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Posts Tagged ‘Berlusconi’

Benvenuti to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

Torrential rain in Certaldo. Photo J Finnigan

Torrential rain in Certaldo. Photo J Finnigan

As I write this blog we are enjoying a reprieve from the horrendous heat and humidity that has smothered us over the last two weeks.  It had become so oppressive, it was as if the oxygen had been sucked out of the air!  Then earlier in the week it started to rumble with thunder and the birds stopped singing.  Then the cicada’s stopped their cackling, the wind started to build into a massive force ten and I could not get outside to rescue the canvas sun brollies.  Inevitably, they went flying dragging their heavy bases with them and sadly one was torn really badly.  But this is a minor issue, what followed was a long-awaited downpour on the parched countryside and I saved fifteen euros as the car got washed at the same time!

Coffee with Sting. Photo J Finnigan

Coffee with Sting.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, I was safely in Bar Solferino in Certaldo enjoying my coffee with Sting.  We watched the rain thundering down outside, he said nothing.  This is because he was just a picture in the paper, but one can dream.  He was really in rehearsals for his performance at Lucca as the final act for a great lineup of rockers in the summer festival there.

The previous day I had been in the same bar, when six American backpackers struggled in.  All girlies of around twenty-one who proceeded to stuff themselves with two pastries each.  One girl stood at the bar with a pack so large on her back that she must have included the kitchen sink!  She was also tall, stick thin in a long skirt and sandals.  She was trying to get Elena behind the bar to understand her and was having some difficulty in doing so.  Elena looked across at me with pleading eyes.  I asked loudly if I could help and this awful American girl started screeching about the fact that her phone could not pick up the cafe bar’s internet and that she would never had walked all this way if she had known it would not work!  I took her phone and gave it to Elena who in seconds linked it in and gave it back.  Not a word of thanks from this horrid girl!  Meanwhile, the other girls seemed to be ignoring her and enjoying themselves, and I was told that they were on a train/bus/walking tour and had started in Venice.  They were about to get the train to Rome.  That day the temperature was around thirty-eight degrees;  I wished them well.

My man returned from a working week in London on Saturday and I was so relieved to be back in the arms of my Amore.  Sometimes all one needs is a hug to make the world seem right.  I had survived a hurricane, three electricity cuts and a tooth extraction.  But I had left the broken loo system, the dragging door and the cleaning up of the garden after the storm, to him.  I was just too tired to do it all, I’m sure you understand.

Silvio grinning. Photo The Guardian

Silvio grinning.
Photo The Guardian

“I have never paid for sex!”  The illustrious billionaire Silvio Berlusconi has said on a number of occasions, however, escort Patricia d’Addario claims otherwise after having written a book about their alleged sexual relationship.  She is now going to make a film about it!  This announcement comes after poor SB was sentenced to three years in prison, earlier this month, for bribing an Italian senator.  Well all this keeps him in the headlines and bad publicity is better than none at all.  His supporters will just keep rallying around him….  Anyway, if push comes to shove he can always take up a post in Putin’s Government.

Well, enough of that.  Time to think about sunday lunch.  It is such a lovely day we have decided to eat in the garden, so I need to go and organise an aperitivo.

Have a really great week and do drop me a line.

Oh, and do visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

Salute June x

PS I am off to the UK this week, so no blog next weekend, sorry. xx

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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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Well there is no other way to say it, we are baking hot and have just brought the air conditioning unit upstairs so that the bedrooms and my studio will stay cool during the day.  Yes, we have fans, but moving the hot air around just does not have the desired effect.  But we don’t mind, its great to be enjoying a proper summer, going out for early morning coffee, staying inside during the day and a long leisurely aperitivo outside after seven o’clock.  Yes, it’s a matter of lifestyle and ensuring that one takes things rather more slowly at this time of year.  Mind you, as I write this paragraph my man is hiking from Fiano through Sticciano to our villa.  Granted it is only nine-thirty our time in the morning, but it is already very hot, however, his being an ex-Royal Marine Commando carrying a water bottle and wearing a cap is all one needs.  I have to admire him, he is doing this in the early mornings to keep fit!

Now, on the subject of my man, I was very impressed earlier in the week when he asked me to read something on his computer screen.  I am usually editing his Board Meeting reports, but this time I found a short article on the subject of his Doc Marten boots.  I must say, he is a boot man.  Start him off on the subject of military boots and he’ll keep you engrossed for hours, so it’s generally best to be sitting on a bar stool at times like these, with a regular top up for your wine or beer.  Anyway, I read his article and was highly amused, so much so that I have pasted a copy below!

The day I stopped wearing my Doc Martens!

