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Posts Tagged ‘Certaldo’

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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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

“Arrgh, I’ve broken a fingernail!” I wail.  My man is driving us towards our local village of Fiano for coffee and only a few days before I had enjoyed a manicure and had my nails painted a permanent & glorious metallic red!  The car stops.  “Do you want to go back home?”  He asked, not batting an eyelid.  He understands how important my hands, feet and hair are.  “No, no,” I groan, “but I do feel the need to lie down….”

Deep Purple on tour in Italy. La Reppublica.

We arrive in Fiano, and I have carefully removed the bit of broken nail, but keep my left hand in my pocket.  Then I am cheered to see that the papers are talking about two of my favourite bands, Deep Purple and The Patti Smith Band.  Now they are both in the ageing rocker club of course, but the Italians just love them.  Deep Purple are doing their ‘final’ tour, but they all say that then turn up a few years later on a reunion one!

The great Patti Smith on tour. La Repubblica.

Patty, who at the age of seventy-one is back here on a world tour, is just amazing.  Never one of the pretty girls of rock, but her voice makes up for it.  I have performed cover versions of her songs with my own band over the years.  I particularly love ‘Because the Night’ (belongs to lovers).  She will be here between 6th and 13th May, starting in Parma and finishing in Roma.  There are just a few tickets left for Cremona, Bologna and Rome.  Rush to http://www.viagogo.com

Charles and Camilla in Italy. La Repubblica.

Meanwhile, Charles & Camilla have been doing a grand tour of Italy, Charlie visiting earthquake sites and Camilla her grandmother’s old home in Florence.  I can honestly say that I have never seen Charlie smiling so much as he is in just about all the photos in the papers.  This is the effect this wonderful country has on everyone, of course, myself included.

The former soft orange lighting and the new white horror lights in Roma. La Repubblica.

However, down in Roma, the Romans are feeling very depressed about the new white street lighting.  The gentle orange lights that washed the city in a romantic glow have been replaced by horrible things that have turned the city into a creepy looking black and white horror movie.  People are scurrying home as if they are scared to stay long, and you can see why in the picture!

Back here in our lovely bit of Chianti, I am gearing up for a Book Promotion Tour in the South West of England.  I will be at The Oddfellows , 60 New North Road, Exeter between 5 pm & 8.30pm on the 27th April, and The Oddfellows, High Street, Exmouth between 5 pm & 8.30pm on 28th April.  I would love to see you at one of these events.

‘The Italian Connection’ is now available in paperback and E-book.  However, the official launch will be on 1st May.  If you can’t wait to read it, visit My author site or any Worldwide Amazon site of your choice.

OK, enough already.  Must get the photos uploaded and get this off to you.  Then I shall pour myself a nice glass of Pinot Grigio and go down to our lovely lower garden and sit under the ash tree.

Salute and do drop me a line; I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

 

 

 

 

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

Daybreak in Chianti. Foto J Finnigan

Last Tuesday morning, I opened the shutters and then the window, because the sun had finally returned to our little bit of Tuscany.  Hard to believe, I know, that Tuscany can have several long days of drizzle and grey skies, so much so that one can feel a little dejected.  So, it was a huge relief to have the hot sun on my face again.  The countryside quickly reacted, by sending up lots of spring shoots and buds out on the trees, now everything looks and smells wonderful.

Delicious Chianti Classico Bibbiano. foto J Finnigan

Anyway, how are you?  Drinking plenty of Chianti wine I hope.  My man and I have recently started enjoying a Chianti Classico wine at C’era Una Volta in Lucardo.   It’s called Bibbiano, the 2014 version, and whilst I am not usually attracted to the Classico range of wines, I really like this one.  Do try it and let me know.

