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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

As my man and I left La Dispensa this morning, after a relaxed coffee and a read of the newspapers, our friend Alessandro pulled up on the other side of the road and parked on the pavement.  He eased his ample frame out of the car and called across “Viene Qua!”  which means ‘come here’.  He opens the boot of his car and with a big smile on his face hands me an unlabeled bottle of wine. “It’s Mammu”  he announced, in Italian of course, “It’s called Mammu because is like a mother’s breast milk, fresh and full of goodness!”  Well, I think that is what he said, his local accent is very thick.  The Tuscans, and possibly all Italians really like to drink their wine young, the children drink it watered down.  We will probably hesitate to open it, young is not so much our thing, but it was a very nice gesture.  We thanked him heartily and strolled off to the car.

 

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Before bumping into Alessandro, I found an article in La Repubblica, all about the latest beautiful gleaming red Ferrari called Il Portofino.  It is named after one of the most expensive and glamorous coastal towns in Italy.  Can’t you just imagine it, hair wrapped in a silk scarf, cruising next to your handsome man on the beautiful winding roads along the coast, looking and feeling like a film star.  Perhaps next year…..  foto La Repubblica

Also in the paper was the announcement of the arrival of the glamour boys of rock.  Well, not exactly boys, The Rolling Stones still strut the stage like youngsters, despite being great grandfathers!  2017-09-17 09.36.20Yes, the beautiful walled city of Lucca attracted over fifty-five thousand fans and the majority were young enough to be their grandchildren.  Thankfully the Italians love aging rockers, so I’m still in with a chance!  Foto La Repubblica

 

2017-09-18 09.01.11Meanwhile, down in our local town of Certaldo, glamour turned to traditional costumes, as the Calambur teams were fighting it out to win the coveted victor’s banner.  The Calambur is a sort of ‘It’s a Knockout’ contest between the four sections of the Commune di Certaldo, running races, obstacle courses and solving intelligence tests!  Our local village Fiano, is in the red and white team and we won last year.  But sadly, this time the banner went to the green and blue team called ‘Canonica’ so we had to hand the banner over.  There’s always next year…..  Foto La Nazione

2017-09-17 13.27.37Well, we may not have won the banner, but we can celebrate the season for Porcini Mushrooms!  I am already over indulging in wood-fire grilled giant Porcini at Ristorante C’era Una Volta in Lucardo.  website  Sprinkled with black pepper and a few fresh herbs, there is nothing like it during the cooler September days.  Yummy! Foto J Finnigan

2017-09-18 08.50.56Elsewhere, and in the world of Politics, another aging star has raised his profile once again and is making inroads into getting back all his old followers and lots of new ones for his Forza Italia party.  Silvio Berlusconi, despite having announced that he was going to concentrate more on his family having turned eighty last year, is very much back out there on the hustings and looking very serious too.  Watch this space.  Foto La Repubblica

2017-09-14 09.28.26And finally, back to glamour again and one of my most favourite subjects, Italian Fashion.  I have already posted some Autumn Fashion, but I have to say that I have completely fallen in love with the brand Gaudi.  And, the latest colours are right up my street, gorgeous browns and russets, oh and the handbags!  I know, I know, I do go on a bit, but I must blame it on the Italians, their wonderful designs and the quality they produce.  I’m really looking forward to seeing my man in his new bespoke Italian suit, which will be ready soon.  Wonderful!  Foto La Repubblica

Well, must go.  Places to go, people to see.  Have a great week, do drop me a line and see you next time.

Salute June x

PS  Oops, how could I forget to tell you about my new Official Author Website, where you can even buy personalised signed books with PayPal!  Go to June’s website

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all My Lovely Followers

2017-09-04 13.39.54We have just had heavy overnight rain.  “So what?” I hear you say.  The UK has virtually had no summer and we are excited about the arrival of rain!  Yes, I know, large parts of the World have been deluged with terrible storms and our thoughts are with those people struggling with loss of life and property.  But, here in Tuscany, it has been over three months without a drop of the refreshing stuff.  Now the countryside smells wonderfully damp and the vines are sighing with relief.  The crazy thing is, until today it has been too hot  to work outside, now it is too wet!  But lets move on…. Foto Storms clouds arriving, J Finnigan.

