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Posts Tagged ‘Certaldo’

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

Rosella, manuella, Silvia.jpgWhen we first moved to this little bit of Chianti in Tuscany, some fifteen years ago, we quickly established that our closest village and community was to be found in Fiano.  We have been made very welcome despite living outside the village and being English.  We have witnessed the arrival of new babies and watched them grow up, start nursery and then school, and we have shared the joy of birthdays and romances and the sadness of loss,  almost entirely by visiting the coffee bar and spending a while chatting.  We now have some lovely Italian friends.   Thank you the people of Fiano.  In the picture are three beautiful friends from Fiano, Rosella, Manuella and Silvia, enjoying my concert in June.  Foto P Finnigan.

castiglione-di-pescaia-015It is the time of year when lot’s of music and the sound of celebrations are filling the air, people are off enjoying holidays on the coast or up in the cool air of the mountains. Foto P Finnigan – Our favourite coastal town at Castiglione della Pescaia.  

It is simply too hot to be doing anything active and I think it is time to read a few good books.  I have dedicated August to finishing the first draft of  my fourth novel, as I mentioned last week, and to at least have mastered the very basics of my birthday guitar.  And, three new flowers have just opened on my white orchid, which was a gift for my birthday last year, so that’s good news.  I also heard Phil the Pheasant call out this morning after a couple of weeks absence, whilst the foxes seem to have moved on now that they have had their fill of mulberries, but I did spot two cubs crossing the track to Certaldo a few days ago.

2019-07-31 11.33.33Meanwhile, the UK has a new government.  Apparently the Queen said to Boris Johnson, when he asked her permission to form a government, “I can’t think why you would want the job!”  She gave her permission anyway.  Well, he has a job and a half negotiating a new Brexit deal, we wish him ‘in bocca al lupo’ which translates to ‘in the mouth of the wolf’ a phrase used in Italy to wish someone good luck.  In Boris’s case it’s most appropriate!  Let’s hope the new government are true to their word and make sure we expats are not penalised!  Either way, we will adapt!  I suppose our European/UK passports could become collector’s items!

Well, last Saturday we were drowned by a deluge of rain and hail storms!  This went on for a day and a half and the temperature dropped from 39 to 15 degrees centigrade!  I can honestly say it was a huge relief after the long heat wave, particularly afteMaltempo: Arezzo, allagamenti negozi, cantine e antica piever hearing about a cornfield fire not far from us. Our area is also prone to landslides and we could see some of the banks looking precarious and ready to slide into the road!  Certaldo had five inches of water in an hour!  But we don’t worry about that.  Life eeez good, life is now!  The sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hurrah!  Foto ANSAit newspaper.

Anyway, how are things with you?  Have any interesting weather or good news stories?  I do love to hear from my readers, drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net  Oh, and do check out my website at My site

Salute June x

PS Am searching for an italian Hunk of the Month for August – any suggestions?

PPS No-one has claimed the reading glasses left behind at my concert.  Do ask around if you know of anyone who came and have lost theirs!

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

Yes, I’m back, I am not 100% but feeling a whole lot better.  Thank you to all those lovely people who sent their best wishes!

2019-05-17 11.24.07Well, I always say that if you are feeling a little down, buy clothes or better still a new handbag!  And, that’s exactly what I did on Thursday.  My man felt sorry for me and offered to drive me across to Barberino val D’Elsa and my favourite atelier Colleregio Firenze.  I have mentioned this place before; for me it is the ultimate shop for all types of bag, purses, belts and hats.  However, I must fill you in with the run-up to buying this, my latest bag, and the importance of understanding how these specialist shops operate.  Or don’t as the case may be.  Two weeks ago I did the round trip to Barberino and arrived at the shop during opening hours, to find it closed!  OK, well things happen, so I decided to ring and check that they were open before going for a second time, this time with my man, and yes the nice lady said she would be there.  Guess what, they were closed!  So late afternoon I ring again only to find that the nice lady had been waiting at their other shop in Castellina in Chianti; apparently the telephone number goes through to her wherever she is!  But no worries, the shop in Barberino would open for us that evening.  We arrived and yes the nice owner Francesco, had come up from Florence to open it for us!  Thank heavens they had the bag I wanted, otherwise, I would have sunk into a bout of despair.  The moral to this story is ‘be very precise.’  If you ring a shop, make sure they know which shop you want to go to, as they may have more than one, If you turn up on spec you may be disappointed.   It was all worthwhile, I love my new bag!

