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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

2017-05-07 17.25.58

Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

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The Cocktail Bar at Jam Caffe in Certaldo. Foto J Finnigan

So very sorry for the lack of blog last weekend, but had to dash off unexpectedly to England on some family business.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to be back in our lovely little bit of Chianti last Saturday.  If you arrive in Certaldo by train or car at around six to seven the evening, go straight into Jam Caffè next to the station and enjoy one of their wonderful cocktails.  You will find yourself winding down really quickly after your long journey.

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A reveller Al Festa dell’Unicorno. La Repubblica

‘So, what went on during the last two weeks?’ You ask.    Well, before I left for England, I read in the paper over morning coffee that Vinci, Leonardo’s birthplace near Florence, was once again hosting the Festa dell’Unicorno.  This is a crazy event into which Italians flood from miles away, purely to dress up in whatever takes their fancy.  The theme this year seemed to be ‘fantasy’ so anything went.  The Italians just love this sort of stuff!

Meanwhile, our local village of Fiano was also enjoying a weekend of Festivities, with an exhibition of old photos, music and of course lots of food, eating in the piazza, which had been cleared of cars for the three-day event.  We couldn’t get to this but the talk in La Dispensa, Fiano’s bar and alimentare, was all about it, and the flags are still flying in the village.  We’ll definitely try to get to next years events.

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Terry Davies, The Potter, chats to me as we wait for the dancing to start at La Poggiolaia. Foto Vitalita.

And, on the previous weekend, we went to the Vitalita Wine and Dance event, right next door to us at La Poggiolaiawww.poggiolaia.it  It was nice to catch up with friends and to enjoy the beautiful setting, so adored by the tourists who come back every year to stay.  The dancing was artistic, the performers wearing white t-shirts that had just been painted on the back by the guest artist.  It was all very twisty, turny and athletic.  Terry Davies the Potter, was there and he is currently exhibiting his ceramics at Pignano Art Gallery.  www.borgopignano.com

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Remembering Farty Barty. Photo P Finnigan

Lest we forget, it is hard to believe that Farty Barty the Tuscan cat went up to cat heaven a year ago!  I still miss his comforting presence and you will find a chapter dedicated to him in my latest novel ‘The Italian Connection’.  ‘Love you Barty’ xx

Meanwhile, back in the Tuscan countryside, we are now  suffering badly from the intense heat and lack of rain.  Temperatures are expected to be up to forty-six celsius this week, so you may wish to postpone your next visit to Tuscany.  But we are still enjoying ourselves, and yesterday cooked lunch for the family, eating in our lovely big Tuscan kitchen, as it was too hot outside.  My view is this, when things are not perfect, drink copious amounts of Italian wine!

OK, enough of that and time to get this blog finished and sent out to you lovely people.  Do drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net  I love to hear from you!

Salute June x

Ps Do visit my Author Site at www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

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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

2017-05-07 17.25.58

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

2017-05-07 17.25.58

 

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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