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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Farty Barty on a favourite perch over the orange trees. Foto P Finnigan

Farty Barty on a favourite perch over the orange trees. Foto P Finnigan

Many of you will already be aware that our darling Farty Barty the cat, was gently put to sleep last Friday morning after his kidneys had failed.  This all came about very fast and I write this with a heavy heart.  The little lad now has a lovely spot in our garden underneath the climbing Jasmin.  But he will always be remembered as the little wild thing who arrived at our door eight years ago and stayed.  Amazingly, on Saturday morning as I sat sadly drinking coffee in Bar Solferino, I found myself inspired to write and managed a whole chapter of ‘The Italian Connection’ which includes Barty.  So he is now immortalised as an important loveable character in my current book.

My view from the end of the long wooden table at la Dispensa in Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

My view from the end of the long wooden table at la Dispensa in Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

Now, it’s very easy to go into a miserable state at times like this, but living here in our little bit of Chianti amongst all our lovely Italian friends, it seems somehow easier to go out for morning coffee and meet and greet everyone.  So on Sunday morning I returned to Fiano and the new ‘La Dispensa’ caffè bar and alimentare.  I was delighted to find it busy and bustling with shoppers in for their bread and sunday joint, whilst chatting with friends over coffee.   The local character Alessandro was there too, we previously nicknamed him Signore Rotund for obvious reasons, and he enthusiastically shook my hand our not having seen each other for over six months.  So the life is back in the village and has a centre for everyone to go.  I watched and smiled at the comings and goings from the far end of a long wooden table, and caught up with the local news in the paper.

Fancy Dress in Empoli. La Nazione.

Fancy Dress in Empoli. La Nazione.

Meanwhile, the weekend was busy with Festas as it is the official start of the holiday season.  In Empoli, a local town, the Festa attracts hundreds of locals and visitors alike, who adore parading around in fancy dress.  However, this also means that sixty percent of small businesses including restaurants are now likely to be closed until the end of August, whilst the italians head off for the coast or the mountains to escape the heat!  Typically, I could not buy any credit for my phone at the usual place and had to drive to another tobbacchi to get some!  But hey ho, we prepare for this, the tourists do not and wander around like lost souls in a ghost town.

Well, I hope you will excuse me.  I want to stroll around the garden with a glass of wine after heavy overnight rain, breath in the heavenly smell of the damp grass and plants, and visit Barty.

Have a great week.

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.

 

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Giant Swallow Tail Butterfly with my man at aperitivo time. Foto J Finnigan

Giant Swallow Tail Butterfly with my man at aperitivo time. Foto J Finnigan

Well I’ll be honest with you, the girlies do like my man, and hone in like moths to a flame.  Now I understand this completely, I still oggle him across the table over coffee every morning.  But yesterday he attracted a butterfly, not just any butterfly but a beautiful Giant Swallow Tail.  It had to be a female of course, well she wasn’t interested in me, and she simply would not go away.  So in the man’s relaxed way, he gave in and she settled on his shirt whilst we enjoyed our aperitivo.  Now of course, this is quite remarkable when you think about it, they are normally very shy creatures and flit away at the slightest movement.  So we were very privileged to have such a good close-up and here is a foto for you to marvel at.

La Mercantia starts on Wednesday 13th in Certaldo. La Nazione

La Mercantia starts on Wednesday 13th in Certaldo.
La Nazione

Earlier in the week, I read in the paper that this coming Wednesday 13th is the start of La Mercantia in Certaldo, which goes on for five days.  This is a hugely popular event that spreads between Certaldo town and Certaldo Alto, the old historical town on the hill, and is the 29th annual festival of International Street Theatre.  So, as you can imagine, it’s going to be heaving in Certaldo, particularly in the evenings when most of the street theatre is going on.  If you want to go, you will need to park on the edge of town and walk in!  But do go if you can and enjoy this amazing spectacle!

Pink Floyd in Roma. La Nazione

Pink Floyd in Roma.
La Nazione

I also read the rocking continues and this time in Lucca that very popular town near Pisa.  The open air concert venue is currently hosting Van Morrison and ancient rocker Tom Jones!!  Mmmm, it’s too hot to go to that one!  No, I’m talking about the weather silly.  Last weekend, Rome rocked the night away to the sound of Pink Floyd including the original guitarist David Gilmour.  Forty five years rocking with the same band and his ‘guitar’ doesn’t look a day older…..  Good for them I say!!

