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

Here in our little bit of Tuscany on the edge of Chianti it is 10 degrees centigrade, sunny but with a cold wind. However, we are expecting colder weather to reach us shortly, thus my man is currently putting covers on the vulnerable plants and has brought the lemon tree inside.

Meanwhile, we have turned our thoughts to nice hot winter foods and at the top of my list is Judy Witts Francini’s Tuscan recipe for Red Onion soup using local Certaldo red onions. Judy has posted a great article about the history of Onion soup and her website has the full Tuscan recipe for you to try. Judy, a celebrity cook, is a friend and neighbour as many of you already know and if you are not already signed up for her newsletters, you are missing out on some wonderful Tuscan recipes! http://www.divinacucina.com

Now, my man has a favourite Panettone, which is the traditional festive cake at this time of year. Here in Tuscany they come in many different flavours and his choice is walnut, ordered from the bakers in Via Giugno in Certaldo. In Italy, historical accounts of panettone invariably state that it originated in Milan. The word panettone derives from panetto, a small loaf cake. … The beginnings of this cake appear to date from the Roman Empire, when ancient Romans sweetened a type of leavened cake with honey. However, I like the following version better. One of the legends of its conception says that the person who invented panettone was the Milanese nobleman Ughetto degli Atellani who lived in the 1400s. He fell in love with Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni! But, whatever the originality, it’s hugely popular at Christmas time!

So yes, I seem to have got the Christmas bug already. Seasonal markets are popping up everywhere and there is nothing like going to Florence, even on a cold wet day. This one is in Piazza Santa Croce. Anyway, if really wet, one can always dive into a lovely welcoming coffee bar or restaurant, two more good reasons for going! Foto Corriere Fiorentino.

Now, I’m going to fast forward you to June 2022 and to be precise Friday 17th. Stefano and I have just agreed to do a Rock Chick Band Concert here in Tuscany on this date, so you must put this in your diary. If you are not already on my invitation list, send me your email and I will include you when the invites go out next year. I can’t wait, it is so exciting!

OK, Enough for now. Do drop me a line, I love to hear from my readers! Also, time to order your books in time for Christmas! http://www.junefinnigan.website

Have a great week,

Salute June x

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

I can’t begin to tell you what an emotional week it has been for me. Three and a half months recovering from a broken wrist and knee may seem nothing in this world of pandemics and climate change, but I was brought to tears when I finally walked back into my local restaurant on Thursday! The smell of the damp fresh air as I walked out the front door of my house, the passing Tuscan countryside during the car journey and the company of my man, daughter and grandson was an absolute joy! The day before, my specialist had announced that all had healed and I was good to go! I Just need knee bending exercises and suppliments!

Paolo greeted me at C’era una Volta Restaurant with such a welcome back look on his face, I burst into tears. My man and I were regulars and at least twice a week, sitting at our favourite corner table drinking the best local wines and indulging in the seasonal menu. During my recovery period, my man has actually become a very good cook and he found himself comparing the restaurant food with his own! I thoroughly enjoyed my grilled polenta topped with bietola and canneloni beans. Additional fresh herbs make the dish. One of my all time favourites at Paolo’s is the baked smoked scamorza cheese with raddiccio as in the foto. http://www.ristorante-ceraunavolta.com

OK, what now. Well, it’s yet another rugby weekend and on Saturday at 2pm Italy is playing Uruguay at Parma. Our grandson plays for Siena, but sadly all training and matches are cancelled this weekend due to three Covid cases being discovered! Overall, Italy is not doing too badly, which seems to be due to the mask wearing and green pass requirements still being in place. It is likely that restrictions will be placed on arrivals in December.

Anyway I’ve done all my Christmas shopping on line, so no worries there. Have you done yours? Everyone in my family will get a book this year. I do hope you will all be doing the same; let’s not forget the value of a real book in one’s hands and the ability to keep it forever or share with friends and family. It’s also great to talk about books we have read over some nice mulled wine. Don’t forget, if you like Romantic Thrillers my own books could be right up your street! Go to http://www.junefinnigan.website

Oh and finally, do buy some lovely Italian oranges this year. Make sure everyone has one popped into the toe of their stockings.

