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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

Yes, I’m back on schedule, that is I am writing this on Sunday with the aim of getting the blog posted to you by Monday at the latest.  It’s amazing how eight days away from my lovely home, along with an English virus, can put me back a couple of weeks.  But no worries, here I am, having soaked up some vitamin D in the Tuscan sun, I feel ready for anything!

Thank god for morning coffee to start the day at our local caffè bar in Fiano.  This morning La Dispensa was heaving with people; now it is Sunday, but there was definitely more people than usual.  My man had put our clocks back an hour, so we arrived at our normal time, between 8.30 and 9am.  We managed to get our usual place at the big long table and spread our newspapers out.  Then my man suddenly said, “This lot usually come in an hour later, when we are leaving, they’ve forgotten to change their clocks! Ha ha….”  I looked around and sure enough, I recognised a lot of the faces that were usually strolling in as we were leaving.  “Don’t say anything!”  He grinned, and I didn’t.

2017-10-29 09.11.46On the subject of ‘heaving with people’ avoid Montepulciano unless you want to be trampled underfoot.  This stunning Medieval and Renaissance hill town in Southern Tuscany, is very popular throughout the season as it is a big producer of foods including cheese, pici-pasta, lentils and honey.  Oh and wine of course, the ‘Vino Nobile’ is considered to be one of Italy’s finest.  So why not visit now?  Well, imagine this, you live in the town and go about your daily business, shopping in the markets and relaxing outside your favourite caffe bar each day.  You are used to the summer months, when the town fills up with tourists and in some ways it fascinating to watch them walk by.  Then your town is chosen as the set for the new Medici film…..  Now you cannot cross your own via, or find an empty table at your favourite caffè or restaurant, because you are being invaded by over five thousand tourists a day, wanting to spot the actors at work!  What a nightmare!  So there’s your reason for not going to Montepulciano, there are plenty of other stunning places to go!  Foto La Repubblica

2017-10-28 09.42.55Meanwhile, lets relax and look at the music scene.  Now I love the Italians, after all I have chosen to live amongst  them and I hope my friends here will not take offence when I say, they do not do rock and pop music very well.  Now there are a handful of exceptions and into this category I would definitely include Paola Turci.  Paola is a tall, striking rock singer with a strong sometimes gravelly voice, and I really like her.  She is just starting an Italian tour and, if you can, you should try to get to one of her concerts.  Foto La Repubblica.  Visit her website at Website

2017-10-28 09.36.30Then I noticed in the paper that the Tuscan artist, Luciano Pasquini, is having a one-man exhibition in Florence between 28th October and 4th November at the Florence Art Gallery.  Now I am a great fan of impressionism and vibrant colours.  If you ever visit my home you will find bright colours everywhere, sometimes clashing, but I am always drawn to rich colours.  Luciano produces paintings, I guess for the mass market, but nevertheless, you can guarantee there will be at least one of his land or seascapes, which will draw you in and you will want it on your wall.  Visit his website at Website  Try not to be dazzled by all his ranges of colours on one page, just hone in the your own favourite shades and ‘Bob’s your Uncle.’ (Try and translate that into Italiano!)  Foto La Reppublica

2017-10-28 09.41.10So, how are we doing?  OK, I think.  Now I do want to bring up the subject of Tartufu (truffles) again.  Why, because we are now celebrating this gift of the gods with a Festa.  If you are not truly familiar with Tartufi, white or otherwise, you will see in the picture that it resembles lumps of volcanic rock, but the perfume gives it away.  These gorgeous lumps of sometimes hugely expensive funghi, are sniffed out and found in our region, by ‘truffle dogs’ and occasionally pigs.  Thin shavings of the best samples, using a special tartufu slicer, are sprinkled over pasta or fried eggs, the flavour is not lost that way.  Now we are off to C’era Una Volta for lunch today and we are hoping that Paolo will have got some of these precious gems in his kitchen awaiting us.  I’ll let you know.  Foto la Repubblica

OK, time to make myself beautiful, I know, but my man tells me I can still scrub up reasonably well; he is such a star.  Meanwhile, have you visited my new Official Author Site yet?  If you are not already on my email list for updates, invites and special offers, do go the site and add you email address.  I will be delighted if you do.  Go to June’s website

Right then, my make-up bag awaits.