Meanwhile, down in Certaldo, the Saturday morning market arrived as usual, with all the local growers selling seasonal fruit and veg.  2017-09-09 09.39.14Last week I mentioned the Certaldo Red Onion and was disturbed to hear a tourist guide beside me telling a group of American tourists all about the onion, whilst standing next to baskets of red onions that were, in my opinion, the Statina variety and not the bright red Vernina as she was indicating.  You really do need to know your onions in Certaldo and it’s important to ask the vendor if they are ‘The Certaldo Onion’ and which variety they are.  Now I am not trying to be clever here , and I would be very happy to have one of you knowledgeable readers put me right, if you think I am wrong!  See Foto.  Also, you cooks out there could tell me, which are the best varieties for the various cooking methods.  Grazie Mille!  Foto J Finnigan.

2017-09-02 13.18.23It is also the season for Fichi (figs to you and me) and at Ristorante C’era Una Volta in Lucardo, they were on the menu last week.  Paolo the owner, grows all his own fruit and veg and the freshly picked Fichi were not going to last long.  So I had my fill on two separate days in the week!  Yummy.  Foto J Finnigan.

Ok, enough 2017-09-07 08.45.03about food!  Back in our local village of Fiano and over coffee, I read  a fascinating article by Paolo Pejrone in La Repubblica, about ‘walking’ Olive Trees.  Well, you only have to see the pictures to understand why, and amazing to look at they are too.  As olive trees get older they can take on the most amazing shapes and characters!  Fotos Alejandro Chasklelberg.

2017-09-06 09.01.03Meanwhile, the Regional Election in Sicily is hotting up and it seems that the Rock Star of Politics, Beppe Grillo’s Five Star party, is currently slashing its way through the front-line.  I love this magazine cover that depicts his rivals as either blind or struggling to see.  But I am glad to see Silvio on the hustings promoting his Forza Italia party, it certainly puts the colour back in.  I’ll just go and check when the elections actually take place, so don’t go away, I’ll be back in a minute….  OK, that didn’t take long; the election is on 5th November and the winning party will be found using some kind of complicated ‘proportional representation’ system.   Whoever wins, the current President Rosario Crocetta will go, as he has not been candidated by his own party due to lack of popularity!  I won’t go any deeper than that!  But I’ll keep you posted.

From a personal point of view, I will be back into my fourth book ‘Assassin’s List’ next week and organising a big marketing splurge of my three published books in the series ‘The Continuing Adventures of Joanna Wilde,’ in time for Christmas.  So watch out for that.  There’s nothing like unwrapping a new paperback book at Christmas!  Visit my site at June’s author site  or any Amazon site around the world, or simply Google June Finnigan.  If you want to be notified directly of the Christmas promotion, send your email address to june.finnigan@virgin.net

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

Salute June x

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

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Oliver and Nicola on the right. My Hunks of the month.  Foto J Finnigan

Visiting Florence is a wonderful experience at any time and we don’t do it often enough.  Last Tuesday we not only went to that beautiful city, we also had an appointment with Sartoria Vanni a hugely popular bespoke tailor with a history going back two hundred years.  My man needed a new city suit and this is where we were recommended to go.  We were greeted by Nicola Papa and Oliver Scavetta, lifetime friends and both, I have to say, absolutely gorgeous.  Oh dear, now I’ve lost track!  Oh yes, for the next hour Nicola was my man’s personal tailor and I was truly impressed with his attention to style and detail.  My man looked pretty good when we arrived there, but in Nicola’s final mock-up suit he looked amazing!  We have four weeks to wait for the final suit, so that will be another excuse to return to Florence. Yay!   Quote Nicola Papa – ‘Self-empowerment and success can all start with your diligence to apparel. When you dress your best you’re empowered to become your best.’  Absolutely, I say!  Visit the Website  for full details of their traveling service.

