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

IMG00020-20100501-1931I would like to mention the passing of my lovely Mother-in-Law Marie at the age of 93.  Marie spent just over a year living with us in Tuscany and she absolutely loved the language, the people and the restaurants.  She had learnt a little Italian and, whilst she mispronounced many words, like absolutamente instead of assolutamente, we loved her for it.  She had a marvellous singing voice and could reach all the high notes, singing along to Andrea Bocelli; her favourite was Ave Maria of course!  Forever with us, darling Marie.  Foto P Finnigan

2019-08-17 08.52.15Back here in our little bit of Chianti it is the weekend after Ferragosto, and this year we feel almost completely abandoned.  La Dispensa in Fiano remains open, bless them, for coffee and groceries catering for the few of us still here and the tourists.  Reading the paper I see that 95% of Fiorentines have abandoned Florence for the coast or mountains, although some museums and art galleries remain open.  This seems even more than last year!  Roads are empty of traffic and most shops and venues will remain closed now until the second week in September; the Italians will try to stretch the holiday out as far as they can, love them!  Roll on September.

2019-08-16 09.13.36Meanwhile, the papers are full of politicians frolicking in the sea sporting more than just a little too much belly.  Parliament is in complete disarray, the alliance is imploding in on itself, so we would not be surprised to see elections in October.  Funny that, probably also in the UK……

2019-08-15 08.39.08But what’s this?  We also read the news about Trenitalia, our famous Italian train service, part owned by the government, is now an invested partner in in the UK’s London to Scotland High speed Rail Link!  Italy does have a very good high speed service, linking Rome and Milan, Florence and Venice and several other places and, the fares are not high like the UK.  In fact travel by rail in Italy is probably the cheapest way to get around,  Just a warning though, when checking on train times, also take a look at the section on train strikes (sciopero(i), which is updated regularly due to the tendency for rail staff to strike as often as Italians take days off for festivals.

2019-08-15 08.22.44But, enough of this.  Just a question, do you love trainers?  Am I the only one who really dislikes trainers, except for sport of course, particularly worn with skirts and worse, evening dresses!  I think they make the wearer look clunky or indeed frumpy in some cases.  They also encourage people to stomp around, forgetting how to walk with a little bit of style or elegance.  Also, men’s feet have become too soft for army boots!  My man is an ex-Royal Marine and is horrified at the inability of young men joining the forces to wear the necessary tough boots.  In the paper I found this crazy Italian guy who has a huge collection of the things.  Well, it takes all sorts to make up a world, I guess.

OK, lets get back to the real world, which ain’t so bad.  The weather has cooled a little at night and the really high daytime temperatures have dropped to between 28 and 32 degrees, so that’s a relief.  But I am now informed that it’s going to get hotter again!

OK, lets get this blog honed and off to you.  Hope you enjoy it and do leave your comments, or email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net

Salute June x

PS Do also visit my website for updates on my books and events.  My site

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

August in Tuscany can take your breath away.  Yes, it’s beautiful, but in reality I am talking about the heat, humidity and lack of breathable air!  Even in properties like our own, which is old and built of thick stone walls, you will struggle to stay cool.  The problem is the roof, concrete under tiles, which heats up during the day and fails to cool down sufficiently over night as temperatures are not going lower than around 21 degrees.  Today, Monday, temperatures will be up to 38 degrees again and wow, by 4pm we are gasping and changing into our third set of clothes.  So, it’s full pelt for our air conditioning unit and fans.

2019-08-06 09.24.37Of course the high temperatures have been perfect for the bathing beauties parading in front of the judges for the Miss Toscana contest.  Here in Italy it is still a very popular event, despite the rest of the western world frowning on the so-called exploitation of young women.  Lets face it, Tuscany has some very beautiful young women and if they choose to put themselves on show, so be it.