Salute June x

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

20171021_145407I’m back.  And, more importantly, I’m back in our lovely bit of Tuscany after a week in the UK.  I cannot find the words to explain how happy this makes me; as soon as the plane takes off from Pisa for England, I am homesick.  That probably says it all.  And, once again I have bought back a cold bug, which only today has released my addled mind sufficiently to write this blog!  Oh, and in just eight days, autumn has painted our hillside and valley in its gorgeous cloak of russet and yellow.  Yes, I know, autumn colours in the rest of Europe are also lovely, but here the vines changing colour have to be seen first hand to be really appreciated.  Foto P Finnigan

The other thing that Autumn brings is the start of the Rugby Season.  Many of you will already know that we are a great Rugby family.  And the star of our family is currently our seventeen year old grandson Archie.  Archie plays for Siena Rugby, known as ‘I Ghibellini’ here in Tuscany.  Last weekend was the opening game of the season when, playing at number ten, he scored the first try and three conversions!  The team went on to win 40 nil.  I have just had a message from Archie as they have just played their second game;  he was playing on the wing and again scored a try, helping the team through to win 53-10.  We are so proud. Visit Siena Rugby club

2017-10-22 11.16.35Meanwhile, we are now celebrating the Festa delle Castagne, that is Chestnut to you and me.  The woodland roads are full of parked cars on the weekend, as the enthusiasts converge to find all those wonderful glossy nuts.  Now, I am not the greatest of cooks, I like to go to restaurants, however, I have just bought the ingredients for ‘Castagnaccio’ which is a very popular dessert/cake here in Tuscany and probably the whole of Italy.  Now, my good friend and neighbour Judy Witts Francini, the celebrity cook, will probably hold her hands up in horror as she reads this, because she can probably make it with her eyes closed.  Visit Judy at judy’s website  I hope she will appreciate that I am making an effort here.  Mind you, there is a use by date of September 2018 on the packet, so it gives me time to get round to it…..

2017-10-22 10.27.06Now things are heating up here in Italy.  No, not the weather silly, I’m talking about the General Election, which will apparently happen in November.  The pretty boy and former Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi has been seen out and about on his motor scooter (he lives in Florence and is also the former mayor) and a few days ago posing inside an APE, pronounced appay, which has been converted to a Bibliomotocarro or mobile library to you and me.  I love this little library, anything that promotes real books is right up my street.  And yes, it’s all about being seen in Italian Politics.

2017-10-18 09.30.12What next, oh yes, in the world of music, I noticed in the paper, whilst enjoying my morning coffee, that the very strange but clever electronic band Kraftwerk is on tour here.  They are looking even more robotic than they did back in the 70’s.  I do remember that the band was from Germany, and despite my preference for Rock, I did enjoy some of their music.  I have just checked them out on Wikipedia, and it’s interesting to read that they started in 1969 and up until 2008, the founder members were unchanged, when Florian Schneider stepped down.  They have produced three successful albums and continue to tour with the remaining members.  Foto La Republica

Well, I hope you will forgive me for the quick exit as I also need to write my column for Expat Focus and, due to the English virus, I am behind schedule!  However, do get in touch, I love to hear from you.  And, don’t forget to visit my new website for book updates, events and special promotions.  June’s Official Author Site

Have a great week and see you soon.

Salute June x

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World

2017-10-01 09.17.06Let’s start with a look the Classic Italian Beauty.  Now I’ve always loved Sofia Loren and she still scrubs up really well in her eighties.  But now we have Monica Bellucci, absolutely stunning at fifty-three and likely to be just like Sofia; going on forever.  Different features, style and character, but still stunningly beautiful with an envious record of filming with some of the most gorgeous male leads.  This morning, reading the papers over coffee in our local village of Fiano, I found two whole pages dedicated to Monica.  Of course, one of the most recent well publicised encounters, was with Daniel Craig in ‘Spectre;’ phew.  Foto La Repubblica

2017-10-01 09.15.19Now back in the real world; I must take you on a trip into the Tuscan countryside and remind you that it’s the season for Funghi, Castagne and Tartufi, that is Mushrooms, Chestnuts and Truffles to you and me.  My man and I are already indulging in the Tartufi and Porcini Mushrooms and shortly we will be able to stuff ourselves with some of the classic deserts made with chestnuts.  Now I have to say, nothing goes to waste in the Tuscan countryside, dishes are all seasonal and this means we have so much to look forward to throughout the year.  Pumpkin sauce and pasta is now on the menu at Ristorante C’era una Volta, topped off with smoked ricotta cheese.  Mmmm, can’t wait to go out to lunch, perhaps we will see you there!  Website

