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Posts Tagged ‘Ferragosta’

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

2018-08-14 10.12.12Only in Italy will the front page of a national newspaper show the Prime Minister and other political big wigs splashing around in or by the sea!  You see, tomorrow is Ferragosta and If you are Italian you know exactly what that means.  You down tools, pack your extended family into a car, get into a crazy queue of traffic stretching for hundreds of miles, eat your way through hampers of food and wine on the journey and if you are lucky arrive at the coast or mountains by night fall!  If you are a foreign resident like us, you stock up with food and wine, batten down the hatches against the heat and stay at home.  Meanwhile, the unfortunate tourists arriving in Pisa this week, will find themselves in an endless queue trying to pick up a hire car, then another one trying to get on the FiPiLi dual carriageway, the caffes and pit stops are closed, because it’s the annual holiday and the petrol stations are only geared up for self-service cash only pumps!  When they finally arrive at their destination after endless stops in the overheated traffic queues, they find that local shops and restaurants are also closed!  So they all fall into the swimming pools, cool off and compete over who gets bitten the most by the zanzari (mosquitos) as no-one thought to pack any insect repellent.  By day three, the tourists will have discovered how best to deal with things.  The towns and villages are like ghost towns, so they eventually find which supermarkets are open, that hot pizzas are only sold in the evenings, the few available restaurants, only open in the evening as it is too hot to eat outside for lunch, and that cities like Florence are cauldrons this time of year and are best avoided.  Despite all these things they will leave after their week or two here, totally in love with Tuscany and wax lyrical to all their envious friends!  Foto La Nazione.

2018-08-14 10.17.02#1However, Ferragosta is also a week of fantastic music and theatre, if you know where to go, like Follonica over on the Tuscan coast.  For the Follonica Summer Festival go to their website

Locally, there will be firework displays and private parties to go to.  Art galleries and museums are mostly open, some with limited hours due to the skeleton staffing.  San Gimignano is a good place to go for these, if you can manage to park, or better to get a bus from Certaldo, Poggibonsi or Siena.  Expect big crowds though!  Foto La Nazione.

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On the subject of our local town, Certaldo, a recent addition to the curious things to see is a statue opposite Jam Caffe near the station.  Foto J Finnigan.  Whilst the mediterranean diet is supposed to be the healthiest in the world, this may remind you of the dangers of overindulging in pasta and pastries!  And on the subject of pasta, we met a lovely young English couple at Osteria La Gramola in Tavernelle websitewho were wading through a tasting menu of nine pasta dishes!  Now, this was their own fault as they had just finished a pasta making course that morning and had no choice but to try every one.  They only had a small taste of each dish, but they were definitely struggling with the last few servings!  If you are reading this; nice to meet you guys and we hope you organised a portavia!

2018-08-12 08.56.46#1Meanwhile, down in Roma the traditional pilgrimage to visit Pope Francis is at full throttle, this year seventy thousand fans filled the Vatican City on greet the masses days.  The heat has been horrendous, so I hope there was a good supply of chilled water and holy wine.  This man has a huge following, whether you are religious or not.  It is no doubt his likeable personality and charisma combined.

Back at the ranch, or rather our lovely former monastery farmhouse home, our daughter and grandchildren arrived for an overnight stay as their house had been invaded by hornets and the spray used to rid them was toxic to say the least.  “Come on over” we had said, “We have no hornets or wasps here!”  Then the next morning my daughter found a puppy racing around our garden, obviously stuck inside the fence and unable to find its way out again.  So my man opened the rarely used lower exit gate to let it out and promptly found a wasp’s nest inside it! The puppy raced back to its owners, parked just down the lane, whilst my man got himself stung three times!  Hey ho!  But we don’t care about that, life eeez good, life eeez now.  And now it’s raining praise the gods, so no need to water for a few days!

2018-08-14 10.25.36And finally, to say brava to Manuela who has been drafted in from her house next door to La Dispensa in Fiano, to man the bar for two weeks whilst Rosella goes off for a hard-earned holiday on the south coast with her amore.  As you can see in the foto and after several days of practice, she can now make perfect coffee even with her eyes closed!  Bless her.

OK, over to you.  Do drop me a line and/or visit my official author site at My site for your summer reading.

Have a great week.

Salute June x

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers around The World

Yes, we are still here, not quite melted into the Tuscan countryside yet, but at forty degrees it has been a close run thing!  Thankfully, we have just enjoyed a couple of days respite after high winds and rain cleared the stifling humidity.

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Packed like beached sardines on the Tuscan coast. La Repubblica.

I sincerely hope that you have not booked the next two weeks anywhere on the Tuscan coast.  This week is Ferragosta, when thousands and I mean many thousands, of Italians have flooded the beaches on their annual exodus to Al Mare.  If you want standing room only, well OK, but if you are hoping to stretch out and relax, forget it!  Anyway, It is not so hot inland now, so if you have booked an air-conditioned self-catering place or Agriturismo in this area, you should be OK.

