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Happy New year & Buon Anno to All my lovely followers around the World,

2016-03-01 07.04.17

‘I’m back, to let you know that I can really shake them down.’  Yes, I know, ancient song lyrics again!

As I write my first blog of 2020, I can see the sun rising and trying to break through the heavy mist, which left everything dripping wet overnight.  The valley below us looks like a lake with little Islands dotted about!  This is quite normal in January and when the sun does break through it will be another beautiful day in Tuscany.

Museo Galileo 2020Now, this is a great time of year for getting out and about, particularly visiting museums and art galleries.  There are less tourists about, so we can enjoy a rather more pleasant experience, particularly in Florence.  Il Museo Galileo, which is dedicated to the great man, is an amazing place for children and adults alike.  Fantastic collections of antique scientific instruments and some great hands on experiences for those budding scientists or physicists.  I love this sort of stuff.  And, it’s only a short walking distance from the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio, beside the River Arno!  It’s also a good excuse for going to Florence for lunch! Lets go together!  Museo Galileo

download-2.jpgIn the evenings we are currently tucked in with the log fire and the DVD player.  We have been wading through the whole of The Sweeny series from the 1970’s.  A reader recently asked me what did I watch on TV?   I rarely watch TV here in Italy, however, I love the TV series Don Matteo; it’s about the only thing that will encourage me to switch the television on!  Terence Hill plays the local priest who has a shoulder to cry on and a clever detective brain for helping solve crimes.  A new series has just started, hurrah!  I also want to mention that Terence has made a new film in memory of his side-kick actor Bud Spencer.  It is called ‘Il Mio nome e Thomas’ (My Name is Thomas) and was shown on Rai 1 television on New Year’s Eve.  I am checking out the availibility of streaming or dvd purchase.  I’ll let you know.  Can’t believe that Terence is 80 now!  And, he is Italian, so I  have nominated him Senior Hunk of the Month! Foto Wikipedia

la Bafana 2020Yesterday was a festa because of Befana, the friendly witch who arrives to check on the childrens’ behavour over the festive period.  If they have been good they get a present, if not a lump of coal.  I can’t honestly say that I have ever seen a child holding a lump of coal or sporting black hands in evidence of being naughty.  Befana also celebrates the end of the festive period, so life can return to normal!  Phew.

82192680_511107459510843_716851666862735360_nWell, in many ways it’s good to return to work and to see all the shops and restaurants opening normally.  This week we celebrate men’s fashion with Pitti uomo and you will see some amazing sites in Florence from today through to Friday.  All the male fashionisti are strutting around the streets, trying to outdo each other.  But oh, they have such style.  Only in italy!  Of course the fashion shops are open now too, so we have to go!

Well, enough for now, places to go and people to see.

May you all have a very good working week and belated if heartfelt wishes for a Fantastic 2020.

Salute June x

Visit my website at My site  or drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net

 

 

 

 

 

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

I can’t help it, I love Christmas and this week’s blog is all about the festive season.

80829576_10158062617268083_4358564233961537536_oIn our local village of Fiano a few days ago, my man and I left La Dispensa after morning coffee and was shocked to find a car parked with all four wheels on the road.  The road has a white line along it, which is generally acknowledged as a ‘loading line’.  To avoid parking on the line the Locals park half on the pavement thus avoiding having their wheels touching the line.  The pathways are so damaged that it is accepted that pedestrians walk on the road, which is smoother anyway. I said to my man “Look at this, a car parked on the road which means I will have to walk around it!”  Without batting an eyelid my man replied “Must be a foreigner!”  I was heading for our lovely village ceramic shop to admire the Christmas window, you must come and visit it!  I just love festive window displays79644037_10158062618658083_6113954265900777472_o

Back in La Dispensa, I had been reading the papers and looking for some interesting Rock Concerts.  Then I noticed a poster for a local concert in Marcialla on 21 December in that lovely little theatre called Teatro Comunale Regina margherita, yes, the one with the lovely soft red velvet seats!  Now it’s not all rock, but it looks like a great band with a whole range of instruments.  It’s headed up by the very popular Fabrizio De Andrè You tube who has a lovely way with the acoustic guitar.  Perhaps we should all go?  Book tickets Here or telephone 055 807 4348.