If this is not your cup of tea, and it’s not really mine, there is a lot going on in our lovely province.  It is the time of year for outdoor picnics, parties and festas.  A favourite site for me to find lots of organised events is at discoverTuscany  You may already know this, but you will not find most of the usual places open as Italians, by tradition, go on holiday for most of August.  But there is still lots to do.

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The 15th August is Ferragosto, or the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary, which is the ‘taking of the Virgin Mary bodily into Heaven,’  whatever that means!  Anyway, everything closes on that day, absolutely nobody works, but they do play!   This week the motorways to the seaside will be nose to tail with traffic, cars loaded up with three generations and enough food to feed an army.  Unless you have already booked a hotel or apartment with their own bit of beach, you will not have a hope of finding a patch of sand to pitch your sun brolly.  Foto torre-mo222.jpg – before the invasion. Extract from discoverTuscany.

2019-06-02 09.43.55Meanwhile, I have been seeing adverts in the paper for Autumn and Winter fashions!   I never fail to be amazed at the number of successful Italian designers.  I noticed this advert for the man in your life; of course all men’s clothes look better worn by Italians, yes I know I’m biased, apart from my English man  who looks good in anything.  It seems you can even find Pal Zileri’s made in Italy clothes at Harvey Nichols in London!  I must say, I love the slightly half-mast trouser look and the flash of socked ankles.  Pity about the model’s long faces though, but we can’t have everything I guess!  Pal Zileri

20190812_132332We have just got back from C’era Una Volta our local ristorante, where it was nice and quiet and gently cooled by the air-conditioning.  Now Paolo, the owner, has a liking for hot spicy food and makes the meanest chilli sauce.  It has been said that in very hot weather you should drink hot tea to cool you down.  Well, Paolo came out of the kitchen with his own cooling down recipe, home grown baby tomatoes cooked in a very hot (picante) sauce.  Here he is displaying his huge pot of the stuff!  My man quite likes the occasional pasta arrabiata but this, whilst smelling delicious, would blow your head off!  We declined a tasting (assaggi) and went for the salsa pecoraia instead.  If you are a meat eater, Paolo will bring out your huge raw Fiorentine Steak to view before he cooks it!  All part of the theatre.

OK, enough already.  Must get this blog edited and off to you.  Back to the day job!

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  june.finnigan@virgin.net

Salute June x

PS Visit my website at My site

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My books

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

458A8440_paginabeach.jpgWell, if you were here in Tuscany at this very moment, you would be amazed to find hardly any British or American tourists in the area.  Even the papers are talking about the huge drop in tourists from outside the Eurozone.  The beaches of Versiglia, a typical high-end resort north of Pisa and usually packed solid with Russians and Americans, was photgraphed with empty sun-beds as far as the eye could see.  We have to face it, exchange rates are apalling at the moment.  One pound sterling will only buy you 1.09 euros today.  When we came here nearly sixteen years ago, we could buy as much as 1.49 euros!  This will change of course, but at this moment in time it seems to be having a profound effect on the tourist industry! Foto trip advisor.

2019-08-02 21.15.52But lets not worry about that.  Just up the road from us is our most frequented ristorante called C’era Una Volta in Lucardo.  We quite like it when it’s quiet, but on Friday evening Gianlucca our favourite waiter, was outside trying to wave down the traffic!  Then he disappeared down the road to Bon Hugo, the pub and pizza restaurant and came back with a freshly baked Pizza.  He then sat down next to us with a bottle of beer and tucked in!  No, this is not a reflection on the food in his own restuarant, it does not serve pizza, just the fact that the first few customers weren’t expected for another hour or so and he just fancied one.  But somehow this came across to us as really funny! foto J Finnigan

2019-07-29 09.31.29#1Of course pizza is so very Italian, but a less talked about food is the Italian Potato.  I absolutely love the new potatoes here.  Not the little round things that the Brits like, simply newly harvested ones in all shapes and sizes, sliced in their skins boiled and tossed in butter.  The Itallians like to chop them up into small pieces and roast with garlic and rosemary twigs, also nice, but I prefer them as they are.  In the picture is my favourite brand, which I can buy in our local Co-op.

