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

Mercantia 2017

La Mercantia at Certaldo 2017. Foto from official website.

Since Wednesday, parking spaces in our local town of Certaldo, have been swallowed up by tourists, both foreign and Italian.  Why?  Because we are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the hugely popular Mercantia, and today (Sunday) is the last day.  If you are going, be prepared for a very long walk in from the outskirts of town, however, if you have not been before, it will be well worth it.  The festivities don’t really get going until after six in the evening, many make the mistake of going in the mornings and find everything is silent as the revellers sleep off the night before.

Extract from the official website at www.mercantiacertaldo.it  Alessandro Gilgli – Artistic Concept.  “La grande festa (the big party) that I have in mind and that has gradually come to be is a festival that draws attention to all the possibilities and events that tend to immerse us in a unique, global spectacle, a vortex of energy. Only our festival has been able to create this in recent years. Our stage is the medieval town of Certaldo, with its red bricks and buildings, the very place for a party like ours. Like the stage of a theatre, Certaldo has offered us all its opportunities, creating osmosis, a delicate balance of all the ingredients of the festival. The stuff our dreams are made on is the materials of the artisan, the substance of our shows, the lines drawn in every direction, our people, the lights, the platforms, the attention and the experience we put into every aspect. All this has enabled the festival to create a new history for street theatre in Italy.”

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The view to the bottom of Via Giugno from Jam Caffe. Foto J Finnigan

Yesterday, Saturday, and to avoid a long walk, my man and I parked in the station car park and enjoyed  our morning coffee at Jam Caffe.  This was most pleasant, and the atmosphere was very vibrant.  So instead of being at the top of Via Giugno, we were at the bottom and a nice view we had too.

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The Boom Town Rats. Foto La Repubblica

Meanwhile, the Boomtown Rats are in Italy!  I read in La Repubblica that the band will be in Cortona on 20th July, now a popular venue for many stars, particularly Sting who lives, or should I say has a farmhouse and land, nearby.  There was a big writeup about ‘Bandaid in the 80’s’ and Bob commented roughly along the lines that the world has changed, but there is still starvation going on.

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Astronaut Paolo Nespoli, La Reppublica.

But enough of that, what about the interview with Hunky Italian Astronaut Paolo Nespoli!  At 60, on 28th July, this amazing man is returning to the stars for the third time, to undertake more scientific research.  Well, he may not be as young as my average hunk, but he is certainly braver.  Bravo Paolo, you are my Hunk of the Month!

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Festa della Fiat 500. La Repubblica

Oh, on a much lighter note, Italians so love the Fiat 500 and last week there was a big Festa to celebrate this little car.  Described as feminine, familiar and sexy in La Repubblica, in my view ‘too small and rather boring,’ but here in Italy it’s a bit like the love of the Mini in England.  So, thousands of the little blighters were travelling in convoy all over the place!

Anyway, today we are going out to lunch at Borgo Antico in Tavernelle.  We haven’t been for a while because every time I ring, the restaurant is full of families celebrating another Baptismo, so no tables available!  Fortunately, I bumped into the owner at the supermercato and she said she would keep a table for us.  I’ll let you know……

Have a great week and do drop me a line, I love to hear from you!

Salute June x

Ps  Visit my author site or any worldwide Amazon site or simply google me. www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

Rock chick band with Judy and Merimie

After the concert with two lovely American friends. Foto P Finnigan

Yes, I’m back, ‘to let you know that I can really shake them down’.  I know sad 60’s lyrics again.  But, don’t worry, now the dust has settled after the Rock Chick Band Concert, I have been busy concentrating on other things, like updating you on the fun happenings in our little bit of Chianti and Italy generally.  However, here is a final bit of memory from two weeks ago.  The date for next year is Friday 22nd June.

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Vasco Rossi at Modena. Foto La Nazione

Just one week after our concert, the hugely popular Italian Rocker, Vasco Rossi, hit the stage in Modena and despite the heat attracted 220 thousand fans!  Rossi cut his first record in 1977 and is still adored by his fans for his heavy riffs and romantic power ballads.  Now, for we northern Europeans, his ‘gravelly speaking way of singing’ is unusual;  you either hate it or love it.  The Italians love it!  He is effectively Italy’s most succesful rocker and at the age of sixty-five even has the youngsters squealing in the aisles!

