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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

2018-08-19 08.38.29I know you will forgive me for starting this blog with an emotional outburst about the state of our roads and bridges.  Last week was the great holiday exit to the coast and mountains, so the roads were full of happy Italians heading off for their little bit of paradise, meeting up with family and friends, some never made it…….  The loss of so many lovely people with the collapse of the Morandi Bridge is unforgivable.  There will be thousands of people counting their blessings, including ourselves, who have driven over the same bridge in the past.  We have lived here in Tuscany for fourteen years.  The first thing that hit us was the terrible state of the roads.   Roadworks and bridge repairs are started and left unfinished, the weeds taking over and years passing before the work is completed; some never finished.  We see it every day!  Thank you for listening.

20180603_104928Meanwhile, families gather round and support each other, many still on holiday and so help them, they will still enjoy the rest of the time they have on the beach.  August is not our most favourite month of the year, but nevertheless, when we sit under our big ash tree and gaze across these Chianti Hills towards San Gimingiano and beyond, where our lovely family lives, we are reminded just how lucky we are.

2018-08-19 14.15.44Other things to celebrate include Our local restaurant, C’era una Volta, which continues to serve up the best Tiramusu in Tuscany,

2018-08-18 09.07.04And, Jam Caffe in Certaldo, which continues to make the best early morning pastries  and our lovely local Villagers in Fiano who continue to smile and greet us like we are old friends.  Life eeez good, Life eeez now.  Fotos J Finnigan

And, some good news for us fashionisti.  Autumn fashions are starting to appear in the shops and newspapers.  This is my time of year for both the colours and the styles, and as my man and I will be off for a short luxury break on the coast in the near future, its time to check my wardrobe.

2018-08-18 09.49.48I love this outfit in the foto, which I spotted in La Republica.  Luisa Spagnoli website is one of my favourite Italian designers.  Did I tell you that I have dropped a dress size after I stopped drinking alcohol last January?  Living in Tuscany surrounded by vineyards is wonderful, but it can also have its negative effects.  No my friends, this does not mean I will never drink a glass of Chianti wine again, but it may be some time before I do!  Salute x

And, down in our local town Certaldo, it is time to celebrate that beautiful glossy red onion, with La Sagra della Cipolla, famous for its flavour and uniqueness.  I may have mentioned before, but I keep a stock of Certaldo Onion Marmalade in my cupboard; it’s delicious.

So, as you can see, there is a lot to celebrate and be grateful for in beautiful Tuscany.

Have a great week and do drop me a line and/or visit my author site at My site

Salute June x

PS  Just sending off my short story & thriller ‘The Man in Black’ for publishing.  It will be available to download free, so watch this space!

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Welcome and Auguri to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

2018-08-14 10.12.12Only in Italy will the front page of a national newspaper show the Prime Minister and other political big wigs splashing around in or by the sea!  You see, tomorrow is Ferragosta and If you are Italian you know exactly what that means.  You down tools, pack your extended family into a car, get into a crazy queue of traffic stretching for hundreds of miles, eat your way through hampers of food and wine on the journey and if you are lucky arrive at the coast or mountains by night fall!  If you are a foreign resident like us, you stock up with food and wine, batten down the hatches against the heat and stay at home.  Meanwhile, the unfortunate tourists arriving in Pisa this week, will find themselves in an endless queue trying to pick up a hire car, then another one trying to get on the FiPiLi dual carriageway, the caffes and pit stops are closed, because it’s the annual holiday and the petrol stations are only geared up for self-service cash only pumps!  When they finally arrive at their destination after endless stops in the overheated traffic queues, they find that local shops and restaurants are also closed!  So they all fall into the swimming pools, cool off and compete over who gets bitten the most by the zanzari (mosquitos) as no-one thought to pack any insect repellent.  By day three, the tourists will have discovered how best to deal with things.  The towns and villages are like ghost towns, so they eventually find which supermarkets are open, that hot pizzas are only sold in the evenings, the few available restaurants, only open in the evening as it is too hot to eat outside for lunch, and that cities like Florence are cauldrons this time of year and are best avoided.  Despite all these things they will leave after their week or two here, totally in love with Tuscany and wax lyrical to all their envious friends!  Foto La Nazione.

