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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World

20181122_083438Just five days to December and it’s the time of year for colder damper weather, which in itself creates some of the most breathtaking scenery and camera shots here in our little bit of Chianti.  Early morning mists fill the valleys below us and as the sun peaks through we witness shafts of sunlight breaking out from the mist and spotlighting the thousands of cobwebs covering just about everything!

20181122_083752Then the sun rises a little more and shines on nearby properties, but the mist has not risen yet so we get these ghostly looking apparitions.  It’s important to stand still for a while and watch the vista changing as the mists start to gradually roll away.  Beautiful.  So then we drive to Fiano, our local village, for coffee at La Dispensa, which means going higher up still into brilliant sunshine.  The drive back will be views of fog filling the valleys over Certaldo and looking like a great white lake.

2018-11-21-10-09-13.jpgWe relax with our coffee and read the papers, greeting the locals as they come and go.  On rainy days they joke with us saying that we have brought Tempo Inglese (English Weather) with us!  But what is this?  In the paper I read that there has been a miracle in Pisa; The Leaning Tower has straightened up by as much as four centimetres over the last twenty years!  It seems that consolidation work carried out between 1993 and 2001 has resulted in this unexpected turn of events!  Well that’s good, but if it keeps going, will we end up with the Once Leaning Tower of Pisa?  All those tourists that travel long distances to have their foto taken looking like they are holding the building up with one hand, yes what of them?  I guess they will instead come to see the Miracle of the Tower that moved!

2018-11-22 09.23.36Anyway, another article in the paper caught my eye, and something close to my heart or should I say waistband, Pecorino Cheese.  I don’t just like cheese, I absolutely love it and it is the only thing stopping me from becoming vegan.  Pecorino is the most popular cheese in Italy for everyday use.  It ranges from very young and soft to a hard mature version, a bit like the texture of Parmesan but the taste is different.  I love it for the fact that it is not cow’s cheese, which I avoid.  When we first arrived in Italy, I had to find an alternative to English Cheddar, particularly for cooking.  Pecorino hit the button and more!  Can you buy Italian Pecorino in your country?

2018-11-19 08.19.48And, what about the Italian fashion scene for the run up to party time?  Well, firstly  chunky footwear is in, even with the most feminine smart couture!  NeroGiardini

2018-11-11 09.23.43I was always a stiletto fan until the knees started complaining, so if you are following the younger women in the British Royal Family, you can still wear them and that can be your excuse.  Otherwise, if like me you are crazy about everything Italian, perhaps not.

And, so to the big glittery C.  Yes, Christmas is everywhere already.  Festive markets in all the towns and cities.  Also, Opera and Theatre with a festive edge.  We will certainly go to some of these; I’ll report back when we do.  What are you doing this festive season?  Do let me know what you are up to!

Meanwhile, I am working on my ‘Buy real books for Christmas, you can’t unwrap an e-book’ campaign.  See my own books at June’s Site

Well, time to get back to the day job and don’t forget to buy your advent calendar.  I love them.

Salute June x

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

So much to tell you and so little time, but here goes!

Our littel tree nestling between bookshelves in our big kitchen!

Our little tree nestling between bookshelves in our big kitchen!  Foto J Finnigan

Gosh, it’s been a hectic few weeks; I’ve been to England twice to sort out a family bereavement and thank you for your best wishes.  All is fine now.  Being away makes me realise just how much I love my home in our little bit of Chianti; the countryside, the people and the lifestyle in general.  What with all the build up to Christmas, it’s great to be decorating the tree, planning our days, just like we always have.  We celebrate exactly the same way here as we did in England all those years ago.  How about you?

Parade of Reindeer in Wells Somerset England. Foto J Finnigan

Parade of Reindeer in Wells Somerset England.
Foto J Finnigan

Whilst I was in England, I did manage to see the parade of Reindeer, which happens every year in Wells, Somerset.  Then I joined some lovely friends for lunch.  So I did have some nice moments.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen reindeer in Tuscany.

