Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘book’

Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

I must tell you this true story.  As you know, from time to time, my man has to pop over to London to do a bit of business.  A few days ago, he was trying to make a purchase with his business Visa card and put the wrong pin in…..three times, which he blamed on fat finger small keyboard scenario.  Yes, the bank blocked it.  So he rushed into the local Barclays and realised that he had no identity; his passport was back at his London club and he doesn’t need his driving licence in London! He produced everything he had with his signature on, other bank cards, even his British Library card which sported his photo!  Then finally, in exasperation, he said, “I’m wearing hand-made Italian shoes and they have my name inside.”  Would you believe it, they agreed to unblock his card!  Don’t you just love it!

Al Bar Fiano, needing lots of people to bring it alive again. Foto J Finnigan

Al Bar Fiano, needing lots of people to bring it alive again. Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back in the calmer atmosphere of our local village of Fiano, I made a second visit to the new Al Fiano Bar.  Two locals were sat drinking coffee and eating pastries, then a certain well-known signora arrived, shouting at the top of her voice.  She only wanted some crisps, but for an Italian lady who stands at around four-foot-five, she’s got the voice of a giant.  Then she spotted me, trying to read the newspaper, and came and sat down!  I think she was telling me, and the rest of the village, about her one visit to London, when Steffi Graff was playing at Wimbledon.  If not, I may have bought an old tennis racket and a donkey.  I’m not sure which, I’ll let you know.

Natalia waiting to serve you a very nice Espresso at Al Bar Fiano. Photo J Finnigan

Natalia waiting to serve you a very nice Espresso at Al Bar Fiano.
Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, the lovely lady behind the bar turns out to be Russian and has been here in Italy for I think sixteen years.  She is called Natalia and her smile brightened the room, which is still in need of a lift to make it more welcoming.  However, do go in, the more that try it out the better it will become.  Fingers crossed.

The artist Marcello Scuffi. I love his work. Foto La Republicca.

The artist Marcello Scuffi. I love his work. Foto La Repubblica.

OK, what next.  Oh yes, I spotted this article about Marcello Scuffi, the Tuscan artist.  I love this kind of contemporary art and at first, I thought his work must be from the nineteen twenties or thirties.  But no, Marcello was born in 1948, is alive and well and still producing these masterpieces.  He was born in Tizzana (Pistoia) which is not far from Florence and currently works out of Quarrata and Marina di Pietrasanta.  He is also very sought after and has made quite an impression in France, Belgian and Switzerland.  Google him and you will be able to see lots more of his pictures.

‘And what about the touring bands in our area?’  I hear you ask.  Well, at last, the wonderful Piazza Arena in Lucca is to host the Rolling Stones!  This will be during the summer music festival in July, so won’t compete with my own concert with The Rock Chick Band on June 24th!  You may have difficulty getting tickets for the Rolling Stones, but my concert is free!  However, it is by private invitation, so if you would like an official invite to my concert, drop me an email at june.finnigan@virgin.net

Oh, must just mention that the weather here has been glorious around lunchtime, a hot sun and no cold wind.  so, over the last few days, we have snuck down to the terrace a couple of times for an aperitivo.  Cin Cin!

Well, enough of that, my man is taking me out to lunch so I must go for a shower and make myself beautiful.  Whoever said ‘how do you hope to do that?’ Can go and crack their own mirror!  Ha ha to you too.

Have a great week and do get in touch.  I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current published Books.
Foto J Finnigan

Read Full Post »

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

Firstly, a big thank you for all those concerned well wishers.  We have only had a couple of minor earth quakes in our area and all is fine here; no damage at all.

Florence then and now. La Repubblica.

Florence then and now. La Repubblica.

Florence – It is hard to imagine that exactly fifty years ago, Florence was under very deep water after the River Arno burst its banks.  1966 was a terrible year for the historic and beautiful city.  There has been much to say in the newspapers and there is still real concern that the defences are not good enough.  Only a few months ago, a riverside road collapsed, along with a row of parked cars.  An enormous amount of money is needed to further improve things and what with the financial crisis, this is now getting very serious indeed.

Mappa Sosmica - Seismic Map. La Reppublica

Mappa Sismica – Seismic Map. La Reppublica

I read an article in the newspaper this morning, which really shows the country’s seismic risk areas.  If it was not so serious, I would have laughed at the little men in black hats on the map, indicating the areas controlled by the Mafia who have been responsible for the building and rebuilding of properties, and blamed for the inferior quality of materials and design. I must add, that our little area of Tuscany, is outside the worst danger zone and hope it will not stop you lovely people from visiting next season.