2018-08-14 10.17.02#1However, Ferragosta is also a week of fantastic music and theatre, if you know where to go, like Follonica over on the Tuscan coast.  For the Follonica Summer Festival go to their website

Locally, there will be firework displays and private parties to go to.  Art galleries and museums are mostly open, some with limited hours due to the skeleton staffing.  San Gimignano is a good place to go for these, if you can manage to park, or better to get a bus from Certaldo, Poggibonsi or Siena.  Expect big crowds though!  Foto La Nazione.

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On the subject of our local town, Certaldo, a recent addition to the curious things to see is a statue opposite Jam Caffe near the station.  Foto J Finnigan.  Whilst the mediterranean diet is supposed to be the healthiest in the world, this may remind you of the dangers of overindulging in pasta and pastries!  And on the subject of pasta, we met a lovely young English couple at Osteria La Gramola in Tavernelle websitewho were wading through a tasting menu of nine pasta dishes!  Now, this was their own fault as they had just finished a pasta making course that morning and had no choice but to try every one.  They only had a small taste of each dish, but they were definitely struggling with the last few servings!  If you are reading this; nice to meet you guys and we hope you organised a portavia!

2018-08-12 08.56.46#1Meanwhile, down in Roma the traditional pilgrimage to visit Pope Francis is at full throttle, this year seventy thousand fans filled the Vatican City on greet the masses days.  The heat has been horrendous, so I hope there was a good supply of chilled water and holy wine.  This man has a huge following, whether you are religious or not.  It is no doubt his likeable personality and charisma combined.

Back at the ranch, or rather our lovely former monastery farmhouse home, our daughter and grandchildren arrived for an overnight stay as their house had been invaded by hornets and the spray used to rid them was toxic to say the least.  “Come on over” we had said, “We have no hornets or wasps here!”  Then the next morning my daughter found a puppy racing around our garden, obviously stuck inside the fence and unable to find its way out again.  So my man opened the rarely used lower exit gate to let it out and promptly found a wasp’s nest inside it! The puppy raced back to its owners, parked just down the lane, whilst my man got himself stung three times!  Hey ho!  But we don’t care about that, life eeez good, life eeez now.  And now it’s raining praise the gods, so no need to water for a few days!

2018-08-14 10.25.36And finally, to say brava to Manuela who has been drafted in from her house next door to La Dispensa in Fiano, to man the bar for two weeks whilst Rosella goes off for a hard-earned holiday on the south coast with her amore.  As you can see in the foto and after several days of practice, she can now make perfect coffee even with her eyes closed!  Bless her.

OK, over to you.  Do drop me a line and/or visit my official author site at My site for your summer reading.

Have a great week.

Salute June x

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Benvenuti and welcome to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

terrazza-1_1d5e9c21dd4815517157de38d3d56952_tIt is Sunday morning in Beautiful Tuscany and we have returned from Fiano having enjoyed morning coffee and a chat with three visiting hunks from Milano.  Paolo’s (his English was excellent) father lives locally and his mother in Montespertoli.  I thought there had to be a good reason to visit our part of the world during an August heat wave, as every other Italian that can, has gone off to the coast or the mountains.  These nice looking young men apparently live near Lake Como, which is one place I would really like to visit.  anyway, I picked up another pack of bottled water and headed home with my man who is now stretched out on the sofa with a fan whizzing around full blast, and ready to take off, in the sitting room.  Yesterday, we realised that our air-conditioning unit was getting very hot, only to discover that the filter tray was completely blocked.  You may all like to check your own units!  We have had the out pipe stuffed up our chimney, but now we have realised that the hot air is heating up the metal flue and radiating the heat back into the room!  Saints preserve us!  Foto – The Relentless sun at Osteria La Case Chianti, from website.

2018-08-05 10.17.40Reading the papers I see that the Chinese and Japanese tourists continue to flood into Florence, that beautiful city that anyone with any common sense, avoids during the heat of summer.  The only difference is that it’s not the guide holding up the brolly for the faithful to follow, it is the tourists themselves that have converted their brollies into sunshades!  Foto La Repubblica.

Anyway, I’m sure my story is very similar to all you other poor souls fighting the European heat wave.  I watered the pots at seven o’clock this morning and made sure the two water bowls were full for the wildlife.  We have a large old black bucket outside our fence for the larger creatures (wild boar, deer etc) that cannot get into our pond, which is rapidly disappearing anyway.  And a smaller one for the cats, family of pheasants and visiting hare that manages to get under the fence.

