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

download-2.jpgNow, you know me.  I am the eternal fun loving optimist.  But this morning was awful.   The trains were all running seriously late from Certaldo, so I said to my man ‘Empoli?”  He jumped back in the car and we headed off for Empoli, which is where my man changes trains on the way to Pisa airport.  But we both agreed that it might be better to drive straight to Pisa rather than risk more delays, so my man got in the driver’s seat.  I like to live a relaxed lifestyle, which includes avoiding driving long distance and on fast motorways.  On the journey back I went the old route along the Strada Provinciale, it takes longer but it is far more relaxed.  It was OK until I got to the turning to Siena.  A new bypass road has finally opened, which should have been a huge relief to the villages on the ‘A’ road to Siena via Certaldo, my home town.  But the thoughtless road builders have either deliberately avoided building bridges or tunnels or did not have the cash, and have split villages in half with Berlin type walls!  I ignored the ‘dead end’ signs and went to take a look, there weren’t even any pedestrian underpaths or bridges!  So, this fun loving optimist is now furious!  To avoid the new fast bypasses, I had to drive into Empoli and add a further half an hour to my journey.  OK, I feel better now having shared this; time for a nice glass of Pinot Grigio!  Foto dw.com

79536486_481641379141460_7840924585141731328_nLast week we were taken by surprise to find that the frost had arrived before we had covered the terracotta plant pots in the garden.  So my man rushed out to do the important deed and well done to him.  But we love December and can all genuinely go around looking cheesy and admitting to loving Christmas!  What, who said that?  Not everyone likes Christmas; I cannot believe that for one moment.  Just look at the delight on childrens’ faces as they press their noses up against Christmassy shop windows.  And, the sparkle in the eyes of people wandering around the Christmas markets!  If you can’t be happy for yourself be jolly for those that are!  Here is a picture of our log fire to cheer you up!

I78467753_588554701918323_1256408801733509120_nn the foto of our fireplace you can see a framed ceramic tile bottom right, which is rather beautiful and was recently purchased from our firends at Ceramiche ‘Carbini Gabriella’ in our local village of Fiano.  It covers a hole in the side of the iglenook, which was originally an opening for a fire to heat the metal cooking pot ring above it.  I have mentioned Gabriella’s place before and will do so again, as it is full of ‘buy me’ ceramic things for presents.

79447082_1035657540100048_5385449884612558848_nMeanwhile, whilst browsing through the newspaper at La Dispensa at the weekend I found another beautiful outfit designed by one of my favourite Italian designers, Luisa Spagnoli.  Have you ever seen such a beautiful cosy winter outfit made from tartan rugs?  I think this deserves a top award of some kind!

Xmas Tree 2019And to keep the spirit of Christmas going, I thought you might like a picture of our Christmas Tree, which we put up in our large kitchen/family room.  Having a big Tuscan kitchen is fantastic for everthing including my singing practice as the acoustics are so good.  But more important than anything else is the pleasure of having friends and family to pranzo or cena in our kitchen, then toasting our tootsies in front of the fire in the sitting room, clutching a nice Italian digestivo.

The_Man_in_Black_Cover_for_KindleWhilst writing, I would like to say a very big thank you for buying my books in 2019 and to show how much I appreciate it, I want to send you a free signed short story called ‘The Man in Black’, which is a thriller based in London’s theatre land.  All you need to do is send me proof of purchase or a photograph of all three paperback versions by email, anytime up to the end of January 2020.  Email june.finnigan@virgin.net (Oh, I’ll need your postal address too!)

Well, must get back to the day job!  Do drop me a line and visit my website at My site

Salute June xxx

PS  Next week I’ll be posting not one but four hunks of the month as a special treat for Christmas.  Watch this space!

 

 

75543587_2413273775563196_5149283351131062272_oWelcome and Benvenuti to all  my Lovely Followers around the World,