2016-11-06-09-28-49

King Crimson, La Repubblica

But to brighter things.  Thank you to our good friend Flavio who asked me if I knew that The Cure was currently touring.  I did not know, but it was too late to get tickets anyway.  But I did know that King Crimson were celebrating fifty years in rock with a celebration tour here.  What’s this, you don’t remember them? O Dio!  They were hugely popular between 1969 and 1974, when their progressive rock music stretched across to Jazz and classical.  Robert Tripp, the brilliant lead guitarist, took the band through many changes of members and styles, after reaching number 5 in the UK album charts in 1969.  In 2015 the band, with its unusual front of three drummers and four guitarists, had a very successful tour and their concert in Toronto ‘Live at The Orpheum’ was recorded and released as an album.  I love their track ‘Starless’ a lengthy piece and seriously clever, which will give you goose-bumps.  King Crimson – Starless https://youtu.be/FhKJgqxNDD8  via @YouTube

Italian cheeses at La Dispensain Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

Tuscan cheeses at La Dispensa in Fiano.
Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, that’s got my rock thing out-of-the-way, so back to Fiano and morning coffee.  Today, Sunday, La Dispensa was very busy with locals.  It’s hard to believe that the place didn’t exist three months ago!  The Italians are very quick to turn a place into a home from home, and so we are able to enjoy coffee and catch up on the newspapers in good company.  La Dispensa also has a lovely range of cheeses, which along with local wines, is my biggest downfall, so I had to buy some yet again.  Otherwise we eat very sensibly!

Pasta and white truffles photo J Finnigan

Pasta and white truffles
photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile the olives have been mostly harvested now and the truffle hunters are out an about seeking that illusive Tartufo Bianco (White Truffle).  The best way to enjoy them is thinly sliced, using a truffle slicer, over buttered tagliatelle.  Not spoiled by adding them to a creamy sauce, as a certain local restuarent did the other day and my man had to send the dish back!

Finally, I’m itching to tell you that I have finished the first draft of ‘The Italian Connection.’  However, having read it and edited, I found myself launching into more chapters as my imagination suddenly took off again!  So, another couple of weeks or so and I’ll be satisfied; I hope!

Well, that’s enough for now.  My man is taking me up to C’era una Volta in Lucardo for lunch, where Paolo is currently serving up a delicious leek and potato soup, and he has the latest Tartufo Bianco on the menu.  Mmmmm.

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

Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

Read Full Post »

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

The birthday girl and me. foto P Finnigan

The birthday girl and me.
foto P Finnigan

I have just returned from a few days in England, which I won’t bore you with as I know you only tune in to read about Tuscany.  However,  the reason I went, was to celebrate my lovely mother-in-law’s 91st birthday and I’m sure you won’t mind my giving her a mention.  Her name is Marie, Mabel, Olga, Romance and she is a real star.  So here is a picture for the world to see.   Just before this foto was taken she was singing ‘why are we waiting’.  And, in this shot she is making a deep growling sound!  On the flight home I was so tired I tipped my plastic cup of prosecco over the sleeping young man next to me.  “Oh no!” He proclaimed, “Did I knock your arm when I was asleep?” I smiled sweetly and told him not to worry.  I know that was naughty, but he was taking up a lot of room!

The Earthquake donation details. La Nazione

The Earthquake donation details.
La Nazione

On a more serious note and lest we forget, I know you won’t mind me bringing back the subject of the recent earthquake that killed three hundred people and completely destroyed whole villages.  Many of you asked where and how you could make a contribution and I now have bank details for you to make a donation.  This was printed in La Nazione newspaper.  The rebuild cost will be a horrendous 300 million euros, and around 189 million has been raised so far.  So if you feel you can donate anything, the surviving villagers will be forever grateful.  Grazie Mille!

Depeche Mode on tour in Tuscany. Black leather maketh the aging rocker! La Nazione

Depeche Mode on tour in Tuscany. Black leather maketh the aging rocker!
La Nazione

Now on to brighter things and the world of music.  The latest tour in our region is Depeche Mode, still rocking and sounding great.  Less of my cup of tea is Michael Buble, but I know he has a huge following.  Earlier this year, I wrote some lyrics for a song, which was recorded by a musician friend.  He hopes to sell the song to Michael’s agency, so maybe we can pin his manager down whilst he is in Tuscany!  Watch this space.

