Serge's activity

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      A customer is the most important person on our premises, He is not dependent on us, We are dependent on him, He is not an interruption to our work, He is the purpose of it, He is not an outsider to our business, He is a part of us, We are no

Mon, 08/24/2009 - 03:00

Tokyo knocks Moscow off the top spot as the most expensive city for expatriates; Johannesburg is the cheapestAsian and European cities dominate the top 10Significant currency fluctuations and strengthening of dollar cause major  reshuffle in the r

Thu, 08/20/2009 - 05:33

This is the story of a Tuscan lady in her seventies who fell seriously ill and how she is coping with life afterwards.  One day recently this elderly lady suffered a stroke.  She was rushed to the local District General Hospital and after several

Thu, 07/02/2009 - 12:48

Lovers of Jazz may be interested in this event.

Wed, 06/17/2009 - 14:12

I like all sorts of food from all over the world; one special dish that I like is based on a tropical soffritto.  I fry the chopped onion and crushed fresh stem ginger (available in Italian supernmarket) in sunflower oil until soft.

Sat, 06/06/2009 - 14:45

The pound appears to be on an upward trend trading at 1.16 Euro at midday: it was trading at 1.115 at the beginning of and middle of May. Sterling has steadily increased against the Euro during the last fortnight.

Wed, 06/03/2009 - 10:30

I was searching the local bookshop for an English/Italian dictionary for my 6 year old last week when I came across"1351 Parole inglesi per picoli e grandi"  Joseph P.

Tue, 06/02/2009 - 13:58

Five years after having tamed a hillside with an excavator (ruspa) and having created 6 levels, the borders and slopes are now coming into their own.  These are the flowers in bloom in our garden in Tuscany (600 metres above sea level).  As the ga

Tue, 06/02/2009 - 12:38

Comments posted

Mon, 08/24/2009 - 05:09

"As for the rest I just wonder how the British would react to a lot of foreigners going to Britain and then complaining about the price of everything, you have the very obvious choice open to any migrant or tourist anywhere." Just seen this.  I am gobsmacked!  Being a migrant to the UK and Italy I do not seem to have the basic human right to comment.  Perhaps it is time to leave this Forum. Bye, will not be posting again!

Sat, 08/22/2009 - 10:51

It is a permanent herb in my orto (see previous my gardening posts).  I get the seeds delivered every year from Thomson and Morgan to me in Sarteano, not very from from you.  They also have a great range of chinese and other exotic vegetables that grow well in Tuscany. Coriander needs a lot of water and goes to seed very quickly.  I sow them in succession and harvest them very young.  You can get the young plants in the better garden centres in Italy: they grow them for their seeds and not for the foliage!  Ask  for coriandolo: or you can wander around the herb section: you will be surprised what you will find.  I found a horse-radish (rafano) plant once, and you will also find all the usual suspects, chives (cipolina), tarragon (dragoncelo), dill (aneto), many varieties of mints (menta), red and green basil (basilico), all the varieties of thyme (timo),  flat parsley (prezzemolo) they do not stock the more intense curly leaved parsley, common fennel (finnochio) (not the florence fennel) for their seeds, marjoram (maggiorana), oregano,  borrage (borragine), bay (alloro), sage (salvia), camonile (camomilla). I know Vivaio Biaggi in Montepulciano stocks these plants.  This garden centre is sourcing a rhubarb (rabarbaro) plant for me for autumn planting. Coriander does not grow as well in Tuscany as in the tropics as they like a very humid environment.  When I grow them in pots I mix a good lot of water retaining crystals in the compost.  The result is still not as great as the 50p bunch from the Brixton Market but it enhances my meat and fish curries,  fajitas, fresh tomato salsa, certain chinese noodle and fish soups and tropical sugo di pomadoro.  Great herb and sorry for going off thread in the middle! 

Sat, 08/22/2009 - 02:46

It is the first time that we have spent a couple of weeks in Tuscany in August in 20 years.  What an experience: the temperature at 600 metres was 44 degrees in the sun.  We could not stay outside for fear of getting sunstroke: it was difficult to breathe.  This is too much, even for somebody who was raised in the tropics and for the other half. who was born locally.  We stayed all day in the basement flat to cool down and had  the air conditioning going full blast.  We wonder what it was like at the seaside, in the south of Italy and in cities like Rome, Florence, Milan etc.  In future we will certainly not be staying in our villa in August .  If not staying in London we will go north to rediscover the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands, Ireland, or cruise the northern cities or around Norway. .