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Our vintage Sony music centre circa 1980. Foto P Finnigan

Back in our lovely converted monastery farmhouse, my man has hauled our vintage Sony Music Centre out of storage.  Sadly, it hasn’t worked for years and we have a great collection of vinyls from the 60’s through to the 80’s that have not been played for donkeys. We popped into our electrical man in Certaldo this morning and he has offered to have a go at reviving it.  So next Saturday, we will take it down.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Addio Paolo Villagio Foto La Repubblica

Meanwhile, whilst reading the papers over coffee in Fiano, there was some sad news from the world of film and television.  The death of that very funny man Paolo Villagio at the age of eighty-four.  Many of you outside of Italy will recognise some of the characters he played; that image of the plump little man in trousers or shorts pulled up over his round belly to his armpits and held there by braces.  A character that made the audience laugh before he had spoken a word.  Addio Paolo.

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We also read that, Silvio Berlusconi is back, and having invested a huge sum of money into his party Forza Italia, he is on the hustings again.  We do not have a date yet for the General Election, but probably around November.  It will be nice to have a bit of colourful entertainment back in the political news.

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Last night (Saturday) Fiano had an open air cinema in the parco (scrubby grassy area) behind the apartment blocks.  We did not go, but this morning’s talk in La Dispensa coffee bar was all about it and my man spotted this left over sign in the hedge walking back to the car.  “Look at these prices!”  He moaned.  “Perhaps we should have gone; one euro for a glass of wine!”

Well, enough of that; off to C’era una Volta for lunch.

Have a really great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

PS Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan  or any other amazon site worldwide.  Or simply google June Finnigan.

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Ciao Tutti

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The Rock Chick Band 2017

Just a quick thank you to all our lovely guests at last Saturday’s Rock Chick Band Performance, for your gifts, food and drinks and of course your great company.  And thank you too to my band members Stefano, Riccardo, Charly and Fillipo for another brilliant performance.

Check back in early next week for a full report and my usual blog about our little bit of Chianti.

Amore June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all My Lovely Followers

Here in our little bit of glorious Tuscany, we are suffering from the heat and wall to wall sunshine.  What’s that you said?  How can we be suffering?  Well, actually I said it to to make you feel better, particularly if you are enjoying rain and grey skies, ha ha!  But actually, we could do with some heavy overnight rain, just to give us a break from watering the dryed up grass, or rather ground cover weeds, and the flowering pots.

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Programma di Marcialla Foto J Finnigan

But enough of that, there is a whole lot of stuff going on in our area during June and July, so if you are visiting, you should not want for entertainment.  I say this every year, but please don’t postpone your visit to Tuscany until August, which is a dreadful month for tourists, when 90% of shops and restaurants close in the rush to the coast or the mountains.  Marcialla, a village just fifteen minutes from us has a very active events programme, ranging from jazz and classics to local bands and children’s entertainment.

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Aperitivi a Jam Caffe Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, my man and I enjoyed a delicious aperitivo early last Friday evening at Jam Caffe next to the stazione in Certaldo.  When my man has had a few days in London we meet there for a welcome home cocktail and are presented with a different one every time.  I have to say that our barman excelled himself this time.  It comprised a mix of pomegranate juice, vodka, prosecco and a few other secret incredients.  We took a sip and I asked my man how his journey went.  “what journey?”  He sighed, as he stretched his legs out and luxuriated in the delicious concoction, atmosphere and good company of course!

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Gianluca inamore Foto J Finnigan

Later we popped over to C’era Una Volta in Lucardo for supper, where Gianluca our good friend and waiter, seemed to have fallen in love with a very large bottle of Chianti Wine.  We are currently drinking a delicous local one called ‘i loppi’.  Not as dry as some Chianti and a little more full-bodied.

Anyway, back out in the real world we read in the papers 2017-05-31 08.47.00that a number of local elections have taken place thoroughout Italy.  This will unquestionably give a good indication as to the current leaning of the electors for the General Election.  Interestingly, there seems to be a real mix of voting with not much between the Centrosinistro and Centrodestra, Centre left and centre right.  However, the lefty and aging rock star look-alike Beppo Grillo’s following is growing by the day!  Will we have another UK scenario?

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The Rock Chick Band

Well, enough of that.  I’m getting very excited as we come closer to my rock concert with the Rock Chick Band on 24th June.  Our final rehearsal will be Sunday 18th, then it’s the hectic organisation of the piazzina in the garden and the sleeping arrangements for visitors.  Still time to send me your email address if you would like an invite. june.finnigan@virgin.net

 

Have a great week and do drop me a line, I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

Visit my author site at June’s author site  or any worldwide Amazon site.