Meanwhile, back home in our beautiful bit of countryside on the edge of Chianti, we set out for coffee this morning in a thick mist.  So we drove higher to Fiano, which proved to be a good idea as we emerged into glorious sunshine.  At La Dispensa, our now regular choice of coffee bar, we were served at the table by the local butcher.  Yes, it’s true, but then he is also the owner of the bar/grocery shop/butchers along with his lovely wife.  It was very busy and full of shooters, whose company is not our first choice.  But we managed to grab the papers and hog them for a while, so that was OK.

Autumn Hibiscus on the terraza. Foto J Finnigan

Autumn Hibiscus on the terrazza. Foto J Finnigan

On our return home we found lots of cobwebs on our gate in the mist; it’s that time of year and in the garden the autumn colours were looking great with lots of still flowering pots including the beautiful Hibiscus.  My man and I are relishing being home together for a whole week, enjoying the bars, restaurants and Autumn garden.  We will be getting a big fire basket and fireguard  for our inglenook fireplace this week, so I’ll let you know how we get on with lighting the wood fire for the first time, in this fabulous old farmhouse.

Back to today and we are off to Ristorante Borgo Antico in Tavernelle for lunch, which I am really looking forward to.  http://www.borgoanticorestaurant.com  Ah, life eeeez good, life eeeez now!

Have a fabulous week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

'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.

 

Read Full Post »

Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

On the way to Certaldo for coffee, my man and I started talking about the fragile planet, I said that I hoped it would survive for at least a few more generations.  Then he said, “It’s just as likely that the world will end as we know it, after being invaded by aliens from outer space.” He said, matter of factly.  “In fact, I think they’re already here and living in Chelsea!”  My man knows a lot of things, so I asked how he knew this.  “Well, you know, all those Hooray Henrys!”  I smiled, he could be right, who am I to argue.

A school bag loaded with back problems. La Republica

A school bag loaded with back problems.
La Republica

Anyway, here we are into the second week of September and its back to school for all the children after a very long summer break and I want to tell you about something that has always concerned me.  Now we Brits  had great spacious school desks full of  books, pens, pencils geometry sets and so on.  Here in Italy the children carry the whole lot around on their backs, weighing as much as 11kg in some cases!  Yes, you heard me right.  In addition, the parents have to fork out over 200 euros at the start of each year to buy all the new books, including the heavy study ones, for the kids to carry around.  Now I am not complaining, but stating a fact and at last this dreadful arrangement is getting some attention from the press, well at least here in Tuscany.  Is it like this in other European countries?  I’d be interested to know.

Ristorante Borgo Antico, the Terrazza. Foto J Finnigan

Ristorante Borgo Antico, the Terrazza.
Foto J Finnigan

On a brighter note, I promised to let you have some pictures of restaurant Borgo Antico in Tavernelle.  Last Sunday we had lunch outside in their lovely terrazza in glorious weather. This of course is how Sundays in Tuscany should be spent, or with a big Italian family in the open air, the Mamas and Nonnas having done the cooking of course, not me.  Anyway, back at Borgo Antico,  Katia presented us with their signature Crostini, vegetarian version.  This is basically toasted bread with delicious mixed toppings with an emphasis on Mozzarella.

Vegetarian Crostini, my gluten free version! Foto J Finnigan

Vegetarian Crostini, my gluten free version!
Foto J Finnigan

Then at our next table a lovely young Italian couple arrived and introduced themselves and their black lab.  He, Stefano Dini, has an Antique Restoration warehouse in Tavernelle, so if you like Italian Antique Furniture go to http://www.portaemporum.com  Then our pasta course arrived and we had a veggie version of the Chef’s ragu sauce.  It was seriously delicious!  I can’t remember if we had a desert later, but I do remember being stuffed after the pasta.  So here is the website again and if you go tell Katia I recommended you, she’ll spoil you to death.  http://www.borgoanticorestaurant.com

The Vendemmia. This article says that 2,680 litres of Chianti was produced in Tuscany in 2015. This year the production will be higher! La Nazione.

The Vendemmia. This article says that 2,680 litres of Chianti wine was produced in Tuscany in 2015. This year the production will be higher! La Nazione.

OK, what next?  Oh yes, as you probably know, the Vendemmia (grape harvest) is in full swing.  Thank heavens for our new home as we no longer have tractors and trailers thundering past our kitchen window.  It is a very noisy time of year and tourists coming to stay in the Agritorismo centres are in for a shock if they think they are going to enjoy a quite relaxing holiday in the Chianti Hills.  But many come to actually participate in the harvest or at least to watch the crushing of the grapes and no, they are not crushed under foot anymore, it’s all mechanical but interesting nonetheless.

