightning-fast combined ninja kick & chop, as used by the SBS, I had tossed two Russian babas to a sudden & certain death in the Uffizi quad, before you could say Caravaggio. I got the pic I was after and called in the CIA clean-up squad. From then on, no one got in my way as we admired the Botticellis and the Corregios on the 1st floor.

Rosemary had a rendez-vous with an officer from Southwark Council & lecturer wife and they agreed a new strategy for some failing schools in Bermondsey.

We want to visit San Gimignano, but it is very difficult to access in the hills, due to being occupied by little green men, and our travel agent, Citalia, have a policy of not dealing with them.

You really must send those children on an educational semester trip to Firenze as soon as possible or we will be totally overtaken in the culture wars by the Russians, the Koreans, Japanese, Americans and Italians who are squeezing us out. Already you can hardly find baked beans or fish fingers on offer in the Piazzas and Trattorias. Preferably book your kids on an art course or a cookery course, so they come back home, more refined, and with new skills.

The women I eliminated at the Uffizi were part of the Capoeira/Zumba gang because we overheard them plotting when we reached the smelly back-street gym in Pescia. They were aiming to smuggle the David statue to Smirnovsk, and then they intended to ransom him for $10m, with the threat of some serious anatomical harm. It was they who stuffed the receptionist in the minibar, because she was trying to shop them to George & Connie in the CIA. And her boyfriend, the pizza chef, was done in simply because he knew too much.

There is nothing left to do now, except to find the ring-leader and round up the remaining oppos. The only doubt nagging at me, is which side is Janet on? The weather is warm – approx. 20C, if a bit overcast and humidity a bit high around 62%.

There’s no place like Duomo

I made a sketch for you
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Brunelleschi built this great Duomo, using municipal funds, because it was originally designed to host 1440 inter-city gymnastics and show-jumping competition. After the event, they quarrelled whether it should be a music venue and Juventus said that only they could fill it on a regular basis. They added the giant dome, when someone suggested it could become a planetarium.

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However, thanks to inspired PR work, a number of massive evangelical congresses were held there in the 1460s and the church finally put in the tower, in order to offer bunjee-jumping as an additional visitor attraction. It was claimed that the footprint was the wrong size & shape for indoor football, and the catering could never cope. They designed a feature called “The Gates of Paradise” and if you paid 100 Euros to go through them, you were guaranteed a comfortable place for the afterlife. That really sealed the income of the place for a few hundred years.

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Michaelangelo put himself into the scene of Jesus’ burial called Pieta, along with Mary and Mary Magdalen, even though he wasn’t alive until about 1500 years later. But the Romans didn’t complain and time travel was quite widely accepted in those days. This is why the pope never criticised Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

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We saw the scaffolding they used for the build operation and it’s still quite sound. To cheer the place up, they got a really good deal from StatuesRus, and they sold miniature copies through Sculptures4U.

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Hotel Berchielli, right on the lungarno, has a very big and posh foyer, so it was pure chance that I spotted an old lag from Cold War days who was masquerading as a porter. He was watching me in the mirror, and I was watching him, watching me in the mirror. I decided to confront him but he done a runner and we chased him up to the hotel’s roof giardino.

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I had him cornered, but then, from behind me, I suddenly heard the languorous tones of George’s familiar Texan voice. A partner in the CIA whom I’d worked with in Ulanbator and in Petropavlovsk, when we were breaking the Baltic uranium gang. He and Connie, his sidekick, pose as Dallas lawyer and wife, corporate executive deputy assistant vice president. But they are actually two of the agency;s deadliest operatives. They were in contact with the Bosch family right from the start. Dallas loves to shoot birds, sail his boat and Mrs D likes Sonoma county red wine.

2013-04-27 11.26.19
It turns out that the murdered pizza chef knew the receptionist in the minibar because they found his number on her mobile phone. What is the link? Janet sent me a coded message in a plastic bag, which she dropped in a drinking fountain, near to Michelangelo’s David [not very hygienic or clean-streets-friendly]. It said “Don’t go to the Uffizzi shop.” DNA revealed that they both did a Capoeira class at a shabby gym in the back streets of Pescia. This is clearly the hub of their operations so we are on our way, pdq.

I hope we pass a few Museos and Palazzos and Chiesas and fine Piazzas as we race over there. It looks as though Janet is ahead of us, and she could be wreaking havoc!