We are delighted to announce that one of our favourite local restaurants has won a well deserved Michelin Star for 2020!  Congratulations to our good friends Cecilia and Massimo at Osteria La Gramola in Tavernelle!  We have eaten there twice in the last seven days; need I say more.  For a high quality restaurant, it is not expensive and it is hugely popular with the locals.  The food is artistic yet the portions are generous and even gluten-free diners like me are catered for.  My man and I love it!  La Gramola

tuscany-train

Ha ha, moving? Photo Discover Tuscany

Meanwhile, we optimistically decided to drop down to our local town of Certaldo this morning, intending to buy train tickets and to order an Italian driving licence from the local ACI.  So, my man pops into a photo booth and gets some pictures.  “My god, do I really look like that?”  He is horrified that he looks like he has just been arrested and decides to grow a beard again!  We go to the ACI and they are closed on saturday mornings, great!  So it’s off to the railway station to buy tickets.  The ticket office closed about a year ago so we have to use a ticket machine; it was not working!  Fortunately, we have lived here for years, so we knew it was possible to buy them at a local tobacconist.  My man got in the queue and eventually reached the front.  The nice lady wanted his identification, National insurance number, email and his telephone number for their records!  He asked her if she wanted a blood sample too!  He thinks she got the joke, but he was serious.  You can laugh if you like, but the thing is, on the day my man wants to travel the airport is on strike, so we have had to change his flight and get new train tickets.  It is becoming somewhat tedious of late, as there are far too many strikes happening here in Tuscany!

78093354_10157984018423083_3275590201665126400_oBut on a much brighter note, whilst reading the news with my morning coffee in Fiano, I found an article about one of Italy’s favourite Rock Stars, Luciano Ligabue, who has written a book about his life.  He is now fifty-nine, poor thing.  But here in Italy we aging rock singers are very popular, as you know, so I don’t know what he’s worried about.  Luciano is a good looking guy, if you like your man a little rough around the edges, and is a great guitarist.  The Italians love his voice, which is gravelly and shouty, not my favourite sound but nevertheless his live performances certainly have an all embracing wall of great sound.  Ligabue

75210797_2441971822733071_7758935871369248768_nOh yes, nearly forgot, a friend just reminded me that tomorrow (Sunday) is an evening of entertainment at the Old Cinema in our local village of Fiano.  There is a great theatre group in the area and you will enjoy this play even if you don’t speak Italian.  There is still time to pop into the bar and get a ticket!  Enjoy!

76771541_10157984895983083_3096044608593854464_oAnd, last but not least, we are relieved to have Paolo and Gaia back at Ristorante C’era Una Volta just up the road in Lucardo.  They had been off on a three week break visiting Instanbal and some other places, where they acquired a nice golden tan!  We were presented with the most delicous platters of pasta with generous shavings of Tartufo Bianco (white truffles) over the top.  Found locally in the woods, Paolo’s supplier of this food of the gods really knows where to look!  Bless his woolly socks and truffle dog.  Yummy!

Well enough of that, must get this blog edited and off to you.  Have a great week and do get in touch, I love to hear from my readers.  Don’t forget to email me a copy of your receipt if you have bought the paperback versions of all three of my books below before Christmas and I will send you a free signed copy of my short story ‘The Man in Black’.  Enjoy!  june.finnigan@virgin.net

Salute June x

PS Visit my website at My site

 

 

 

 

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my lovely followers around the world,

74219010_568403283921734_5820832841121923072_nYet another potentially beautiful day in Tuscany!  I say potentially because it is currently overcast and raining again, however, the weekend was lovely and my man and I dropped down to Certaldo for the market (mercato) on the Saturday morning.  I like to shop from the smaller stall holders who are selling the fruit and veg grown in their own garden or orto.  It all looked wonderfully fresh after the rain and it was a joy to be there in the cooler air and amongst the jolly shoppers of Certaldo.  I also bought some delicious cheeses, both sheep and goat’s cheese, again local products.  I don’t get to the market often enough and must get back to going every Saturday morning.  Not long before all the Christmas stuff will be about and Certaldo comes into it’s own at this time of year.  Exciting isn’t it!

71530727_1399845073499182_5815258218384850944_nAnd on the subject of Italian cheeses, you may be surprised to know that the country produces an awful lot more than Parmesan!  The Gran Reserve Leonardi has just won gold in the A1 World Cheese Awards, and it’s a Gorgonzola!  Just look at this massive range of cheeses made in Italy, don’t they make you salivate?  I adore cheese and I always get in a big choice at Christmas time.  Must have some for lunch!