Last Wednesday was La Festa Della Donna or Women’s Day to everyone else around the world, I joined my lovely friend and neighbour Paola, who owns the fabulous La Poggiolaia Agriturismo next door. We met at L’Osteria di Casa Chianti, where they were having a celebratory evening for we ladies.   http://www.osteriadicasachianti.it

I love this girlie frock! La Reppublica magazine

It was the first time that Paola and I had gone out on this Festa day, let alone celebrate it.  Celebrating women is when you think about it, something that should come naturally, every day.  I think most men do really appreciate their women, and if you don’t have a man or partner that does, then remember to put a value on everything you are lucky enough to have or be able to do.  You are, of course, a beautiful person, and life is far too short to feel undervalued.  Indulge yourself with a gorgeous frock like the one here or a nice pair of  Italian shoes!

L-R Renzi, the current Premier Gentiloni, and Minister Martina. La Repubblica.

Now It’s some time since I mentioned Italian politics.  I guess that’s because the arena has become a little dull in the last few months.  But things are heating up again.  In mid-February, Matteo Renzi the former PM, resigned as leader of the Democratic Party (DP) intending to fight his way back into power.  Shortly afterwards, several members of the DP joined a new radical left parliamentary group.  This had the effect of putting the PD back to being almost neck and neck in the polls with the Five Star Movement (M5S) led by the comedian Beppo Grillo!  Are you still with me?  Meanwhile, Silvio Berlusconi now intends going for the premiership next year with his party Forza Italia, but his support has dwindled to fourth place in the polls, so he’ll need to pull his eighty-year-old finger out!  But it’s good to see him back if just for the glamorous entourage he brings with him.

OK, nearly there with my latest book, The Italian Connection.  Just done the final, final book edit and it will be winging its way to the publisher by the end of Thursday.  Sorry to keep you all waiting, but I think you will find it was worth it.  Watch this space!

Have a great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

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

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

Sunset in Chianti. Foto J Finnigan

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

The return of Montalbano! Glossy mag at Sandra's hairdressers.

The return of Montalbano! Foto Glossy mag at Sandra’s hairdressers.

I make no apology for my gushing in this opening paragraph.   Tonight, Monday, we will be watching the opening episode of the new Montalbano series!  Luca Zingaretti, who plays that mesmerising character, Comissario Montalbano, is fifty-five, short and bald, but there’s no other way to describe him, but hugely sexy!  I know I’m not alone in thinking this.  My man is tall, handsome and has a full head of hair, to me he is perfect.  But there is something about the character of Salvo Montalbano that has the heart fluttering.  Of course, it’s not just the man, it’s also the fantastic cast and plots.  The new series has been written by the original author of the books, ninety-two-year-old Andrea Camillera.  Based in Sicily again, it will be a fascinating series.  I have read all his previous books and watched the DVDs.  So, roll on tonight!

Low flying Air Balloons on a covert mission? Foto P Finnigan

Low flying Air Balloons on a covert mission? Foto P Finnigan

“Hello, what’s this?”  My man is peering sideways out of the car window on the way to coffee in Fiano and it is Sunday morning.  He swerves a little, as he’s not watching the road and then I spot the top of two hot-air balloons flying really low through the valley below us.  “They are far too low, what’s wrong with them?”  My man asks.  He pulls in and gets out of the car and watches.  “They seem to be just getting a close-up view, there is nowhere to set down, it’s too steep here.”  He takes a couple of photos and gets back in the car.  “They may be on a covert mission,”  I say, my mind all full of imaginary scenarios.  “Don’t be silly” he laughs,  “They would be using drones not hot air balloons!”  “Ah, that’s exactly what they would want you to think!”  I insist.  He sighs.

Toscani si Nasce Grande Show, 4th March. La Nazione.

Toscani si Nasce Grande Show, 4th March. La Nazione.

Over coffee, I read in the newspaper about a new effort to bring one’s attention back to the plight of the earthquake victims.  It is a wonderful idea, bringing together artists, all of whom were ‘Born in Tuscany’ including singers, musicians, dancers and comedians.  The Grande Show called Toscana si Nasce at Al Teatro Aurora, will also be televised on 4th March, and presented by Rodolfo Banchelli.  Lest we forget.

