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Benvenuto to all my lovely followers

Grapes ready for harvesting photo P Finnigan

Grapes ready for harvesting
photo P Finnigan

Here in Italy we are celebrating Ferragosta.  This is the day, originally set as a holiday by Emperor Agusto in Ancient Rome, that ninety percent of Italians take a holiday leaving the tourists to traipse around wondering why the shops are all shut in the middle of August!  It is also a celebration of the grape harvest and these beautiful fruits are what keep the Italians and other residents like ourselves, in fine fettle for the rest of the year with a glass of Chianti in hand.  But I have to say, despite ten years in beautiful Tuscany, we will never adjust to the fact that few Italian shopkeepers, restauranteurs and caffè bar owners stay open on this day or for the following two weeks.  Other European countries tend to cash in on the visiting tourists, not the Italians, unless it is the centre of Florence or San Gimingiano, the latter’s towers shining in the sunlight in our distant view from the villa.  So, we have also wound down a little, it just makes sense at this time of year and nobody seems to be answering their phones in the UK where the bulk of our clients are.  Yesterday, my man was a little depressed having not achieved what he wanted to achieve over the phone.   However, today his spirits were lifted when the lovely young lady at Bar Solferino in Certaldo, rang her mother at the local pasticceria for more sweet pastries, as they had sold out and she wanted my man to enjoy one. Bless her…

The last two weeks saw the arrival of our beautiful grandchildren.  They came separately, the grandson first for three nights, he is nearly fourteen and getting really tall.  He is off to Blundells School in England in September to follow his chosen sporting career, professional rugby.  Looking at the size of his feet, he will fit in perfectly.  We are very proud of course.   Then the following week, our nine an a half-year old granddaughter arrived for three nights, as equally gorgeous as her brother and demonstrated just how intelligent she is by doing all sorts of mathematical equations!  She also takes after her granny (me) as she loves science fiction and fantasy.  We were visited one evening by a big Brock Badger who was after the fallen figs in our orchard.  Fantastic….

Tuscan Badger Foraging

Tuscan Badger Foraging

Last Wednesday we returned her to our daughter and met at an amazing house, which our daughter wanted us to see, down a long dirt track through woodland then opening into an incredible view to the west coast.  The previous tenants had let the steep garden and land run down, and the American owner is desperate for our daughter to find a tenant.  The inside of the farmhouse has been renovated, whilst the outside is very rustic.  I have to say, if I was fitter, I would love to take it on.

A week ago, our lovely vegan Bavarian friends came for drinks.  We all lead very busy lives and it was the first get together since the spring.  The previous day, my man and I went to Terra Viva, a great vegetarian shop in Poggibonsi.  My not being the greatest cook, unlike the majority of you, I was delighted to find really tasty shrink wrapped fast food, made out of tofu and soya.  My favourite was curry and pineapple burgers!  Needless to say, our vegan friends were very impressed, however, I did confess to having bought everything, otherwise they would have wanted the recipe!

La Goloso Pasticceria & Bar in Tavernelle Photo J Finnigan

La Goloso Pasticceria & Bar in Tavernelle
Photo J Finnigan

Our favourite aperitivo.  Martini Rosso & Prosecco Photo J Finnigan

Our favourite aperitivo. Martini Rosso & Prosecco
Photo J Finnigan

On 10th August, Laura closed her bar/alimentare for a ten-day vacanza.  We can hardly blame her, she normally opens at six thirty in the morning and works through until after lunch.  But this is a dilemma for us because we do not like the other bar in Fiano.  So its uphill to Tavernelle where my man likes to visit La Galosa Pasticceria & Bar as they bake their own delicious pastries.  I have now managed to get them to make me the perfect caffè latte by adding more coffee. (Piu caffè)  Whilst your Espresso caffè normale varies little in the bars, the caffè lattes do.  I like mine without froth, hot and strong.  Otherwise, we drop down to Certaldo and visit Caffe Solferino, where we went this morning.  Another bar is Bar Italia, we love the people there, but it is a bit of a squeeze in the tiny seating area.

Our local village of Fiano will today be enjoying a festive evening in the gardens of the Castello, however, it does look like rain so we may give this a miss and take a cocktail on our upper terrace and watch the lights come on across the valley.  Life is hard…..

Well, I am sure the wealthy, not guilty Silvio is also enjoying a few vinos next to his swimming pool with his twenty something girlie and little dog DooDoo.  So I will not disturb him today and send you a full update next weekend.

Have a great one.

Amore June x

PS  I am working hard on the second book in my trilogy called ‘The Bolivian Connection’ which should be published in plenty of time for Christmas.  So, if you have not already done so, don’t forget to read ‘My Father, The Assassin’ first!  visit http://www.amazon.co.uk or com or eu.