Back in our lovely little bit of Chianti I spotted an interesting bird through the bedroom window, landing in our ancient fig tree and obviously after the young fruits.  But it was so well camouflaged once it was there, I struggled to locate it through my camera lens.  It’s only by chance that I got a picture, I just happened to be aiming in the right direction.

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Fig Tree and Mystery Bird. Photo J Finnigan

If you slightly enlarge the photo of the fig tree and look three-quarters of the way up in the middle you will see it!  A beautiful and fascinating sighting of an unusual bird.  I wondered if it was a Piculet, a type of Woodpecker, but I am no bird specialist.  I saw a flash of stripe on its underbelly or wing and a longish beak.  If any of you clever clogs can tell me what it is, I will send you a signed copy of ‘The Italian Connection’!  Otherwise, you get to see our lovely fig tree…..

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More gorgeous fashion from Gaudi. La Repubblica.

Meanwhile, I was enjoying my morning coffee in our local village of Fiano and found some beautiful Autumn Italian fashion in La Repubblica.  I must say, that Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year and I just love the colours.  The flip-flops get thrown into the washing machine and we once again start thinking about shoes; yes I know, I love shoes almost as much as I love handbags and living in Italy, were they make the World’s most beautiful creations, it can be hard to concentrate.  What is your favourite season?

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Holiday Music in Florence. La Repubblica

But lets bring you back to Tuscany and those of us who have not gone ‘Al Mare’ or to the mountains, will be enjoying lots of music over the next week or so.  Every day up until the 20th August, you can enjoy live music in the Giardino dell Orticultora, a lovely cool green place to chill out in Florence.  Go to http://www.firenzetoday.it/eventi/location/giardino-dell-orticoltura/  They do all sorts of great events throughout the year too!

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Pink Floyd releases new live album recorded in the Roman Amphitheatre in Pompeii. La Republica

And also on the subject of Music, Pink Floyd, who are celebrating fifty years of the release of their first album ‘The Piper at The Gates of Dawn,’ are regularly in Tuscany.  They can always rely of their Italian fans to turn out in the thousands and a whole page news article is no surprise.  The big news is that a new album is being released called ‘David Gilmour Live at Pompeii’ recorded in the Roman Amphitheatre in front of 2,600 lucky fans last year.  It was the first ever rock concert performed there and the audience stood exactly where the gladiators would have fought to the death.  For more information and to watch some excerpts that will give you pins & needles, go to http://www.pinkfloyd.com/news/

Well, I think that’s my roundup for the last week and may the month of August be really cool for you in every sense of the word. (Errr, unless you are in England of course, weather wise.)

Do drop me a line, I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

Visit my author site at Author Site

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Grand Tour Ferragosto La Terrana

Grand Tour Ferragosto
La Terrana

Well, the streets were almost empty of traffic last Monday as the 15th was Ferragosta, the holiday that has all Italians that can, racing off to the motorways, well dual carriageways I should say, as we don’t have many three lane roads in Tuscany.  The motorways came to a grinding halt yet again and one old lady went through a gap in the central barrier, took to the opposite side and started driving against the oncoming traffic! It’s a miracle nobody was killed.  But whilst this madness was going on, we had the country roads to ourselves.  Over coffee in Il Solferino in Certaldo, I read an article about ‘The Grand Tour Ferragosto’ and it was fascinating to see where the most of the Italian tourists and many others besides were heading, should they be on the cultural trail!  Most popular for visitors was the Excavations of Pompei, followed by the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  See the foto for the full list.

Ristorante Quinoa, a gluten free paradise? La Republica

Ristorante Quinoa, a gluten free paradise?
La Republica

Then the next day I read about a really interesting looking restaurant called Ristorante Quinoa in Florence.  This is definitely one for me and other diners who are intolerant to gluten.  We will try it out in the next couple of weeks.  If you happen to get there before me, do let me know!  Despite our living in a fabulous area, the restaurants that we really like are few and far between.  A good Italian ristorante needs three things, friendly and efficient service, very good food and sensible prices.  Now we don’t mind paying a higher price occasionally, particularly if we fancy a little bit of sophistication.  All the restaurants within a half hour drive provide ‘Tipica Toscana’ typical Tuscan food, but the quality of that food varies a lot.  Also, the house wines are not always the best choice.  So it’s worth asking for a little taste first and if you don’t like it order a bottle from ‘La Lista.’  Anyway, our local favourites are currently heaving with tourists so we may just wait until things return to normal in September.

The new U2 box set in Italian. Mag ad.

The new U2 box set in Italian. Mag ad.

Meanwhile, U2 has been honoured by the Italians who have launched a special Italian box set of all the band’s music!  Now this will sell well as the packaging is all in Italian and will no doubt become a collector’s item here.  Of course, in reality, one does not need the glamorous packaging, it’s still the same music inside!  Mind you, great band and the Italians love them.  Rock on!