71783322_2988290284517508_577776249246580736_o.jpgMeanwhile, I read that Andrea Bocelli has launched a new album.  (Foto from his Facebook page.)  Now, as well as books, it’s rather nice to buy albums for Christmas and this latest one sounds wonderful. Last Christmas we treated ourselves to a new record player, so all our old albums can be played again!  Andrea’s album includes wonderful duets with Ellie Goulding and Jennifer Garner amongst other guest performers.  It is called ‘Si Forever’ and can be bought or streamed Here

Sophia and 75289046_1447485298735159_2866407838446518272_nThe other thing I really love at Christmas time is old Italian films.  Some of the comedies are really brilliant and what with so many Italian actor icons dying off, it’s good to keep these films on the shelf.  Sophia, bless her, is still very much alive, but so many of her co-stars like Marcello Mastroianni, are not.  What a formidable acting team those two made!  By now you have probably worked out that I am a horder of books, records and DVD’s.  No I am not digital, well maybe a little bit.  I am a little sad that buying gifts like diaries, calendars, CD’s and watches are just not of interest to the younger lot, as everything is digital now!  Yes, my thoughts have gone all festive already.  It was not my intention to start talking about Christmas, but it is only six weeks or so away!  Foto from Facebook.

The_Man_in_Black_Cover_for_KindleNow I’m going to mention my books as we are on a Festive roll at the moment.  I really want to encourage you to buy real books this christmas.  If any of you buy my current trilogy, My Father, The Assassin, The Bolivian Connection & The Italian Connection between now and Christmas and in paperback form, I will be delighted to send you a signed copy of my short story The Man in Black.  Just email me a copy of your receipt and your postal address.  june.finnigan@virgin.net.  Visit my website for easy access to on-line purchasing.  My site

Well, enough for now, must get on with the day job.  Have a great week.

Salute June x

 

 

 

 

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

2017-12-28 16.41.41Sunday morning and it’s a little scary here in our normally sunny spot in Chianti.  The wind is picking up and the shutters have started banging; yes, there is a storm coming.  The forecast is for serious storms in both the north and south of Italy; we are not expected to be hit so badly, but I think we will tuck in for the day.  I’ll make us some comfort food like pear crumble.  Yes, I know, how English, but to be honest we mostly go out to eat Italian and I tend to keep to recipes I have known for years.  I am not a creative cook, I’d prefer to employ one, but that would be very lazy indeed and my man actually likes my cooking, bless him.  biglietti-concerto-bryan-adams-ex560x350

Anyway, you want to hear about the Music scene, don’t you!  There is always a lot going on this time of year, with indoor concerts of course.  It’s a tad too cold for outside gigs and the chance of rain is high in November.   In the coming two to three weeks Bryan Adams will be in Bologna & Milan, Rickie lee Jones will be in Lucca (just an hour from us) Milan & Rome and Ian Anderson, he of Jethro Tull fame, is in Florence on 5th November. Now for those of you who have not heard of the American Rickie Lee Jones, I should tell you that she is a hugely talented singer, musician and actress.  She has a real bluesy voice and great to listen to as well as to see on stage.  Listen to her yourself on YouTube  Virtually all visiting musicians get a full house in Italy as the Italians just love American and English music.  And, if you are an aging rocker like me, you’ll be even more popular!  So, if any musicians are reading this and you have not yet toured in Italy, you really should!  Foto Shine a Light Tour Image.

2019-10-26 08.45.36Meanwhile, back in the relative calm of La Dispensa, our local coffee bar and alimentare in Fiano, my man and I are enjoying our coffee and reading the local and national newspapers.  “ha, ha, just look at this picture!”  My man passes his paper to me and there is a picture of Niccolo Machiavelli by Antonio Maria Crespi.  Just look at that profile!  There, almost four hundred years ago, was the original Mr Bean, or should I say Rowan Atkinson.  There is also a family in Montespertoli that resembles Mr Bean, particularly the daughter, bless her cotton socks.  Perhaps they are descendants of the great Machiavelli?

2019-11-02 08.55.49But lets move on and enjoy a bit more Italian Fashion.  I spotted this perfect Autumn outfit yesterday.  Personally I would wear flat boots with this, but on this model the whole outfit looks great.  I have checked out the website for The Flexx and have to say it’s worth visiting.  They are actually makers of women’s foot fashion with a factory in Pisa and shops in Pistoia and Florence; so very local!   I found some gorgeous flat boots, moccasins and pumps.  Oh, no, I also found some handbags!  Take a look.

So, it’s late morning on Sunday and I must get my head around lunch.  The sky is now very grey and threatening so I will go and make that crumble.  I’ll come back and finish this blog a little later; don’t go away!

I’m back and the storm seems to have abated thank goodness.  Feeling a little sorry for the England Rugby Team going home with their tails between their legs.  But, so very disappointing.

Never mind, lets look forward to a good week.  Life eeez good, life eeez now!