Enjoy your shopping.

Salute June x

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

‘The Autumn Leaves, Drift by my Window, The Autumn Leaves, of Red and Gold’. This wonderful timeless song has always been one of my favourites. And, so appropriate for right now. Overnight storms and heavy rain have battered the trees and vineyards surrounding us, and any leaves that were still hanging on are now on the ground or will be shortly. The countryside and the toads in our pond will be glad to have had the rain and the fresh smells are heavenly.

It is currently difficult to take a foto of the Tuscan countryside, which isn’t beautiful. This is a picture taken by Monterosola, a stunning setting for this very popular venue for wine tastings and celebrations of all kinds. My clever daughter has been busy organising vineyard tours for journalists in readiness for the spring deluge of visitors and Monterosola is top of her list. You can, of course, go there now; and why not? http://www.monterosola.com

Meanwhile, what to wear? It’s a little cooler today after the storm so my thoughts go to my autumn/winter wardrobe. As many of you already know, I love Autumn colours as they really suit me. One of my favourite Italian designers is Luisa Spagnoli and she always has a good Autumn range. Now I have selected a lovely snuggly knitted dress, which is designed beautifully to flare from just below the hip. The colour is a deep maroon, which I believe qualifies as an excellent warm Autumn shade. http://www.luisaspagnoli.it

Now, this weekend is a great one for rugby fans, snuggled up in front of the telly. Yesterday we watched poor Italy get beaten once more, this time by Argentina. Then later it was England’s turn and they beat Australia. So at least it was a success for one of the teams we support! This afternoon we will indulge again, I can’t remember which teams are playing, but lets hope for some entertaining rugby!

What else? Well, some of you have asked when my next book will be published. Sadly, things were delayed by my falling and breaking my wrist and a knee. Now, I know, one can still write in these circumstances, but what did surprise me was how it affected my creative thought! So, I am now aiming to get ‘Assassin’s List’ published in the spring. Meanwhile, my first three books and a short story based in London’s theatre land, are available online. Do get buying now in time for Christmas presents. There’s nothing like unwrapping a real book! http://www.junefinnigan.website

Well, it’s been really good to be writing to you again and hopefully this will now be a weekly event! Do get in touch, I love to hear from my readers.

Salute June x

Yes, I’m back after three months of recovery from a nasty fall, which broke my right wrist (yes I’m right-handed) and shattered my left knee. Thank heavens for living in a beautiful place with the man I love and the promise of an imminent return to going out into the glorious Tuscan countryside and back to C’era Una Volta Ristorante in Luccardo.

From my window I have watched the changing colours of the countryside and I know you will forgive me for including friends’ fotos that I have borrowed to share with you. This gorgeous foto was taken not far from here at Villa il Pozzo http://www.villailpozzo.it The different stripes of colour indicate the mix of grapes growing in the vineyards.

Meanwhile, today will be busy with All Saint’s Day, or Day of the Dead. Here in Tuscany you will see a huge number of cars parked outside the cemeteries (cimiteri) as whole families go to visit their forbears. On a lighter note there were also lots of parties, remembrance parades and festivals over the weekend. A great place to take the family this year was San Gimignano, which has a very popular Halloween festival.

The other thing about glorious Tuscany at this time of year is the olive harvest and the new extra virgin olive oil. My mouth waters at the thought of drizzling this wonderful nectar over just about everything. And, the menus in the local restaurants, Porcini, Tartufo and seasonal vegetables. Picture from Ristorante Quinoa, a personal favourite venue in Florence. http://ristorantequinoa.it It’s a great time to be here.

I’m also intending to ready my books for the Christmas On-line rush. You can buy them now of course and being an early bird might be in your interest. Visit my website at http://www.junefinnigan.website

Have a great week and do drop me a line, I love to hear from my readers, you are all very important to me!

Salute June x

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

We are currently enjoying a cooler few days and a little rain here, but that won’t last.  July and August are subject to climate change like the rest of the world, but you can guarantee that these months will be generally hot, humid and dry.  As I write this I can feel the air heating up. The countryside is typically July; fields bleached pale gold, the vines standing out in long contrasting green lines and the silver olive groves providing shade. You can often see a three dimentional view, as if looking through a telescope, which is caused by the amazing light. Artists love this time of year and can be found perched in strategic spots with their easels, wallowing in the fabulous surroundings.