By P A Finnigan

Goodbye red Doc Martens Foto J Finnigan

Goodbye cherry-red Doc Martens
Foto J Finnigan

My gorgeous man in designer flip flops.  (If you think your man has a better pear of legs than man, I challenge you to send a picture) foto  J Finnigan

My gorgeous man in designer flip-flops. (If you think your man has a better pair of legs than these, I challenge you to post a picture)
foto J Finnigan

A June summer’s day in Certaldo, Tuscany, enjoying an espresso mid-morning in the Piazza Boccacio.

A Harley Davidson motorcycle roars (more like glides) into the Piazza.   A member of an Italian Hells Angels club dismounts with his female partner and heads for the café bar. I note they are both wearing Doc Martens boots (8 lace and red). Now I have worn Doc Martens for over 30 years, they have since become trendy, and have my third pair (cherry red 8 laces).  However, the biker pair from somewhere in Northern Italy, were so mild, meek and middle class, I could no longer wear my Doc Martens in the same company.  From now on its beach flip-flops!

PanaCotta Amarena at C'era una Volta. foto J Finnigan

Panacotta Amarena at C’era una Volta.
foto J Finnigan

OK, back to this blog.  As you know, we like to go to Certaldo two or three times a week for our morning coffees and pastries.  However, the whole of Certaldo closed down last Friday because it was La Festa di Tomasso.  Now St Thomas is the patron saint of Certaldo, so it is always a holiday; everything stops.  As none of the tourist agencies check on these things, you will still see bus loads of tourists being dropped off only to find a ghost town!  The poor things wander aimlessly around and end up going stir crazy in the heat!  On the same subject, we were enjoying Sunday lunch at C’era Una Volta in Lucardo, sitting inside with the Italians were it is cool, when some crazy northern Europeans insisted they wanted to eat out on the terrace.  Gianluca, our long-suffering waiter explained that it was too hot outside for sitting or for serving at table, perhaps they would like an inside table with a view.  The terrace would be open in the evening when it was cooler.  Oh no, they went off in a huff, not realising that they would not find another restaurant for miles and that no right-minded Restuarantor would be serving outside tables!  Well we were happy, and having enjoyed yet another Burrata with wood grilled vegetables, I returned to my Panacotta Amarena.

OK, what with the busy time we had over the concert period, it takes a little while for me to adjust back to the quiet and the need to work.  But work and write I must, because come August we won’t be able to speak to anyone on the phone or get our emails read, as the Brits will be somewhere on holiday with the kids or here in Tuscany wondering why all the Italians have disappeared again, having gone off to Il Mare (the seaside) or the mountains where it is cooler.  This is also a reminder to you readers that August is a bad month for coming to Tuscany unless you are in a nice air-conditioned hotel with pool, and a restaurant that serves food and wine all day!

Silvio and ex-wife Veronica. La Nazione

Silvio and ex-wife Veronica.
La Nazione

And finally, a quick update on our handsome friend Silvio Berlusconi.  Last week we read that he and his ex-wife Veronica have finally agreed a divorce settlement of 1.4 million euros.  Hang on, I’ll read that again.  Oh, 1.4 million euros a month!  Oh the poor woman…..  She had wanted considerably more, but SB had appealed and got the amount reduced.  Ah, friends in high places.

Well, enough of that, as I said earlier I must crack on with the day job and lots of evening writing this week.  I hear it is also hot in the UK, how are you all coping?

Anyway, have a really good week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

PS Don’t forget to check out my books on Amazon!

 

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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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

I am so very relieved to have bounced back to good health after that diabolical bout of flu!  The minute I realised I wanted a glass of wine, and could taste it, I knew I was better!

The weather is now fantastic, hot but not too hot.  A slight breeze and the smell of cut grasses; wonderful.  So we are able to indulge in good wine and food out on the upper terrace and to soak up the mellow vibes that this gorgeous part of the Chianti Hills wafts around us.

My hugely talented friend and band member Lorenzo.   Photo J Finnigan

For you girlies – My hugely talented friend and band member Lorenzo.
Photo J Finnigan

A couple of weeks ago, Lorenzo, a musician friend and member of our band, The Rock Chick Band, asked me if I would like to write some lyrics for a revamp of an old sixties number that was originally in Italian.  I have written numerous poems over the years, but never words to fit a song.  So it was a new and exciting thing for me to do, and I was given free reign to write my own words.  I have to say, I was really pleased to find it quite easy.  I have a natural ear for music, and can pick it up very quickly, so I was able to send the lyrics to Lorenzo a week later and he was over the moon!  This is not a casual thing.  The intention is to take the new song to a certain famous singer, whom we hope will want to record it.  Watch this space!