2019-05-17 09.13.57Anyway, Last weekend was a pink one.  Yes, pink or Rosa in Italiano.  Montespertoli and Certaldo were bedecked in pink balloons and flags as it was the first time that the big cycle road race, Giro D’Italia, had passed through in sixteen years.  Pink is the colour for this very popular event, the winning cyclist ended up being presented with, yes you guessed it, a pink shirt!  There was a lot of excitement being generated in our local village of Fiano, which is half way between the two towns!  The Tuscans love a festa and especially if it involves cyclists!

STREET_FOOD_web.jpgAnd, this weekend was another celebration, that of Street Food!  Certaldo hosted a street food festa over a long weekend in Piazza Boccaccia, which is normally the central carpark.  I walked through it on Friday evening and it was heaving with people and children enjoying the fairground type rides.  I couldn’t help but notice two tourists who had obviously arrived by train, pulling their cases through the crowd heading for the funiculare, the little cable train which would take them up to the safety of Certaldo Alto, the historical centre.  They both looked scared to death!  There had also been a train strike that day, which only ended in the early evening!  Poor things.  But they will love Certaldo Alto!

My other reason for being in Certaldo was the need to get a lawyer to certify a copy of my passport and identity card for forwarding by email to London.  I won’t bore you with the whys and wherefores, but it turned out to be another Italian learning curve.  Never expect anything to be straight forward.  The very nice lady avvocato explained that whilst she was a lawyer, there were different types.  In Italy, one type could do certifications, another could not.  She finally agreed to do it as we explained it did not matter to the London lawyer which type she was, just her signature would do nicely.  Two hours later, we emerged having had her very obliging assistant do all the necessary scanning and emailing, so let’s hope the London guys are happy.

2019-05-07 09.11.00But enough of that.  Life eeez good, life eeez now!  back in Fiano and reading the papers over coffee, I notice that a new film is about to be launched simply called Leonardo.  You may think that there have been enough films and documentaries made about the great man, but apparently this is not the case.  I really enjoyed the Medici films so I will look out for this one too.

2019-05-13 09.09.18OK, where are we?  Oh yes, just a little cautionary story.  Italy is a very welcoming country and particularly Tuscany.  But down in Rome, some not very nice eatery charged two tourists 81 euros for two hamburgers and coffees, which is totally unacceptable.  So just beware of the tourist traps!

And, to end on a much brighter note, the sun has just broken through the rain clouds and my man is taking me out to lunch at C’era Una Volta in Lucardo.  I went to the manicurist yesterday, so will be flashing my bright orange fingernails!

Have a great week, I certainly will!

Salute June x  Visit my website at my site

PS  Great to see Mick jagger almost back to normal.  Rock on that man!  I will be performing ‘Paint it Black’ at my concert on 21 June!  Email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net for an invite.

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

2018-07-06 14.49.56My man and I live in the Chianti Hills above Certaldo and our beautiful daughter and grandchildren are only thirty-five minutes away.  We always jump to attention when we are invited to lunch, what with my own and our daughter’s hectic lifestyles these are very important get togethers.  We also get to see Monty our grand dog, a beautiful Maremma we think, but anyway he’s adorable.

2018-07-06 14.40.33Long family lunches are traditional here in italy and we are more than happy to embrace the idea.  My man was presented with his all time favourite desert, strawberry Pavlova, a belated father’s day treat!

I am never far from the music scene here in Tuscany, and this time of year there is a lot going on in Lucca, Pistoia and Florence all of which have rock and blues festivals.  My own concert has now slid into the recent past, its time to see who else has been and will be on tour here and the list is very impressive!  If you want to plan your summer for 2019, why not visit Tuscany and plan you itinerary around these fabulous annual festivals.

Back on June 15th we saw the summer start with a fantastic line up at Firenze Rocks in Florence.  The list included Foo Fighters, Guns n’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne and Judus Priest.  Go to website

2018-07-04 09.01.33In Pistoia the three-day blues festival started 13th July and included Graham Nash, James Blunt, Steve Hackett, ZZ Top and Crosby Stills & Nash.  Go to Website

2018-07-10 08.59.41In Lucca the Summer Festival continues up to 26th July and includes Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper, Jonny Depp, Roger Waters, Lenny Kravitz (look him up he’s brilliant) James Taylor, King Crimson, Nick Cave and loads more.  Website

2018-07-16 11.29.10Ok, and continuing for the moment on the same subject, I am pleased to tell you that I am learning to play the acoustic guitar.  About time, I hear you say, and yes I know but I have been so busy writing books and stuff over the last few years, but I am so in love with my new Fender I can’t keep away from it!