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The cool courtyard setting of Ristorante Quinoa. Foto J Finnigan

Now for ages I have wanted to visit Ristorante Quinoa, a completely gluten-free restaurant in Vicolo Di Santa Maria Maggiore.  It was a bit of a walk for me, but I was really determined to enjoy a good lunch after our visit to Nicola and Oliver.  I was not disappointed.  We walked into a lovely cool open courtyard with colourful seating and a menu to die for!  I ordered a vegan burger, which came with big slices of avocado and lots of other trimmings in a crispy home-made gluten-free bread roll.   This was just heaven to me and washed down with a delicious dry white.  I should have taken a picture of the food, but I was so ravenous that I had eaten the top of the bread roll before I thought of it!  Sorry.  Anyway, I must recommend this place to you, particularly if you are gluten-free like me; they cater for meat eaters, veggies and vegans.  Visit Website

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The freebie newspaper ‘Florence is You’ Foto J Finnigan

As I walked to the bagno, I noticed a table with the free newspaper ‘Florence is You’ on top and this reminded me of our meeting the lovely Editor in Chief, Anna Balzani, a couple of years ago.  Her paper is brilliantly put together and caters for Italian, English, Chinese and Russian visitors and residents.  Not only is it newsy, it also has great interviews and articles about the most interesting people and places.  I read the paper on-line and you can too, just visit Website

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Meanwhile, in the world of Rock Music, Prato, a small city north of Florence, is currently hosting seventeen days of Afterhours shows in the Piazza Duomo.  Now this is a very popular location for festivals and is very beautiful too.  Prato is also famous for its textile industries and is very popular with the Chinese as a place to live.  Foto La Nazione

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What else?  oh yes, I read over coffee in our local village of Fiano, that Silvio Berlusconi is currently on the hustings for his party Forza Italia, in Sicily.  Well, I don’t want to hint at anything, but in the colourful world of Italian politics, I can’t imagine he will have any trouble getting votes there!  Nudge nudge, wink wink.  Foto La Repubblica.

Ok, now today is Saturday and I can’t make up my mind whether to cook lunch and go out this evening, or to go out for lunch and tuck in with an aperitivo and snack this evening.  I’ll check with my man, back in a minute…….  We are going out to lunch, so that’s good, I can relax and finish this blog.

Well, the weather is cooler now but we still need more rain.  High winds are currently whirling around the house, so something might be on the way!  Fingers crossed.

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

Salute June x

PS Visit my author site at June’s site or visit any Amazon site around the world.  Or, simply google June Finnigan.

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

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Amatrice today. La Repubblica

Lest we forget, it is one year ago that the hilltop town of Amatrice was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake.  Elsewhere in Italy, lesser tremors also caused chaos and injuries.  But it was the terrible loss of life in Armatrice that really shook the country as a whole.  During this last year, the remaining unstable buildings were pulled down and the roads cleared, but little else has been achieved.  Of course the question is, should the town be rebuilt in a central part of the worst seismic zone in Italy? And if it was, the original old buildings are irreplaceable; new earthquake-proof style houses would have to be erected.  And, do the inhabitants want to go back? After a year in tents, temporary huts and hotels, they’ve had a lot of time to think about things.  Watch this space…….

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Big bunches of the famous Certaldo Red Onion. La Nazione.

On a much lighter note and back here in Certaldo, we are celebrating La Sagra della Cipolla, that’s Festival of the Onion to you and me.  But this is no ordinary onion, we are talking about that lovely sweet red onion, which is grown locally and is famous in Certaldo.  Eaten thinly sliced & raw, sometimes cooked and sold in locally made jars of marmalade, which I eat all year round.  So if you are visiting Certaldo’s Saturday morning market, pick yourself up a bunch.  You’ll love them.