Meanwhile, I don’t mean to boast, but it has been a brilliant few weeks for our adopted country. You will all know that we won the European Cup at football, but did you realise that we also won The Eurovision Song Contest, The Softball European Championship and The Top EU Web Award with ‘Visit Italy’! And, The Basketball Team qualified for the Olympics and the gorgeous Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian to reach the Wimbledon final! Matteo also more than qualifies for my Italian Hunk of the month! Foto Tennis World.

And, what else do the Italians do better than anyone else, well Fashion of Course! Italian Fashion Designers are second to none. I have just read an article in Marie Claire, where the writer looked at the top 5 Italian Fashion Brands. These include Versace, Bottega Veneta, Valentino, Moschino, Georgia Armani, Miu Miu and Etro. So I thought you might like to take a look at Etro, I’ve heard of them but can’t say that I’m familiar with their designs. The prices are not unexpectedly up with the top end, but they do have a Summer Sale on at present. I liked some of their designs, both male and female, but really fell for this printed silk dress, truly gorgeous. However, I have once again fallen for one of the most expensive outfits not in the sale. Dammit! Will I or won’t I? Check out my next blog, I’ll need to think about it…..http://www.etro.com

Anyway, I’m going to take a break now and prepare some Sunday Lunch. I’ll be back later.

Mama Mia, it’s Monday already. I slept for four hours yesterday afternoon, so sorry. Anyway, I have mentioned in previous blogs that The Florentine English news magazine for Florence is a great mag to find all the interesting things going on. http://www.theflorentine.net Now I may be a Rock Chick but I also enjoy good classical music and you will find a wonderful Chamber Music Festival at Teatro Verdi in the mag’s Lifestyle Section. It’s really heating up today so if you are visiting Florence, try and go to inside events like this one! Also, go to The Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti for fabulous strings as musicians from the Cherubini Conservatory of Florence feature in six evenings through to the end of July.  I would love to go with you but sadly my knee is playing up. Enjoy and let me know all about it! Foto The Florentine.

OK, so lets get on with the working week, no rest for the wicked. Do drop me a line either by email or direct on my site at http://www.junefinnigan.website I love to hear from my readers!

Have great week, enjoy and stay safe.

Salute June x

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

What a fabulous birthday week. Surrounded by family, gorgeous presents, sunshine and a delicious supper at Osteria Di Casa Chianti.

One of the most delightful things about living here in Tuscany is that one can buy Italian Made products a short drive away. No need to trawl the internet, we are surrounded by local Artisans. Now my beautiful daughter knows me really well. What I would choose to buy myself, colours and indulgences. So what did she buy me? Yes, you guessed it, a handbag! But this is no ordinary handbag, it was hand-made in Florence and is a really high quality. And, look at that colour, so rich and luscious. I started using it straight away! Thank you my darling Sharon.

I begged my man to buy me some ceramics from our local village of Fiano. He wondered if this was personal enough, but gave in when he was reminded that I am a girlie who is already piled high with perfumes and scarves. So he came with me to Ceramiche Carbini Gabriella and spotted a large black and white dish, which was very nice, but I already had my mind set on certain colours to blend in with our kitchen. I am always drawn towards torquoise and blues, this must be something to do with being a water sign! So here is my choice, a lovely collection of dishes and vases embelished with pomegranites. There is also a larger dish, which is displayed on the kitchen table. We have several pomegranite trees in the garden that are already showing off their bright red blossoms, so the cermamics have brought a little bit of the outside inside. Thank you my lovely man. xxx

Now, one of the most famous trees Italy is known for is the Lemon Tree. My sister-in-law, who sadly could not be here, organised the arrival of a lovely little tree in a hand-made Terracotta pot. It is already boasting a little green lemon, so I must take good care of it. Lemon Trees must be taken inside during the winter months and it is a sure sign of late Spring when we see lots of lemon trees appearing on terraces and doorsteps. Yet another wonderful tradition in this beautiful country. Thank you La Bella Jane. xxx