79443472_10158062619528083_4770250404199923712_oNow I can’t remember Fiano having it’s own Christmas Tree before.  There is a magnificent one down in our local town of Certaldo next to the Festive Ice rink, which you may also like to visit.  But in Fiano?  Well here is a photo, unfortunately the main piazza is also a carpark, so I could not avoid getting a few cars in the picture too.  But it certainly brightens things up!

80452156_10158062620413083_4149055072132661248_oNow here in Tuscany the conversation is rarely without the mention of mangare, eating.  My man and I popped into Ristorante C’era Una Volta in Lucardo yesterday as he wanted some more pasta with tartufo Bianco (white truffles) before the season ended.  I fancied the risotto and Paolo’s recipe is beyond delicous.  Zucca Giallo, Salvio e Ricotta Affumicato, which translates as Pumpkin, Sage and Smoked Ricotta Cheese.  Heres a foto to make your mouth water.  Mmmm, it’s only 10.45 in the morning but I could eat some more right now!

79098403_10158062622593083_4600733954901803008_oWhat did I hear you say, did I promise you four December Hunks?  Well, here they are, four beautiful Italian guys all dressed up and ready to go to your Christmas party or posh do.  Which one is yours?  I’ll get up and dance with any of them, it is nearly Christmas after all.  Which reminds me, I must get some mistletoe this week.

Now don’t forget, if you have bought all three of my books below, you are entitled to a free signed short story book called The Man in Black.  Just send me a copy receipt or a foto of your books.  It’s my treat for Christmas and to thank you for buying my books.  I love my readers.  Email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net.

Just in case next weekend proves difficult to get a blog done, may I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and exciting New Year.  Do get in touch.

Salute June x

PS Books are not just for Christmas, they are lifetime companions.  My site

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

download-2.jpgNow, you know me.  I am the eternal fun loving optimist.  But this morning was awful.   The trains were all running seriously late from Certaldo, so I said to my man ‘Empoli?”  He jumped back in the car and we headed off for Empoli, which is where my man changes trains on the way to Pisa airport.  But we both agreed that it might be better to drive straight to Pisa rather than risk more delays, so my man got in the driver’s seat.  I like to live a relaxed lifestyle, which includes avoiding driving long distance and on fast motorways.  On the journey back I went the old route along the Strada Provinciale, it takes longer but it is far more relaxed.  It was OK until I got to the turning to Siena.  A new bypass road has finally opened, which should have been a huge relief to the villages on the ‘A’ road to Siena via Certaldo, my home town.  But the thoughtless road builders have either deliberately avoided building bridges or tunnels or did not have the cash, and have split villages in half with Berlin type walls!  I ignored the ‘dead end’ signs and went to take a look, there weren’t even any pedestrian underpaths or bridges!  So, this fun loving optimist is now furious!  To avoid the new fast bypasses, I had to drive into Empoli and add a further half an hour to my journey.  OK, I feel better now having shared this; time for a nice glass of Pinot Grigio!  Foto dw.com

79536486_481641379141460_7840924585141731328_nLast week we were taken by surprise to find that the frost had arrived before we had covered the terracotta plant pots in the garden.  So my man rushed out to do the important deed and well done to him.  But we love December and can all genuinely go around looking cheesy and admitting to loving Christmas!  What, who said that?  Not everyone likes Christmas; I cannot believe that for one moment.  Just look at the delight on childrens’ faces as they press their noses up against Christmassy shop windows.  And, the sparkle in the eyes of people wandering around the Christmas markets!  If you can’t be happy for yourself be jolly for those that are!  Here is a picture of our log fire to cheer you up!

I78467753_588554701918323_1256408801733509120_nn the foto of our fireplace you can see a framed ceramic tile bottom right, which is rather beautiful and was recently purchased from our firends at Ceramiche ‘Carbini Gabriella’ in our local village of Fiano.  It covers a hole in the side of the iglenook, which was originally an opening for a fire to heat the metal cooking pot ring above it.  I have mentioned Gabriella’s place before and will do so again, as it is full of ‘buy me’ ceramic things for presents.

79447082_1035657540100048_5385449884612558848_nMeanwhile, whilst browsing through the newspaper at La Dispensa at the weekend I found another beautiful outfit designed by one of my favourite Italian designers, Luisa Spagnoli.  Have you ever seen such a beautiful cosy winter outfit made from tartan rugs?  I think this deserves a top award of some kind!