2017-09-26 09.51.402017-09-26 09.25.10Of course, I am never far from the Fashion pages and I thought you might like these designer pics in this week’s papers.  A little classic black number, but with that bit of extra something, having been designed and made in Italy, and the lovely wrap around Autumn Warmers in my favourite shades. Fotos La Repubblica

2017-09-25 07.25.04And yes, we are having to wrap up a little warmer; evidence of this is the morning mist filling the valleys below us, as we open the curtains and shutters.  Well, we had a delivery of logs last week and the brick floors in our monastery farmhouse are now feeling cooler.  However, I do like to curl up in front of the fire with my gorgeous man, so that’s more to look forward to!  Foto J Finnigan

Well, I am off to England next weekend, so will have to miss one blog and catch up with you in two weeks time.  I will be in the West Country, if you want to meet up for an aperitivo, email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net  I will have a small amount of paperbacks with me if you would like a signed copy!  Also, do visit my new official website at June’s website

Salute and Happy New Month.

June x

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

2017-09-24 09.47.33OK, let’s get Mick Jagger sorted, then we can return to what else is happening in Tuscany and further afield in Italy.  Mick aged seventy-four, the Stones (or should we say the stoned) and entourage arrived at Pisa airport in their own fast jet, emblazoned with their red lipped logo.  In Lucca, just north of Pisa, outside the ancient walls of the city, fifty-six thousand fans roared their approval, whilst clutching probably the most sought after concert tickets of 2017.  It seems Mick also made a private visit to see the original statue of David at La Galleria dell’Accedemia prior to the concert and he ate a gelato on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, as did the other English visitor of note this week, Theresa May.  Well, that was exciting!  Foto La Nazione.

2017-09-22 09.16.26OK, enough of that, what you really want to read about is Italian Fashion, don’t you?  Well, you could hardly ignore the fact that we have just had Milan Fashion Week. Now, I take a serious interest in Italian fashion, as you know, and I can honestly say that the most beautiful clothes will not be found there.

2017-09-24 09.43.07Reading the national and local papers every day, I come across many small fashion designers who produce the most gorgeous clothes that are actually wearable!   The only well-known name I really like is Prada, particularly for handbags and shoes.  So here are a couple of really nice outfits that I found this week.  Don’t you just love these Autumn colours? Fotos La Repubblica.

2017-09-22 09.11.40And, as I mentioned Prada handbags, here is a seasonal one to fawn over! Foto La Repubblica.

871939Meanwhile, back in the glorious Tuscan countryside, we are enjoying a return to lush greenery after lots of rain, cooler weather and sunshine.  What a relief.  And it is that time of year when the enthusiasts head off on foot or bicycle, for a three-day wine and food Slow Travel Fest.  I love this idea and if my little legs were stronger, I would be there with them.  It started yesterday, the 22nd from San Gimignano, past Abbadia Isola and Monteriggioni and covers thirty kilometres with  fabulous views all the way; you might like to look out for next year’s event!  Foto copyright Easyvoyage.

2017-09-22 20.42.22But for me, the real event this week was my plate of pasta with freshly grated Tartufo Bianco (white truffle) over the top.  This is food to die for.  The pasta is lightly tossed in a little butter and nothing else but the Tartufo is needed.  That was Friday evening and Paolo at Ristorante C’era una Volta wasn’t sure if he would have any more this weekend.  Well, I think my man and I will pop over for lunch today, just in case!  If not, there are plenty of Porcini mushrooms available. Yummy!  Foto J Finnigan

OK, time to get glammed up and to go to lunch.  I’ll report back later……..  I’m back, no Tartufo but I did enjoy another lovely Grilled Porcini anti-pasti, so that was good!

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this blog, as much as I enjoyed writing it, and in case you overlooked the announcement, I now have an Official Author Site where you will find everything about my books, my diary, news of Literary Events and other interesting snippits.  Oh, and you can even buy a personalised signed book for your favourite person!  Take a look at Official Website

And, don’t forget to drop me a line, I love to hear from you.  Have a good week.

Salute June x

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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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