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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

Polenta e Fungi antipasti. Foto J Finnigan

Polenta e Fungi antipasti. Foto J Finnigan

“Could we look at the wine list please?”  I said in Italian of course.  The waiter went a little pale and disappeared.  Then his wife arrived and said, “We don’t need a wine list, we have our own wine!”  “Oh good!” I gave her my broadest smile.  “We’ll have half a litre of the house red then.”  She happily bounced away.  Now, this was the start of our visit to a tiny family run restaurant called Taverna del Fiorentino in Marcialla, which is just fifteen minutes away from our home.  We chose to go there for the first time, because we had been invited by friends to go to the theatre, just around the corner, for a jazz evening.  Having arrived at seven-thirty, this gave us lots or time to relax over dinner, well so we thought.  Now the couple who run the place are really sweet and the wine was delicious.  But the wait for the food was the longest we have ever experienced.  OK, this is Italy where slow food is the rule, but after a while, we realised that this was not the place to go if we had a limit on our time.  also, it gradually became clear that the place had expectantly filled up with people, and they did not have the staff to cope with it.  We had probably chosen the wrong day too.  But the simple polenta & fungi antipasti arrived and it was delicious, also, when it eventually came, my man enjoyed his pasta dish.  so, it was an experience and we are not sure whether we should go back, but we will see.

The cosy theatre before the concert. Foto J Finnigan

The cosy theatre before the concert. Foto J Finnigan

So, it was then a last-minute dash around the corner to Teatro Regina Margherita to meet our friends and neighbours.  As we waited to buy tickets, I snuck around the red curtain and took a photo of the almost empty theatre, which looked lovely and cosy, the band’s instruments all set up on the stage, ready to go.  I’ve never been a big fan of Jazz, I prefer Rock, so we awaited the start of the performance with curiosity.

The band Simone Graziano - Frontal. Foto J Finnigan

The band Simone Graziano – Frontal. Foto J Finnigan

Well, I am not sure how to describe the band, who call themselves Simone Graziano – Frontal,  perhaps in their late twenties or early thirties and hugely talented on their particular instruments.  I found myself drawn to the drummer, Stefano Tamborrino ( a fabulous name for a percussion man) who was amazing on the drums and more, even jangling a big bunch of keys at one point.  But the overall sound was just too weird and a little crazy for my taste.  In saying that, we enjoyed being in the theatre, but next time we go it won’t be for the Jazz.  Afterwards, we joined our friends (thank you Paolo and Paola) for wine in the foyer, which was supplied by Villa S. Andrea from San Casciano.  The wine was very good and the Villa, should you be out that way, is a fabulous place to visit.  Go to http://www.villasandrea.com

Well, back to normality, and trying to ignore the cold wet weather.  Spring is leaping forth in our lovely Tuscan garden, but the weather is keeping us inside.  Despite that, we might pop over to C’era Una Volta for a nice hot lunch shortly.

New book cover proof for The Italian Connection. Foto J Finnigan

New book cover proof for The Italian Connection.
Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, the hard copy proof of my new book ‘The Italian Connection’ is arriving special delivery on Tuesday, so hopefully, by the weekend it will finally be ready to launch!  Here is a screen shot of the cover.  The wording may change a little on the reverse.  If you would like personal notification of the publication date, email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net

Anyway, must go and make myself beautiful and get taken out to lunch by my gorgeous man.  And, don’t forget that Wednesday is Festa Della Donna, so we girlies expect to be spoilt on that day with a piece of Mimosa, or any given present actually!

Have a great week.

Salute June x

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

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

The return of Montalbano! Glossy mag at Sandra's hairdressers.

The return of Montalbano! Foto Glossy mag at Sandra’s hairdressers.

I make no apology for my gushing in this opening paragraph.   Tonight, Monday, we will be watching the opening episode of the new Montalbano series!  Luca Zingaretti, who plays that mesmerising character, Comissario Montalbano, is fifty-five, short and bald, but there’s no other way to describe him, but hugely sexy!  I know I’m not alone in thinking this.  My man is tall, handsome and has a full head of hair, to me he is perfect.  But there is something about the character of Salvo Montalbano that has the heart fluttering.  Of course, it’s not just the man, it’s also the fantastic cast and plots.  The new series has been written by the original author of the books, ninety-two-year-old Andrea Camillera.  Based in Sicily again, it will be a fascinating series.  I have read all his previous books and watched the DVDs.  So, roll on tonight!