Looking defeated. Matteo Renzi and Angelino Alfano. La Nazione.

Looking defeated. Matteo Renzi and Angelino Alfano.
La Nazione.

Meanwhile the country as a whole is grumbling about the state of the current government and the need for a complete change to the way the country is governed.  Parliament failed to reach the maximum support needed for proposed government reforms, so will have to go for a public referendum in October.  The Five Star Movement and the second largest party in Italy, led by radical Beppo Grillo, hope that this will oust Premiere Matteo Renzi.


Five Star candidate, Virginia Raggi, became Mayor of Rome last month. Photo: Alverto Solaro/AFP

On a lighter note, a member of the aforesaid party and the recently elected mayor of Rome, is a breath of fresh air to behold.  Why?  Well she is female, hugely intelligent, a mother and beautiful.  Her name is Virginia Raggi and here is a picture for the guys to drool over.  She nearly didn’t get elected as the other candidates objected to the fact that she was pregnant at the time of the election.  Well done her I say.

Well it’s time to organise sunday lunch.  It’s just too hot and humid to go out again and we’ve now got the air conditioning unit set up in the inglenook, which is sending cooler air around the place.  Farty Barty the cat hardly moves in this heat, just from one bit of floor to the next.  Our daughter and grandchildren have gone to the coast for a few days with all the other gasping inlanders, to try to cool off.  But we are happy here, a nice glass of chilled fizz and all is well.

have a great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

Visit 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.

 

 

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Another glorious sunset. foto P Finnigan

Gazing at the sunset.
foto P Finnigan

“I can’t believe that it’s a week ago, did it really happen?”  I’m referring to our fabulous evening on the 25th June when the Rock Chick Band rocked the night away in our beautiful new setting.  “My neck and shoulders still ache.”  My man rubs his poor muscles.  “Well you are the ‘Roady’, it’s what roadies do, carry heavy weights, put up the lighting, you know arrange everything!” I smile.  “Yes, but how come I’m also staff and chief bottle washer!”  He groans.  “But we had brilliant family help with the catering, you didn’t do it all by yourself!”  I remind him.  “Well it doesn’t bloody well feel like it….”   We gaze into the sunset from our lower terrazza and down a glass of chilled white.  “But life eeez good, you can’t deny it.”  I offer.  “Yes, it is, and guess I have a year to prepare for the next concert.”  He sighs, flashes that magic smile and I melt.

Rock Chick Band group hug before the concert. Foto P Finnigan

Rock Chick Band group hug. Foto P Finnigan

The band rocking. Foto P Finnigan

The band rocking. Foto P Finnigan

Our new setting really was great for the band and our guests.  Always a learning curve; we might bring the band closer to the audience next time, but otherwise it was perfect. Our daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law did a fabulous buffet and set it all out under a big brolly. Thank you all those guys who bought more food & drink and presents, which were hugely appreciated.  I was also delighted to meet new friends and to catch up with old ones.  Make sure you all diary date for next year; 24th June 2017!

Georgous Italian Opera singers. La nazione.

Gorgeous Italian Opera singers.
La Nazione.

Oh yes, whilst we have been rocking and rolling, the three gorgeous Italian opera guys have been performing in Florence.  I know that my new friend and blog follower, Odette, will appreciate this foto as she is also an opera singer.  It was great to meet you and your handsome man.

2016-07-03 12.09.28The weather is now baking hot and as it is our first summer in the new house, we are having to juggle opening and closing of windows at certain times of the day to make sure we get a breeze going through.

For news on Farty Barty the wild cat, he was gone for seven days until I stood at the railing on our terrazza and called him through cupped hands.  My voice echoed around the valley and ten minutes later he strolled in looking well fed and wondering what all the fuss was about.  That was last Monday and since then he’s been lying around in cool parts of the house!  I tell you, never fall in love with a wild Tuscan kitten and encourage it to stay around.  You end up desperate to know where and how he is, agonising over whether he’s lying injured somewhere and starving!  But we do love him, so there is nothing we can do about it, just fret!

Anyway, today we are going for lunch at L’Osteria Casa Chianti, which serves the best food in the area.  Good Tuscan fare and just a little bit of sophistication, which we like a lot.  http://www.osteriadicasachianti.it  So forgive me if I pop off for another shower and make myself beautiful.