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Fresh Italian Grapes on my kitchen table. Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, the Vendemmia, grape harvest, is starting locally.  A little early for some but the drought has forced things forward a bit.  The good news is, we can now buy big beautiful bunches of red Italian grapes in the market and supermarket.  They are almost too gorgeous to eat, so here is a picture for you to drool over as they will be eaten over the next week!

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What next?  Oh yes, Tuscany is celebrating the selection of a new Miss Toscana.  A very pretty twenty-six year old mother called Lavinia Mannucci.  Well done to her, she now goes on to the big national contest, Miss Italia and yes, Italy still loves this sort of thing.  There were some entrants who, in my man’s opinion, did not stand a ‘hope in hell’ of being selected.  Nevertheless, they still stood up on the podium smiling nervously at the judges.  I do wonder at the initial selection process, but still admire those young women who give it a go, bless them!  Foto La Repubblica.

Oh, just a little snippet.  This week my man and I are going into Florence to visit a recommended tailor called Sartoria Vanni.  My man needs a new city suit and this will be the first time he has been to buy a bespoke Italian one.  I love these sort of places, particularly as the business has been going for 200 years!  Yes, I need to be there just to check on the style and my man does appreciate my view.  I’m also very nosy and want to see inside a real Italian Tailor’s showroom!  I’ll report back next week and you may like to visit their website

Anyway, must get this blog up and posted to you.  I have promised to cook my man a roast veggie lunch, so better get a move on.  But I hear something calling me, I sit back and listen, yes there it is a little high-pitched voice saying “Aperitivo time, Aperitivo time…..”  Mama Mia, there’s always something that stops me in my tracks, particularly when I’m expected to cook.  I wonder if I can persuade my man to have salad today, then we can relax with a nice sparkling wine?  O Dio, I can see the disappointed look on his face already; I’ll do the lunch!

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

Salute June x

PS Visit my author site at My site or any other world-wide Amazon site.

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

Firstly, I would like to send our warmest thoughts to all our friends in both Barcelona and Spain.  We hope you and your families are safe and well.

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The European Green Woodpecker. Foto Creative Commons/Attribution Share Alike.

Back here in our little bit of Chianti, we have discovered last week’s mystery bird was in fact a European Green Woodpecker.  Thank you to Hilary in England, for providing lots of information about Woodpeckers.  The signed book ‘The Italian Connection‘ is yours!

giambologna-sabine

Meanwhile, down in Florence the Director of the Uffizi Gallery is appealing to bring the statue of the ‘Rape of the Sabine Women’ inside, as “Giambologna’s sculpture is at risk” Eike Schmidt claims.  He is worried about rising temperatures, air pollution and tourism-related risks, and asked that the sculpture be brought into the protective indoor environment.  Since the 1580’s the sculpture has sat in the Loggia dei Lanzi in the Piazza della Signora; is it really that much at risk?   Schmidt suggests making a copy of the sculpture to replace it with, just like the replica of David that stands close by; what do you think?  If you have not seen this sculpture close up, I can tell you it is quite spectacular.  Watch this space…  Foto Andrew Wyeth.

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Torre del Mangia on fire in Siena

Last week, whilst enjoying our morning coffee in Fiano, we read in the paper that on the night after the Palio in Siena, one of its historical towers burst into flames!  The Torre di Mangia came alight in the night, possibly caused by a ornamental candle and the wooden floor may be damaged.  The Piazza del Campo had to be cleared until all was made safe!  Phew, this caused a great deal of panic as you can imagine, particularly with the crowds still around after the Palio!

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Meanwhile, back in peace of the countryside, the forthcoming Vendemmia (grape harvest) is going to be a worrying time for the farmers, as the drought has definitely caused a lot of damage in the vineyards.  Although, some of the early pickings of the white grape may be producing ‘extralusso,’ luxury wines, this year.  So that’s good.  However, we are much more concerned about our local Chianti wines and the quality of the grape for this year’s harvest.  September is the traditional month for the Vendemmia, however, some red grapes are being picked now, which has no doubt upset a few farmers, who like to take August out for their holidays.  Fingers crossed.  Foto La Repubblica.