2018-07-07 09.27.36#1Well, that’s enough of my music indulgences, what is happening in our local town of Certaldo you ask? Oh, it’s the amazing Mercantia of course, which every year attracts musicians, dancers, acrobats, theatricals and produce from Tuscany, you have to see it to believe it.  The Historical Centre, Certaldo Alto, is the place to be as it provides the most stunning backdrop for all these fabulous goings on.  The festivities finish today, but there’s always next year!  Diary date for 2019! Go to Website

Well, enough for now, must get this blog off to you and think about lunch.

Here’s hoping you have a really great week, the heat is on.

Salute June x

Visit my official author site at June’s site

 

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

2018-05-19 09.03.04I would be impossible to start the day and feel balanced, if one had not gone for morning coffee here in our little bit of Chianti.  Now I had reason to go to Certaldo yesterday (Saturday) so we made a beeline for Jam Caffe for our early morning fix.  And, what a beautiful day it was, glorious sunshine and cheerful chatty Italians.  Foto J Finnigan. The Chef at Jam Caffe is called Andrea, and is a brilliant cook and all round lovely guy.  They bake all their own pastries, so you can be assured of really fresh and delicious pastini.  I am so lucky to have persuaded Andrea to do a finger buffet for my Concert Party on the 22nd June. Rock on!

2018-05-13 11.21.40At the weekend, and assuming the weather is good, we do like to pop over to Montespertoli for aperitivi.  Foto J Finnigan. The town will shortly be hosting the annual Wine festival, which is really worth going to, however, I should warn you that historically it tends to rain a lot during the two weeks of festivities!  You can also book a Horse and Wagon excursion, which will take you on a wine tasting tour!  The dates are 26th may to 3rd June; enjoy.  For more info visit the town’s Website

2018-05-16 09.19.41And on the subject of wine, did you know that one hundred and sixty-two thousand tourists visit Italy every year and consume seventy-three thousand bottles of Vino Rosso (red wine)?  The bulk of these visitors are American, German and French.  Well, I wonder how they come up with those figures, but anyway, that’s a lot!  Then there’s also the Brits that are increasing in numbers each year, bless them!  Foto La Repubblica

2018-05-15 08.47.00Now on a completely different subject, although you may want a glass of the red stuff after you read this, Silvio Burlesconi is back!  I mean really back.  I heard a whisper that the courts have allowed Silvio to run for local government again!  Well, something dramatic needs to happen, we still have no government as such, as the two leaders of the largest majority holders cannot agree to work together!  Luigi Di Maio, leader of the 5* Movement has confirmed that he has no desire to become Prime Minister and quoted “I’m very satisfied, we brought to our government the program that is.” He said on Facebook, underlining  that the prime minister will be “a person who must be a friend of the people.”  Stop Press – I’ve just been told that a new Prime Minister has been selected – watch this space!  Could this be Silvio, I wonder?  But I also heard that he, Silvio, has to appear in court on 1st June on more corruption charges.  Hey ho, I doubt if that will deter him, such is the way of things in Italy!  Foto La Repubblica.

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The Madonna Lily and Poppies below our Terrace. Foto J Finnigan

On a much lighter note, and for those of you who are keen to hear about the countryside this time of year, wild poppies are everwhere.  We spotted a big field of the lovely things, but the road twisted and turned so quickly that we lost track of it and could not find it again to get a foto for you!  You have to experience these country tracks to understand what I am saying!  Also masses of Broom are painting the hedgerows yellow.  Anyway, I took this lovely foto below our garden for you to enjoy.

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The Rock Chick Band 2017 – Foto P. Finnigan

Well, it’s only four weeks to my 8th annual Rock Concert Garden Party!  So if you are hoping to come from afar, you had better get those flights and accommodations booked!  We have a great repertoire this year, covering George Harrison, Robert Plant, Pink Floyd, Patti Smith, The Pretenders, Dire Straights, and many more!  Good food and local wines will also flow!  If you do not already have an invite, email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net.  The date is Friday 22nd June; see you there!

Well, must now dash off to Montespertoli and then who knows, maybe lunch at C’era una Volta in Lucardo on the way back.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  Oh, and don’t forget to visit my official author website at June’s Site

Salute june x

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my lovely followers around the world,

2018-04-01 10.08.07Well, it’s April first, yes really and the sun is shining.  This morning we drove down to Certaldo for coffee as, quite rightly, La Dispensa in Fiano is taking a couple of days off for an Easter break.  Jam Caffe, our favourite bar in Certaldo, was heaving with big family groups, several of which had returned home for the Pasqua (Easter) celebrations.  Few Italians can bear to be away from Mama’s or Nonna’s Easter lunch and the traditional gathering of clans.  In this picture, the caffe looks quiet, but behind me the bar was chocker!  My man waxed lyrical over his pastry, which was freshly baked on the premises, as we met and greeted old friends.  What a pleasant start to the day! Foto J Finnigan.