My birthday supper was wonderful. Spoilt rotten by Max the owner and his really efficient theatrical staff, the family enjoyed prossecco followed by a bottle of Sticchiano Reserva wine. Oops sorry, yes we did eat too! The Osteria specialises in Tartufo (Truffles) that are sourced from the Tuscan countryside. My anti-pasti (starter) was Creamy Buratta Cheese with liberal shavings of white truffle over the top. Delicious. The Digestivo (after dinner liqueur) list is amazing too. We were impressed by our teenage granddaughter’s knowledge of the various Vin Santos; the waiter was dumbstruck. Oh, and Max gave me a present to take home; a bottle of his own label red wine designed by his young son. Thank you to Max and the team xxx http://www.osteriadicasachianti.it

Well, I know, I’m trying to prolong my birthday celebrations. The only sadness is that this is the second year without a Rock Chick Band concert in our garden and a house full of friends. But then everyone has made sacrifices and at least we can now look forward to planning next year’s bash with renewed confidence.

Wherever you are in the world, I wish you good health and happiness. May my joy of living here in Tuscany touch you and bring an extra ray of sunshine to your lives.

Salute June x

Contact me via my website at http://www.junefinnigan.website

STOP PRESS! The Cicaddas have arrived, so summer begins in earnest!

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

For many who come to Tuscany for the first time, they will thinking pasta and maybe Pizza. Whilst these are popular dishes, our local restaurants serve up a lot more than that and are known for their wood fire grills for both meat and veggie eaters. I was surprised to find Porcini on the menu last week as these are not currently very seasonable. They were in fact imported from Serbia which is not more than a few hours away and had arrived fresh and delicious! An all year round dish, which I love, is smoked Scamorza cheese grilled or baked over Radiccio. This is one of C’era Una Volta’s specialities along with Paolo’s hugely popular vegetable, herb, courgette flower or cheese fritters! We went there twice last week! http://www.ristorante-ceraunavolta.com

The countryside is very much reflecting the month of June. Meadowland has turned a pale gold and dried grasses have replaced the wild flowers other than the bright yellow of the broom. Colour is appearing in the form of flowering Oleanders and the rose bushes continue to bloom. This is also the month for intense activity in the fields and vineyards. Strimmers start at first light and squeeky tractors rumble up and down the vineyards, spraying and turning the soil. Tourists who had expected a quiet time on their sunbeds will be a little shocked at the noise!

Meanwhile, back on our little bit of the Chianti hillside, our garden designer daughter, Sharon, has planted a new shrubbery full of gorgeous roses and other flowering shrubs. She is going to list everything in it for me, so that I can become more shrub savy. This is in our front garden, which has been crying out for some colour and interest for years. I am also having some wrought iron climbing frames and a bench made, so that we can sit and enjoy it all with a nice chilled aperitivo. Sharon is organising everything for us, bless her. Visit her site at https://www.bellaterragardendesigns.com/

Stop Press –ITALY TO DROP MASKS: Italy is the latest country to unveil plans to drop the mandatory wearing of masks outdoors, according to Corriere della Sera. The government is expected to drop the rule either on July 1 or July 5, the paper said, with the precise date to be announced this coming week. In the meantime we are now in a Zona Bianca, that is white one, which is very good news indeed. We continue to wear masks and keep our distance for now, but watch this space. Tourists are getting thicker on the ground and mostly from northern Europe. It was still nice and quiet in the restaurant for lunch today, so that was good for us, not so the restauranteur. Apparently the Brits are not being encouraged to come yet as the Italian Government has set a new rule that means 5 days in isolation for any that arrive here! So do keep an eye on the changes for travellers!

Well, it’s currently very hot here, so if you are coming make sure you have air-conditioning in your casa vacanza. A pool maybe a good idea too. Whatever your plans I wish you good luck, good health and happiness.