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

Here in our little bit of Tuscany, we are once again horrified at the latest news from London and our love and support goes out to all our family, friends and colleagues in that hard-working and glorious city.

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The view from here, parched fields and garden.  Foto J Finnigan

Back once again in Tuscany, the first week in June looks and feels a lot like August.  No rain for weeks has resulted in bleached fields and gardens, and masses of dust flying up behind vehicles along the strade bianche (white roads) that are actually gravelly dirt tracks.  However, this was good news for La Mostra di Chianti (Wine Exhibition/Fair) in Montespertoli.  It was the first dry week in years; it is normally rained out!  Some rain is forecast tomorrow, but who really knows?

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Mini Rock Festival at Ristorante Quinoa.  La Repubblica

Meanwhile, in our local village of Fiano we enjoy coffee at La Dispensa, and read the papers.  I see that a Mini Rock Festival celebrating the ‘Grande Icons di Rock’ will be staged at the Quinoa Restaurant in Florence.  This is a double whammy for me as the restuarant is Gluten Free too!  The Festival, in the restuarant’s ‘ZAP’ space, will have exhibitions and live music from today through to 7 September. Visit Website

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50 years of Sgt Pepper.  La Repubblica

To coincide with this, there was also a big write-up about the 50 year anniversary of the release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonly Hearts Club Band.  The Italians, or at least the journalists, really keep up with what is happening in the music world!  I love it!

Stefano on lead (2)

Stefano Bartalesi Foto P Finnigan

And, continuing on the same theme, The Rock Chick band had its first rehearsal yesterday and its lead singer, yours truly, got the date wrong and my fabulous lead guitarist and ‘boss,’ Stefano Bartalesi, had to ring me up!  We have a great new line-up this year and I am really pleased to welcome back our original rythmn guitarist from 2011, Riccardo Bagnoli, who has been with the professional circuit for the last six years, so we are very lucky to have him.  We also have  English bassist and good friend Charlie Lucas and a great charismatic drummer, Filippo Colca.  Yesterday, over lunch, I expressed some concern to my man about some of the dubious characters that came last year, you know the pot smoking Glastifarian types?  My man responded “Well that rules out the Band then!”  “Very ha ha.” I groaned.  One person has asked to bring a tent this year; things are hotting up!  Email me at email  if you would like an invite to our Tuscan concert on 24 June.

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Fresh fruit and Buffalo Mozzarelli at my desk.  Foto J Finnigan

Oh, what’s that you said, yes I know I have been talking a lot about Rock Music, but you should know that I do also work very hard at my desk during the day, so much so that I even have working breakfasts!

Anyway, may I wish all you lovely people a safe and happy week.  Hopefully with the election out-of-the-way, the UK will become a little calmer.

Salute June x

Visit my author site at My site

 

 

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Foto Finnigan

 

 

 

 

Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

The Statue of David in Florence.  La Reppubblica

The Statue of David in Florence this week.  La Repubblica.

Now, as you know, I always try to bring you fun and interesting news from Tuscany, however, just occasionally I need to talk about rather more serious matters.  The people of Italy, like everyone else with warm beating hearts, were devastated by the news from Manchester.  And the loss of so many children; so very difficult to comprehend.  In Piazza Della Donna in Florence, the Florentines woke to find the Statue of David wearing a black armband and holding the Union Flag.  Whoever did this, thank you for the show of solidarity.  The Italians, in small and large communities alike, evolve everything around their children.  I have had a number of people in our local village expressing their condolences, bless them.

 

The President and the Pope

The President and The Pope.  La Reppublica.

Meanwhile, the President of the United States has visited The Pope.  He and his family wore the traditional black and the women covered their heads in lace.   Apparently, the two men made their peace and for once we saw Donald smiling into the camera.   However, Pope Francis was grimacing, which is most unusual for our very popular Papa.

 

Dante in Pisa

Dante in Pisa. La Repubblica

On a lighter note, Pisa is currently celebrating Dante Alighieri, Il Sommo Poeta, and Fabrizio Gifuni will this evening (Sunday) be reading a selection of Dante’s works from Il Torre di Pisa (The Tower of Pisa) overlooking the Piazza del Miracoli.  This will no doubt be a very atmospheric evening, and the reading starts at ten o’clock.  Have you ever read Dante’s Inferno?  I am thinking that I must have read it at school, I do remember it being described as ‘The Divine Comedy’.  Amazing to think that his works are still celebrated seven hundred years after his death!  Of course, here in Tuscany, he remains hugely popular as he was born in Florence.  I have just read up a little more about him.  He fell in love with a girl who married someone else, so his one and only love, was unrequited.  How sad.  Well, I guess I have better read his works again, as it will come up fresh after all those years since I left the Grammar School.

