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

Now, if you read my blog on a regular basis you will know that it is very rare for me to grumble.  However, I hope you will allow me one gripe having almost got past the final Christmas, New Year and Befana celebrations here in our little bit of Chianti.  As you know the Italians love festas.  That is the excuse to take time off for a day or more and celebrate with family, friends, good food and wine.  Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say.  Last Sunday was the final celebration called Befana, when the good witch pays a visit to all the Italian children to check if they have been good or not, and then award them with presents or a lump of coal.

2017-12-31 09.35.11The next day I thought, hurrah, we can get back to normal, ditch or plant the Christmas trees that many of us are allergic to, the shops will all be open and the post office will be functioning.  How, after nearly fourteen years living in this beautiful bit of the world, could I forget that Befana also heralds the start of a week’s holiday for thousands of Italians, when many shoot off to ski destinations!  Last Monday I found a note in my post box, telling me that a long overdue Christmas parcel was waiting for me at Certaldo Post Office.  So I waited in the usual queue and arrived at the counter feeling pretty relaxed.  “Sorry Signora” the male counter assistant said, in Italian of course, “The sorting office is still on holiday, you will have to come back tomorrow!”  Take note, the date was 8th January…..  I took a deep breath and walked back out into a hail storm and did not have a brolly with me!  OK, grumble over, I went back the next day and got my parcel.  Foto La Repubblica

2018-01-15 08.55.09And on the subject of skiing, you would love the Dolomites in Northern Italy this time of year.  Very crowded mind, although from next week onwards most of the Italian tourists may have finally returned to work.  Meanwhile, a little further north in Austria, our brilliant female ski team have just won the World Championship and good for them I say!  Are you a keen skier?  I have always wanted to ski, but never got round to it.  Too many other priorities I guess.  My man skied in Norway with the military; when you next see him, ask him about his experiences, he loves to talk about his wooden skis!

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Meanwhile, back in our local village of Fiano, we continue to enjoy morning coffee and despite the owners, Fabio and Sandra, being on holiday, their lovely daughter Rossella (on the right) was running things at La Dispensa.  She and I always speak in English and at normal speed so that she can even further improve her very good command of the language.  Relaxing over coffee and the newspapers here, always starts my day off brilliantly. Foto J Finnigan.

Well, must get my head around completing my column for Expat Focus and complete a short story called ‘The Man in Black,’ which I started a few years ago.  My man has, over the last few weeks, inspired me to go back and finish it.  So watch this space for news of its publication.  Or, if you have not yet registered for updates on my website, go to June’s Official Website

Do drop me a line, I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

PS My fourth novel ‘Assassin’s List’ is also progressing well!

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Father XmasCongratulations to our lovely winner, Molly in Florida, for correctly answering the question ‘What was the real full name of the Italian Assassin Sapphire, in my second novel The Bolivian Connection?’  Yes, the answer was Francesca Maria Bencini.  Molly was the first name out of my man’s Father Christmas hat and my trilogy will be on its way to her tomorrow!  Well done too to the three runner ups who all receive a book of their choice.

May I take this opportunity to encourage all you readers to buy books as presents for Christmas, so that we can enjoy the peace and quiet this will bring, as we toast our toes in front of the fire, sipping a warm mulled wine, engrossed in some fascinating story!

Happy present buying and speak to you next weekend.

Visit my official author site at June’s website

Salute June x

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

2017-12-02 09.57.26The Italians, being Italian, just adore the Festive Period.  If you want to be anywhere in the world this time of year, you will love it here in Tuscany.  All the main towns and cities are now up and running with Mercate di Natale, that’s Christmas Markets to you and me. These lovely ladies were in the nearby town of Empoli on 1st December, making sure that everyone knew what time of year it was!  As if we could forget….. Foto La Nazione.

2017-11-29 08.49.56As I write this blog, I realise that I also need to get out there and start buying up all the goodies, after all, it’s only three weeks to go!  Now, in case my family are reading this, handbags, scarves and books are at the top of my list….  Whilst even I read books on my Kindle, I still like to own real things.  Foto La Repubblica.