Dinner at C'era una Volta last Friday.  My first Buratta of the year. Photo J Finnigan

Dinner at C’era una Volta last Friday. My first Buratta of the year.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back at C’era una Volta Ristorante in Lucardo, I enjoyed my first Buratta and grilled vegetable salad of the year.  If you have not tried Buratta, you really must.  It is like an extra creamy soft mozzarella.  Mmmmmmmmmmm.

Farty Barty joins us for a pre-lunch drink. Photo J Finnigan

Farty Barty joins us for a pre-lunch drink.
Photo J Finnigan

This morning we managed to grab Farty Barty the cat and take him for his overdue vaccine.  The mosquitos (Zanzari) here can give dogs and cats a nasty disease if they are not innoculated.  As you may already know, Barty is a semi-wild cat and is very good at anticipating a vets visit.  He will sometimes disappear for five days or more!  Poor lad, he did not get away with it this time.

And what is happening out there in the Italian Hustings?  Well our Silvio is getting plenty of exposure in all regions (no I don’t mean that kind of exposure!) drumming up support for his Forza Italia party and it would not surprise me at all, to see him 2015-05-18 11.21.36back up there for one last throw of the dice.  At the weekend he was down south, were he has his biggest fan club and of the course the support of certain mafiosi clans, which he will deny of course.  Now this is only what I have read; do not take my word for it.  So, things are hotting up in the land of Italian politics, it will be an interesting time, well entertaining at least.

And so, time to think about lunch.  I might suggest popping back to C’era una Volta for more Buratta.  What do you think?

Have a great week and do check out my books on Amazon.

Grazie Mille.

Salute June x  PS I would love to hear from you.

'The Bolivian Connection'  Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

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

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

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25th April.  The Festa Della Liberazione March in Certaldo. Photo J Finnigan

25th April. The Festa Della Liberazione March in Certaldo.
Photo J Finnigan

Benvenuti to all My Lovely Loyal and New Followers

Last Saturday was a very important day for Italy as we were celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Allied Force’s final flushing out of the  German occupation.  Whilst different parts of Italy were freed a little earlier or later, it is the 25th April when that event is celebrated.  Now, I found this very emotional as I watched the parade in Certaldo.  Old boys struggling along and in wheelchairs.  The band was followed by every generation from the few remaining Partisans through to their great-grandchildren.  Also marching were representatives of the fire brigade, ambulance and of course the police and army.

25th April.  Home grown local fruit and veg in Certaldo. Photo J Finnigan

25th April. Home grown local fruit and veg in Certaldo.
Photo J Finnigan

The main piazza was full of colourful stands selling fruit, veg and crafts.   As the sun was quite bright and over-head, the stall holders and their products were in the shade, so getting a good photo was difficult.  However, I did manage to take a few nice ones.

I am currently writing my third novel entitled ‘The Italian Connection’ and a couple of years ago I interviewed a Partisan in Montespertoli, as I intended using his story in the book.  Gianfranco was already in his late-eighties and was a young man when the occupation began.  He told me a story about how he lost close friends and hid in caves and other peoples’ houses for months on end.  He is immortalised in the book, so I will let you know when it is published and hopefully before Christmas.  Very emotional stuff.

Remembering Saturday lunchtime.  Beautiful. Photo J Finnigan

Remembering Saturday lunchtime. Hot and sunny. Beautiful.
Photo J Finnigan

It is Monday morning and hard to believe that Saturday had been so hot and sunny.  The wind is currently howling around the villa, it is raining and everything looks grey.  My poor man is in bed with an English virus, having returned from London last Saturday evening, and Farty Barty the wild cat is curled up tight on his kitchen chair, which is a sure sign that the bad weather is not going to disappear very quickly.  But the good news is on the weekend we saw Hoopies, swallows, Jays, and heard the first Cuckoo and Bee Eaters!  Yes, Life eez good ninety-nine percent of the time!

Silvio at AC Milan Photo Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

Silvio at AC Milan
Photo Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

So what is Silvio Berlusconi up to I wonder?  Perhaps he can cheer us up.  Ah, just as I thought, SB appears to be close to selling 75% of his shareholding in Milan football club to a Chinese consortium including Hong Kong’s Richard Lee.  The one billion euro takeover bid is expected to include Silvio’s daughter Barbara.  Hang on a minute, I’ll read that again!  Ah yes, that is ‘to include Barbara continuing in her position as club director.’  Mmmm, there is also a whisper the Chinese Government is playing an instrumental role – see, what did I tell you?  They are everywhere…..

Well, enough of that.  I must go and see if I can encourage my man to eat something, poor thing.

Have a really great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June

PS Don’t forget to visit Amazon for my current books.