Salute June x

Vist http://www.junefinnigan.website

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

Yes, Italy is well and truly open to Tourists, subject to some border restrictions of course. The rules are a little confusing and are changing all the time. However, the hospitality sector is desperate for the return of tourists and in our own little bit of Tuscany we are seeing groups of walkers and visiting camper vans going past. In our local village of Fiano, the visitors are getting in early and grabbing all the pastries! Twice this last week I have been told that they had all gone! You can also guarantee that outside dining restuarants will be full; we are not even going to try and book. But this sounds like I’m grumbling, well maybe I am, but only a little bit…. STOP PRESS – inside dining has started from 1st June in low risk zones!

I spotted a number of things on FB this morning. Firstly, http://www.this-is-italy.com has posted an Italian Food Itinery. This will really help all you foodies to get a feel for the regional palates. And, believe me there are many differences in Italian restaurants throughout the country. Of course the Tuscans have always claimed to produce the best dishes in Italy and perhaps they do! My man and I have lived here for many years and can certainly recommend it! Also the markets are a joy to visit now, local fruit, veg and cheeses so the dishes produced are all seasonal again.

Meanwhile, here in the glorious Tuscan countryside we are breathing in the heavenly smell of Jasmin and roses. Roses are planted in gardens, at the end of rows of vines and wild in the countryside. Wild flowers are everywhere as the hedgerows are long and will not be trimmed until the blooms start to go over. And, yes, if you want poppy fields, now’s the time to be here! I have borrowed this foto from La Poggilaia’s post on FB; I know Paola won’t mind as she is a friend and my next door neighbour. It shows you just how stunning our area is right now, we are so very lucky.

Back indoors and in fact in my wardrobe, I’ve been swapping my clothes from winter to summer. Lovely that I can ditch the tights and wear sandals now as it is getting really warm. The forecast is for temperatures up to 30C by Friday, that’ll bring even bigger groups of tourists. I have three really comfy Tea Dresses that I wore to death last year and will do the same this summer. Black remains my colour of choice, my being a rockchick, but the dresses have lots of colourful flower patterns to offset this! As you know I adore fashion, despite my figure not being that of a model… But fashion includes shoes and handbags, so no worries there. It’s my birthday month so let’s see what’s currently available ‘made in Italy.’ Oh no, I just died and went to heaven! Almost immediately I found Lorius of Firenze (that’s Florence to you and me)who make absolutely gorgeous hand-painted handbags and, they have a massive sale and free delivery in Italy! Thats me finished for the day then, need to go back on-line before I stop breathing! http://www.loriusfirenze.com

OK, I’m back, but it is time to stop for an aperitivo to calm myself down. Sorry I’m a bit late with this blog but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. See you in Tuscany soon!

Do drop me a line, oh and visit my website at http://www.junefinnigan.website

Salute June x

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

Well, lets get that subject out of the way. Yes, you know, the subject that effects us all, the Covid thing. Here in Italy we are feeling excited yet a little apprehensive. The Government has chosen to open the borders from today to try and help the tourist industry recover from what has been the most devastating time since the Second World War. But, thank God, strict border requirements remain in place and only Europeans, Brits and Israelis will be able to visit without having to undergo a 5 day quarantine when they arrive. So, you will have to check your travel arrangements to see what you can expect at the borders. Foto Il Tempo.

Super Mario (Mario Draghi) who is currently in charge of the country and is expected to help regenerate the economy, has had a diffiicult start to his reign. I read an interesting article in the Economist yesterday posted on April 24th in which it was felt he had been unfairly expected to make miraculous changes overnight! But the general feeling is that he is making a difference and that the tourist industry in particular, should see a vast improvement over the next few months with new measures coming in on 12th June. Sadly, we are still unable to dine inside restuarants, which excludes a lot of places from re-opening. But watch this space. Foto The Economist.

On a much happier note the streets are looking much brighter as the bars, hotels and restaurants are readying themselves for the expected surge in tourists and the curfew has been been extended to 11pm! So, book your outside dining table now! I noticed that Osteria di Casa Chianti , just up the road from us, has their dining garden open and you can expect a fabulous view and sunsets there too! Booking essential. http://www.osteriadicasachianti.it/home-eng/

Meanwhile, here in the Chianti Hills we are enjoying everything that one can expect in May. The arrival of all the birds that we take for granted including the Cuckoo, Bee Eaters, Golden Oriel, Night Jar, Hoope and, after dark, the flashing lights of the Fire Fly. We have had a lot of rain and the weather is a little cool, however, this in turn provides more food for the birds and a gorgeous damp smell, particularly in the early morning.