Well, what else have I got to tell you.  Quite honestly, it’s been too hot to spend much time doing anything other than an early morning coffee at Fiano, then shutting ourselves in until dusk!  But I have had some new ideas for my fourth book ‘Assassin’s List,’ which is finally coming together.  Also, I must find the energy to keep up the strumming practice on my lovely Fender guitar, which sits on its stand in the corner of my study, begging to be played.  I need to change the strings to some that are better for learners, thank you John, but am frightened to death of trying to do it myself.  So I must wait for my band member Stefano to surface from his summer break!

tom-hill.jpgSo, what are you up, to apart from staggering around with your tongue hanging out and using up whole packets of wet wipes to cool yourselves down?  Perhaps Iceland would be a good idea.  My man and I did discuss moving out of Tuscany to cooler climes for a month in August last year, but here we are again, still here. Life’s events can tend to get in the way and prevent any well laid plans from happening!  Actually, I can recommend a hotel there, Iceland that is, its called Hotel Ranga, my daughter stays there regularly.  Foto from website.  Go to  Website

Gosh, am I rambling?  That’s what this relentless heat does to the brain!  I’ve even started talking to Izzy Lizard; he dashes from his vantage point above left of the cantina door, races across the side wall and hides behind the compost sacks.  But the last couple of weeks, I’m convinced he has been devising a cunning plan.  He’s started making strange cackling sounds that to me is talking, but not in a very friendly way.  So I talk back and say nice things to keep him relaxed.  Today he stopped halfway across the wall and stared at me!  I smiled, then he went behind his sacks, cackling away,  until I had finished sorting out the laundry.  He’s quite big and fat, so I think he’s the one keeping the insects down. Perhaps he thinks I’m after them too!

OK, must get this blog off to you.  Sorry about all the gobbledygook, that’s the way it is at the moment!

Have great week and do drop me a line, and/or visit my official author site at June’s site

Salute June x

PS  In this hot weather make sure your loved one is provided with plenty of chilled drinks and pampering.  Amore is the one thing that keeps us sane at times like this!

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

2018-07-27 09.09.27Despite the heat of July, the Italians still manage to remain busy with Festas.  In nearby Vinci, north of Florence, today is the last day of La Festa dell’Unicorno.  Now I only know that it is in Vinci because I asked Rossella in La Dispensa in Fiano the other day.  The Italians, and I can only speak about the Tuscans with any real hands on knowledge, have a way of advertising Festas in both the newspaper and on posters, leaving out either the place, day or time, and sometimes all three.  Now the reasoning behind this is that everyone should know these things.  If I ask “Where is it being held?” the facial reaction is one of amazement, the shoulders and hands are raised and the answer is “Why Vinci of course!” Well OK, I have lived here long enough to know these things, but I’m afraid I have not managed to grab the art of remembering when, where and what is going on at any one time.  Then I look closely at the advertisement  in the paper and realise that it is nearly over and the performances are so complex and muddled I have to go and lie down.  But, nevertheless, today is the last day and if you are in the Vinci area, you should go and experience this Festa of music, dance, food, wine and just about everything you might find under the Tuscan sun!  It starts at 9.30 pm so you still have time to get ready!

2018-07-25 09.33.59Now a bit closer to home I see in the paper that it’s time for the selection of the regional candidate for Miss Italia, nestled up to a picture of the band King Crimson.  Italy still considers the Miss Italia contest to be very important, where the mostly olive-skinned contestants parade in bathing costumes reminding us how beautiful the Italian woman really is.

Meanwhile, King Crimson is soaking up the Italian love of rock music and are on tour, stopping off at the Lucca Summer Festival.  An unusual band, famous for having three drummers, and held together since 1967 by guitarist Robert Fripp.  Robert’s history is fragmented having spent ten years doing other things, including backup guitar for David Bowie, but reformed the band in 2013.  They have recently released an album called ‘Live in Vienna’ which has both rock and orchestral tracks, 30 in all!  Best to google King Crimson, or go on to iTunes.

2018-07-23 09.03.25Not to be overlooked, is the fact that we have a world champion on our hands.  Yes, the thirty-five year old golfer, Francesco Molinari, has just won the 2018 Open Championship, the first Italian ever to do so!  Well bully for him I say.  Oh, I think that’s a hocky term, but hey ho!  It seems that Francesco has homes in both Turin and London.  How fantastic to earn a living playing a sport you love and to have homes in two of the greatest cities in Europe.  Visit Wikipedia

Well, must take a break now and get a nice cauliflower cheese bake in the oven.  I’ll finish this later and get it off to you this evening.