Here in this part of Chianti, the traditional tree is very popular as is Father Christmas, Babbo Natale.  Signore Rotund, himself the perfect size for the role, collared me this morning for two boxes of chocolates in aid of the local Hospital Transport Service; I’m happy to contribute as always.  Of course, the Italians have a natural flair for festas and there are loads of parties, concerts and theatre going on.  New years Eve will be celebrated in our local village Fiano with a big feast in the former cinema, everyone who is anyone will be there.

The Tree of Names outside La Dispensa in Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

The Tree of Names outside La Dispensa in Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

La Dispensa, our busy coffee bar/ alimentare is looking very festive and we customers have been asked to hang little personal greetings on the big tree branch outside the door.  It is now looking very colourful with all the labels sporting people’s names and their messages.

My perfect Christmas wish list! La Repubblica magazine.

My perfect Christmas wish list! La Repubblica magazine.

Of course, a lot else has happened during my absence, which I have not been able to tell you about.  The Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigning for one, after the NO vote, but you will have seen that in the news I guess.  Local gossip says that the former Mayor of Florence was pretty fed up with the political arena and is looking forward to a Buona Festa with his family.  I wonder if we’ll see the resurgence of our eighty-year-old former PM, Silvio Berlusconi in the New Year?  Watch this space.

Christmas hunk of the month and girlie. La Repubblica.

Christmas hunk of the month and girlie. La Repubblica.

Anyway, just to make you girlies smile, I spotted this Dolce Gabbana advert (below) with your Christmas Hunk already partly unwrapped.  There’s a girlie for you guys in the picture too, I try not to be biased!  I wouldn’t mind a bottle of that lovely perfume too!  My own personal Christmas hunk is back from his final business trip of the year, so I must get some mistletoe in the morning!

Finally, thank you to all those who downloaded ‘My Father, The Assassin’ during the freebie five-day period, I hope you enjoy the read over the festive period.  The third book in the trilogy, ‘The Italian Connection’ will be published early in 2017, I’ll let you know as soon as it goes live!

Ok, need to start wrapping presents and get them under the tree.  But might have a glass of vino first…..

So, may I wish you all a fantastic Christmas and lots of love and kisses under the mistletoe.  I’ll be back in the New Year.

Buona Festa 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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Happy New Month to all my friends around the world

So sorry, but will not be blogging for a couple of weeks as am in England sorting out a family bereavement.  Hoping you are all enjoying life as I will be, as soon as I’m back in my little bit of Tuscany.

Oh, just to say, have finished my third novel ‘The Italian Connection’ and it is currently being edited, so watch this space and make sure you read the other two first!  They are also ideal for Christmas!!!!

Salute June xx

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

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

Rugby victory for Italy! La Nazione

Rugby victory for Italy!
La Nazione

Yesterday evening my man was jubilant!  Many of you know that we are a great Rugby family.  Most of our men have played rugby and our grandson has followed suit.  Why was my man so happy, well Italy had just beaten South Africa, a very strong team, 20-18.  So, Italy goes from strength to strength and considering Rugby is not the country’s first sport, which is football (Calcio), this is very pleasing indeed.  The new coach, Conor O’Shea, seems to be making a big difference and confidence is high.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil senza (without) palm oil. La Reppublica

Extra Virgin Olive Oil senza (without) palm oil.
La Reppublica

Anyway, what about things closer to home in our little bit of Tuscany?  The subject of pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil is on everyone’s lips in the caffè bar.  Are you aware that this beautiful nectar is being sold around the world, some claiming that it is pure when in fact it is ‘watered down’ by palm oil!  Now, this should be shown on the label, so read the very small print and make sure you get the real stuff.  You can always come to Tuscany and buy fresh from the producers if you fancy a little break!

Carlo and son Simone behind a pile of lovely panettone at Bar/pasticeria Fiorentino. La nazione.