Xmas Tree 2019And to keep the spirit of Christmas going, I thought you might like a picture of our Christmas Tree, which we put up in our large kitchen/family room.  Having a big Tuscan kitchen is fantastic for everthing including my singing practice as the acoustics are so good.  But more important than anything else is the pleasure of having friends and family to pranzo or cena in our kitchen, then toasting our tootsies in front of the fire in the sitting room, clutching a nice Italian digestivo.

The_Man_in_Black_Cover_for_KindleWhilst writing, I would like to say a very big thank you for buying my books in 2019 and to show how much I appreciate it, I want to send you a free signed short story called ‘The Man in Black’, which is a thriller based in London’s theatre land.  All you need to do is send me proof of purchase or a photograph of all three paperback versions by email, anytime up to the end of January 2020.  Email june.finnigan@virgin.net (Oh, I’ll need your postal address too!)

Well, must get back to the day job!  Do drop me a line and visit my website at My site

Salute June xxx

PS  Next week I’ll be posting not one but four hunks of the month as a special treat for Christmas.  Watch this space!

 

 

75543587_2413273775563196_5149283351131062272_oWelcome and Benvenuti to all  my Lovely Followers around the World,

We are delighted to announce that one of our favourite local restaurants has won a well deserved Michelin Star for 2020!  Congratulations to our good friends Cecilia and Massimo at Osteria La Gramola in Tavernelle!  We have eaten there twice in the last seven days; need I say more.  For a high quality restaurant, it is not expensive and it is hugely popular with the locals.  The food is artistic yet the portions are generous and even gluten-free diners like me are catered for.  My man and I love it!  La Gramola

tuscany-train

Ha ha, moving? Photo Discover Tuscany

Meanwhile, we optimistically decided to drop down to our local town of Certaldo this morning, intending to buy train tickets and to order an Italian driving licence from the local ACI.  So, my man pops into a photo booth and gets some pictures.  “My god, do I really look like that?”  He is horrified that he looks like he has just been arrested and decides to grow a beard again!  We go to the ACI and they are closed on saturday mornings, great!  So it’s off to the railway station to buy tickets.  The ticket office closed about a year ago so we have to use a ticket machine; it was not working!  Fortunately, we have lived here for years, so we knew it was possible to buy them at a local tobacconist.  My man got in the queue and eventually reached the front.  The nice lady wanted his identification, National insurance number, email and his telephone number for their records!  He asked her if she wanted a blood sample too!  He thinks she got the joke, but he was serious.  You can laugh if you like, but the thing is, on the day my man wants to travel the airport is on strike, so we have had to change his flight and get new train tickets.  It is becoming somewhat tedious of late, as there are far too many strikes happening here in Tuscany!

78093354_10157984018423083_3275590201665126400_oBut on a much brighter note, whilst reading the news with my morning coffee in Fiano, I found an article about one of Italy’s favourite Rock Stars, Luciano Ligabue, who has written a book about his life.  He is now fifty-nine, poor thing.  But here in Italy we aging rock singers are very popular, as you know, so I don’t know what he’s worried about.  Luciano is a good looking guy, if you like your man a little rough around the edges, and is a great guitarist.  The Italians love his voice, which is gravelly and shouty, not my favourite sound but nevertheless his live performances certainly have an all embracing wall of great sound.  Ligabue

75210797_2441971822733071_7758935871369248768_nOh yes, nearly forgot, a friend just reminded me that tomorrow (Sunday) is an evening of entertainment at the Old Cinema in our local village of Fiano.  There is a great theatre group in the area and you will enjoy this play even if you don’t speak Italian.  There is still time to pop into the bar and get a ticket!  Enjoy!

76771541_10157984895983083_3096044608593854464_oAnd, last but not least, we are relieved to have Paolo and Gaia back at Ristorante C’era Una Volta just up the road in Lucardo.  They had been off on a three week break visiting Instanbal and some other places, where they acquired a nice golden tan!  We were presented with the most delicous platters of pasta with generous shavings of Tartufo Bianco (white truffles) over the top.  Found locally in the woods, Paolo’s supplier of this food of the gods really knows where to look!  Bless his woolly socks and truffle dog.  Yummy!