2019-08-02 09.39.35Meanwhile, back in Fiano our local village, we catch up on the papers over coffee and can’t help but notice some fotos of the politician Licia Ronzulli of Forza Italia (Silvio’s party) in house with her new baby strapped around her, oblivious and sleeping as it’s impressive mother gets on with the debating and voting.  I must say good for her.  I know there are those out there that would not approve of such behaviour, but here in Italy all mothers would understand.  Things have changed a lot since we have arrived.  There are fewer grandparents taking care of the little ones, and the pre-school nurseries (Asilonido) are getting busier.

2019-08-02 09.38.47And, still on the subject of Politics, I see that Silvio Berlusconi, that veteran of all things controversial, is back in the news.  Formerly an Italian Prime Minister presiding over four parliaments, a cruise ship singer and Bunga Bunga party goer, he currently represents North West Italy as MEP for his Forza Italia party and has a net worth of around $6.6 Billion due to his entrepreneurial activities.  Now keen to give his political profile a boost, he has announced that he wants to launch a new party.  I wonder what he will call it?  Perhaps you could come up with some suitable names and I’ll let Silvio know! Leave your thoughts at the bottom of this page or email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net

download-2.jpgYou thought I had forgotten the Hunk of the Month didn’t you!  Well I’m glad to say that I spotted a picture in The Telegraph the other day and I thought ‘perfect’!  How, I wonder, have I only just come across Jack Savoretti?  He’s apparently made six albums!  He’s gorgeous, plays acoustic guitar and sings like a god.  Yes, OK, he’s English but he is of Italian descent so he definitely qualifies, well you will hardly argue that point will you?  Check him out on You Tube, you’ll be mesmerised!  Foto found on twitter.

Well, enough of that already.  Looks like I’m actually getting this blog out to you on time, it’s good to out of the mist!

Have a great week.

Salute June x

PS Visit my website at my site

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My books

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

Rosella, manuella, Silvia.jpgWhen we first moved to this little bit of Chianti in Tuscany, some fifteen years ago, we quickly established that our closest village and community was to be found in Fiano.  We have been made very welcome despite living outside the village and being English.  We have witnessed the arrival of new babies and watched them grow up, start nursery and then school, and we have shared the joy of birthdays and romances and the sadness of loss,  almost entirely by visiting the coffee bar and spending a while chatting.  We now have some lovely Italian friends.   Thank you the people of Fiano.  In the picture are three beautiful friends from Fiano, Rosella, Manuella and Silvia, enjoying my concert in June.  Foto P Finnigan.

castiglione-di-pescaia-015It is the time of year when lot’s of music and the sound of celebrations are filling the air, people are off enjoying holidays on the coast or up in the cool air of the mountains. Foto P Finnigan – Our favourite coastal town at Castiglione della Pescaia.  

It is simply too hot to be doing anything active and I think it is time to read a few good books.  I have dedicated August to finishing the first draft of  my fourth novel, as I mentioned last week, and to at least have mastered the very basics of my birthday guitar.  And, three new flowers have just opened on my white orchid, which was a gift for my birthday last year, so that’s good news.  I also heard Phil the Pheasant call out this morning after a couple of weeks absence, whilst the foxes seem to have moved on now that they have had their fill of mulberries, but I did spot two cubs crossing the track to Certaldo a few days ago.

2019-07-31 11.33.33Meanwhile, the UK has a new government.  Apparently the Queen said to Boris Johnson, when he asked her permission to form a government, “I can’t think why you would want the job!”  She gave her permission anyway.  Well, he has a job and a half negotiating a new Brexit deal, we wish him ‘in bocca al lupo’ which translates to ‘in the mouth of the wolf’ a phrase used in Italy to wish someone good luck.  In Boris’s case it’s most appropriate!  Let’s hope the new government are true to their word and make sure we expats are not penalised!  Either way, we will adapt!  I suppose our European/UK passports could become collector’s items!