My Father, The Assassin.  Book on in the series.

My Father, The Assassin. Book on 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 Loyal and New Followers

It is Tuesday morning and yes, I know, I am a little late sending you this blog.  But I am so glad I waited, because, I have just driven to Fiano for coffee and back in blazing sunshine!  This has given me a real lift and I am able to send you the best possible vibes from this little bit of the Chianti Hills.

Farty Barty on guard. "Did you hear that?" Photo P Finnigan

Farty Barty on guard. “Did you hear that?”
Photo P Finnigan

Farty Barty the cat, despite his wild status, has started guarding his patch particularly if we are in the garden at the time.  He sits facing outwards with us at his rear, just like a dog, ears pricking up at the slightest sound and talking a lot.  He speaks both English and Italian, because he came to us as a pot-bellied stick insect at only two months old, having been abandoned by his wild mother.  He is seven now and has just started settling down again after an amorous couple of months with the girlies, so things are a little calmer in that respect.  The Chianti countryside is awash with wild cats, but just like domestic ones, they know when they are on to a good thing.  The church cats get lots of visits, particularly by our good neighbour and friend next door who takes them daily titbits.

Me signing Valerie's books Photo Jackie

Me signing Valerie’s books
Photo Jackie Grandchamps

Last Friday evening we enjoyed dinner at Trattoria C’era una Volta with new friends Jackie from Belgium and Valerie from France.  Jackie runs a tourist business called French Escapade.  Her customers are mainly Americans who want to go on painting, cookery or other courses in the less touristy parts of Europe.  We, that is my man and I, have agreed to host a group of artists in our beautiful garden in October.  They get to sketch and paint and meet a celebrity English author!  Visit http://www.frenchescapade.com I was very happy to sign my books for Valerie who speaks perfect English.  If you girls are reading this, I do hope you are enjoying a good read and a safe journey home.

Jackie and Valerie holding my book. Photo P Finnigan

Jackie and Valerie holding my book.
Photo P Finnigan

Meanwhile, back at Laura’s Bar/Alimentare in Fiano, Laura is on her own.  Benedetta, her daughter is expecting, so is not so active behind the counter at the moment.  The usual locals are in every morning and Signor Rotund seems to be better after an op, and is appearing more often than before, so we need to make sure we get there before he hogs the newspaper.  The news has been a bit depressing of late.  The thing is, there just isn’t enough about the Peter Pan of Politics Silvio Berlusconi.  He will either make you laugh, cry, rage, envy, ape, avoid, argue or at least feel entertained.  The current Prime Minister, Renzi, just doesn’t have the charisma of our Silvio and the Italians are getting fed up with him, as nothing has changed for the better since he took the helm.  However, we are reliably informed that, like the glowing Phoenix, SB is on the rise again.

Beautiful blossom and scented flowers on the upper terrace. Photo P Finnigan

Beautiful blossom and scented flowers on the upper terrace.
Photo P Finnigan

On a happier note, our garden has erupted with blossom and the perfume is intoxicating.  Wisteria, Jasmin, Evening scented Stock and much more.  Saturday evening we were able to sit outside and enjoy it all until quite late.  However, we have noticed that the deep canyon at the bottom of the olive grove below us, seems to have crept closer!  You may recall that this part of Chianti is full of crumbling inland cliffs and from time to time a little more falls away.  Not so far away from us, one little villa has recently lost half its garden!  But we don’t worry about that, life eeez good, life eeez now!

Well enough of that, I have a heavy workload this week and am hammering away at my book ‘The Italian Connection’ in between times.

Have a great week and do drop me a line, I would love to hear from you.

Salute June x

PS Don’t forget to check out my books below on Amazon.

My Father, The Assassin.  Book on 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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Benvenuti to all my Loyal and new Followers

“There’s far too much drinking to be believable, particularly by page 167 when Joanna is in considerable danger and needs to keep alert!”  My man looks very headmasterish as he comments on ‘The Bolivian Connection.’  “Despite that it’s a really good read June, well done.”  I feel quite emotional when he says this, almost to the point of crying with joy.  “If it’s just a matter of drinking a bit less, I’m sure I can change that, well at least a little.”  I blubber, my chest full of pride in my finished book.  “Ah, well, I’ve sent you an email with my other comments.” he grins, “Nothing serious though.”  “Thank god” I say, “let’s have another glass of wine!”  My man had returned from a few business days in London and had been reading my first draft in his spare time.  Then yesterday, Saturday, he managed to finish the whole manuscript, bless him.