OK, I’m back having had a nice Sunday pausa.   So how to finish this blog?  Well, I think to reflect on the fact that I am a writer, yes really, and that I have three novels out there in the ether, just waiting to entertain you over your summer break.  In fact you’re probably so hot that lying on the sofa with a book is all you can do right now!  If it helps we are baking here too.

But life eez good, life eeez now!  Have a great week and do drop me a line, and/or visit my official author site at June’s site

Salute June x

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

Yet another beautiful day in Tuscany!

2018-07-18-09-06-46.jpgWell, as the dust settled after the five-day Mercantia Festival in Certaldo, our local village of Fiano was gearing up for its own three-day event Festa in Fiano.  This is a lively annual event and today, Sunday, is the final day.  So if you are nearby, head over to Fiano for the final evening’s blast.  Great music, food and wine; what more can I say!

2018-07-18 09.07.36Yesterday, two of Fiano’s handsome locals were crying out for a foto, so they very happily posed for this blog.  Fotos J Finnigan

 

Now the highlight of the last week for me was a visit to Castello Sonnino in Montespertoli with my two lovely American friends.  Thank you to Caterina for squeezing us in to a busy July schedule and releasing your lovely assistant to give us a history tour of the Castello.  And, the history is to die for.  Foto from website.

olive1Sidney Sonnino  was twice Prime Minister of Italy and later Finance Minister during the First World War.  The current Sonnino family have proudly dedicated their time to preserving all the archives for that time and more.  They have also built an enviable income producing estate to help preserve the castle, its history and the land.  Read lots more on their beautiful website.  You can even stay there, so check it out!  Sonnino website

UnknownMeanwhile, down in Florence, the new T1 Leonardo Tram-line is up and running.  Foto from official website.  In issue 247 of the Florentine Weekly is a great article all about it.  The Tram stops at lots of interesting places, twenty-six in all, over 11.5 Kilometres and you can jump on every  four minutes!  Brilliant I say!  Can’t wait to get on board!  Go to The Florentine website

If, however, you want to go around the city on bicycle or further afield by vespa, you can also arrange this in Florence.  We often see the brightly coloured vespas whizzing along through our bit of the Chianti hills.  Not a lot has changed since the ’60s!  Looking at their website, you could have a great day out this way!  Go to Tuscany Bike tours

osteriacasachiantitramonto_542cddc7ff3014dee37d577767518aaa_tAnd what about eating?  I hear you say.  Well if you want a real Tuscan experience, you only need to drop down below Fiano, our local village, to find Osteria di Casa Chianti where you will not only find local food, wines and oils, but a bit of theatre too.  In the evening the sunset from the big outside terrazzo is fabulous.  Foto from website.  Now this place gets very busy, is only open in the evenings and for sunday lunch, so booking is essential.  My man and I had an excellent supper with our American friends last Friday, to whom we wish a safe journey home and hope to see you next year!  Visit The website

Well, must get this blog finished and off to you.  It’s a little cooler today, so we are feeling fresher, thank goodness.  Hope you are too!

Have a great week, drop me a line and do visit my official author site at June’s Site

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the world,

2018-07-06 14.49.56My man and I live in the Chianti Hills above Certaldo and our beautiful daughter and grandchildren are only thirty-five minutes away.  We always jump to attention when we are invited to lunch, what with my own and our daughter’s hectic lifestyles these are very important get togethers.  We also get to see Monty our grand dog, a beautiful Maremma we think, but anyway he’s adorable.

2018-07-06 14.40.33Long family lunches are traditional here in italy and we are more than happy to embrace the idea.  My man was presented with his all time favourite desert, strawberry Pavlova, a belated father’s day treat!

I am never far from the music scene here in Tuscany, and this time of year there is a lot going on in Lucca, Pistoia and Florence all of which have rock and blues festivals.  My own concert has now slid into the recent past, its time to see who else has been and will be on tour here and the list is very impressive!  If you want to plan your summer for 2019, why not visit Tuscany and plan you itinerary around these fabulous annual festivals.