Well, last Saturday we were drowned by a deluge of rain and hail storms!  This went on for a day and a half and the temperature dropped from 39 to 15 degrees centigrade!  I can honestly say it was a huge relief after the long heat wave, particularly afteMaltempo: Arezzo, allagamenti negozi, cantine e antica piever hearing about a cornfield fire not far from us. Our area is also prone to landslides and we could see some of the banks looking precarious and ready to slide into the road!  Certaldo had five inches of water in an hour!  But we don’t worry about that.  Life eeez good, life is now!  The sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hurrah!  Foto ANSAit newspaper.

Anyway, how are things with you?  Have any interesting weather or good news stories?  I do love to hear from my readers, drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net  Oh, and do check out my website at My site

Salute June x

PS Am searching for an italian Hunk of the Month for August – any suggestions?

PPS No-one has claimed the reading glasses left behind at my concert.  Do ask around if you know of anyone who came and have lost theirs!

glasses

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

download-2.jpgOnly in Italy would you hear a story like this, whilst enjoying morning coffee and catching up on the newspapers.  Rossella sat down beside us at the long table and sighed.  “I have been to Castelfiorentino with some friends from Fiano, to donate blood.  We do it every six months.”  She was looking a little pale and was feeling tired.  “They did not want to take any blood at first, because my blood pressure was too low.  So they gave me a strong coffee and told me to rest for a while.”  I thought I had heard her right, only in Italy would they serve up strong coffee to raise one’s blood pressure!  Anyway it worked and Rossella was able to give blood after a short rest!   Amazing, I thought, so the Italians weren’t joking when they have said to me, do not have your pressure checked after drinking coffee!  As other donors joined us, my (English) man was pleased to tell the story about his having had a blood transfusion last year and how it had improved his Italian no end!  Ha, Ha…..  Check out the fabulous Tony Hancock (above – foto expresso.uk) in The Blood Donor sketch on You Tube, you’ll love it.  Youtube

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Anyway, another of my man’s endearing peculiarities is his ability to give tourists directions to their holiday locations and send them off in entirely the wrong direction.  Our gate bell rang yesterday and he found a German family clutching an address, which he was pretty sure of.  Keep in mind that the local commune has changed the addresses of numerous properties in our area, including our own, so nothing comes up correctly on SatNav!  And, we have been in this area for 15 years and do know the original names of streets and villages.  Anyway, off they went, but to my man’s amazement, a little while later he spotted said German car going down the track right next to us, to the property we call ‘The Blot on The Landscape’.  He grabbed his binos and could not believe it when he saw the Germans get out, be greeted and shown into the Blot.  “That’s ridiculous, there is no way that the Blot’s address is right next door to us!  I feel awful now, having sent them off on a wild goose chase.”  But really, how is anyone supposed to know how to find places when the Commune has made such a terrible botch up of things.  We only get our post because the postman/lady knows where we are!  The Blot is the white house in the middle distance in the foto, behind our house

OK, enough of that.  It’s yet another beautiful Sunday morning in Tuscany, we cannot complain.  And, on a much brighter note, I noticed in the paper that the music scene is hotting up again.  We have The Chemical Brothers in Livorno and Mark Knopfler in Pisa both within an easy drive.

2019-07-08 09.38.11Our local village of Fiano is also gearing up for a lively weekend.  A celebration of gastronomy including the Sagra del Pollo Fritto, that’s festival of fried chicken to you and me – yes really, the Italians celebrate anything and everything at least once a year!  Also, a photographic exhibition recording Fiano between 1919 and 1945 and lots of great local music.  So, Fiano is definitely the place to be this weekend!

2019-07-13 13.03.34Did I mention that our lovely friend John, also known as The Bare Guitarist, gave me a gorgeous Stretton Payne Guitar for my birthday, especially so that I can learn to play with a much more forgiving instrument than my beautiful Fender, which must now wait until I am more proficient.  I am delighted to have successfully completed my first on-line introduction to the guitar and can now fit the shoulder strap on!  I stood in front of my long mirror ‘wearing’ it and it looks good.  The next lesson will be learning to tune it.  I’ll keep you posted.