Lovely home grown veg in Certaldo Market. Photo P Finnigan

Lovely home grown veg in Certaldo Market.
Photo P Finnigan

Farty Barty joins us for a pre-lunch drink. Photo J Finnigan

Farty Barty joins us for a pre-lunch drink.
Photo J Finnigan

Having my man back home makes everything that much more enjoyable, going for morning coffee and even shopping for fruit and veg in Certaldo on Saturday morning.  Farty Barty the cat loves it too and stretched out in the sunshine on the garden bench, whilst we were enjoying a pre-lunch drink.

So, I had been home alone last week and had to go to a specialist appointment on the Tuesday by myself.  I emphasise this point, because, whilst I survive on my own, you can guarantee that something will throw me out when the man is away.  I arrived at the hospital in Castelfiorentino and found a new system had been installed.  I needed a special ticket from a machine and then wait for my number to be called.  On a computer screen it told me which room to go to, so I trotted off.  Now you should understand that this is simply to register that I have arrived in the building and to pay for the consultation.  OK, so two jolly ladies register me, take my money and give me a receipt.  Then I was sure she said, in Italian of course, “You are in the wrong building, we are just a skeleton staff, everything has moved to the centre of town.”  By this time I only have five minutes to get to the specialist.  In broken English, the other lady gave me directions, so off I went.  Ten minutes later I park in the main Piazza, as I was sure that was where I had been sent.  But to make sure I walk over to a bench of old boys, whose grins get wider as I approach.  I focus on the one in the centre who’s looks the least lecherous and show him the address I have to go to.  Proudly, he pulls himself up with his walking stick and stands looking up at me.  “I will take you there, Signora, follow me.”  So of we go, the sun is shining and for once Castelfiorentino looks attractive and welcoming.  Fifteen minutes later, my knees are killing me and I am about to suggest that we sit and take a rest, but we had arrived.  I’m not sure whether to offer him a few euros for his trouble, but he is disgusted with the idea, so I shake his hand and he heads back to his friends.  I am twenty minutes late for my appointment, but this being Italy, I am kept waiting anyway.  All I can think about is the long walk back to the car!

2015-01-15 09.11.32Talking about old boys, last Thursday I was joined by our Presidente Giorgio Napolitano for coffee at Laura’s Bar/alimentare in Fiano.  Well, he was in Pisa at the time, but I like to feel these people are right next to me as I read about them in the paper.  He has finally decided to retire and has cited his age of eighty-nine as the deciding factor.  I say, good for you that man, enough pf politics, go and put your feet up somewhere warm to celebrate your forthcoming birthday.  Why not ask Silvio Berlusconi to organise the party.  On the other hand, how strong is your heart these days?  Perhaps something a little less energetic would be more appropriate.

Well, so what next you may ask?  I have already started the third book in the series, with the same heroine Joanna Wilde in ‘The Italian Connection,’ which is another exciting adventure for her and for me.  I also have to finish typing out my lyrics for our next Rock Chick Band Concert in June, which reminds me; do send me your email address if you want an invite.  june.finnigan@virgin.net

Well, must go and make myself beautiful as we are off to lunch at ‘C’era Una Volta’ as Paolo is back after a bout of flu.

Have a really great week, and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

PS

Here is the direct link for my novel ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan. You can also visit http://www.amazon.com & http://www.amazon.eu

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

 

 

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Buon Anno and welcome to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

LB (standing) and Zoe after a game of rugby. Photo P Finnigan

LB (standing) and Zoe after a game of rugby.
Photo P Finnigan

A gorgeous Sunset Phot P Finnigan

A gorgeous Sunset
Photo P Finnigan

Granddog sitting is wonderful.  There is nothing nicer than cuddling up to a granddog who loves you unconditionally and only harasses you when pulling furiously on the lead.  Oh yes, and barking to be let out really early in the morning, because that is what they are used to!  So there we were, my man and I, enjoying  Zoe’s and LB’s company on New Year’s Eve, whilst the family went off skiing on the French/Italian border.  Our daughter and family have recently moved to the middle of nowhere between San Gimigiano and Volterra and the views to the west coast are fantastic.  We saw the New Year in watching the fireworks from our lofty eyrie.  My man stayed on for a further two nights, witnessing some gorgeous sunsets, whilst I returned to Farty Barty the cat and to complete the last few chapters of my novel ‘The Bolivian Connection.’