Low flying Air Balloons on a covert mission? Foto P Finnigan

Low flying Air Balloons on a covert mission? Foto P Finnigan

“Hello, what’s this?”  My man is peering sideways out of the car window on the way to coffee in Fiano and it is Sunday morning.  He swerves a little, as he’s not watching the road and then I spot the top of two hot-air balloons flying really low through the valley below us.  “They are far too low, what’s wrong with them?”  My man asks.  He pulls in and gets out of the car and watches.  “They seem to be just getting a close-up view, there is nowhere to set down, it’s too steep here.”  He takes a couple of photos and gets back in the car.  “They may be on a covert mission,”  I say, my mind all full of imaginary scenarios.  “Don’t be silly” he laughs,  “They would be using drones not hot air balloons!”  “Ah, that’s exactly what they would want you to think!”  I insist.  He sighs.

Toscani si Nasce Grande Show, 4th March. La Nazione.

Toscani si Nasce Grande Show, 4th March. La Nazione.

Over coffee, I read in the newspaper about a new effort to bring one’s attention back to the plight of the earthquake victims.  It is a wonderful idea, bringing together artists, all of whom were ‘Born in Tuscany’ including singers, musicians, dancers and comedians.  The Grande Show called Toscana si Nasce at Al Teatro Aurora, will also be televised on 4th March, and presented by Rodolfo Banchelli.  Lest we forget.

Gorgious Fendi bags and frock. La Repubblica

Gorgeous Fendi bags and frock. La Repubblica

Now, I know there are guys who read this blog and I really appreciate the fact that you do.  So I hope you won’t mind if I wax lyrical about the latest handbags, shoes and frocks currently being marketed by some of the fabulous designers here in Italy.  You see, I do love these things and try as I may, I am constantly falling in love with one or the other.

2017-02-25-08-58-24So very quickly, I have put together a selection to die for.  I would be happy to own the lot.

Ok, I know, enough is enough and anyway, I really must get on-line and make the final decision on my new book cover for ‘The Italian Connection‘.   Once I do this, a proof will be winging its way to me in the post.  So, to everyone still waiting, I promise it will be available very very soon.

Salute June x

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

 

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

“My head’s got bigger!”  My man has a pained look on his face.  “I don’t think so, you’ve always had a big head!”  I snort and giggle.  “No, no, I mean physically bigger!”  He groans.  “It’s my green beret, it’s too tight, I can’t get it on!”  Ah, my man has been unloading his ancient Royal Marine kit bag to check for damp, as there was a whiff of it coming from his studio.  So now he has been reminiscing and complaining that he may not be able to get into his uniform anymore.  So I brought up a picture of him in uniform, from many years ago, on the computer screen and actually, his head did look a little bit smaller then.  But his uniform belt could nearly do up, only about three inches too small, so not too bad.

The aging Italian Military. Foto La Nazione

The aging Italian Military. Foto La Nazione

Which reminds me, in La Nazione newspaper, which I was reading over coffee, there was an article about the Italian Armed Forces.  I was rather shocked to read that the average age of the Italian soldier is 38!  There are too many old soldiers still in the forces and not enough youngsters joining up.  So a big campaign is being started to try to reverse the situation.

Helmets and leather articles for sale in Alessandro's shop. Foto P Finnigan

Helmets and leather articles for sale in Alessandro’s shop. Foto P Finnigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back down in Certaldo, my man popped into his favourite shoe repair shop for some polish.  He likes to chat to Alessandro, the owner, who is a very interesting man indeed.  Not only does he work in leather, but also metals.  He is one of those Military re-enactment people who stage mock battles, wearing all the old costumes.  He actually makes suits of armour, helmets and even had a Samurai Outfit displayed in his shop last year.  He now has a full beard and long hair to match his role-play.  So if you need a new helmet or shield, or a shoe repair, of course, do drop in. You will find him at La Rapida, Via Borgo Garibaldi, 6.

The Made in Italy Tour begins on San Valentino. La Republica

The Made in Italy Tour begins on San Valentino. La Republica

Meanwhile, Italy is celebrating all things Made in Italy and launched ‘The Made in Italy Tour’ on San Valentino with the popular songster, Ligabue.  All his fans were there with L’Amore banners.  As you will know, everything stops on a Saints day, other than the celebrations of course.