Back on June 15th we saw the summer start with a fantastic line up at Firenze Rocks in Florence.  The list included Foo Fighters, Guns n’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne and Judus Priest.  Go to website

2018-07-04 09.01.33In Pistoia the three-day blues festival started 13th July and included Graham Nash, James Blunt, Steve Hackett, ZZ Top and Crosby Stills & Nash.  Go to Website

2018-07-10 08.59.41In Lucca the Summer Festival continues up to 26th July and includes Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper, Jonny Depp, Roger Waters, Lenny Kravitz (look him up he’s brilliant) James Taylor, King Crimson, Nick Cave and loads more.  Website

2018-07-16 11.29.10Ok, and continuing for the moment on the same subject, I am pleased to tell you that I am learning to play the acoustic guitar.  About time, I hear you say, and yes I know but I have been so busy writing books and stuff over the last few years, but I am so in love with my new Fender I can’t keep away from it!

2018-07-07 09.27.36#1Well, that’s enough of my music indulgences, what is happening in our local town of Certaldo you ask? Oh, it’s the amazing Mercantia of course, which every year attracts musicians, dancers, acrobats, theatricals and produce from Tuscany, you have to see it to believe it.  The Historical Centre, Certaldo Alto, is the place to be as it provides the most stunning backdrop for all these fabulous goings on.  The festivities finish today, but there’s always next year!  Diary date for 2019! Go to Website

Well, enough for now, must get this blog off to you and think about lunch.

Here’s hoping you have a really great week, the heat is on.

Salute June x

Visit my official author site at June’s site

 

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely followers around the World,

2018-07-04 12.34.03Well, the dust has finally settled and we have at last returned to our quiet & idyllic lifestyle in our little bit of Chianti.  Some of our concert going friends are still here, staying in and around Certaldo, and I was delighted to take two of them to visit Anne Shingleton’s studios at Vico D’Elsa near Poggibonsi.  Now I have known Anne for many years but this is the first time I have managed to visit her, see her wonderful paintings & sculptures and to hear her story.  Foto J Finnigan.

P1000442_2_2 Anne, on the left above, as an artist is way up there with the world’s greatest painters of wildlife, being a zoologist herself, this is the medium of first choice for her.  But Anne can paint anything from portraits to landscapes creating better than photographic images.  Then there are the sculptures and her most recent undertaking was a huge Swan, which is currently exhibited in the beautiful Gheradesca gardens of the Four Seasons Hotel in Florence.  Ask at reception and you will be shown through to the gardens, Anne’s swan is next to the pond.  Hotel Website

Without seeing Anne’s work first hand it is difficult to ‘paint the picture’ well enough to really appreciate just how amazing she is.  However, if you visit her website you will get a good idea and she is always available to discuss commissions, sales or exhibits.  Fotos provided by Anne.  Go to Anne’s website

 

20180708_175325Well, how does one follow that?  As I was musing over this, my man called out “June, you’ve got to come and see this!”  So I  detached myself from my chair and rushed into his study, where he was watching something on TV.  “You won’t believe this and it could only happen in Italy, but they are showing a recent ‘tug o’ war’ match on a bridge over the River Arno in Pisa!  But they have two teams back to back, trying to push, yes push, each other with their feet in strangely wedged trainers!”  It was a contest called Gioco del Ponte and it had as much action as watching paint dry!  They had been in a gridlock for ten minutes already and it was another fifteen before the sweating big guys in red, finally overcame the red faced yellow ones.  This, and they were all dressed in tudor costume!  Crazy Italians!  Ha ha!  Foto P Finnigan.

2018-06-22 09.11.38Of course, not to forget, I did promise you a Hunk of the Month for July, and guess what, it had to be the latest Armani Man!  I have been saving this picture up, but now I think I should share it, I’ve been gazing at him long enough!  Phew, now I’ve completely lost my train of thought!  Foto Giorgio Armani.

2018-07-08 12.57.26Ah, zucchini or courgettes to you.  No, no, no connection you naughty thing.  But here is a bag of freshly picked Zucchini, which was placed on our lunch table today at C’era uni Volta by the adorable Paolo, before we had even ordered our meal!  These were straight out of his orto, veg patch, which is overproducing the things in this lovely weather, forcing me to once again find our kitchen and cook something!  Would love to have some new recipes for Zucchini! Leave your messages below or write to june.finnigan@virgin.net.  Grazie mille.  Foto J Finnigan.

Anyway, time to get this blog posted off to you.  Got a busy week ahead what with the writing and the day job!

Enjoy and have a great week.

Salute June x

Ps Don’t forget to visit my official author site at June’s website

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