Another gorgeous sunset Photo P Finnigan

Another gorgeous sunset
Photo P Finnigan

It has been said, particularly by my man, that I am a disaster if left to my own devices, because my head is so full of fiction.  On Saturday evening when my man was returning home, I lit the log fire that he had laid before he left.  I put the guard in front and returned to my desk to write a few more lines.  I was a little longer than I intended, and suddenly I smelt smoke.  Disaster!  Smoke was swirling up the stairs so I opened the landing window, then rushed down, almost choking on the way, to find the sitting room ceiling thick with the dark grey stuff.  I threw open the french windows and then the front door.  Thank god, I had not opened any of the upstairs bedroom doors.  I grabbed a rug and started swirling it around like a human fan and tried to get closer to the fireplace, which was still billowing out smoke.  There must be something stuck up there, I thought.  Then, somewhere in the depths of my memory I heard my man saying, “Now this is the second time I’m going to remind you.  I have closed the metal cover in the chimney to keep the cold out.  If you are going to light the fire DO NOT FORGET TO OPEN IT!”  “S..T” I gasped, “You idiot June!”  I groaned aloud as I coughed and spluttered with my head in the fireplace trying not to singe my hair.  Somehow, I grabbed the lever  and managed to open the cover.  Ten minutes later the house was almost clear of smoke, but I was not going to be able to disguise the smell.  I just knew my man would walk in and I would have to tell him the truth.  Dammit!

Back at Laura’s bar/alimentare in Fiano, my man and I are enjoying our morning coffee.  At the next table a local lady is sharing her coffee with her pet miniature dog.  Well this is Italy, coffee is a way of life, as is Chianti here in Tuscany.  Sadly, Laura had gone down with flu and Benadetta had succumbed overnight, so their husbands were manning the fort.  It’s the time of year for the hunters to be out and about in the countryside and I have to say they are not my favourite people.  A motley crew of three came into the bar wearing muddy boots  and camouflage gear.  It is not a gentleman’s sport here, shooting wildlife, it is the working country folk (contadini) who are mostly out there at first light on a sunday morning, shouting and firing at whatever moves.  However, I remind myself that this is all part of life’s rich tapestry, but when this motley crew started cracking walnuts in their hands and throwing the shells into the bin clearly marked ‘paper only’ I was not impressed.  Hey ho….

Silvio "I am a normal human being, look eight fingers and two thumbs!

Silvio “I am a normal human being, look eight fingers and two thumbs!

Francis “Well halo, halo. I am an exalted human being, see my wings?”

No time to check out Silvio Berlusconi’s activities I’m afraid, however, his picture was in this morning’s paper, so he’s obviously still out there strutting his stuff.   On the next page was a picture of our other Laughing Cavalier, Pope Francis greeting the New Year with his fan club in Rome and welcoming fifteen new cardinals to his mens’ only club.

Well, must go, things to do , places to go and people to see.  Once again Buon Anno to you all you lovely people, and see you next week.

Amore June x

 

 

PS  Here is the direct link for my novel ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan. You can also visit http://www.amazon.com & http://www.amazon.eu

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

 

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Ciao and Welcome to all my Loyal and new followers,

“I hadn’t got rid of the last one and now I’ve caught another one!”  My man is hunched in the passenger seat of the car, having just been collected by my good self from Certaldo Station.  The poor thing had just flown back to Pisa from London and an English cold virus had got him again .  “I already had some antibiotics, now I’ll have to go back and see Flavio again for some more.”  His face was as long as could be.  “Don’t worry, lovely man,” I smiled, “the forecast is for a sunny weekend, you’ll be as right as rain by Monday!”  “Humph.” He groaned.

Freshly harvested oranges and lemons. Photo P Finnigan

Freshly harvested oranges and lemons.
Photo P Finnigan

Farty Barty on the frame over the orange grove wondering what the fuss is all about. Photo P Finnigan

Farty Barty on the frame over the orange grove wondering what the fuss is all about.
Photo P Finnigan

By the end of a lovely warm sunny Sunday, he was cheerfully enjoying an aperitivo in glorious sunshine, having also had lunch outside on the upper terrace earlier on.  “Ah this is the life.” He sighed.  And he was quite right.  Just when we were beginning to think that the cold damp weather was here forever, the hot mediterranean sun broke through, bathing us in that all important vitamin D.  In the garden, much work was needed, in particular the ground was covered in dead leaves including the big floppy fig leaves that make a plopping sound as they hit the ground.  Alessandro, the local contadino, who looks after the land below the house, arrived unexpectedly and started violently pruning the fruit trees.  My man was rather annoyed, as he had planned to do this himself, and he is very experienced at it.  The workers also cut down the beautiful row of Firethorn, which bordered our garden with the orchard, unfortunately we were out having our morning coffee when this happened!  I guess it will all grow back again.  The good news, however, is that our view has been dramatically opened out and this morning the man is really happy as he has found a mature lemon tree in full fruit, in what we had thought was only an orange grove!