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Addio Roger.  La Repubblica

Another bit of sadness was the death of Roger Moore.  He is, of course, mostly remembered for his Bond roles.  however, I really liked a TV series called The Saint back in the sixties.  The Italians love the Bond films and there was a big write-up in the newspaper saying ‘Addio to Roger’.

 

Well, here in Tuscany, it’s yet another beautiful day.  We bought four lavender yesterday to plant in a little bare patch, so more lovely perfumes to mingle with the Jasmin.  But Oh, not to forget, I must mention our new resident.  He or she is a large Viper and seems to be living under the path in the lower part of our garden.  My man, being an ex-commando, is very gung-ho about it and says just to make a noise as you near the spot, and it will run away.  Well, slide, should I say.  Well, it may run away from his big noisy feet, but I came face to face with it and it coiled into attack mode and hissed at me.  I just kept slowly walking down to the Cantina with my heart in my mouth!  I ain’t going that way again, thank you!

Well, enough of that.  We have just returned from lunch at C’era Una Volta website where I tasted tagliatelle with sun-dried tomato pesto and smoked ricotta cheese.  Phew, it was Picante!   It was delicious but I had to leave some, much to my disappointment!

So, here’s wishing you all a very good week, free of bad happenings.

Salute June x

PS Do visit my author site at My site

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European Nightjar

The Nightjar dozing during the day.

“So why is a Nightjar still calling out when the sun is already up?  Do you think they are on shifts?”  My man asks as he sips his fresh orange juice.  “Well, anything is possible, why not?”  I smile and open my Kindle for a ten-minute read of ‘Contract to Kill’ by Andrew Peterson.  We have been sleeping with the window open and enjoying the Tuscan fresh air, whilst the Nightjar and the crickets trill their way through the nocturnal hours.  I have yet to see a Nightjar, but they are very shy and their camouflage is incredible.  They can settle down on a branch and sleep all day, right under your nose, and you would never know they were there!  But then you bright sparks probably already know that!

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The Obama’s in Tuscany. Photo La Repubblica

So, it is Sunday morning and La Dispensa, our local caffe bar/alimentare in Fiano, is full of locals, buying their Sunday joints and generally passing the time of day.  We grab the newspapers, before someone else does, and take up our usual position at the long wooden table.  Well, so now we have the Obamas here on vacation, it says in La Repubblica and apparently, they love Tuscany.  Who wouldn’t, I say.  I notice that they are staying near Siena and there is some mention of Bibbiano Wine, which is our current favourite.

Beautiful art by Olga Niescier at Certaldo Alto. Photo J Finnigan

On the subject of wine, last Friday evening we went to Certaldo Alto, the old town up on the hill.  (The cover of my latest book features a silhouette of the town against the backdrop of a stunning sunset which, by the way, I took myself.)  We were there to visit an exhibition of paintings and works by Olga Niescier & Andrei Reggi and to indulge in a little wine tasting.  The artworks were fantastic but sadly, the event itself was rather confusing.  www.vitalitart.it  Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves and then whizzed off to C’era Una Volta in Lucardo for cena.  This time of year there are a lot of events going on, particularly wine tastings.  The American tourists love them.  They arrive by the planeload into Roma and get bussed up to Chianti.

The view from here with two newly planted Jasmine. Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back in our own little bit of Chianti, it is the time of year for the rattle of old tractors trundling up and down between the vines and the sound of strimmers clearing the ground around the olive trees.  We bought a load more plants on Saturday morning and now have bright colours in the garden pots and a couple of climbing Jasmine to cover a bit of fencing.  The evenings are perfect for sitting outside for aperitivi, with a nice feeling of satisfaction having done the outside work.  If you are coming this way, there are a few mosquitos arriving, so be prepared.  But we don’t care about that, life eeeeze good, life eeeeze now!

The Rock Chick Band – 2016

Well, doesn’t time fly!  Only five weeks to our next Rock Chick Band concert and I must get on with those daily voice exercises.  We’ve got a few new songs in the repertoire this year and are being joined by an English bass guitarist, which will be fun.  As I always mention, if you are in Tuscany on the 24th June and would like a personal invite, drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net

OK, time to organise those aperitivi and relax with the Tuscan sunset.  Have a great week and do get in touch.  I love to hear from you.

Salute June x  PS Visit my author site at My author site

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