 

 

 

 

 

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Benvenuti to all my new and loyal followers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Autumn Vines next to the Strada Bianca
Photo P Finnigan

As I prepare to send you this blog, heavy rain is hammering the windows and flood water is seeping under the kitchen door!  Farty Barty, the cat, warned me that a storm was on the way by burying his face in his cushion and refusing to go out last night.  Just after midnight the thunder started to roll, quickly changing into deafening thunderclaps directly overhead, followed by torrential rain.  Shutters banged and clattered in the easterly winds and then the electricity died.  When we have storms in Tuscany they are massive and lightning forks can take out whole trees in one mighty flash.  Flood water cascades down the hills taking surface soil and plants with it, completely changing the landscape.  You may recall that I have mentioned the shifting land, crumbling inland cliffs  and landslides. Often roads are blocked and not cleared for several days.  It is now eleven thirty in the morning and the storm continues unabated.  I dare not think about whether the strada bianca (white track) from our villa to the main road will be passable when the sky eventually clears!  Worst of all, I have had to make my own coffee this morning as I cannot get to the cafe bar in Fiano!

GiGi and her surprise birthday desert at Osteria La Sosta di Pio. Photo J Finnigan

GiGi and her surprise birthday desert at Osteria La Sosta di Pio.
Photo J Finnigan

But hey ho, let’s look back at what has been a glorious week, which included three lunches in our sunny garden, three at local restaurants and only one in our kitchen.  At the Osteria La Sosta di Pio near Barberino Val d’Elsa, my mother-in-law, known as Gi-Gi, on account of her being a Great-Grandma, was presented with a surprise birthday desert with candle and ‘Happy Birthday’ was played in English over the loud-speakers.  Her little face lit up as she remembered, once again, that it was her eighty-eighth birthday!  Every ten minutes or so, her short-term memory loss kicks in, so we had to constantly remind her what day it was.  Bless her.  In the afternoon four generations of Finnigans descended on the villa for afternoon tea and birthday cake.  GG flew back to England on Sunday with my man and may or may not remember her visit!

Meanwhile, back at our local village of Fiano, the tourists had thinned to a trickle.  The unplayed and crushed conkers in the piazza had mostly been cleared away and the horse-chestnut trees were dressed in beautiful shades of red and gold.  Offset these against a row of dark cyprus trees and a bright blue sky; very breathtaking.  As we walked to the alimentari /bar the intoxicating perfume of red wine wafted over us from a passing truck, loaded high with grape skins.  We arrived for coffee feeling very light-headed.

main via in Certaldo alto oct 2013

Certaldo Alto
Photo P Finnigan

Funiculare ride down to Certaldo Basso

View from the funiculare train down to Certaldo
Photo P Finnigan

On Saturday morning we took GG to Certaldo Alto, which is the centro storica (historical centre) of Certaldo perched high on its own steep hill.  We traveled up on the little funiculare train packed like sardines with Italians, their children, nonnas and cameras.  We visited the gallery and were delighted to meet the artist Walter Sarfatti.  His work is rather special as he produces ‘original prints’ from zinc plates by the process of etching.  No one print is exactly the same as it varies according to the colour and the density of the ink chosen by the artist.  We are now the proud owner of a small masterpiece.  You may like to visit http://www.sienaart.org/walter-sarfatti .

And so to the Italian Stallion Silvio Berlusconi.  Yes, as anticipated, he has been thrown out of political office for two years. Can he still remain ‘high profile’ during this period?  We do hope so.  Whilst his love life continues to be fraught with scuttlebutt, it is very likely.  Watch this space.

Well, I have finished this blog by hand as the storm is still raging.  I am reluctant to go on-line as I have first hand experience of a lightening bolt hitting the electricity wires at our old home and destroying the TV and my lap-top!  I may have to send this tomorrow….

Heres hoping you are having better weather.

Amore June x

PS You can now find me and my book, ‘My Father, the Assassin’, on http://www.Goodreads.com as well as http://www.firstchapters.net and of course Amazon.  Happy reading.

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Thank you fellow bloggers, Facebook and Twitter friends for liking my blog. Today I will be talking about The Patter of Giant Feet, The Sounds of the Chianti Hills, The Hoopie, Jasmin & Wisteria and being famous in Certaldo.

Last Tuesday (Martedi) I was happily writing away when suddenly the house started to tremble, and the sound of giant footsteps thundered under my studio.  It only lasted seconds, however, experiencing a mini earthquake is not a pleasant thing!  In addition, the usually muted sounds of our part of the Chianti hills have exploded into a crescendo of traffic noise.  These vehicles are following a diversion sign that takes them right past our villa along a dusty track, whilst the main road is cleared of a three week old landslide!