Beppe Grillo and Alessandro di Battista. La Republica

Beppe Grillo and Alessandro di Battista. La Republica

Back in the world of politics, one character who I haven’t talked about before is Beppe Grillo.  No, he’s not a Bistecca (steak) chef, he is the leader of the largest opposition party, Cinque Stella.  Looking like a scruffy aging rock singer, he has a huge following and could well be our next leader.  He’s been strutting his stuff on stage with support staff like Alessandro di Battista (Deputato della XVII Legislatura della Republica Italiana con Cinque Stella)  Did you get that? If not do read it again or don’t worry about it.  To be honest I’ve only brought this to your attention because Alessandro is a bit of a hunk!

Before I forget, if he had still been alive Freddie Mercury would have been seventy a couple of days ago.  What is the relevance of this you may ask?  None at all, I answer, I just thought you might like to remember him too.

So, oh yes, it will soon be olive picking time and I hear tell that the dreaded Olive flies are back.  If the harvest is ruined, the prices of Extra Virgin Olive Oil will soar again, but let’s be positive, I’m sure our locals will get it sorted.

Phew, well that’s enough for today, I’m going to twist my man’s arm and say that I don’t feel like cooking today and can we go back to Borgo Antico…  But O Dio, they are fully booked, so we are off to C’era una Volta instead.

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

Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

 

Read Full Post »

Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

The Grape Harvest begins. La Nazione

The Grape Harvest begins.
La Nazione

Hurrah!  September is here with its cooler weather and a little rain!  After a seriously hot humid August, it was a relief when we hit the 1st September.  And, on this day the first mechanical grape picker started trundling through the vineyards below our house, collecting all those plump purple grapes that will provide us with our next supply of Chianti wines.  Also on this day, the shooters were allowed to start banging away at first light, celebrating the start of the hunting season.  I make no comment on this except that we would be happy for local wildlife to take up arms and fire back.  Oops, sorry, that was supposed to be no comment.

2016-09-03 14.31.57

Our lovely big kitchen table and fruit. Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, What else to celebrate?  Ah well, the seasonal fruit; we are gorging on lovely fresh fruit salads for breakfast every morning.  Peaches, plums, apples and some imported things like bananas and kiwi.  So I thought you might like a picture of my big kitchen table with its baskets of fruit.

Porcini Mushrooms. La Nazione

Porcini Mushrooms. La Nazione

The other things I adore at this time of year is the fungi harvest.  In particular the big porcini mushrooms that are delicious grilled whole as an anti-pasti.  Yummy!

And, still on the subject of food, last Sunday we went to ‘Ristorante Borgo Antico’ in Tavernelle and I promised to report back to you.  Firstly, the place was all closed down so we enquired at a nearby geletaria.  Apparently, they had moved to the edge of town four years ago!  How little we know….  Well, my friends, I have to tell you that we were delighted with the new place, a beautiful outside terrace, the same big welcome from Katia, as we always used to get at the old place, and food and wine to die for!  So needless to say we are booked to go back today, Sunday!  I’ll post some pictures next week.  Meanwhile, go to http://www.borgoanticorestaurant.com

Autumn fashions from Simona Barbieri. La Republica.

Autumn fashions from Simona Barbieri.
La Republica.

Now most of you will already know that I love clothes and the Italian Autumn fashions are fabulous.  In particular, the oranges and browns that really suit my colouring.  Whilst I hate to give up wearing flip-flops, stylish ones of course, I do adore window shopping for handbags and shoes.  My poor man cannot understand why I keep buying handbags, “You can only use one at a time and you keep most of them in a cupboard for months.” But that’s not the point, is it girlies?

Anyway, that’s enough for now.  Do send me your own September stories either by replying to this blog or by email to june.finnigan@virgin.net.  I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

PS I’m still on target with my latest book, rattling away at least one thousand words a day!  I’ve just got to a very scary bit!

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

'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.

Read Full Post »

Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Whilst I normally try to bring you only good news and fun things, the terrible Earthquake tragedy cannot be ignored.  Thank you for all those messages from around the world and to say that yes we are fine, and lucky enough to be some way north of the terrible disaster.  The country as a whole has been, once again, in shock and yesterday was a day of mourning.  This time, we have decided to take more precautions and have put a packed survival bag just inside the front door and parked the car away from the house.  But, you know, the Italians are a resilient race and whilst an enormous amount of effort is still being put into the rescue work, everyday life continues, as continue it must.