Fri, 08/21/2009 - 16:44

It would be difficult to make ends meet on €10,000 per annum in London, however consider the following. For the over 60's one would be entitled to a senior citizens travel card, travelling free on a any public transport after 9 am (estimated value 2 to 3K a year depending on one's movements).  The are numerous free libraries where access to the internet is free for an hour at a time and one can still  borrow new and old book titles without charge and they run numerous literary events.  There are no prescription charges, no optical, nor dental charges (if one can find an NHS Dentist) for the over 60's. One would certainly not get bored: plenty of free entertainment and parks!  One can survive, in a fashion, on ready meals from Tesco, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury and they would cost less than going to the restaurant, although one could get bored very quickly.  One could always look at these products in the supermarket and order them through the intenet for free delivery at home. The odd trip to the much improved McDonald would allow anyone to eat a simple meal for less than £4.  (I notice london MacDonalds are always full of tourists).  The odd outing out to "Greasy Joe" round the corner would provide an English breakfast as a brunch for between £3 to £4 and some great English classic meals for less than £5 (Meat and 2 vegs, not ellied eels as they are now very difficult to find and are expensive.  The quality of the 'grub' could not always be guaranteed!) .  Eating in Piccadily can be expensive if one wants to go to Marco Pierre White's restaurant, but a short walk down to Chinatown would see one get a meal for a fiver in a small Chinese style cafe (rice or noodle with meat and vegetable) and some great homemade chinese cakes for breakfast.  Alternatively, a take-away Indian would cost less than £5 (rice and curry).On the odd occasion a trip to any Wetherspoon pub would satisfy one's thirst for a pint of  cask-conditioned real ale for between £2 to £2.50 a pint.   Wine is expensive because of excessive duties, but one could indulge during one's off-season holiday to Italy or France.  If one does not mind wearing one's labels inside and do not care too much for "la bella figura" there is always Primark for clothes (there is always a queue a mile long at the cash desk).  The Oxford Circus Primark store is always full of tourists! For kids in London there are  free parks and museums (except for the private ones).  Healthcare is free until 16 (I think).  Free public libraries offering free internet acess are available. Local authorities run numerous free play schemes during the holidays. Kids travel free on public transport (up to certain age).  Of course there is always Primark for clothes (I know a few anlo-italian mothers who go to London at regular intervals to shop for children's clothes). Of course the chioce of country and lifestyles is a personal one, but in many respects there are more living and  working choices and opportunuties in London. Perhaps that is why it is so popular with young Italians!

Thu, 08/20/2009 - 07:57

Higher costs of production will eventually filter through  to higher end prices to the customers as producers seek to recover their costs.  In this highly competitive world super profits are very rare and where they exist they are very short-lived as competitors will enter the market.  I have seen this with the restaurant trade in the Italian village where I live part-time.  Some 10 Years ago there were 3 restaurants for a population of 4000 and a summer population of almost double.  These restaurants were thriving!  Now there are 16 restaurants with a slight increase in population.  Prices have to be inflated to recover costs and profits are less,Although I am a relatively small investor it is for the reasons you mention that I have slowed down my investment in Italy to concentrate more in the UK. It is interesting to note that Italy is not exactly full of foreign investors, except perhaps in the holiday properties business!

Tue, 08/18/2009 - 14:00

 Gromit is right, but I think the problem lies where a person opens an account in a foreign country and declares for that he/she is non tax-resident and therefore does not pay tax at source.  The person then does not declare the interest in his/her home country.  Then tax is not collected in any state and the UK has no way of checking. There used to be remittance rules for non-domiciled UK tax residents but these may have changed as a result of the change in tax law for non-domiciled UK tax residents.  I have not kept up to date with these rules as banks in Italy pay so little interest on credit balances and savings that I do not invest in them anymore.  Sometimes it is far cheaper to borrow from them and invest in the UK than the other way round.  I have noticed that tax is deducted at source on my Lloyds offshore accounts. Lloyds tells me it is as a result of new EEA rules.  I think these changes are more important: : This is the introduction to the HMRC leaflet:  "Landlords with income from furnished holiday accommodation in the UK arecurrently treated as if they are trading for certain tax purposes, as long as theysatisfy certain tests, under the Furnished Holiday Lettings (FHL) rules. Landlords with income from furnished holiday accommodation elsewhere in theEuropean Economic Area (EEA) cannot currently qualify for this treatment. They were treated instead in the same way as landlords of other types of overseas property, under the property income rules. This difference may not be compliant with European law. The Government hasdecided it should repeal the FHL rules from 2010-11. Until the FHL rules are repealed, HMRC will regard the FHL rules as applying to furnished holiday accommodation elsewhere in the EEA."  I have read somewhere that the EEA has criticised the UK for its unequal tax treatment of agricultural land in the EEA.  Some changes should be on the way. Question is will the UK government make it more attractive to hold agricultural land in the EEA in the future? Italy is already a inheritance tax haven compared with the UK If this were the case Italy would become even more attractive. A good cross-border tax accountant is an absolute necessity: unfortunately I am not one but I use the services of a very competent one: it is money well spent! 