One of three new Mimosa Trees in our beautiful garden. Foto J Finnigan

One of three new Mimosa Trees in our beautiful garden. Foto J Finnigan

Ah, another thing you will remember from last year is the gifting of Mimosa flowers on La Festa Della Donna.  Now it’s not that time yet, but we decided that we should plant some Mimosa Trees in the garden and bought three from our lovely plant lady in Certaldo’s Mercato on Saturday morning.  I also got loads more Primula to brighten up the winter garden.  So my man was occupied for much of the day planting and a wonderful job he did too.

Fantastic success worldwide for Chianti Classico Wine. La Repubblica.

Fantastic success worldwide for Chianti Classico Wine. La Repubblica.

And last but not least, I read a fascinating article about how incredibly well the exporting of Chianti Classico Wine is doing around the world.  The Chinese absolutely love it and the market remains huge.  Even our own supplier across the valley exports more to China than anywhere else.  So this bodes well for Chianti producers in our area and this is fortunate considering that Italy, since 2008, has just been declared the worst performing country in Europe, yes even worse than Greece!

But that’s enough of that;  life eeez good, life eeez now.

Have a great week and do get in touch.

Salute June x

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

Coming soon, my new book ‘The Italian Connection’ the third volume in the series ‘The Continuing Adventures of Joanna Wilde’ – watch this space!

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

 

 

 

 

Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

And another Irish try! Foto La Reppublica

And another Irish try! Foto La Reppublica

There was a huge shocked silence in Roma yesterday after Italy lost 10-63 to Ireland in the Six Nations Rugby.  This is doubly disappointing as we have been working hard on our Italian friends to take an interest in the sport, rather than their obsession with football (Calcio).  Now, they are not inspired by the Italian team and neither are we.  But my man and I have an advantage; whilst Italy is our chosen country of residence we are still English, so England’s win over Wales yesterday put our hearts back into the game!  Commiserations to our Welsh friends, well not really.

Donald about to gobble up Hilary. fot La Reppublica

Donald about to gobble up Hilary. foto La Reppublica

Last week I mentioned the Carnivale and the amazing giant moving spectacles.  I just had to show you this one, which will be in the carnival at Viareggio.  A tr(i)umphant Donald appears to have Hilary inside a huge burger bun and she looks terrified poor thing.  As this tableau actually moves, I can imagine his arm lifting the bun up to his mouth and back!

Silvio back at the rostrum. Foto La Reppublica

Silvio back at the rostrum. Foto La Reppublica

Now, back in Fiano I also read over coffee, that Silvio Berlusconi is definitely still playing a high-profile political role.  As leader of the Forza Italia party, he appears to be indicating that he will ask the voters about any future candidacy, and as far as the election goes he wants a fully proportional law.  Err?  Now if any of my Italian speaking friends want to look at the text in the picture please do correct me if I have read this wrong.  You know me and my conversations with Italians, I often have them rolling in the aisles!

Rock Chick Fashion. Foto La Reppublica

Rock Chick Fashion. Foto La Reppublica

Anyway, back to things I really like.  Fashion and the Rock Chick look is definitely up my street.  so I could not resist showing you this picture below.  As I am starting the run up to my next concert, I will need a new outfit, so which one do you think will suit me best?  What’s that you said?  How dare you!

But let’s finish with a gorgeous picture of Armani man.  No not Giorgio, but a model who has all the makings of a new James Bond.  He joined me for coffee earlier in the week when my man was off doing a bit of business and certainly put a smile on my face.  Oh, I think he was modelling an Armani watch, but who wants to look at his wrist?