2018-03-30 13.46.31Looking back to Good Friday, we were invited over to our daughter’s lovely home between San Gimignano and Volterra, for a delicious lunch.  The desert was my man’s absolute favourite, Strawberry Pavlova and the remaining strawberries were dipped in chocolate!    Fortunately our daughter and granddaughter like to cook, so we were extremely happy to be treated.  They live in untamed woodland with a view to the distant sea, such a lovely spot to live in.  Grazie la Famiglia xx  Foto J Finnigan.

2018-03-30 09.06.04Meanwhile, earlier in the week, we were enjoying our morning coffee in Fiano and I found some really nice fashion in La Repubblica for you to enjoy.  All made in Italy, of course, and with a wonderful air of Spring about them.  For the clothes visit Oltre’s Website

2018-03-30 09.08.19       It has been a strange time here in Tuscany, the trees are only just in bud and a number of young trees have not survived the terrible unseasonal cold we have suffered over the last couple of months.  But the forecast is looking good now, so time to think about the Spring wardrobe at last!  I’m going to look through my things tomorrow!  For the shoes go to Frau’s website

2018-03-30 08.48.07  Once you have sorted out your Spring wardrobe, you may wish to pop over to Florence for a great Artisan Exhibition.  There is nothing like viewing or buying products with the ‘Made in Italy’ label or sticker, so this is something you should try not to miss.  This annual, traditional exhibition has been running since 1978 and is to be found in the 16th Century fortress, Fortezza da Basso, in the heart of Florence close to the railway/bus station.  There is lots of parking in the area too, but I would always recommend taking a train or bus in if you can.  Why not stay in Certaldo and travel from here, we could go together!  You have plenty of time to plan for this, as it starts on 21st April.  For lots more information go to The Website

2018-03-29 18.14.10Back at our lovely home, a converted monastery farmhouse, my man has been stacking the latest wood delivery.  He also brought in a pile for our inglenook.  “Look at this!”  He said indicating the most peculiar shaped log.  I stared and gasped.  “It’s a dinosaur’s foot fossil!” I squealed.  “Don’t be daft,” he sighed. “It’s obviously the bottom of a tree, with some of its roots still attached.”  “No, no, it’s a fossil with a tree wrapped around it!”  I argue.  My man goes off to do more useful things.  To burn or not to burn? That is the question.  What do you think?  Foto J Finnigan.

2018-03-29 09.34.47Back again in the coffee bar in Fiano last weekend, I read about the sad loss of a hugely popular TV celebrity, Fabrizio Frizzi.  At only sixty, he has left our screens forever, having hosted numerous TV quiz shows; he was always around doing something entertaining.  His funeral attracted thousands of fans and many celebrities too.  Addio Fabrizio.  Article by Di Piero Degli Antoni.

But enough of that, to happier things.  Next Saturday I look forward to going down to Certaldo’s market to buy lots of pansies, primroses and other colourful plants for our pots, that will come out of the cantina into the fresh air again.  Grazie Tuscany.

Auguri June x

PS Do leave a comment and/or visit my Official Author site at Junes Site

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

20180128_151859When we first moved into our lovely new home in April 2015, one of the first things we did was to plant three young Mimosa trees.  All are doing really well and already in full blossom.  Once again this is a little too early in the year, as the blossoms are normally presented to the women in one’s life, on La Festa Delle Donne in March, that are deserving for reasons of kindness, love or simply being a nice person who might have made a difference over the previous year.  So let’s hope that there will still be a few flowering trees around on the day.  A couple of days ago, my man also spotted the first daffodils as we whizzed back from a trip to Certaldo; lovely.

2018-01-23 09.17.13Meanwhile it is the season for that delicious dark green cabbage, Cavolo Nero, full of iron and vitaminsCooked in various ways, however, I just like to steam the leaves then toss in a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sea salt.  For some really great recipes visit the website of my friend and neighbour, the Celebrity Cook Judy Witts Francini.  Judy’s website

2018-01-22 09.43.08Also in season are the lovely Italian New Potatoes.  Now I’m a great fan of potatoes and we Brits cook them in so many different ways.  Whilst I love them just boiled and tossed in butter (lessato), the Italians mainly cook them chopped into small pieces and roasted with oil, Rosemary and garlic (Potate Arrosto).  You will also find a recipe for this in Judy’s book.