Have a wonderful week and do keep in touch.

Salute June xx

visit 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.

 

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers,

“I wouldn’t start from here, If I were you, and by the way I found this in the garden!”  The start point my man was referring to was the beginning of my blog and the thing he found in the garden was a porcupine quill.  Now our still new garden is very well fenced and has so far kept out the deer and cinghale (wild boar), but low slung animals still seem to get inside.  We have only ever seen a porcupine once crossing the road, safely I hasten to add, and after dark.

But back to the blog and I always ask my man to do a quick edit.  He quite rightly suggested I start somewhere else, rather than begin by mentioning that he had returned from a business trip to London on Friday feeling exhausted; so I won’t mention that.  Then to change the subject I told him about the earthquake, which happened when he was away.  I had spread a load of work out on the kitchen table and when the tremor started I had to hold on to it to steady myself.  Fortunately, my glass of wine only shivered slightly and quickly settled down again!  Has anyone else experienced an earthquake? Do let me know.

Farty Barty waiting patiently for my return to the studio. Foto J Finnigan

Farty Barty waiting patiently for my return to the studio.
Foto J Finnigan

We have recently had a new internet connection installed and so working on-line has become so much easier.  I can definitely recommend AirWiFi to all those struggling to fund a decent internet connection in this part of the world.  Thank you to  friends Karin and Hans for suggesting it.  Go to http://www.airwifi.it  However, with a cat on one’s lap, who is needing comfort from the nasty thunder outside, it’s not so easy to reach the computer and go on-line!  Everytime I get up he’s back on the chair waiting for my return and I’m too soft to send him away!

Seeing spooks and aliens in my morning coffee! foto J Finnigan

Seeing spooks and aliens in my morning coffee!
foto J Finnigan

Hurrah, we have a winner for my signed book and she is blog follower Odette, who spotted that my coffee had changed to a small black, whereas in previous fotos I always had a white one!  Brava that lady!    So why had my coffee changed?  Well down in Certaldo I had been trying different ways of drinking espresso as I believe the milk is not too good for me.  This is very sad because I love my morning caffè latte, it just no longer seems to like me!  This has been very confusing for Caffe Bar Il Solferino, where they know all their customers and what they drink.   So finally, I have selected caffè latte with soya milk, it has the same creamy texture but I am having to acquire the Italian liking for sweetness!

Vintage band POOH is back on stage and touring! La Nazione

Vintage band POOH is back on stage and touring! La Nazione

Ok, at this time of year, as many of you know, we are gearing up for The Rock Chick Band’s annual concert garden party and we already have one rehearsal under our belts.  I read in the paper that the original line-up of the rock band known as POOH is touring again.  They were very popular in Italy in the 60’s and 70’s and in the rest of the world I’m told!  It’s a great time for the aging rockers of this world, particularly in Italy where the concerts are always sold out!

Fungi in the garden. anyone know what it is? Foto J Finnigan

Fungi in the garden. anyone know what it is?
Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back in our lovely wooded garden, the deluge of rain has bought lots of interesting fungi to the surface.  If any of you clever clogs know the name of these, do let me know.

Finally, we are all very sad to hear that Silvio Berlusconi has been committed to hospital with heart problems and is to be operated on today (Tuesday).  It sounds quite serious and is a four-hour job!

Silvio goes into hospital. La Nazione

Silvio goes into hospital.
La Nazione

There is already talk of finding a replacement leader for Forza Italia, Silvio’s political party.  But let’s hope that all goes well for him; Italian politics will lose a lot of colour if Silvio steps down.

Well, enough of that, must organise some lunch, do voice exercises whilst its cooking and pour myself a nice chilled white to assist my singing practice.  My man is currently occupied in his own studio, with a Skype call to England, so I had best not disturb him!

Have a really great week and do drop me a line, or visit http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

Salute June x

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

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

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

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Benvenuto to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Forgive the lateness of this blog, which I blame entirely on the holiday weekend and the arrival of the Sister-in-law to celebrate her birthday.  They say that pictures paint a thousand words, so to give you a taste of all our activities, I am filling this blog with fotos.