Salute June x

Ps Visit my website at My site

 

 

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

TELEMMGLPICT000213558850_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqN_gmPEf4gh9KGKN0H_DnHzvQzZCz4snK584jwNUNHokBefore I start, I must apologise.  I have spent most of the weekend watching the Rugby World Cup, instead of writing to you.  So I trust you can forgive me for making this blog a little shorter than usual as it is already lunchtime on Sunday!  What a great match yesterday, England played incredibly well, the poor All Blacks couldn’t even get a look in.  So today’s match  between Wales and South Africa was rather an anti-climax.  Anyway, now we know that the final next weekend will be England vs South Africa.  Make sure you diary date to watch it!  Foto UK Telegraph

Ooops, sorry, just realised that I have been waxing lyrical about Rugby and you have tuned in to read about Tuscany.   To make up for this I am posting some gorgeous fotos of the autumn colour that currently surrounds us and hope that you can enjoy it as much as we are.  The vineyards develop lines of colour due to the planting of different grape varieties in one field.  This results in the gorgeous range of colours including yellow, gold, bronze and red.  Driving through the hills this morning we were able to enjoy some autumn canvases that are difficult to photograph and need to be seen here to really appreciate.  Sorry about that. But here are some lovely shots.

 

 

2019-10-21 10.57.41I must also mention that the local farmers are very busy with the olive harvest and brightly coloured nets are spread out under the trees.  The harvest started over a week ago, and whilst this year may be a little less productive due to the nasty fly again, the oil should be very nice indeed.  We also have some lovely productive pomegranate bushes.  I’m never quite sure how best to use the fruits, but I I’m sure you will come up with some ideas.  Drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net or leave a message below.  

2019-10-27 13.24.32Well, must dash off to lunch, but will add a little more to this blog when I return.  OK, I’m back and ready to tidy this blog and get it off to you.  But before I go I thought you might like to enjoy this bottle of Sticciano’s Cantastorie Rosso with me, which my man and I had with lunch at C’era una Volta Ristorante.  Ooops sorry, we finished it off.  Oh well, perhaps next time!

Have a great week and do visit my website at My Site

Salute June x

 

All Fotos, unless otherwise marked, J Finnigan.

 

 

 

 

 

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

As you know, my man and I go out every morning for coffee and pastry before the start of the working day.  It’s a great way to catch up with the local people, activities and to read the national newspapers.  In my blogs I attempt to share what I think are things that will interest you, wherever you are on this beautiful planet and preferably fun things.

2019-10-13 09.40.52Sometimes a little sadness cannot be avoided, but at the same time a smile can come out of such occasions.  On October 12 we said addio to that very funny Italian actor from Naples, Carlo Croccolo, a face never to be forgotten. He was 92.  Carlo worked alongside the likes of Toto and many other famous Italian actors.  What most of us did not realise was that he was a prolific Interpreter and dubber.  He actually interpreted 118 films and was the dubbed voice behind some very famous people including Laurel and Hardy!  He also wrote and directed three films of his own!  He also worked in the theatre and on TV most recently playing the fisherman Totonno in the series ‘Capri’ as recent as 2010.  I loved his character and it’s worth revisiting some of his old comedy films from the 50’s like ’47 dead talking’ with Toto.

2019-10-13 09.39.13Meanwhile, if you are walking through Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, staring down at your phone, you might bump into a Very Big Book.  Yes, that’s what I said, a very big book!  It is actually an instillation celebrating Zanichelli’s new amazing updated ‘Vocabularly of the Italian Language.’  A must for every Italian speaker or student of the language.  Well that’s started my Christmas present list off then!  website

72483414_1410772322406457_3365531111810662400_nThen, if you keep walking, and it also happens to be the evening, you can follow the smell of roasting Italian chestnuts.  By this time I hope your phone will be put back in your pocket!  There are lots of opportunities to join organised trips to find your own chestnuts in the Tuscan countryside.  And, organised is better as there are a lot of hunters about carrying guns; at least one local hunter gets killed or badly injured every season!  Foto BeautifulItaly.