Well enough of that, must get this blog edited and off to you.  Have a great week and do get in touch, I love to hear from my readers.  Don’t forget to email me a copy of your receipt if you have bought the paperback versions of all three of my books below before Christmas and I will send you a free signed copy of my short story ‘The Man in Black’.  Enjoy!  june.finnigan@virgin.net

Salute June x

PS Visit my website at My site

 

 

 

 

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my lovely followers around the world,

74219010_568403283921734_5820832841121923072_nYet another potentially beautiful day in Tuscany!  I say potentially because it is currently overcast and raining again, however, the weekend was lovely and my man and I dropped down to Certaldo for the market (mercato) on the Saturday morning.  I like to shop from the smaller stall holders who are selling the fruit and veg grown in their own garden or orto.  It all looked wonderfully fresh after the rain and it was a joy to be there in the cooler air and amongst the jolly shoppers of Certaldo.  I also bought some delicious cheeses, both sheep and goat’s cheese, again local products.  I don’t get to the market often enough and must get back to going every Saturday morning.  Not long before all the Christmas stuff will be about and Certaldo comes into it’s own at this time of year.  Exciting isn’t it!

71530727_1399845073499182_5815258218384850944_nAnd on the subject of Italian cheeses, you may be surprised to know that the country produces an awful lot more than Parmesan!  The Gran Reserve Leonardi has just won gold in the A1 World Cheese Awards, and it’s a Gorgonzola!  Just look at this massive range of cheeses made in Italy, don’t they make you salivate?  I adore cheese and I always get in a big choice at Christmas time.  Must have some for lunch!

71783322_2988290284517508_577776249246580736_o.jpgMeanwhile, I read that Andrea Bocelli has launched a new album.  (Foto from his Facebook page.)  Now, as well as books, it’s rather nice to buy albums for Christmas and this latest one sounds wonderful. Last Christmas we treated ourselves to a new record player, so all our old albums can be played again!  Andrea’s album includes wonderful duets with Ellie Goulding and Jennifer Garner amongst other guest performers.  It is called ‘Si Forever’ and can be bought or streamed Here

Sophia and 75289046_1447485298735159_2866407838446518272_nThe other thing I really love at Christmas time is old Italian films.  Some of the comedies are really brilliant and what with so many Italian actor icons dying off, it’s good to keep these films on the shelf.  Sophia, bless her, is still very much alive, but so many of her co-stars like Marcello Mastroianni, are not.  What a formidable acting team those two made!  By now you have probably worked out that I am a horder of books, records and DVD’s.  No I am not digital, well maybe a little bit.  I am a little sad that buying gifts like diaries, calendars, CD’s and watches are just not of interest to the younger lot, as everything is digital now!  Yes, my thoughts have gone all festive already.  It was not my intention to start talking about Christmas, but it is only six weeks or so away!  Foto from Facebook.

The_Man_in_Black_Cover_for_KindleNow I’m going to mention my books as we are on a Festive roll at the moment.  I really want to encourage you to buy real books this christmas.  If any of you buy my current trilogy, My Father, The Assassin, The Bolivian Connection & The Italian Connection between now and Christmas and in paperback form, I will be delighted to send you a signed copy of my short story The Man in Black.  Just email me a copy of your receipt and your postal address.  june.finnigan@virgin.net.  Visit my website for easy access to on-line purchasing.  My site

Well, enough for now, must get on with the day job.  Have a great week.

Salute June x

 

 

 

 

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

2017-12-28 16.41.41Sunday morning and it’s a little scary here in our normally sunny spot in Chianti.  The wind is picking up and the shutters have started banging; yes, there is a storm coming.  The forecast is for serious storms in both the north and south of Italy; we are not expected to be hit so badly, but I think we will tuck in for the day.  I’ll make us some comfort food like pear crumble.  Yes, I know, how English, but to be honest we mostly go out to eat Italian and I tend to keep to recipes I have known for years.  I am not a creative cook, I’d prefer to employ one, but that would be very lazy indeed and my man actually likes my cooking, bless him.  biglietti-concerto-bryan-adams-ex560x350

Anyway, you want to hear about the Music scene, don’t you!  There is always a lot going on this time of year, with indoor concerts of course.  It’s a tad too cold for outside gigs and the chance of rain is high in November.   In the coming two to three weeks Bryan Adams will be in Bologna & Milan, Rickie lee Jones will be in Lucca (just an hour from us) Milan & Rome and Ian Anderson, he of Jethro Tull fame, is in Florence on 5th November. Now for those of you who have not heard of the American Rickie Lee Jones, I should tell you that she is a hugely talented singer, musician and actress.  She has a real bluesy voice and great to listen to as well as to see on stage.  Listen to her yourself on YouTube  Virtually all visiting musicians get a full house in Italy as the Italians just love American and English music.  And, if you are an aging rocker like me, you’ll be even more popular!  So, if any musicians are reading this and you have not yet toured in Italy, you really should!  Foto Shine a Light Tour Image.