May Day celebrations in Certaldo. Foto J Finnigan

May Day celebrations in Certaldo. Foto J Finnigan

But before I launch you on a foto cruise, I will mention that Farty Barty the cat is now well and truly settled into his new home and whilst we still have pictures to hang on walls and books to unload onto shelves, we are pretty much settled in too.  And some good news is finally filtering down from our local village of Fiano in that both the Bar/Alimentare and the main bar in the piazza are re-opening soon.  This then means that we will be able to ring the changes for morning coffee, which is great.

The Family gathered on the terrazza, taken from our lofty kitchen window. Foto J Finnigan

The Family gathered on the terrazza, taken from our lofty kitchen window. Foto J Finnigan

OK, back to the weekend fun and frivolities.  We have eaten out at three different restaurants since Friday and are off to a local family one called Montalbino (no not a relative of the great detective, his name is Montalbano) for lunch today.  Now this little family osteria is hidden away in the countryside near Fiano and specialises in Fungi.  The food is really good home-cooked family fare.

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The sister-in-law and niece get ready to fly!  foto J Finnigan

The sister-in law and neice disapear into the blue yonder. frto J Finnigan

The sister-in law and niece disappear into the blue yonder.
foto J Finnigan

Otherwise, we had a family lunch party on Sunday, friends for supper last night, the sister-in-law has been horse riding with her daughter and up in a hot air balloon early this morning as today is her birthday.

Next weekend will be a little calmer and I will be able to catch up on all the local stuff that I know you guys like to hear about.  Meanwhile, have a smile at the fotos and our glorious bit of Chianti.

Have a great week.

Salute June

PS 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 »

Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers

Mimosa blossom in mid-January! foto P Finnigan

Mimosa blossom in mid-January!
foto P Finnigan

Very cold here, but bright sunshine and amazingly the Mimosa tree is already in blossom.  The Mimosa flowers are very sought after on La Festa Delle Donne, which does not normally arrive until the first weekend in March.  So we have a dilemma.  The beautiful yellow flowers are already out and they will definitely not survive until March, when bunches are cut and given to all one’s favourite female family members and friends.  Yes, I know, its much the same all over Europe, a long drawn out Autumn and then a sudden turn to cold weather when plants and trees have already been fooled into believing it is spring already!

Certaldo's history of slow food. La Nazione

Certaldo’s history of slow food.
La Nazione

Down in Certaldo, where we are more often to be found having our coffee, I read an article in the paper about Certaldo’s history and slow food.  The area does produce its own seasonal fruit and veg, cheeses and meats.  The most well-known veg is the Red Certaldo Onion.  A delicious sweet onion that is often turned into marmalade or bottled in olive oil.  I use them for everything, including frying in butter and piling into baked potatoes. Mmmmm.

Made in Italy - mens fashion article. La Nazione

Made in Italy – mens fashion article.
La Nazione

Also in the paper, there was an article on men’s fashion, ‘Made in Italy.’  Now the Italians much prefer to buy Italian.  Bright peel off stickers will be found on ready-made clothes, sporting the green, white and red of the Italian flag.  This does not necessarily mean you are paying more for the privilege as, unfortunately, Italian clothing workers are not paid high wages.  Of course these days, a lot of migrants are also being paid to do it.  But the quality of Italian clothes remains high.  Unlike, for example, Marks & Spencer in the UK, who I used to depend on for good lingerie; the finishing on knickers is awful and needless to say, produced in India or Pakistan.

The James Bond Archive Book foto J Finnigan

The James Bond Archive Book
foto J Finnigan

But enough of that.  You may remember it was my man’s birthday last week and I bought him, amongst other things, The James Bond Archive Book.  It’s immensely heavy, but beautifully put together and covers all the films in pictures and print right up to Skyfall.  Yes, OK, I confess I do love the Bond films and perhaps I wanted it too, well just a little….  The Italians also love James Bond, and the gorgeous Daniel is often in the news.

Silvio at a recent 95th birthday. La Nazione

Silvio at a recent 95th birthday.
La Nazione

A huge percentage of Italian women, and a sprinkling of men, are still having imaginary affairs with their own star Silvio Berlusconi.  Putting aside the politics, he was once a singer of ballads by the way, at the age of seventy-nine he still has charisma, perfect hair and a perma-tan.  The fact that he is short and rotund, does not seem to matter!  Of late he has been regularly back in the news and here he is attending a ninety-fifth birthday party.  Yes, another foto opportunity.