2019-10-14 09.06.40But enough of that, back to my adored world of Italian fashion!  Hand made Italian shoes and boots.  Just that sentence alone makes one drool.  My man has hand made shoes with his name inscribed inside.  He once had to take a shoe off in a UK bank to prove who he was, as he had left his identification behind!  It worked!  Anyway, his first shoes he bought in Arezzo, but they were made in Florence.  However, there is a factory near Arezzo called Soldini Scarpe, which you may like to visit if you are in the area.  This advert reminded me.  Don’t you just love the woman’s hair colour in the picture?  Website

2019-10-14 09.01.27What else did I want to tell you?  Oh yes, how could I forget, Italian made Pasta of course!  In the paper the other day, was a very revealing article on the making and exporting of Italian pasta.  I knew that a lot of the stuff was made, but was amazed to find that 58% of production of spaghetti and macaroni is exported and worth 2.4 billion euros a year!  Mind you, I know from experience that the quality here is the highest in the world.  Even we gluten free diners can enjoy delicous Italian made pastas at home and in the ristorante.  My last pasta dish was tagliatelle with fresh porcini; just wonderful.  Porcini is being collected locally in the woods, I just adore this time of year.  Not long before White Truffles (tartufo bianco) will be served at ‘C’era una Volta’, our favourite ristorante in Lucardo.

Well, I guess I had better get this off to you and return to the day job.  Places to go, people to see!

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  I love to hear from my readers.

Salute June x

Visit my website at my site

 

 

 

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

2019-10-06 11.10.29“look at this lot, all crushed under car tires and ignored!”  My man, having been a champion player in his youth, is bemoaning the fact that hundreds of conkers are going to waste in the Piazza in Fiano, which is also a car park.  There are several big Horse Chestnut trees growing around the edge of the Piazza that are looked after quite well and pruned when needed.  They also provide shade for villagers during the summer months so that they can sit outside and enjoy village life.  But, O Dio, the poor conkers are left to be crushed by the cars!  My man decided to check this disaster out with Rossella at La Dispensa, our local alimentare and coffee bar.  ‘No’ she replied in very good English, ‘We have never heard of conkers!’  My man was visibly upset by this.  How could generations of children never have picked up the conkers, selecting the best, threading the old shoe lace through and leaving them to dry in the sun?  He decided to rectify this and between us we threaded up two conkers and took them in this morning.  Rossella and her handsome young amore, Alessio, thought this hilarious.  So we showed them how to play, rather restricted by all the breakables around us and here is a foto.  You have to look closely for the conkers, but I think my man will have started a whole new craze in Tuscany!  Foto J Finnigan

72619985_1730607577069999_7124708358690439168_oMeanwhile, yesterday evening was the big celebration party for having won the beautiful hand-made Calambur banner.  The banner was apparently made by a disabled person, I will try to find out more.  If you want to see how the Italians celebrate, here is the village crammed into the Old Cinema, enjoying a feast of home-made food and gallons of wine. Foto Rione ‘Le Fonte’ Fiano, Facebook page.

2019-10-04 08.50.13Earlier in the day I managed to capture one of the villagers and got him to pose in the bar next to the banner.  Let me introdude you to the very handsome Massimo Maccari, who always has a smile on his face and readily posed for his picture.  Sorry ladies, I have to tell you that he is happily married and the father of two children, but I promise to find you a Hunk of the Month for October soon.  Foto J Finnigan

2019-10-04 09.01.04On a quieter note, I do love Italian men’s classical clothes.  Other than my man, very few men can wear beautiful tailored outfits and still look sexy.  I know, here I am a bit of a Rock Chick, black is my signature colour, but I do like to be seen with a man who can really wear his clothes well.  My man, being ex-military and having a naturaly tall balanced frame, finds it impossible to look scruffy.  Clothes hang on him like he is made for them.  The alternative to being like my Englishman is to be born Italian, as male models here just have that subtle edge.  Don’t you agree?  Canali

2019-09-19 09.05.36Then I noticed something quite different for we ladies (I prefer to say girlies, but you know how it is).  This outfit from Fracomina is strikingly different, a subtle designer edge to the jeans and matching cuffs, very clever.  And, the jaunty little cap to set it off!  I would order this but just need to slim down a bit first……  Francomina

Mustn’t forget the most topical thing at present  is of course World Cup Rugby.  As we support both England and Italy, we have enjoyed both success and failure.  Needless to say, although keeping a brave face, Italy was thrashed by South Africa having been ahead on games beforehand.  England hasn’t lost a game yet, so fingers crossed.  Next up, they play France.

Life is very exciting isn’t it?  Anyway, must get ready for a working day tomorrow, hope you enjoy this blog and do drop me a line.  I love to hear from my readers.

Salute June x

Ps visit my website at My site

 

 

 

 

 

 

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