Lovely sweet red Certaldo Onions from the market. Foto P Finnigan

Lovely sweet red Certaldo Onions from the market.
Foto P Finnigan

Yesterday, we were really pleased to find that the Saturday morning market in Certaldo was fully attended by both traders and customers.  It’s nearly the end of August so things are beginning to return to normal after the long holiday.   Everyone seemed cheerful enough and I bought some lovely sweet Certaldo Onions, which are delicious finely sliced with salads, or cooked in the oven.  Then I bought some of my favourite young Pecorino cheese, delicious served with sliced sweet melon.  And, as it is the season for peaches, plums and apricots, I bought a few bagfuls for our breakfast.  Oops, I hope I’m not sounding like a food junky, but the market stalls look so tempting this time of year!

Buratta with grilled vegetables and Certaldo onions. Foto J Finnigan

Buratta with grilled vegetables and Certaldo onions.
Foto J Finnigan

Last Friday, we met our beautiful family for lunch at ‘C’era Una Volta’ in Lucardo.  The grandchildren love the deep-fried polenta there.  My daughter and I enjoyed that great favourite Buratta cheese again with grilled vegetables and of course sliced Certaldo Onions.  Today my man and I are going to revisit a restaurant in Tavernelle.  We haven’t been there for years but bumped into the owner a few days ago, so I booked a table.  Fingers crossed, I’ll let you know.

Eddie Lizard on our kitchen wall. Foto P Finnigan

Eddie Lizard on our kitchen wall.
Foto P Finnigan

Back in our lovely home we had a visitor in the kitchen.  A very plump Gekko Lizard was keeping very still on the wall while we had our supper.  Then my man crept over and got a couple of fotos.  Don’t you just love those feet?  We’ve decided to call him Eddie, get it?  You remember the comedian and actor Eddie Izzard don’t you, that’s right him, so we have our own Eddie Lizard.  Well I think it’s funny.  If you have not been to Italy, you may not know that lizards are everywhere and often provide great entertainment whilst we are enjoying an aperitivo in the garden.

Well, enough of that.  Must get back to ‘The Italian Connection’ as my heroine Joanna Wilde is currently in Rome and waiting for me to write the next chapter.

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

Salute June x

PS  Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

'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.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Benventi to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

The four man piano and boxes. foto J Finnigan

The four man piano and boxes.
foto J Finnigan

As I start writing this blog, I am expecting the doorbell to ring at any moment.  Giuseppe, the removals man, is coming to assess the amount of furniture and rubbish the English couple has accumulated over donkey’s years.  He will be relieved to know that we are not moving very far, but he’ll probably balk at the upright ancient iron-framed piano that we have been lugging around since we left England.  Ah, he has just telephoned as he is lost and I cannot understand everything he is saying.  He has either shot past the turning to our village or arrived in a completely different village, which I can’t recognise by the way he’s describing it!  So back to the keyboard and we wait.  In anticipation, the sitting room floor is now covered in cardboard boxes.  Hurrah, Giuseppe is here and he says he needs four men to move the piano!  But that’s OK, better than losing more friends due to slipped discs!

Gorgeous handbags on staircase. Glossy magazine.

Gorgeous handbags on staircase.
Glossy magazine.

Earlier this morning we dropped down to Certaldo and The Jam Caffe, by the station.  This was mainly because there was a big market filling the main piazza where we normally park.  Somehow, I always manage to have other committments when there’s an interesting market and, once again, could not stop to drool over the handbags, much to my man’s relief.

Oh, and last Thursday, when I was at Sandra’s having my hair colour topped up, I saw this picture in the glossy magazine and thought, ‘Wow, our new home will have a short stone staircase inside the front door, I could do something similar with my own handbags.’  I haven’t told my man yet, I’ll just spring it on him!

Catarina's big Eater Egg display in Bar Il Solferino. Foto J Finnigan

Catarina’s big Easter Egg display in Bar Il Solferino.
Foto J Finnigan

Earlier in the week in Bar Il Solferino, I was impressed with Catarina’s big Easter Egg display.  If you look closely, you will see little chickens and ducks peeking out of the straw, oh, and a coffee machine of course!  And, it is starting to feel very much like Spring and Easter time, which is all taken very seriously here in Italy.

Apple bossom and the green valleys below us. Foto J Finnigan

Apple blossom and the green valleys below us.
Foto J Finnigan

The weather too suddenly seems on the turn.  We had lunch in the garden twice this last week!  The heavenly smell of blossom is now filling the air and the valleys are all lovely and green again.  Life eeeez good, Life eeeeez now!

Well, I’m having to end this blog a bit smartish as we have a hectic afternoon!  Don’t forget, I love to hear from you, either through this Blog, my Expat Focus Column or my Author Site.

Salute June x

PS no blog next weekend due to packing, but do visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

 

'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.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: