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Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers

Well, I hardly know where to start, it’s been such a busy week!

The Two Old Broads, taking Italy by Storm! Jane and Nubby.

The Two Old Broads, taking Italy by Storm!
Jane and Nubby.

Last Thursday was the absolute highlight, due to ‘Two Old Broads who were Taking Italy by Storm’ arriving for a visit.  Now these were their words not mine, but don’t you just love that description?  So who were these ladies?  I am delighted to tell you that they were my distant American cousins and this was the first time we had ever met.  Whilst both in their seventies, they were doing a driving tour from north of Venice down to Tuscany and back, and getting thoroughly lost on the way.  The hire car SatNav did not work, so it was luck rather than judgement that got them here!  We had great fun talking about our ancestors.  Theirs went over to the Americas from Plymouth back in the sixteenth or seventeenth Century, whilst mine became landed gentry in Devon.  I will miss you guys and hope you found your way back safely!

Aleesandro and his team collecting the olives next to our villa. Photo J Finnigan

Alessandro and his team collecting the olives next to our villa.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile the local Olive Picking, Raccolta, is in full swing.  Brightly coloured nets are spread out under the trees and with the weather being dry and sunny at present, we expect a good quality crop.  I just love that fresh Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil drizzled on bread and over fettunta, which is old toasted bread rubbed with garlic.  Yummy…!

The lovely Laura and her new blond hair colour. Photo J Finnigan

The lovely Laura and her new blond hair colour.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, Laura’s bar/alimentary is now very busy due to the Bar Piazzetta in Fiano being closed, after a ‘visit’ by the Carabiniere.  It’s all very hush-hush, but there was definitely something fishy about the owners of that place.  Anyway, happily ensconced at Laura’s enjoying our coffee, I notice something different about her.  She had gone blond!  Then I noticed two more local ladies who had also been at the peroxide; is there some sort of conspiracy going on?

Via San Martino 26 at night. Photo P Finnigan

Via San Martino 26 at night.
Photo P Finnigan

But what about yesterday? Well, my man and I had a really good Saturday evening, returning to that fabulous ristorante I have mentioned before.  I am, of course, talking about Via San Martino 26 Ristorante in San Gimignano. http://www.ristorantesanmartino26.it

Inside Via San Martino 26 Ristorante. Photo J Finnigan

Inside Via San Martino 26 Ristorante.
Photo J Finnigan

This was our first visit for cena (supper/dinner) and to see this ancient city of towers at night is a joy to behold.  Via San Martino is a street dedicated to Artisan shops and the hand-made stuff is to die for.  I could not resist buying a hand-woven woollen scarf from Stefano Stampa at number 8.  My man paid the bill, bless him.  Stefano does not appear to have a website, however, he can be found on Facebook.

Oh yes, I must mention, that earlier and on the way to San Gimingano, we were waved down by the Carabiniere and asked for our identification papers.  The police woman was quite typical; very pretty with dark curly hair tumbling out from under her cap and one hand on her pistol.  My man could not stop grinning and she could not help but smile back.  He has a way with the girlies.  He wasn’t concentrating and he had not registered that she had asked for his driving licence.  He finally managed to get a grip and she was happy to send us on our way.  Phew, thank god for my man and a pretty face.  It’s not always that easy.

Posing Praying Mantis Phoot P Finnigan

Posing Praying Mantis
Photo P Finnigan

Back in our beautiful terraced garden my man spotted a Praying Mantis on our outside table!  Fabulous creatures that move so incredibly slow, you can barely see the movement.  But we fear that it may be towards the end of its little life as we found another one in a poor state of health, so we gently put it out-of-the-way of Farty Barty the cat.  We also have a couple of Locusts starting to nestle in on the window ledge.  They often winter in with us behind the shutters.  No, we do not get swarms, just the odd one or two paying a visit.

But enough of that.  We are now stepping up our search for a new home.  More flyers are going out in all the bars and other places we frequent.  Our landlady came yesterday and said that she would be happy to rent to us for anther one to two years, however, we are already in the mindset of moving to a larger property.  So if anyone in the Commune di Certaldo knows of a large country house (Un grande casa in Campagna) do let me know.  Send an email to june.finnigan@virgin.net.

Well, must get on.  I need to make myself beautiful for lunch at C’era una Volta in Lucardo, after thirty minutes exercise as instructed by my Health and Fitness Coach Alexandra.