2017-12-01 09.36.43Now, if you are likely to indulge in a little more Prossecco than normal, you should be aware that here in Italy, one may not be able to outrun the latest Polizia car, which is in fact a Ferrari!  Yes, that’s what I said, a Ferrari.  The drivers of the local less impressive Polizia vehicles are fast enough, and that’s both male and female; but put them in a Ferrari and god only knows what will happen on our narrow windy roads!  foto La Repubblica

2017-12-02 09.52.46But enough of that, lets look at what is happening in the world of Music.  Well, if you fancy a little romantic singing by a handsome, if getting on a bit, Italian crooner then you could book yourself a couple of tickets for Claudio Baglioni’s 2018 tour.  Claudio has performed with many famous people, including Pavarotti, in recent years.  He’s also a very good pianist.  Go to Hear Claudio sing now!  Foto La Nazione

2017-12-03 12.55.19Meanwhile, my man and I decided to revisit Osteria La Gramola in Tavernelle, which we have not been to for over two years.  It’s funny how one can forget how good a place is, and we were reminded by being served up a delicious bowl of pumpkin soup with gluten-free bread for me and stuffed vegetables with potatoes.  My man had a mix of crostini with various veggie toppings, followed by spaghetti tossed in pepper and pecorino cheese.  All absolutely yummy.  I bought home a piece of their traditional Siena Cake, which has all the flavours of the traditional English Christmas cake, but is actually made of crushed figs, fruits and nuts. I can’t wait to eat it!  Go to Osteria La Gramola  They also do very popular cooking courses!  Foto J Finnigan

2017-12-01 09.34.232017-11-29 08.46.57Now I cannot go without sharing some of the gorgeous winter woollies and handbags currently available in Florence, my favourite shopping place.  These can also be bought on-line, so don’t worry if you can’t get here this year.  Snuggly Cashmere and woolly wrap around coats with matching bags, beautiful! Fotos La Reppublica.

Oh, very important, don’t forget to ensure that your name is in my man’s Father Christmas hat, to stand a chance of winning my Book Trilogy, The Continuing Adventures of Joanna Wilde.  Only three days to go!  Visit the Events page on my website at My Author Site

OK, enough for now, but do drop me a line, I love to hear from you and see you next week.

Salute June x

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

Now, for me, I cannot think of anything nicer than unwrapping a book or three at Christmas and with this in mind, I have discounted the price of my three paperback books by around 20% from now, right up until Christmas!  The discount is available on all worldwide Amazon sites.  If you prefer e-books, then you can download in an instant!  Go to Click to buy now!

Father XmasMeanwhile, here is a little festive competition for you!  I love this sort of thing, and you can do it on Christmas Day by telling your family you want an answer to be found in a certain book.  So they all dash off to find the book, then scour it for the answer to your question.  If you do it several times, you will end up with a pile of books in the middle of the floor, but you can later occupy the children by having then replace the books back on the shelves, for a reward of course, whilst you relax in front of the fire with another glass of warm punch!

snowman-wallpaperAnd here is your question!  In my book ‘The Bolivian Connection’  what was the real full name of the Female Italian Assassin code-named Sapphire?  Her two christian names and surname please. (Hint – Chapter 27)  And your reward?  The chance to win the complete Trilogy in paperback, signed and dedicated by me, or left blank if you prefer.  The three runners-up will receive one book of their choice, signed or not, the choice is yours.  Send your answer to me by email to arrive no later than Saturday 9th December, and your name will go into my man’s Father Christmas hat.  On Sunday 10th, he will dip in and withdraw four names.  I will then personally email to let you know if you are a winner.  So, if you have the answer, send it to me at june.finnigan@virgin.net  Exciting, isn’t it?  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Xmas TreeNow if you want to be absolutely sure of obtaining a signed book, you can purchase one on my website and pay with paypal.  Go to My website

Next weekend, I’ll be sending you a normal blog, with lots of news about the build up to the festivities in our little bit of Tuscany.

Meanwhile, do drop me a line, I love to hear from you and don’t forget to visit my Official Author Website at My website

Salute June x

PS The competition is open to all readers, so do not hesitate to forward this to friends and family!

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The Trilogy – The Continuing Adventures of Joanna Wilde.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

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The Cocktail Bar at Jam Caffe in Certaldo. Foto J Finnigan

So very sorry for the lack of blog last weekend, but had to dash off unexpectedly to England on some family business.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to be back in our lovely little bit of Chianti last Saturday.  If you arrive in Certaldo by train or car at around six to seven the evening, go straight into Jam Caffè next to the station and enjoy one of their wonderful cocktails.  You will find yourself winding down really quickly after your long journey.

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A reveller Al Festa dell’Unicorno. La Repubblica

‘So, what went on during the last two weeks?’ You ask.    Well, before I left for England, I read in the paper over morning coffee that Vinci, Leonardo’s birthplace near Florence, was once again hosting the Festa dell’Unicorno.  This is a crazy event into which Italians flood from miles away, purely to dress up in whatever takes their fancy.  The theme this year seemed to be ‘fantasy’ so anything went.  The Italians just love this sort of stuff!

Meanwhile, our local village of Fiano was also enjoying a weekend of Festivities, with an exhibition of old photos, music and of course lots of food, eating in the piazza, which had been cleared of cars for the three-day event.  We couldn’t get to this but the talk in La Dispensa, Fiano’s bar and alimentare, was all about it, and the flags are still flying in the village.  We’ll definitely try to get to next years events.