Back in the countryside we are seeing whole olive trees being cut down.  This follows the disastrous olive harvest due to blight and insects.  Lets hope that new saplings will be planted to replace them.  On the other hand, the grape harvest was really good.  My man went down to our friend and vineyard owner with all our empty Chianti bottles for refills.  My man liked to do the corking with a hand-operated corking machine, but this time he was impressed to find that this was now automated!  There was a new narrow metal conveyor belt on which the empty bottles traveled along and when they reached a certain point, a cork was automatically punched in.  He just had to wait at the end, take off the corked bottles and put them in a box!  Then horror of horrors, he had a box under each arm and spotted our friend’s Smart Phone traveling along the conveyor and could only shout a warning.  The thing only just escaped being corked!

Siena Cake Photo J Finnigan

Siena Cake
Photo J Finnigan

Last weekend, I bought my first annual piece of Siena Cake.  Now this is a close as I can get to the taste of a typical English Christmas Cake.  It is made with figs, nuts and chocolate powder, and some other secret ingredients, crushed under a press.  All cooks have their own recipes, however, this one was purchased at Osteria La Gramola, in Tavernelle who use the original one from Siena.  Now some of you clever foodies out there will probably put me right, or at least explain the other ingredients.  Speaking of which, and I’m sure she won’t mind my mentioning it, my good neighbour and celebrity cook, Judy Witts Francini, knows everything there is to know about Tuscan cooking.  You should visit her website and go along to one of her residential cooking classes, or at least buy her books.  Fantastic!  Visit http://www.divinacucina.com

Well, I think enough said for now.  I’ll endeavour to bring you some good news about Silvio Berlusconi next week.

Amore June x

PS Here is the direct link for an ideal Christmas present.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

 

 

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Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers

Benedetta, at Laura’s Bar/Alimentare in our local village of Fiano, is very excited about her preparations for Halloween.  Every year, she and her husband go to a street festa near Empoli dressed in Halloween costumes.  This year the theme is birds and animals;  Benadetta is going as an ornimental chicken, you know the one with a big feathery white ball on top of its head!  She will have professional looking face makeup on and has promised to send me pictures so that you can all see what she will look like on Friday!

After coffee in the bar, my man and I were sat in Doctore Flavio’s waiting room and the conversation was all about the lack of police presence in the village.  The row of ladies opposite us were very worried, because the nearest police station was in Certaldo, twenty minutes away.   Fiano is not exactly a sleepy village, however, it is not large enough to have its own police station.  It does boast two bars, two grocery shops, a butchers, chemist, haberdashery/bookshop, pizzeria, cash point (the bank closed years ago) and a post office.  So the need for at least one officer  was agreed, what with all the strange immigrants about.  They went quiet then and looked at us.  I suggested to my man that I could cheer them up with a rock song, but he held me down in my chair and whispered firmly, “No!”

We were visiting our good friend and doctor, who prefers to talk about rock music than medical matters, because my man has not been able to shake off a virus brought back from England a couple of weeks ago.  Either that, or he had picked up another one.  On the drive into Fiano earlier he had complained that if the weather had to be cold, it would be much more fun if there was snow on the ground, so that he could try out the four-wheel drive to greater effect.  I said that it was not that cold and the sun was still hot, in fact warm enough to have lunch in the garden.  “I think it freezing.” He groaned.  “We may have to light a fire this evening and get the winter quilts out.”  His face was very long.

Courgette flowers in the Saturday Market in Certaldo. Photo J Finnigan

Courgette flowers in the Saturday Market in Certaldo.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, down in Certaldo’s Saturday market I spotted this lovely sunny basket of courgette flowers, a popular dish here in Tuscany, either in deep-fried batter or in risottos.

Pingpong neighbours catching olives

Our neighbours catch the olives on a difficult corner.       Photo J Finnigan

Back in the countryside, the olive picking has been in full swing all week.  Green, white and orange nets have been spread out under the trees and the harvesters raised voices could be heard trying to out do each other in volume.  To the uninitiated, it often sounds as if the Italians are arguing.  They are in fact all talking at the same time and getting louder as the conversation evolves, trying to  be heard over and above their neighbour.  Try as I may, despite being here for a number of years, I cannot understand how the Italians manage to actually hear each other, but they do, and they never stop to breathe!  It’s also fascinating how the subject is almost always about food.  Anyway, we are looking forward to some Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the trees below the villa.  Mmmmm!

Silvio in the news. Photo J Finnigan

Silvio in the news.
Photo J Finnigan

Oh yes, I promised you an update on Silvio Berlusconi.  Last week I mentioned that I was reading his biography.  Well, I have to say that I was very disappointed in the writer’s effort and it was obvious he had just pulled out information already existing in various newspapers and Wikipedia.  However, Silvio has been having a better week regarding media coverage and was even interviewed on Chanel Five!  You may already know that he is still the leader of the political party, Forza Italia and has been having some arguments with the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.  A big surprise to us all is that SB is currently promoting the legalisation of Civil Unions between gays, but not same-sex marriages.  He is holding up Germany as a model for his plan.  It wasn’t so long ago that he was quoted as saying “Better to be passionate about a beautiful girl than to be gay.”

Well, enough of that.  I must crack on with the day job for the next few days and then a long weekend  writing ‘The Bolivian Connection.’

I hope you are having a stunning week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

ps You can visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers

English Park Benches on our upper terrace. Photo P Finnigan

English Park Benches on our upper terrace.
Photo P Finnigan

People who come to visit us for the first time, always ask where we got our lovely wooden benches that are carefully positioned to enjoy our panoramic view.  Well, they are a pair that we bought in England back in the 1980’s and they have moved with us to every home we have lived in.  So, ten years ago, they came with us to Italy and my man lovingly oils them every year and patches up bits of rotting wood with Sugru and other things.  The bottom of the legs are vulnerable to damp so we keep them standing on small round and very hard pine cones.  It would be a very sad day if we were to lose one of these treasures.

Now I try not to talk about bad Italian drivers too often, as it is much the most common thing to mention, and sometimes boring.  However, on Saturday morning my man drove us down to the market in Certaldo, which is thirty minutes in total there and back.  Within minutes of starting out my man started to groan, then the expletives started.  Now we rarely use the F word but this day it was warranted.  I made a note every time my man shouted out to other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on that journey, not that anyone could hear him from inside the car.  OK, here we go.  “What the f…; that cyclist didn’t even look!”  “What the hell is that fecking idiot doing?” “Does that plonker have a death wish?” “Am I an fecking car, or what?” “Go on, back out why don’t you, I’m only a bloody car coming down the road!”  “Get your dog on the inside, you idiot!” “Take your fecking time, why don’t you?”  (to two women gossiping in the middle of the road and ignoring my man), “Look at that idiot, he’s right up his bottom!” “Oh, you’re turning right are you?  What’s wrong with using your fecking indicator?” I may have missed a few.  Needless to say, my man did not enjoy his drive, however, the coffee and pastry at Cafe Solferino in Certaldo was worth it!  The smile was soon back on his face.

Inedible fungi in our garden. Phot P Finnigan

Inedible fungi in our garden.
Photo P Finnigan

Last week was very wet, however, this brought forth some beautiful fungi in the garden and of course lots of Porcini are in the markets and veg shops.  White truffles are still being found and the other day we spotted two truffle hunters and their dogs.  Why, we asked ourselves, are they wearing camouflage clothes?  Can the truffles see them coming without this gear on?  The other thing is, there are shooters about, so wouldn’t it make sense to wear the same bright orange jackets the shooters wear, to avoid getting shot?  But then I’m just a simple English girlie with, what I consider to be, a little common sense.  But the Italians are very strange in the way they take risks, every year hunters get shot and killed, but hey ho!

Hot Chilli Peppers drying on Paolo's balcony. Photo P Finnigan

Hot Chilli Peppers drying on Paolo’s balcony.
Photo P Finnigan

Back at ‘C’era una Volta’ ristorante, Paolo  sold my man a small truffle (Tartufo) as he wants to take it to England today for a friend.  It is now packed inside dry risotto rice in a sealed glass jar, which is also encased in bubble wrap.  It’s not just protecting the truffle, it’s also trying to prevent the incredible pungent smell from creeping out into his suitcase!  On Paolo’s balcony, where you can dine if the weather’s right, he has also been drying the most beautiful hot chilli peppers that he has grown in his own veg patch (Orto).  Mmmmm.

A jewelled cobweb in the early morning mist. Photo P Finnigan

A jewelled cobweb in the early morning mist.
Photo P Finnigan

Over the weekend, we have woken to a view of thick fog after the earlier rains and subsequent sunshine.  As you know, we always go out for coffee in the early morning and yesterday spotted some wonderful spiders’ webs glowing in the fog, with tiny jewels of water droplets hanging off.

Now what next?  Ah yes, you are probably waiting to hear about Silvio Berlusconi’s latest exploits.  Well, I have to tell you that I have just started reading his biography, so things are a little historical at present.  Don’t sound so shocked, he is an historical figure, you know!  Give me one more week and I’ll report, not only some fascinating snippets from the past, but also a complete up date.

So, for now.  I wish you a great week and see you soon.  Don’t forget to drop me a line or visit http://www.amazon.com/junefinnigan/author

Salute June x

 

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