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

Salute June x

'My Father, The Assassin'. Book one in the series.

‘My Father, The Assassin’. Book one in the series.

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.




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Welcome to all my lovely new and loyal followers

‘I’m back, to let you know I can really shake them down.’  How sad, you are probably thinking,  June is quoting 1960’s lyrics again!  But I have to say, as you get to know me even better, you will come to realise, that knowing all the words to most of the ’60’s rock and pop songs was always my best subject in Pub Quizzes!  But you don’t want to know about that.  However, you may be glad to know that I am now recovered from a nasty little virus, which took me to the brink, and have found my thinking cap again.

The grandson leads Siena under 14's Rugby to victory in black & white

The grandson leads Siena under 14’s Rugby to victory in black & white

Firstly, I must mention that the Rugby season has just started in Italy.  The highlight of the last two weeks is that our brilliant grandson has been made captain of Siena under fourteens and he led his team to victory over Florence in their opening match of the season!  We are so proud.

Driving back from coffee in Fiano with the man and his lovely visiting mother yesterday morning, we were horrified to see a river of wine (well stream actually) flowing towards us from Villa Bacio.  The villa has a lot of vineyards and the harvest and crushing continues unabated.  On closer inspection we saw that there were also grape skins in the stream and that it was an overflow of waste, but my god it smelt good!  Within a few weeks it will be olive picking time, and fresh cold pressed extra virgin olive oil will be dribbling from our dipped bread.  We are really looking forward to that, and not to forget that it is also white truffle (Tartufo Bianco) time, glorious……

Back at the Alimentare/Bar in Fiano, poor Laura the owner, has scolded her hand with some hot oil and is all bandaged up.  They do seem to be an accident prone family, what with Benedetta, her daughter, limping around with a broken foot.  Our friend Signore Rotund was very pleased to see my man back from London, as they have this private thing about keeping morning papers back for each other.  My lovely eighty-eight year old mother-in-law was also welcomed back with great enthusiasm by the locals, which makes her feel very special.  She is with us for a week to celebrate her birthday, so it will be a family gathering tomorrow.

My man has expressed great concern over the fact that Italian children and parents do not play conkers!  Huge horse-chestnut trees surround the piazza in Fiano, and the lovely big glossy conkers are left crushed under car wheels and completely ignored.  This is a very sad thing and I agree with him, it’s just like the lack of interest in board games, which as you know we have started playing again with a vengeance.

Cafe La Piazzetta in Fiano

Cafe La Piazzetta in Fiano, in the main piazza, which is surrounded by horse chestnut trees.

Many of you will know that we have more than our fair share of street sellers in Tuscany and I am very impressed with one local man who is selling used purses.  His sales pitch is ‘New purses are too inflexible and that a second-hand one will bring you good luck, because they already have the smell of money!’  The mind boggles as to where he acquired these purses and looking closely at the clothing items, I swear I can see clothes peg marks.  However, he is a very likeable chap!  There was rather a lot of rubbish around the floor of the Cafe La Piazzetta in Fiano last weekend and my man said that it was probably Albanians.  I was shocked, ‘Why on earth did you say that?’ I asked, ‘It’s what the Italians say not me’ he retorted, ‘because they never drop rubbish!’  Since he has been formally adopted as a ToscanoDoc  (real Tuscan) by the locals he has become very biased!

Meanwhile, on 4th October, Pope Francis visited Assisi where his namesake was based and I think buried.  My man and I went there a few years ago as his middle name is Francis too and he felt a certain affinity with the place.  His family was Roman Catholic and his grandmother and mother got carried away with middle names.  My man’s are Antoni, Dominic, Francis which makes be very jealous because I’m just plain June!

Anyway, we had a very nice lunch at C’era una Volta yesterday after our traditional visit to Montespertoli for an Aperitivo.  My mother-in-law, bless her, was singing opera after a little too much wine and creme di limoncello.  The other diners were very impressed – she does have a lovely voice if a little bit on the shaky side.  She accompanies Andrea Boccelli each evening over supper and her favourite is Ave Maria, which she belts out with gusto!  It’s the only thing that wakes Farty Barty the cat from his malaise at the moment, as It is the time of year for him to get fat and winter furred, and to spend a lot of time on his cushioned kitchen chair.

Silvio gets emotional in Rome. Photo Reuters, Alessandro Bianchi.