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Terry Davies, The Potter, chats to me as we wait for the dancing to start at La Poggiolaia. Foto Vitalita.

And, on the previous weekend, we went to the Vitalita Wine and Dance event, right next door to us at La Poggiolaiawww.poggiolaia.it  It was nice to catch up with friends and to enjoy the beautiful setting, so adored by the tourists who come back every year to stay.  The dancing was artistic, the performers wearing white t-shirts that had just been painted on the back by the guest artist.  It was all very twisty, turny and athletic.  Terry Davies the Potter, was there and he is currently exhibiting his ceramics at Pignano Art Gallery.  www.borgopignano.com

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Remembering Farty Barty. Photo P Finnigan

Lest we forget, it is hard to believe that Farty Barty the Tuscan cat went up to cat heaven a year ago!  I still miss his comforting presence and you will find a chapter dedicated to him in my latest novel ‘The Italian Connection’.  ‘Love you Barty’ xx

Meanwhile, back in the Tuscan countryside, we are now  suffering badly from the intense heat and lack of rain.  Temperatures are expected to be up to forty-six celsius this week, so you may wish to postpone your next visit to Tuscany.  But we are still enjoying ourselves, and yesterday cooked lunch for the family, eating in our lovely big Tuscan kitchen, as it was too hot outside.  My view is this, when things are not perfect, drink copious amounts of Italian wine!

OK, enough of that and time to get this blog finished and sent out to you lovely people.  Do drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net  I love to hear from you!

Salute June x

Ps Do visit my Author Site at www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

The Statue of David in Florence.  La Reppubblica

The Statue of David in Florence this week.  La Repubblica.

Now, as you know, I always try to bring you fun and interesting news from Tuscany, however, just occasionally I need to talk about rather more serious matters.  The people of Italy, like everyone else with warm beating hearts, were devastated by the news from Manchester.  And the loss of so many children; so very difficult to comprehend.  In Piazza Della Donna in Florence, the Florentines woke to find the Statue of David wearing a black armband and holding the Union Flag.  Whoever did this, thank you for the show of solidarity.  The Italians, in small and large communities alike, evolve everything around their children.  I have had a number of people in our local village expressing their condolences, bless them.

 

The President and the Pope

The President and The Pope.  La Reppublica.

Meanwhile, the President of the United States has visited The Pope.  He and his family wore the traditional black and the women covered their heads in lace.   Apparently, the two men made their peace and for once we saw Donald smiling into the camera.   However, Pope Francis was grimacing, which is most unusual for our very popular Papa.

 

Dante in Pisa

Dante in Pisa. La Repubblica

On a lighter note, Pisa is currently celebrating Dante Alighieri, Il Sommo Poeta, and Fabrizio Gifuni will this evening (Sunday) be reading a selection of Dante’s works from Il Torre di Pisa (The Tower of Pisa) overlooking the Piazza del Miracoli.  This will no doubt be a very atmospheric evening, and the reading starts at ten o’clock.  Have you ever read Dante’s Inferno?  I am thinking that I must have read it at school, I do remember it being described as ‘The Divine Comedy’.  Amazing to think that his works are still celebrated seven hundred years after his death!  Of course, here in Tuscany, he remains hugely popular as he was born in Florence.  I have just read up a little more about him.  He fell in love with a girl who married someone else, so his one and only love, was unrequited.  How sad.  Well, I guess I have better read his works again, as it will come up fresh after all those years since I left the Grammar School.

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Addio Roger.  La Repubblica

Another bit of sadness was the death of Roger Moore.  He is, of course, mostly remembered for his Bond roles.  however, I really liked a TV series called The Saint back in the sixties.  The Italians love the Bond films and there was a big write-up in the newspaper saying ‘Addio to Roger’.

 

Well, here in Tuscany, it’s yet another beautiful day.  We bought four lavender yesterday to plant in a little bare patch, so more lovely perfumes to mingle with the Jasmin.  But Oh, not to forget, I must mention our new resident.  He or she is a large Viper and seems to be living under the path in the lower part of our garden.  My man, being an ex-commando, is very gung-ho about it and says just to make a noise as you near the spot, and it will run away.  Well, slide, should I say.  Well, it may run away from his big noisy feet, but I came face to face with it and it coiled into attack mode and hissed at me.  I just kept slowly walking down to the Cantina with my heart in my mouth!  I ain’t going that way again, thank you!

Well, enough of that.  We have just returned from lunch at C’era Una Volta website where I tasted tagliatelle with sun-dried tomato pesto and smoked ricotta cheese.  Phew, it was Picante!   It was delicious but I had to leave some, much to my disappointment!

So, here’s wishing you all a very good week, free of bad happenings.

Salute June x

PS Do visit my author site at My site

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