I am not complaining, it would take a lot to dent my complete happiness of living in this fabulous spot.  The sounds that are a joy to hear are the squeeking of ancient tractors trundling up and down between the vines and the strimmers as they clear the mosquito (zanzara) infested long grass in the olive groves.  Yes, the mozzies have arrived, I got my first bite last Tuesday!  But we don’t care about that because it means that summer is almost here!  (If you are coming to Tuscany make sure you have mozzi protection).

On Wednesday morning, I opened my bedroom window to see a pair of Hoopies in our upper terrace.  They are very shy and very beautiful, it took my breath away.  Now we await the arrival of the other stunning feathered friend, the Bee Eater.  The sound of their singing is so lovely and relaxing.

The Hoopie

Image

The Jasmin and Wisteria have burst into flower.  Not only beautiful but filling the air with intoxicating perfumes.  I have bought more plants today in Certaldo where a number of locals approached me and asked if I was the famous writer!  Being modest, I said yes and gave out more cards for their English speaking friends.  I must organize a translation of ‘My Father, The Assassin’ into Italiano.

Here is an exert from chapter 14, Joanna has been introduced to Abdul who has important information about her deceased father.  It is the dead of night in her hotel room…..

……..Abdul shifted in his seat, quickly pulled out a rather grey handkerchief and wiped his brow.  He had a small thin swarthy appearance with a rather oversized drooping moustache, which he constantly twirled around his fore finger.  His hair was thinning and greying and I put him probably in his late fifties.

        “When Major Worme first arrived on the scene,” he continued “I had no reason to suspect him of anything other than being an old friend from England.  He was, however, an insatiable philanderer and I became very concerned that the Prince may be mixing with the wrong company.  He, the Prince, had married one of the most desirable women in Malaysia and even she was not safe from Worme’s advances.  The Prince refused to believe me when I warned him that this was the case and he threatened to have me flogged if I ever mentioned it again.  The Prince was a fool and was completely mesmerized by the man.”

Here is the direct link for my novel ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan.  Enjoy and please spread the word!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

Salute June x

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Ciao Ragazzi

I am a little late with this blog and I apologise for that, but it has been a very busy weekend.  Today I am talking about my book, earthquakes, landslips, the Italian Government and the kindness of local people.

Firstly, a big thank you to all you lovely people who have bought my book and, more importantly, for having read it.  Your glowing emails have been heartwarming and spurs me on to complete ‘The Bolivian Connection’ as soon as possible.  I would really appreciate your returning to Amazon and leaving a review as this is very important for my following.  Also, don’t forget to share with all your social networks!  Here is the link again.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

Last Thursday was the fourth anniversary of the dreadful earthquake that destroyed a good part of L’Aquila.  Six months ago scientists were convicted of manslaughter for failing to communicate the danger and articles have recently been written questioning the events of 31st January when thousands evacuated their homes in the Garfagnana north of Pisa.  decisions to evacuate are taken by the local mayors;  Italy never used to worry quite so much about ‘little’ tremors, but now the smallest indication of an earthquake creates ‘alarmism’.  Scientists were so shaken when their colleagues were put on trial, they now issue earthquake warnings that are often exaggerated to protect themselves, according to one spokesperson.

I cannot speak for the whole country, however, our region of Tuscany is constantly moving.  We have experienced more landslips blocking roads and roads falling away over the last year, than ever before.  On a lighter note, the geologists and fossil hunters of this world would find the area fascinating.  Hard to believe that these dolce colline (sweet hills) were once under the sea, thus the fabulous array of shells and fossils that fall out of the crumbling hillsides.

Matteo Renzi Matteo renzi (2).JPG

I will report back to you next weekend on the state of our non-government.  Meanwhile, the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzie (above), known as Rottamatore (scrapper) by the Italian media and number two in the Democratic party, has suggested doing a deal with Berlusconi’s Populare Liberta party in forming a government.  Pier Luigi Bersani, he of the shiny bald head & most votes, currently secretary of the Democratic party is furious as he hates the aging yet lovely Silvio.   This has now split the party once again.

Back at our local bar/alimentare in Fiano, the locals shrug and hold their hands up over both the landslides and politics.  Niente e nuove (nothing is new)!  The rotund signore who is usually reading La Nazione and likes to make cheeky remarks about the English,  shocked me by giving me present the other day.  A lovely silver wine bottle collar for catching the drips!

So life goes on and mostly in a very relaxed way.

Alla prossima June x

 

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