Well, enough for now as I am already behind with posting this blog.  Have a great week and do drop me a line either at the bottom of this page or at june.finnigan@virgin.net.  I love to hear from you!

Salute June x

PS Visit my author site at MY SITE

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

Phew, well, yet another beautiful Sunday morning in Tuscany, despite the heat and humidity.  Things were quite normal on the main road into Fiano;  an orange (the colour you go when you have been to the coast) overweight Italian in shorts and trainers (no shirt) running backwards down the middle of the road, two tourists walking on the wrong side of the road wearing pink lycra, a small group of Italian cyclists in racing colours riding impossibly thin-wheeled bikes and an deeply tanned old boy walking just in shorts and a pink cloth cap.  Yes, pink is the colour it seems.

2019-06-30 10.14.26In Fiano La Dispensa was noisy and busy, but we managed to grab the papers and our favourite places at the end of the long table.  We were joined by Italian tourists from Rome who like to come to our bit of the world in Tuscany for the weekend staying with friends, then returning home with local oil, wine and hams.  When the Tuscans claim to have the best oil, foods and wines in the country, these Romans said they were spot on! The cheeses here are seriously delicious.  Tuscan Pecorino, sheep’s cheese to you and me,  can be consumed young & squidgy and at several other stages right up to aged, when it has a similar texture to Parmesan.  I just love it and this great picture; wherever you are in the world go to your cheese specialist counter and ask for Tuscan Pecorino, they might just order it in for you!

Orane wrap dressI don’t know about you, but I have been struggling with my summer wardrobe.  Just when I think I have enough outfits to chop and change my look and still be cool, in both senses of the word, I find myself undecided on what to wear.  I don’t seem to have enough lightweight cotton flared skirts!   And dresses, nothing looks right, I have to admit my figure could do with trimming down, must have put on half a stone since this time last year.  But I need to wear these clothes now!  Do I buy new clothes a size larger or not, that is the question?  So I found myself once more flicking through the Italian fashion mags.  Wrap around tea dresses look lovely, but not from the rear if you have an extra layer on the hips!  How many of you actually look at your rear view image in the mirror?  I cannot help but notice those who never do, looking wonderful from the front and awful from the back.  Lots of flowing cottons are best I think.  Loose tops and skirts are good for me at the moment.  What are you wearing?  However, just spotted this gorgeous orange number, (see picture) I could be tempted……

I2019-07-02 09.22.10n the same magazine I came across an article to make you green with envy.  A stunning italian beauty with a massive artistic talent, namely Beatrice Venezi.  Perhaps envy is the wrong word, I think admiration is more correct.  Beatrice is beautiful and wears fabulous clothes, however, it is her talent that really draws one’s attention.  Beatrice is the award winning Principle Conductor for both the Orchestra Milano Classic and the Orchestra Scarlatti Young of Naples.  I hope she is also in love, as then she will have everything a girl dreams of!  Go to her website to be even more impressed.  Beatrice’s site

photo of woman on seashore

Photo by Maria Isabella Bernotti on Pexels.com

Meanwhile, I’m back hammering away at book four in the Joanna Wilde series.  I have just had an email from another writer, who lives near San Casciano, complaining that she is living and working in the dark in the same room, blocking out the heat with thick curtains.  Now she wasn’t really complaining, just stating a fact.  There is nothing else one can do in this scorching heat, live in the dark during the day and let in the light early morning and late evening!  Methinks this next couple of months should be great for creative thinking, drinking gallons of water and hugging the air conditioning unit.  Most sane people, and mostly Italian, have gone off to the seaside or mountains, we will have to think about how we deal with next summer a little more creatively.  If anyone has an apartment on the coast that is available for a week or two next month, let me know!