2017-02-10-10-31-43

Armani Man. Foto La Repubblica

Ok, better go.  I’m expecting to upload the final draft of ‘The Italian Connection’ to Amazon this week.  So, if I do not already have it, send me your email address if you would like to know when it goes live!  june.finnigan@virgin.net

Have a great week and do visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

Salute June x

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

Benvenuto and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

The traditional Carnevale in Tuscany. Foto La Republicca

The traditional Carnevale in Tuscany. Foto La Repubblica

“Ah, it’s Carnival time again!”  My man looks over his newspaper, as we drink coffee at La Dispensa in Fiano.  “I remember last year,” he continued “because I was on the plane coming back from Bristol, surrounded by a big crowd of carnival enthusiasts from Bridgwater!”   Now, he was talking about Bridgwater in Somerset, England, where they have a huge carnival every year, but nothing like as macabre and gruesome as the Italian ones so often are.  In their defence, the Italian ones are amazing to see.  Huge moving figures, loud music and bright colours.  This year the first one will be in Empoli on 11th February, then they continue through to 5th March throughout Tuscany, the biggest is probably at Viareggio.  Live carnivals will even be shown on Rai 3 television on the 26th and 28th February, if you don’t fancy going out in the cold.  So, whether you are an enthusiast or not, you won’t be able to avoid all the excitement, if you are here in Tuscany.

The forthcoming San Remo Music Festival. Foto La Repubblica

The forthcoming San Remo Music Festival. Foto La Repubblica

Anyway, what about the music scene, you ask?  Well, it’s also San Remo Music Festival time again.  I can tell you, February in Italy cannot be described as a dull or quiet time.  Carlo Conti, the hugely popular TV presenter will be playing host to all the entries from the Italian music world, hoping to be voted as the best and therefore eligible for entry in the Eurovision Song Contest.  What was that you said?  Yes, I know some of you hate this programme, but the Italians talk about little else in the bars during the four days of the festival, between 7th and 11th of February. Also, San Remo does attract a few famous stars to entertain the crowds in between bouts of the contest, and this year includes Robbie Williams and Ricky Martin!  Err, Wow?

The very versatile vegetable Carciofo. Foto La Repubblica

The very versatile vegetable, Carciofo. Foto La Repubblica

Coming down to earth and back in the local restaurants, we are enjoying the very popular vegetable, Carciofo, or Artichoke to you and I.  As you probably know, the Italians eat seasonal veg and fruit, and this time of year the carciofo is being served up in every shape and form.  Now, I love them, but my man does not, so I have never tried cooking them at home.  Anyway, why bother when you can pop down the road to a good ristorante!

Mmmm, lovely Gucci handbags to drool over. Foto La Repubblica

Mmmm, lovely Gucci handbags to drool over. Foto La Repubblica

What next, oh yes, handbags…..  Don’t you just love Italian made handbags?  I do.  I just had to share this collection of Gucci bags, I might go for the black one, as I already have one similar to the orange version.  What do you think?

And finally, sorry to end with sad news, but Italy just lost to Wales in the Six Nations Rugby.  Mind you, if you are Welsh, you are probably very happy about that.  At least we had the pleasure of watching England beat France yesterday, so not all was lost.

Well, enough of that.  Must get this blog off to you as soon as possible.  Have a great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x  PS Hope you like the new background theme.

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

 

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

 

Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

I must tell you this true story.  As you know, from time to time, my man has to pop over to London to do a bit of business.  A few days ago, he was trying to make a purchase with his business Visa card and put the wrong pin in…..three times, which he blamed on fat finger small keyboard scenario.  Yes, the bank blocked it.  So he rushed into the local Barclays and realised that he had no identity; his passport was back at his London club and he doesn’t need his driving licence in London! He produced everything he had with his signature on, other bank cards, even his British Library card which sported his photo!  Then finally, in exasperation, he said, “I’m wearing hand-made Italian shoes and they have my name inside.”  Would you believe it, they agreed to unblock his card!  Don’t you just love it!

Al Bar Fiano, needing lots of people to bring it alive again. Foto J Finnigan

Al Bar Fiano, needing lots of people to bring it alive again. Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back in the calmer atmosphere of our local village of Fiano, I made a second visit to the new Al Fiano Bar.  Two locals were sat drinking coffee and eating pastries, then a certain well-known signora arrived, shouting at the top of her voice.  She only wanted some crisps, but for an Italian lady who stands at around four-foot-five, she’s got the voice of a giant.  Then she spotted me, trying to read the newspaper, and came and sat down!  I think she was telling me, and the rest of the village, about her one visit to London, when Steffi Graff was playing at Wimbledon.  If not, I may have bought an old tennis racket and a donkey.  I’m not sure which, I’ll let you know.