Carlo and son Simone behind a pile of lovely panettone at Bar/pasticeria Fiorentino in Montespertoli. La Nazione.

Meanwhile, and in the run-up to Christmas, our part of Tuscany has been running a Panettone making contest, and we were really pleased to read in the paper yesterday that our good friends at Bar Fiorentino in Montespertoli have won the accolade!  This ‘Derby Del Gusto’ is a popular event each year and my man always takes two of the fig and walnut versions to England for friends and associates.

Grilled Porcini caps at Montalbino. Foto J Finnigan

Grilled Porcini caps at Montalbino. Foto J Finnigan

Ah, then there’s the subject of Porcini mushrooms.  Still available in the shops, markets and restaurants the big grilled caps are to die for.  My man and I went out to Trattoria Montalbino for lunch on Thursday.  This tiny family-run place is in the middle of nowhere but not far from Fiano.  They specialise in fungi and the husband goes hunting for fresh porcini and truffles.  When the season is ended they still manage to do some wonderful dishes with the dried varieties.  Visit Trattoria Montalbino, Montespertoli on Trip Advisor.  Table bookings – 0039 339 3695 121

Simple Minds in Tuscany. La Repubblica.

Simple Minds in Tuscany. La Repubblica.

And, not to forget for all you rockers like me, touring bands this week have included Simple Minds and Aerosmith.  Oh, and for all the teeny boppers we are also currently hosting Justin Bieber.  I just popped off to check out Simple Minds on YouTube and there’s some great stuff there.  You may remember their number one hit ‘Don’t you (forget about me)’ in 1985.  The Scottish band was heavily influenced by Roxy Music.  Now Brian Ferry I can watch him perform anytime!  Aerosmith?  Well they are just brilliant in my mind, but tickets seem to be sold out the minute we hear about these bands; hey ho.

OK, time to go, cooking lunch at home today (Sunday) as two-thirds of the local restaurants are closed for winter holidays.

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

Salute June x

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

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Father XmasWell, it’s that time of year when people start to do and say funny things like, after Christmas I’m going on a diet or I’m not going to shave until after the holiday.  Now my man comes into the latter catagory, which means that kisses under the mistletoe get a bit scratchy.  I know that lots of girlies like their men to have a bit of stubble, it’s considered matcho, but I’m afraid I find the whole sensation of being kissed by a prickly chin rather off-putting, not to say dangerous.  But hey, I’d rather be kissed by my man than not, so I will persevere, despite the beard!

Christmas Man with beard. La Nazione

Christmas Man with beard.
La Nazione

On the subject of men, my man and I enjoyed coffee twice this morning.  Firstly at the Jam Cafe, because we could not park in our usual place due to a huge market in Certaldo and secondly at Il Solferino after having trecked through all the market stalls along Via Giugno.  We settled in to read the papers and there for you girlies to drool over, I found Christmas man.  Yes, another watch advert, but it’s the guy wearing it that matters, don’t you think?  My man grinned over the top of his newspaper and said; “Now here’s an interesting snippet.  Research has now proved that Hitler only had one ball!  But we military men already knew that and we had a song we used to sing about it, yes a rude one….”  He turned and shared the joke with the man behind him on the next table.  So you had one Brit and one Italian laughing their heads off about a German and a missing ball!

Now, I am trying to get my head around Christmas.  I’ve got all the presents and most of the food, but we have failed to get a real Christmas Tree as we left it too late.  Yesterday morning we did a huge circle from Certaldo to Poggibonsi, up to San Casciano and back again, but they were all gone.  So, unless we hit lucky, I will have to do some sort of festive table arrangement and put the presents around it.  The grandkids will not be impressed though. On the journey my man and I  had both felt  bit jaded and thought we were getting the dreaded Christmas virus.  “My face feels strange.”  He said, rubbing his chin.  “What, sort of tingly?”  I asked.  “No hairy.”  He grinned.