Gorgious Fendi bags and frock. La Repubblica

Gorgeous Fendi bags and frock. La Repubblica

Now, I know there are guys who read this blog and I really appreciate the fact that you do.  So I hope you won’t mind if I wax lyrical about the latest handbags, shoes and frocks currently being marketed by some of the fabulous designers here in Italy.  You see, I do love these things and try as I may, I am constantly falling in love with one or the other.

2017-02-25-08-58-24So very quickly, I have put together a selection to die for.  I would be happy to own the lot.

Ok, I know, enough is enough and anyway, I really must get on-line and make the final decision on my new book cover for ‘The Italian Connection‘.   Once I do this, a proof will be winging its way to me in the post.  So, to everyone still waiting, I promise it will be available very very soon.

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

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

“My head’s got bigger!”  My man has a pained look on his face.  “I don’t think so, you’ve always had a big head!”  I snort and giggle.  “No, no, I mean physically bigger!”  He groans.  “It’s my green beret, it’s too tight, I can’t get it on!”  Ah, my man has been unloading his ancient Royal Marine kit bag to check for damp, as there was a whiff of it coming from his studio.  So now he has been reminiscing and complaining that he may not be able to get into his uniform anymore.  So I brought up a picture of him in uniform, from many years ago, on the computer screen and actually, his head did look a little bit smaller then.  But his uniform belt could nearly do up, only about three inches too small, so not too bad.

The aging Italian Military. Foto La Nazione

The aging Italian Military. Foto La Nazione

Which reminds me, in La Nazione newspaper, which I was reading over coffee, there was an article about the Italian Armed Forces.  I was rather shocked to read that the average age of the Italian soldier is 38!  There are too many old soldiers still in the forces and not enough youngsters joining up.  So a big campaign is being started to try to reverse the situation.

Helmets and leather articles for sale in Alessandro's shop. Foto P Finnigan

Helmets and leather articles for sale in Alessandro’s shop. Foto P Finnigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back down in Certaldo, my man popped into his favourite shoe repair shop for some polish.  He likes to chat to Alessandro, the owner, who is a very interesting man indeed.  Not only does he work in leather, but also metals.  He is one of those Military re-enactment people who stage mock battles, wearing all the old costumes.  He actually makes suits of armour, helmets and even had a Samurai Outfit displayed in his shop last year.  He now has a full beard and long hair to match his role-play.  So if you need a new helmet or shield, or a shoe repair, of course, do drop in. You will find him at La Rapida, Via Borgo Garibaldi, 6.

The Made in Italy Tour begins on San Valentino. La Republica

The Made in Italy Tour begins on San Valentino. La Republica

Meanwhile, Italy is celebrating all things Made in Italy and launched ‘The Made in Italy Tour’ on San Valentino with the popular songster, Ligabue.  All his fans were there with L’Amore banners.  As you will know, everything stops on a Saints day, other than the celebrations of course.

One of three new Mimosa Trees in our beautiful garden. Foto J Finnigan

One of three new Mimosa Trees in our beautiful garden. Foto J Finnigan

Ah, another thing you will remember from last year is the gifting of Mimosa flowers on La Festa Della Donna.  Now it’s not that time yet, but we decided that we should plant some Mimosa Trees in the garden and bought three from our lovely plant lady in Certaldo’s Mercato on Saturday morning.  I also got loads more Primula to brighten up the winter garden.  So my man was occupied for much of the day planting and a wonderful job he did too.

Fantastic success worldwide for Chianti Classico Wine. La Repubblica.

Fantastic success worldwide for Chianti Classico Wine. La Repubblica.

And last but not least, I read a fascinating article about how incredibly well the exporting of Chianti Classico Wine is doing around the world.  The Chinese absolutely love it and the market remains huge.  Even our own supplier across the valley exports more to China than anywhere else.  So this bodes well for Chianti producers in our area and this is fortunate considering that Italy, since 2008, has just been declared the worst performing country in Europe, yes even worse than Greece!

But that’s enough of that;  life eeez good, life eeez now.

Have a great week and do get in touch.

Salute June x

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

Coming soon, my new book ‘The Italian Connection’ the third volume in the series ‘The Continuing Adventures of Joanna Wilde’ – watch this space!

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

 

 

 

 

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