2019-10-26 08.45.36Meanwhile, back in the relative calm of La Dispensa, our local coffee bar and alimentare in Fiano, my man and I are enjoying our coffee and reading the local and national newspapers.  “ha, ha, just look at this picture!”  My man passes his paper to me and there is a picture of Niccolo Machiavelli by Antonio Maria Crespi.  Just look at that profile!  There, almost four hundred years ago, was the original Mr Bean, or should I say Rowan Atkinson.  There is also a family in Montespertoli that resembles Mr Bean, particularly the daughter, bless her cotton socks.  Perhaps they are descendants of the great Machiavelli?

2019-11-02 08.55.49But lets move on and enjoy a bit more Italian Fashion.  I spotted this perfect Autumn outfit yesterday.  Personally I would wear flat boots with this, but on this model the whole outfit looks great.  I have checked out the website for The Flexx and have to say it’s worth visiting.  They are actually makers of women’s foot fashion with a factory in Pisa and shops in Pistoia and Florence; so very local!   I found some gorgeous flat boots, moccasins and pumps.  Oh, no, I also found some handbags!  Take a look.

So, it’s late morning on Sunday and I must get my head around lunch.  The sky is now very grey and threatening so I will go and make that crumble.  I’ll come back and finish this blog a little later; don’t go away!

I’m back and the storm seems to have abated thank goodness.  Feeling a little sorry for the England Rugby Team going home with their tails between their legs.  But, so very disappointing.

Never mind, lets look forward to a good week.  Life eeez good, life eeez now!

Salute June x

Ps Visit my website at My site

 

 

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

TELEMMGLPICT000213558850_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqN_gmPEf4gh9KGKN0H_DnHzvQzZCz4snK584jwNUNHokBefore I start, I must apologise.  I have spent most of the weekend watching the Rugby World Cup, instead of writing to you.  So I trust you can forgive me for making this blog a little shorter than usual as it is already lunchtime on Sunday!  What a great match yesterday, England played incredibly well, the poor All Blacks couldn’t even get a look in.  So today’s match  between Wales and South Africa was rather an anti-climax.  Anyway, now we know that the final next weekend will be England vs South Africa.  Make sure you diary date to watch it!  Foto UK Telegraph

Ooops, sorry, just realised that I have been waxing lyrical about Rugby and you have tuned in to read about Tuscany.   To make up for this I am posting some gorgeous fotos of the autumn colour that currently surrounds us and hope that you can enjoy it as much as we are.  The vineyards develop lines of colour due to the planting of different grape varieties in one field.  This results in the gorgeous range of colours including yellow, gold, bronze and red.  Driving through the hills this morning we were able to enjoy some autumn canvases that are difficult to photograph and need to be seen here to really appreciate.  Sorry about that. But here are some lovely shots.

 

 

2019-10-21 10.57.41I must also mention that the local farmers are very busy with the olive harvest and brightly coloured nets are spread out under the trees.  The harvest started over a week ago, and whilst this year may be a little less productive due to the nasty fly again, the oil should be very nice indeed.  We also have some lovely productive pomegranate bushes.  I’m never quite sure how best to use the fruits, but I I’m sure you will come up with some ideas.  Drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net or leave a message below.  

2019-10-27 13.24.32Well, must dash off to lunch, but will add a little more to this blog when I return.  OK, I’m back and ready to tidy this blog and get it off to you.  But before I go I thought you might like to enjoy this bottle of Sticciano’s Cantastorie Rosso with me, which my man and I had with lunch at C’era una Volta Ristorante.  Ooops sorry, we finished it off.  Oh well, perhaps next time!

Have a great week and do visit my website at My Site

Salute June x

 

All Fotos, unless otherwise marked, J Finnigan.

 

 

 

 

 

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