Silvio gets emotional in Rome.
Photo Reuters, Alessandro Bianchi.

And so to our fallen hero Silvio Berlusconi.  I am pleased to report that he remains high-profile in the news.  After his about-face, due to his five ministers refusing to quit the senate, he threw his support behind the rather lack luster government of Enrico Letta.  Now he has chosen Community Service over House arrest and is being besieged by Social Welfare Services including City Angels and Exodus, which support the homeless and drug addicts.  He has also had invites from Animal Rights, Hospitals, the Genetic Rights Foundation (whatever that is) and a home for the elderly.  The old girlies in the latter would adore having him there, particularly if he was in charge of making the beds.  But my guess is he’ll support a charity for fallen women.  Meanwhile, his ‘fiance’ Francesca Pascale is having a cat fight with glamorous Bulgarian actress/producer Michelle Boney.  Michelle is a friend of SB and claims that FP is a bad person, has been blackmailing him and is actually a Lesbian.  Wow, that takes the biscuit!  A touch of jealousy, methinks.

So, it is Monday morning and I must get this blog off to you subito.

Have a great week and don’t forget to check out http://www.firstchapters.net for your winter reading.  Try the Romantic Thriller ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan.

Amore June x

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Buon Giorno Ragazzi

Welcome to another weekly blog and con piacere to all my new followers!  Today I will be talking about Burning Hats, Bee Eaters, Rain, Acacia Trees, Jasmin, Silvio Burlesconi and ‘My Father, The Assassin.

The exiting event of this last week was my man setting light to his hat when he was still wearing it!  He has been helping our son-in-law (genero) prune, clear and burn the debris from the olive trees.  He was in charge of the bonfires.  Now one has to be careful not to let the fire spread and fortunately the land was fairly damp.  However, bits kept floating upwards and what goes up must come down.  He smelt something burning very close at hand and could not identify it until some rancid smoke blew done over his face!  Then he realized he was on fire and grabbed his hat just before the flames started on his hair.  He still has a handsome crop of hair, so that was a relief!  Sadly, it is goodbye to his ancient green jungle hat that he wore as a young Marine…..

Some good news.  Just about all of our feathered friends from North Africa are now here, including the beautiful Bee Eater.  The birdsong is fabulous, even at night.  In the garden and countryside the Acacia trees are dripping with white blossom and starting to send their snow flurries of seeds drifting slowly through the air.  Soon the roadsides will look like we have had an overnight snow shower.  The Jasmin is particularly lush this year, and the perfume is to die for.  We have had quite a lot of rain this last week which, with the help of warm sunny breaks, has encouraged every imaginable wild flower to burst through the grassy banks.

Bee Eaters in Acacia Tree


And how is our gorgeous friend Silvio Berlusconi doing? Mama Mia, his tax fraud conviction has been upheld on its first appeal!  He says his conviction is politically motivated and he is expected to appeal to Italy’s highest court.  Slip in a few gold bars here and there, that’s what I say…..

Back in our local village of Fiano, I am very excited to tell you that Milko, our local Stationer (Cartoleria) has placed his book order for ‘My Father, The Assassin’.  I’ll start with three, he said, what cartons I asked, no three books and we’ll see how the tourists take to them!  No silly comments please….  But we don’t care about that, Amazon is doing a reasonably good job.    Run your cursor over to the right of this page and you can buy one now!

Well the weather is now gorgeous and it’s time to organize pranzo in the garden.  Then we can look forward to the beautiful light display put on by the Fire Flies this evening.

Buona Domenica x

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Current books

‘My Father, The Assassin’.  A romantic suspense story of a forty something heroin seeking the truth about her father’s past.  Joanna Wilde travels from Devon to Malaysia and discovers lost love and the terrifying world of the indiscriminate assassin.  Published in January 2013

‘The Bolivian Connection’  Joanna Wilde furthers her adventures in Bolivia where she is expected to take over her dead father’s ‘Assassin’s for Hire’ business.  She sets about dismantling the organisation at the risk of her own and her daughter’s life.  In progress

‘The Italian Connection’  Joanna seeks a new home in Tuscany, only to discover that her dead father’s organisation had also reached this ‘bello paese’.    She befriends eighty year old Isabella and meets retired partisans that have an horrific story to tell.  Will Joanna finally put the ghost of her father to rest?  In progress

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