As you have probably worked out, the dust has finally settled after our rock concert and I have had some lovely messages, thank you.  There is a lot of activity on the music front in Tuscany at the moment, so if you were coming over, you’ll find plenty to do.  But do avoid August, I know I say this every year, as you will find 80% of shops, cafes and restaurants closed.  Hey ho.

Anyway, time to get this blog off to you, I’ve already overrun into Monday, sorry about that.

Do drop me a line, I love to hear from my readers, oh and visit my Author Site for lots more info.

Have a great week.

Salute June x

Fotos from La Republica.

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

Band RelaxedWhat a great evening we had on the 21 June.  Thank you so much to Stefano, Lorenzo C, Lorenzo A and Fillipo who, alongwith myself, are the Rock Chick Band.  These brilliant guys were once again seriously good at backing me in my performance of seventeen great rock songs.  I admit, this is pure indulgence for me, I just adore getting up there and singing with these guys!  And, we will be back again next year so diary date June 19 2020 now!

20190621_222033Also taking a turn at the mike was our good friend John Reilly, whose UK stage name is The Bare Guitarist.  (Think what you like)  His song “zombie jamboree” has a big history and, most of the versions are not the same as Johns (Circa 1966 Sierra Leone) on a white label record which was banned from all West African States  as it was more akin to a horror song for juju believers…..  Thank you John, despite the history, the audience loved it and you really got them up and dancing!  Zombie Jamboree

Terry and Andrea 2019And, thank you to our local celebrity potter, Terry Davies, on the left, who was prompted to get up with his guitar and sing a couple of excellent rock songs.  Thank you Terry.

image1And, what a great audience!  Well done Fiano for being strongly represented.  Fabulous friends came from all over the world, including Andrea and Norbert, who ‘spontaneously’ hired a small plane in Germany, flew themselves over the Alps and down to Tuscany just for the concert!  Love you guys!

Andrea and buffet 21 juneMeanwhile, Andrea and his lovely lady, from Jam Caffe in Certaldo, were busy in the kitchen preparing a delicious buffet and the excellent wine was once again provided by our good friend Claudio Corbinelli.  Thank you all!

Well, I really look forward to doing it all again next year, but must get fitter!  If Mick Jagger can leap around on stage at 76, even after heart surgery, then so can I!  My being considerably younger of course and, touch wood, I don’t have a dicky heart!  Anyway, am now getting physio and massage to relieve my aching joints.  Do not worry, as long as the voice holds out, I’ll be back!

glassesOh, by the way, did you leave a nice pair of reading glasses behind?  Well, they are perfectly safe, waiting to be claimed.  Drop me an email at june.finnigan@virgin.net 

Whilst the concert and entertaining friends & family was all consuming, I cannot ignore all the other important things that were happening around us.  Fiano saw the arrival of it’s latest baby; welcome to little Zoe!  A new Defibrillator has been fixed to the wall next to the Farmacia, so if you spot someone having a heart attack you have the means to save a life, and local artist Gloria Campriani opened the new Public Park in Certaldo, near the swimming pool, where you can see artistic creations and instillations any time of day!  Oh and the Ciccadas have arrived and are in full chorus as I write this blog. Phew!

Goodmorning Tuscany june 19And finally, yes it’s baking hot here and other than the evergreens and vines, everything has turned into crunchy brown crisps.  Thankfully, old Tuscan properties have thick walls and are easier to keep cool than most.  But we still need the air conditioning and gallons of drinking water.  I noticed the local campsite was half empty this morning, more than likely they have headed for the cooler mountain regions, or, if you are a grandparent you are probably at the seaside apartment with your grandchildren, doing your traditional thing, whilst the parents work and go down at the weekends.  

At this point, perhaps a glass of fizzy white would be appropriate.  I’ll finish this off a little later, I’m sure you won’t mind……

Well, I’m back and refreshed and will now get this blog honed and off to you.  Have a great week and stay hydrated!

Salute June x

Visit my website at My site

Fotos P.Finnigan, j.Finnigan, Andrea and Norbert.

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