Natalia waiting to serve you a very nice Espresso at Al Bar Fiano. Photo J Finnigan

Natalia waiting to serve you a very nice Espresso at Al Bar Fiano.
Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, the lovely lady behind the bar turns out to be Russian and has been here in Italy for I think sixteen years.  She is called Natalia and her smile brightened the room, which is still in need of a lift to make it more welcoming.  However, do go in, the more that try it out the better it will become.  Fingers crossed.

The artist Marcello Scuffi. I love his work. Foto La Republicca.

The artist Marcello Scuffi. I love his work. Foto La Repubblica.

OK, what next.  Oh yes, I spotted this article about Marcello Scuffi, the Tuscan artist.  I love this kind of contemporary art and at first, I thought his work must be from the nineteen twenties or thirties.  But no, Marcello was born in 1948, is alive and well and still producing these masterpieces.  He was born in Tizzana (Pistoia) which is not far from Florence and currently works out of Quarrata and Marina di Pietrasanta.  He is also very sought after and has made quite an impression in France, Belgian and Switzerland.  Google him and you will be able to see lots more of his pictures.

‘And what about the touring bands in our area?’  I hear you ask.  Well, at last, the wonderful Piazza Arena in Lucca is to host the Rolling Stones!  This will be during the summer music festival in July, so won’t compete with my own concert with The Rock Chick Band on June 24th!  You may have difficulty getting tickets for the Rolling Stones, but my concert is free!  However, it is by private invitation, so if you would like an official invite to my concert, drop me an email at june.finnigan@virgin.net

Oh, must just mention that the weather here has been glorious around lunchtime, a hot sun and no cold wind.  so, over the last few days, we have snuck down to the terrace a couple of times for an aperitivo.  Cin Cin!

Well, enough of that, my man is taking me out to lunch so I must go for a shower and make myself beautiful.  Whoever said ‘how do you hope to do that?’ Can go and crack their own mirror!  Ha ha to you too.

Have a great week and do get in touch.  I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

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

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current published Books.
Foto J Finnigan

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

The Seismic Map. Red - yesterday yellow - 18 to 20 Jan Blue - 24 Aug 2016

The Seismic Map.
Red – yesterday
yellow – 18 to 20 Jan
Blue – 24 Aug 2016

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you will know that I like to write about all the fun things that are going on around us in our little bit of Chianti.  Sadly, the double tragedy in Central Italy has made this quite impossible.  Reading the local and national newspapers over coffee in Fiano this morning, has me realise that I am not the only writer who is feeling somewhat shattered by the massive earthquake, followed by a horrendous snow storm that caused an avalanche burying whole families.  Some good news has filtered through, that people have been found alive, but the tragedy remains that some children still await the news that their parents may also be found.  Some are already orphans.

The appeal bank details. La Repubblica

The appeal bank details. La Repubblica

I make no apology for including the appeal bank details.  This double tragedy has worsened an already desperate situation; earthquakes small and large have continued every day now for several months.  The snow will kill many more, particularly in the remote hills and mountains.  Thank you in advance for anything you can do to help.

This morning's winter landscape. foto J Finnigan

This morning’s winter landscape from here. foto J Finnigan

At this point, I must also thank all you concerned friends and family who have sent worried messages.  We are very fortunate to have chosen to live in an area of Tuscany, which so far has been outside the main seismic areas.  This was luck rather than judgement.  Let’s hope things remain that way.  We love living in Italy and have no intention of changing things, after all, the planet itself is a very fragile place to live on.  Where could one go in the world and say ‘hand on heart’ we are safe here?  Just to confirm the current status of our little bit of Chianti, here is a picture taken from the back of our house as the sun was rising this morning.  January and February are months when we sometimes have snow, at the moment it is cold and sunny; things might change.

Back in Fiano, a little bit of good news.  Last Monday was the re-opening of Bar Piazzina, which is now called Bar Fiano.  We popped in on Friday for coffee; it was quiet and not very atmospheric.  However, its early days and it will be a while before the locals start returning, after all, it has been closed for almost a year and everyone has gotten used to going to La Dispensa now.  Once spring is here and tables are put outside, things will look a lot more inviting.  After all, it is places like this that keep the Italian communities together.  Fingers crossed.

Well, must get on with the copywriting of ‘The Italian Connection’ then finalise the book cover.  Not long now my friends.

Have a great week.

Salute June x

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

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

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