Sun, 08/16/2009 - 14:00

The USA has a tax treaty relationship with Italy to avoid double taxation and tax evasion.  As always my advice is to consult your tax accountant.  The American Chamber of Commerce in Italy may also be able to help!.  

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 07:13

Hi Marcella Try this website:www.missionerumore.itFrom what I can see it contains plenty of info about noise abatement and the legal background eg Article 844 of the Italian Civil Code and the latest situation regarding what household noise (from TVs, dogs, music etc) is considered tolerable or intolerable (a nuisance) under Italian Law and a lot more.  The law is in Italian; if you do not understand you could always take up Carole's B's offer of translation.  I hope it helps.You may need to keep a diary of all the disturbing events as evidence of the nuisance,  This would be case in the UK.Modern flats in Italy have to comply with soundproofing regulations, eg floors and windows.  Soundproofing floors to prevent you from annoying your neighbours with impact noises and windows to prevent you from annoying your neigbours with noises from normal living.  It is always good when buying a flat to check whether it complies with the Government's minimum soundproofing legislation.As regards the dog defecating on the lawn and the rights of the members of the condo you should check the condo's rules and the role of the admistrator.You do not mention whether the young man is the owner or a tenant.  It may be his parents' flat, then in this case a quiet word with the parents will suffice, if he is the tenant then a word with the landlord may do the trick.  If he is the owner then it will depend on his character and I would suggest you talk to the other owners who are affected and agree a strategy.  You may persuade the admistrator to act as a mediator.  It is always difficult in these situations: fear of a confrontation should guide your action.As you mention the UK for your information 42% of domestic noise disturbance in the UK is from playing loud music and TV, 15% from noisy pets.I am not a lawyer: this information is based on my experience. Good luck! Serge    

Mon, 08/10/2009 - 08:34

Being a small property developer in London and in Tuscany, I must say that I agree with your analysis of Tuscany.  As I said in one of my previous post the market for large villas in my area has collapsed and old people in these villas needing to raise money on them are finding it difficult indeed to find buyers for their outright purchase.  We had a new bifamiliare to sell recently but decided to convert it into 2 flats for letting.  As an indication of hard times our buidler used to invoice us when he got round to it but now he does it monthly and waits for the cheque!  We target Italians and the demand in our part of Tuscany is for low cost properties for the young.  There is also a large demand for low cost rented proprties for Eastern Europeans.  The Tuscan Region is the first region to have approved the law on 20% extension allowance.  This was designed to kickstart the building industry.  As with any initiative the first people implementing it are always careful.  We want to take advantage of this law for one of our properties but the commune is hesitant, because they want to see what other large communes are doing.   We are now talking directly to the Region. There are bargains to be had in the large villas that are suitable for conversion into flats or if one is prepared to buy the freehold and leave the user rights to the owner until her death!

Thu, 08/06/2009 - 16:24

I am in Italy for a few days and saw you post.What you are asking is not a simple question: I would reccomend this book to you:How to avoid Inheritance Tax by Carl Bayley BSc ACA published by Tax Cafe £24.95 IBSN 978-1-904608-95-0An extremely easy book to read!  It has already saved me a great deal of potential IHT!Do not forget that the Prodi Government brought back IHT in Italy, but it is significantly more generous than UK IHT. Getting my Italian property potfolio taxed under Italian IHT is proving almost impossible, the UK taxman will not let go!DIY IHT planning could be costly after reading the book my advice is to employ a Tax accountant. Happy reading!