2017-08-19 08.42.25On a much lighter note, as you know the Italians love film and film stars.  They also love Amore and I read in the paper that Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, who are in their eighties, have made a new romantic film.  This then warranted a full-page dedicated to on-screen couples inamore.  Then I saw splashed across another page, that Daniel Craig is definitely back and making one more Bond!  Fantastico, we and the Italians are shouting, well in print anyway.  So there was some good news last week, and having decided to remove the Telegraph from my cloud, I will no longer be reading any bad news or stuff about Brexit, unless I choose to.  Foto La Repubblica.

Anyway, you will be glad to know that I will be starting acoustic guitar lessons in September and  cracking on with my fourth book, ‘Assassin’s List.’  So life continues to be exciting and very italian.  I just love it!

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

Salute June x

Ps visit my author site at My site or any other Amazon site around the world.

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers around The World

Yes, we are still here, not quite melted into the Tuscan countryside yet, but at forty degrees it has been a close run thing!  Thankfully, we have just enjoyed a couple of days respite after high winds and rain cleared the stifling humidity.

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Packed like beached sardines on the Tuscan coast. La Repubblica.

I sincerely hope that you have not booked the next two weeks anywhere on the Tuscan coast.  This week is Ferragosta, when thousands and I mean many thousands, of Italians have flooded the beaches on their annual exodus to Al Mare.  If you want standing room only, well OK, but if you are hoping to stretch out and relax, forget it!  Anyway, It is not so hot inland now, so if you have booked an air-conditioned self-catering place or Agriturismo in this area, you should be OK.

Back in our lovely little bit of Chianti I spotted an interesting bird through the bedroom window, landing in our ancient fig tree and obviously after the young fruits.  But it was so well camouflaged once it was there, I struggled to locate it through my camera lens.  It’s only by chance that I got a picture, I just happened to be aiming in the right direction.

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Fig Tree and Mystery Bird. Photo J Finnigan

If you slightly enlarge the photo of the fig tree and look three-quarters of the way up in the middle you will see it!  A beautiful and fascinating sighting of an unusual bird.  I wondered if it was a Piculet, a type of Woodpecker, but I am no bird specialist.  I saw a flash of stripe on its underbelly or wing and a longish beak.  If any of you clever clogs can tell me what it is, I will send you a signed copy of ‘The Italian Connection’!  Otherwise, you get to see our lovely fig tree…..

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More gorgeous fashion from Gaudi. La Repubblica.

Meanwhile, I was enjoying my morning coffee in our local village of Fiano and found some beautiful Autumn Italian fashion in La Repubblica.  I must say, that Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year and I just love the colours.  The flip-flops get thrown into the washing machine and we once again start thinking about shoes; yes I know, I love shoes almost as much as I love handbags and living in Italy, were they make the World’s most beautiful creations, it can be hard to concentrate.  What is your favourite season?

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Holiday Music in Florence. La Repubblica

But lets bring you back to Tuscany and those of us who have not gone ‘Al Mare’ or to the mountains, will be enjoying lots of music over the next week or so.  Every day up until the 20th August, you can enjoy live music in the Giardino dell Orticultora, a lovely cool green place to chill out in Florence.  Go to http://www.firenzetoday.it/eventi/location/giardino-dell-orticoltura/  They do all sorts of great events throughout the year too!