Farty Barty in his terracotta pot on windowsill. Photo P Finnigan

Farty Barty in his terracotta pot on windowsill.
Photo P Finnigan

Well, here in my studio, the work is piling up.  No, I am not swanning around like Farty Barty the cat, I am currently busy writing a Cyber Crime Thriller for a client, my third ‘Joanna Wilde’ novel titled ‘The Bolivian Connection’ and putting in several days work each week with my company.  But ‘life eeeez good, life eeeez now’ as the Italians like to say, in Italian of course.

OK, time to get this post edited then off to ‘C’era Una Volta for lunch.

Have a great week, do drop me a line and visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

Salute June x

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

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

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

Read Full Post »

Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Big fat purple grapes in trailer. Photo J Finnigan

Big fat purple grapes in trailer. Photo J Finnigan

Well there we were, driving back home this morning after our coffee in Certaldo and we come up behind a slow-moving tractor and trailer of big juicy purple grapes.  “Try and get a photo!” my man says.  So I faff around trying to get my phone out of my bag, then remember that I have just yesterday put in a new lock code, and finally focus the camera on the windscreen just in time before the tractor takes off, after giving away to some tourist camper van!  Phew, I did it!  Now whats so exciting about this, you may ask.  Well it is really hard to get photos, because these tractors are usually going at full pelt past our kitchen window or in the opposite direction to the way we are driving!  So, just for you, here is my successful photo for your enjoyment.

A Calambur poster and preparations going on behind in the main Piazza in Certaldo. Photo J Finnigan

A Calambur poster and preparations going on behind in the main Piazza in Certaldo.
Photo J Finnigan

Earlier, back in Certaldo, the preparations were going on for the annual Calambur, which starts at three o’clock this afternoon (Sunday).  This is a historical Palio, not on horseback, but macho contests between the young men of the four quarters in the

Handsome Certaldo contestants getting ready to do battle. La Nazione

Handsome Certaldo contestants getting ready to do battle.
La Nazione

commune, who all have their own flags and colours.  It is a really serious and important day, full of testosterone and the girlies all giggling, as the handsome contestants line up.  It will be impossible to park anywhere near the centre of town this afternoon, so we will hear all about it tomorrow and report back to you next week!  Then, over coffee at Bar Solferino, I read that Prime Minister Renzi has announced a 2% drop in the tax rate for the agricultural sectors.  I’m not sure how effective this will be as I hear whispered that very little profit is declared, well in this region anyway!

Farty Barty waits for lunch on the outside table. Phot J Finnigan

Farty Barty waits for lunch on the outside table. Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back at our lovely little villa the sun is shining and it is a perfect twenty-eight degrees centigrade.  As we drive in we spot the first wild yellow crocuses by the side of the road; beautiful.  I think today we will have a nice lunch in the garden with Farty Barty the cat, who has been very much hanging around the house of late.

The first wild crocuses. Photo J Finnigan

The first wild crocuses.
Photo J Finnigan

In the high winds last week, an old tree crashed down into the garden and was chainsawed by our local contadino into a pile in the corner.  It only just missed one of the garden lights!  Now we need to tidy up the small bits of debris.  I think I can hear my man working in the garden now.  He has been a been a bit stressed after his return from a few working days work in London, so that should help him relax.  Otherwise, I look forward to the return of my sister-in-law, who will be here in two weeks time, to tidy and pretty up all the garden pots for autumn.

But what is this I read about the gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi?  Oh no, he is trouble again, but this time whilst having fun with his close friend Vladimir Putin.  They have both been named in a criminal case over the opening of a 240 year old bottle of wine, known as Massandra Sherry 1775, that was worth £58K!  A lady called Ms Pavlenko allegedly opened it when Silvio asked for a taste whilst on a tour of the Massandra Estate in the Crimea.  I feel really sorry for her as, lets face it, she was standing there being asked by an alleged so-called friend of the Mafia (according to some members of the media) and his buddy who heads up the KGB, to open a bottle of wine.  What would you have done?

Well, enough of that.  Must think about this lunch I said I would cook.  O Dio, well the sun is still shining, so we really should not go off to the restaurant.  On the other hand……….

Have a great 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.

 

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