December view from here. Photo J Finnigan

December view from here.
Photo J Finnigan

December sunset. Photo J Finnigan

December sunset.
Photo J Finnigan

Earlier in the week, I had been getting a little fed up with the cloudy, foggy weather.  The temperature here in Tuscany was lower than London, where my man was putting in his last few days at the grind stone before the Festive break.  Then come Thursday the sun came out and bathed everything in gold and the sunset that evening gave me a huge lift, so I took a couple of photos for you.

Things are pretty hectic here now in the run up to the big day and needless to say, something has to give.  So please forgive me if I take a couple of weeks off from writing to you.  The good news is I will have lots to tell you about the festivities here in Tuscany in the New year.  In the meantime, I want to say a big thank you to all my readers for buying my books throughout 2015.  It has been a record year for sales and your support is so very much appreciated.  Don’t forget there is still time to download your Christmas reading, if you have not already done so.  Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

Have a wonderful Christmas and Buon Natale

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.

The idol Silvio (Jesu) Berlusconi Photo sdpf

Silvio (Jesu) Berlusconi
Photo sdpf

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Benventi to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

The new ice-rink in Certaldo. La Nazione

The new ice-rink in Certaldo.
La Nazione

Here in our little bit of the Chianti hills, life generally moves at a relaxed pace, the most exciting and busiest time of day being morning coffee at a local bar.  Down in Certaldo last Monday, I heard that a new Ice-rink had opened in the Piazza next to the post office.  I was in the central piazza at the time reading the papers and as the rink did not open until 3pm, I elected not to go and visit it there and then.  Anyway, it is the evenings that offer the most interesting spectacles, what with the Christmas lights being on and all that.  But I did find a picture in the local paper for you!  My grandchildren love the ice-rinks here and for years they have been going to Siena, where you will find a huge one.  It seems that most cities and towns are now having ice-rinks over the festive period, which is really great.

Bianco the big white puppy. Photo J Finnigan

Bianco the big white puppy.
Photo J Finnigan

In Bar Solferino, Bianco the big white puppy was fidgeting on his owner’s lap.  Only three months old but already enormous and likely to knock everything flying if put down on the floor!  A little later he and his owner were outside and Bianco obviously needed something to chew as he was having a go at one of the wooden benches!  We have very fond memories of our dogs chewing through the furniture and still have a tooth marked bamboo coffee table in our sitting room.  Now we have grand-dogs, and always carry dog chews in the car, so we gave one to Bianco.  His owner was more than grateful as he could now spend the next hour or so watching the world go by without having to occupy the teething puppy!  Bless.

Winter sun in the valley below. Photo J Finnigan

Winter sun in the valley below.
Photo J Finnigan

On returning to our little villa, the winter sun had turned the countryside into a gold and bronze wonderland, it was enough to take one’s breath away.  It is difficult to really capture the colours without a good camera, but I just had to try to send you some pictures that would demonstrate this.  All I can say is, you will have to visit Tuscany in the winter to really appreciate it.

Winter sun on our terrace. Photo J Finnigan

Winter sun on our terrace.
Photo J Finnigan

Naturally, it is the time of year for log fires.  It is the one thing that makes the dark evenings tolerable.  We, like most Tuscans, live and eat outside for the best part of the year.  If there is no cold wind and the sun is shining, you will even find us eating Christmas lunch in the garden!  But snuggling up in front of the fire is so lovely and cosy.

Cosied up to the log fire. Photo J Finnigan

Cosied up to the log fire.
Photo J Finnigan

Last Thursday, my daughter and I took time out from our busy schedules to meet for lunch in San Gimingiano, the city of towers.  We had the most delicious gluten-free spaghetti I have ever tasted and now you are going to ask me where we went and I have completely forgotten the name of the ristorante.  It was in the Piazza Sant Agostino, and as there is only one ristorante there, I’m sure you will find it!