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Pink Floyd releases new live album recorded in the Roman Amphitheatre in Pompeii. La Republica

And also on the subject of Music, Pink Floyd, who are celebrating fifty years of the release of their first album ‘The Piper at The Gates of Dawn,’ are regularly in Tuscany.  They can always rely of their Italian fans to turn out in the thousands and a whole page news article is no surprise.  The big news is that a new album is being released called ‘David Gilmour Live at Pompeii’ recorded in the Roman Amphitheatre in front of 2,600 lucky fans last year.  It was the first ever rock concert performed there and the audience stood exactly where the gladiators would have fought to the death.  For more information and to watch some excerpts that will give you pins & needles, go to http://www.pinkfloyd.com/news/

Well, I think that’s my roundup for the last week and may the month of August be really cool for you in every sense of the word. (Errr, unless you are in England of course, weather wise.)

Do drop me a line, I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

Visit my author site at Author Site

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Our parched landscape this morning. Foto J Finnigan

Phew, another baking hot day and no rain.  Forty degrees celsius yesterday and forty-four in Florence!  But we don’t care about that, life eeez good, life eeez now!  Well, that’s not strictly true, we would prefer not to have to water the garden at around six in the morning and shut ourselves indoors all day.  Even the vines have had enough and are producing ready to pick grapes much earlier this year.  Some have already been harvested in the north!  But the view remains beautiful, the contrast of the blond fields against the stripes of the vines and the hardy olive trees remain silver green.  Sadly, some of the other mature trees are starting to wilt, and we are daily topping up two bowls of water for the wildlife.

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The big Italian Vacanza. La Repubblica

Of course, as you loyal readers will know, August is the month for the Italians to exit the suffocating heat inland, and go off to the coast or mountains.  A record 34 million have been recorded as having gone on vacation at the beginning of the month.  This then leaves the visiting tourists wandering around ghost towns trying to find anywhere open!  Instead of capitalizing on the influx of foreign tourists, the Italians close shop and head off Al Mare!

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Beautiful Autumn trouser suits. La Repubblica.

Now here’s a complete change of subject, Italian fashion has moved into Autumn and I can honestly say that I am looking forward to it.  As I was enjoying my morning coffee in our local village of Fiano, I spotted these trouser suits in La Repubblica.  Beautiful, almost classic designs that only the Italians can truly achieve.

Another thing, I don’t know about you girls, or should I say ladies if I am being politically correct, but I am struggling with my handbags at the moment.  My man thinks I should carry a cross body bag at all times, as they are far more secure.  But I find that they are not usually big enough to carry all my junk.  ‘Shoppers’ tend to fit over one shoulder and I don’t like having a big lump under my arm!  Let’s have your ideas girls (to hell with political correctness) and I will gladly take your views on board!

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Yummy pecorino cheese and grilled courgettes marinated in balsamic and chives. Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, if you are looking for restaurants that are open near Certaldo, I can recommend C’era una Volta in Lucardo, which is open for lunch and dinner every day except Tuesday.  www.ristorante-ceraunavolta.com  Telephone first as it can be heaving in the evenings, yet sometimes really quiet if you are lucky.  Tel (0039)0571 669 578.  I will finish this blog after Sunday lunch at the above, as I intend taking a couple of pictures…….  OK, I’m back and here is a picture of my antipasti, lovely young pecorino cheese and wood-fire grilled marinated courgettes in balsamic and chives.  Yummy.

Well, time to think about an aperitivo, it’s so hot I have been pouring white wine over ice!  My man will be enjoying a nice G&T, which I love, but no longer agrees with my sensitive system.  Hey ho!

But whats this?  My man rushes into my studio waving a map!  “There’s a lost French family at the gate looking for their holiday accommodation and there is no address, just a map location!  I think I know which house it is, but can you ring the owner and find out for sure?  Not only that, they don’t speak Italian and hardly any English!”  I grab my phone and have a weird conversation with an Italian, who finally works out where we are and says he will come and collect the French.  He arrives ten minutes later, and my man proudly announces that he was right, as he recognised the owner’s son who turned up!  So despite the communication challenge, all turns out well!  There’s never a dull moment during the tourist season, the last lost people were Spanish.

Have a great cool week and do drop me a line, either below or at june.finnigan@virgin.net  I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

Ps  Visit my author site at www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

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