‘So what’s going on in Florence and Tuscany?’ I hear you say.  ‘A lot, as always’ I reply.  Firstly, here is an extract from What’s On in Florence and surroundings in February, courtesy of The Florentine.

  • Visual artists will love the Villa Bardini exhibition From Pinocchio to Harry Potter. 155 years of Italian illustration from the Salani Archive since 1862 (February 12-June 3).
  • The Franco Zeffirelli International Centre for the Performing Arts will start the scholastic side to the uber-popular museum, shop and tea room, which opened last July. Students from around the world will study set design in Palazzo San Firenze, the city centre’s former courthouse. In the spring courses will also begin for opera singers, while music lovers are in for a treat with the San Firenze concert series: on February 9, Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini students will perform cinema-centric music by Rota, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Milhaud.

certaldo stationAnd how about our local town of Certaldo and other nearby towns?  Well, I’m going to have to research this as, whilst all the locals seem to know whats going on, probably by word of mouth or they are actively involved anyway.  So I’ll be back shortly!  Ok, I’m back and the very best site to go to is Discover Tuscany, where you will find all the exciting events including wine tastings, galleries, exhibitions, dance festivals, food festas; the list is endless.  So if you are going to be in Tuscany in February you will be kept very busy!  You can start your tour at Certaldo Station, the rail and bus links are brilliant!  Foto P Finnigan.  Go to Discover Tuscany  Website

OK, time for an aperitivo with my man and then I’ll get my head around lunch.  Do drop me a line, I love to hear from you and don’t forget to visit my Official Author Site at June’s Site

Salute June x

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

2017-08-24 08.58.25

Amatrice today. La Repubblica

Lest we forget, it is one year ago that the hilltop town of Amatrice was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake.  Elsewhere in Italy, lesser tremors also caused chaos and injuries.  But it was the terrible loss of life in Armatrice that really shook the country as a whole.  During this last year, the remaining unstable buildings were pulled down and the roads cleared, but little else has been achieved.  Of course the question is, should the town be rebuilt in a central part of the worst seismic zone in Italy? And if it was, the original old buildings are irreplaceable; new earthquake-proof style houses would have to be erected.  And, do the inhabitants want to go back? After a year in tents, temporary huts and hotels, they’ve had a lot of time to think about things.  Watch this space…….

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Big bunches of the famous Certaldo Red Onion. La Nazione.

On a much lighter note and back here in Certaldo, we are celebrating La Sagra della Cipolla, that’s Festival of the Onion to you and me.  But this is no ordinary onion, we are talking about that lovely sweet red onion, which is grown locally and is famous in Certaldo.  Eaten thinly sliced & raw, sometimes cooked and sold in locally made jars of marmalade, which I eat all year round.  So if you are visiting Certaldo’s Saturday morning market, pick yourself up a bunch.  You’ll love them.

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Fresh Italian Grapes on my kitchen table. Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, the Vendemmia, grape harvest, is starting locally.  A little early for some but the drought has forced things forward a bit.  The good news is, we can now buy big beautiful bunches of red Italian grapes in the market and supermarket.  They are almost too gorgeous to eat, so here is a picture for you to drool over as they will be eaten over the next week!

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What next?  Oh yes, Tuscany is celebrating the selection of a new Miss Toscana.  A very pretty twenty-six year old mother called Lavinia Mannucci.  Well done to her, she now goes on to the big national contest, Miss Italia and yes, Italy still loves this sort of thing.  There were some entrants who, in my man’s opinion, did not stand a ‘hope in hell’ of being selected.  Nevertheless, they still stood up on the podium smiling nervously at the judges.  I do wonder at the initial selection process, but still admire those young women who give it a go, bless them!  Foto La Repubblica.

Oh, just a little snippet.  This week my man and I are going into Florence to visit a recommended tailor called Sartoria Vanni.  My man needs a new city suit and this will be the first time he has been to buy a bespoke Italian one.  I love these sort of places, particularly as the business has been going for 200 years!  Yes, I need to be there just to check on the style and my man does appreciate my view.  I’m also very nosy and want to see inside a real Italian Tailor’s showroom!  I’ll report back next week and you may like to visit their website

Anyway, must get this blog up and posted to you.  I have promised to cook my man a roast veggie lunch, so better get a move on.  But I hear something calling me, I sit back and listen, yes there it is a little high-pitched voice saying “Aperitivo time, Aperitivo time…..”  Mama Mia, there’s always something that stops me in my tracks, particularly when I’m expected to cook.  I wonder if I can persuade my man to have salad today, then we can relax with a nice sparkling wine?  O Dio, I can see the disappointed look on his face already; I’ll do the lunch!

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 My site or any other world-wide Amazon site.

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