Next weekend we will share our Christmas tree and decor with you, just so you know that we do enjoy the festive season in much the same way as we did in England all those years ago.  The Italians celebrate things in a rather more religious way, but the feasting and family get togethers are very similar to our own.  I’m really looking forward to it!  Send me pictures of your trees!

My Goodness look at the time!  I must go and make myself beautiful as we are off to Ristorante C’era Una Volta for lunch.  Grilled sliced polenta topped with cannelloni beans and swiss chard will go down really well, perhaps followed by tagliatelle and white truffles.  Yummy…..

Have a great week and do drop me a line.

Oops, nearly forgot!  As a festive treat you can now download the book ‘My Father, The Assassin’ for just 99p, but only up until next Saturday!  Go to http://www.amazon.co.uk

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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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

December colours below our villa. Photo P Finnigan

December colours along our track.
Photo P Finnigan

The December valley below us. Photo P Finnigan

The December valley below us.
Photo P Finnigan

If you have not visited Tuscany in the winter you will have missed out on the fabulous Autumn colours that continue through to March.  We have thousands of small-leaved Oak Trees in this area and right now they are glowing a luminous copper in the sunshine.  It is seriously breathtaking and whilst it is difficult to capture the true colour and magic, I have enclosed a couple of photos for you to enjoy.  Of course we are very lucky to have several evergreens of varying colours including the silver grey-green of the Olive Tree, so the countryside never looks bleak.  The Italians celebrate the festive season much the same as northern Europeans and the Christmas Tree is very popular.  Sadley, Certaldo has failed again with their big tree in the main piazza; it always looks half-dead the moment it arrives!  But hey ho, this does not quell the festive spirit in the town.

Big cheeses or strange fruit? Photo J Finnigan

Big cheeses or strange fruit?
Photo J Finnigan

Yesterday, Saturday, we arrived in Certaldo for morning coffee and I was delighted to see the Christmas Market being set up.  Sadley, at half past eight, we were a little early to see it fully ready, however, I did spot a handbag stand and one selling these amazing big cheeses.  Now I asked what they were called and then clean forgot when I got home, so perhaps one of you very knowledgable foodies out there can remind me!  More importantly, I bought a lovely handmade rustic owl, which will be part of my Christmas display back at the villa.  There are Christmas markets going on all over Tuscany now and the most popular are in Siena and Florence.  Every year there is a German market in the centre of Florence and it is reckoned to be the best in Europe!

December Man Il Nazione

December Man
Il Nazione

Meanwhile, back at Bar Solferino, we settle in to enjoy our coffee and read the papers.  I turn to page three and I find the perfect Italian male, who we shall call December Man.  Now, I know you girlies out there think that all Italian Men are stylish and sexy.  I am afraid I must disappoint you.  Only occasionally do we spot one of these rare breeds and that is why, when I see one in the newspaper or magazine, I share the picture with you.  Most Italian women seem to like their men with scratchy unshaven faces and dark brooding eyes that say ‘feed me, wash my clothes, iron my clothes, have my children….’  Not all, I hasten to add!

My man starts his pre-Christmas diet. Photo J Finnigan

My man starts his pre-Christmas diet.
Photo J Finnigan

Now on the subject of men, my own man wants to lose some weight before Christmas so he can stuff himself silly and drink lots of wine over the festive period.  “Look at this,” he said this morning at Laura’s Bar in Fiano, “I’m going to eat smaller pastries for breakfast!”  “Bravo” I say, as I watch him slowly eat his small chocolaty cream filled pastry.  No, don’t laugh, he is making an effort!  You should see the size of the pastries he normally eats….

Oh, one last thing.  My man has just reminded me that Silvio Berlusconi has been to a hospital in Rome to have his battery changed!  Well, who’d have thought it, I could have sworn he was flesh and blood, but you never can tell these days.  Robots everywhere!

Well, enough of that.  Things to do, places to go and people to see.

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

Salute June x

PS Visit my book 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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