In just over a week’s time, we are having the front garden area landscaped and planted with lots of flowering shrubs to enjoy. These will attract more butterflies; we have already spotted the Swallow Tail. This year has been particularly good for the roses and our English red rose is heavy with blooms. Mind you, it’s very difficult to compete with our next door neighbour at La Poggiolaia who has hundreds of varieties and, if you get the chance, try and book a a holiday there. You’ll love it! Foto http://www.poggiolaia.it

OK, time to think about Sunday lunch. Can’t wait to be able to book a restaurant inside table, but that’s probably not before 1st June. Hey Ho.

So to all my family and friends in the UK, enjoy your new freedom from tomorrow. However, please be vigilant and stay safe.

Salute June x

PS Vist my website and buy my books at http://www.junefinnigan.website

Happy 1st May & Buona Festa to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

Yes, I’m back again, this time lifted from a few hard working weeks by the month of May. I just love the first May. It feels like the start of something important and beautiful. The sun is breaking through the overnight mist and my man is sounding cheerful!

Every year I am overwhelmed by the flowers, both wild and planted, painting the garden and countryside with splashes of colour like an artist’s brush. The lilac tree has already flowered and moved on; instead we have hundreds of white Acacia trees dripping with blossoms. I think these trees, described locally as weeds, are the most beautiful in Tuscany at this time of year. Weeds because they grow quickly and everywhere, needing controlling if you prefer your view to be open and the garden tidy. I like a bit of both, I mean, how much view do you really need? And, I love trees.

If you have visited our lovely former Monastery Farmhouse, you will remember that just inside the main gate is a sloping semi-circular scrubby patch of garden, currently overun with flowering weeds, which is something and nothing. On one side is the lilac tree and on the other a big bunch of Irises. Now, we are very lucky to have a beautiful and talented daughter who, amongst her other achievements, is a qualified garden designer. So I asked Sharon if she could come up with some ideas for creating an easy to manage ground covering of flowering plants. Now ask Sharon a question and she will come back with the most brilliant answers. Here is her specially prepared ‘Mood Board’ for our consideration! Watch this space.

The other thing that really excites me is the mass of spring vegetables available and the seasonal foods coming into the shops and markets like Burrata cheese, which I adore. Here is a picture of one of the most mouth-watering salads served up at Tenuto Monterosola, Burrata with peaches and washed down with glass of Vermentino. http://www.monterosola.com

I have booked another on-line cooking class with Judy Witts Francini, as I am desperate for some ideas on dishes using seasonal veggies including Fava Beans, known as broad beans in the UK. Here in Tuscany the locals eat them raw when young. I tossed some with cubes of pecorino cheese and balsamic vinegar, which was delicious, but that’s my limit! Why don’t you join me on Thursday 6 may at Judy’s class! Go to http://www.divinacucina.com

OK, I know I’ve bombarded you with plants and veggies, but to be honest I just wanted to talk to you about happy things, rather than pandemics and not being able to book an inside restuarant table for lunch. We are currently in a Giallo (yellow) zone, which is not too bad for shopping etc. But the rules for masks and distancing remain strictly in place, which I agree with.

I have two questions to answer recently put to me by faithful followers. Firstly, no, my fourth book ‘Assassin’s List’ will not be available shortly as I have had other very important things consuming my time. However, my heroine Joana West is knocking on the inside of my skull trying to get out, so I will have to get back to her soon. So please bear with me and I will aim to get the book done in time for Christmas, or with a little bit of luck, beforehand.

Secondly, The Rock Chick Band is aiming to be back for a big bash on June 24 2022, so I hope you will diary date to join us then.

OK, time to edit this blog and get it off to you. I hope you are all remaining well and protected; it will be a while yet before Italy has got her act together.

Do contact me, either through this blog or by email at june.finnigan@virgin.net. I love to hear from you.

Oh and do buy my books if you have not already done so! http://www.junefinnigan.website

Have a great week and Amore to you all.

Salute june x

Stop press – Bee Eaters have just arrived!

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