A surprise Hibiscus in our garden. Foto P Finnigan

A surprise Hibiscus in our garden.
Foto P Finnigan

Now, thinking back to when we moved, we brought with us all our terracotta pots.  One of those pots had a sad-looking plant in it and back in April we cut it down low in the hope that it might recover.  Quite honestly, neither of us could remember what it was, so we watched and waited.  Then to our absolute delight it perked up as the weather got hot and this week we have been rewarded with a beautiful reminder that it was in fact a gorgeous Hibiscus.  So here is a lovely foto for you.

Finally and to update you, I know that many of you are awaiting book three of the ‘Adventures of Joanna Wilde’.  Well, I am currently rattling away with at least a thousand words a day of ‘The Italian Connection’ and can confidently expect to have the first draft finished by the end of October.  Whilst writing, I would like to say a big thank you for the big increase in book sales during June and July resulting in the largest royalty payment ever!  Now don’t get too excited, I won’t be retiring in luxury yet!  But it was very gratifying, Grazie Mille. xx

OK, time to think about lunch.  I think cheesy tomato & vegetable rice bake and green beans today.  Yes, Sunday lunch at home for a change!  Buon appetito!

Have a great week.

Salute June x

PS Do visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

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

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

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

Read Full Post »

Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

The man's vintage binoculars at the ready. Photo J Finnigan

The man’s vintage binoculars at the ready.
Photo J Finnigan

It is early evening, Ferragosta and the rain is managing to hold off for all those revellers who want to go out and celebrate the start of the annual two-week holiday.  The silence is deafening and my man and I grip our aperitivi feeling somewhat stunned by the lack of activity in the fields around us.  This happens every year of course, but the countryside, villages and towns have a strange eerie feel about them, as if aliens have sucked ninety percent of the population off the surface of the earth.  Car parks are empty, shops are shut and the only company we have are a sprinkling of tourists wandering around like zombies.  Then my man says, “Hey look at this, you’ll need to come this side of the tree!”  He hands me his vintage binoculars that weigh a ton and points towards the wooden structure that has been slowly built over the last few weeks, carefully hidden from view at the top of a vineyard and out of sight of the road, to avoid the planning permission I expect.  There must be at least fifty people there in brightly coloured clothes, but all standing around not knowing what to do.  “There will be a great view through the valley from there.” I say.  “perhaps there’s a band arriving and we’ll have some music wafting across in a minute.”  But no, within ten minutes they all troop back up the hill towards the road and disappear.  Now this is the kind of thing that has us analysing the reason why.  Perhaps it was part of a tourist trip and they had been walked there to look at the view?  Perhaps it was the last remaining locals who have come out for a jolly and then decided that the structure wasn’t big enough to accommodate all the trestle tables they had brought with them!  We will never know, but I am now determined to sneak down that path and take a look at this mysterious structure over the next few days!

The wonderful Hibiscus which survives all weathers. Photo J Finnigan

The wonderful Hibiscus which survives all weathers.
Photo J Finnigan

The orchard and valley below our villa under grey skies. Photo J Finnigan

The orchard and valley below our villa under grey skies.
Photo J Finnigan

Well, the talk in the bar this morning, Sunday, was all about the Bruto Tempo, the bad weather.  We had more heavy rain overnight, but thank god it is now cooler and less humid.  My man and I are now determined to take a day off this week and do things in the garden.  You may think that we are swanning around here in our lovely villa on the edge of the Chianti Hills, but you would be wrong.  I am either writing or running our UK company and he has a heavy workload for UK clients.  Yes, thanks to technology, we could be anywhere in Europe and function perfectly well, but we chose Italy.  It was the lifestyle and language that attracted us here, and we are very glad we came.  But where was I, oh yes, planning a day off to do some gardening, which for me is very therapeutic.  Despite the recent intense weather some of our plants are actually revelling in it.  We also think that some of the grass seed we threw down randomly on our sparse weedy lawn, may have rooted!

Tuscan sunflowers after the rain. Photo J Finnigan

Tuscan sunflowers after the rain.

Now when the sky is grey and it is reasonably bright, the light really brings out the colours in the countryside.  This is one of the uplifting things that keep the smile on one’s face when the sun is hiding.  This time of year there are huge fields of Sunflowers right next to the road, looking like rows of little yellow people whose faces follow the sun from east to west during the day; beautiful.  The orchard, olive grove and valley below us is really bright green, and it is easy to pick out all the variant shades and shapes.  Of course, this area is an artist’s dream and I really must get my easel out again.

Talking of artists, I am looking forward to meeting half a dozen who are coming to visit me in October.  I have organised the sister-in-law to come and make sure all the pots are prettied up.  I think I’ll ask her to position my easel to make it look as if I am actively painting too!

Oh, just a quick mention of the new handbag you saw in my blog last week.  I have just found the maker’s card tucked in an inside pocket, so you really must visit her site http://www.marymccartybags.com as they are to die for.

Well, I must go and make myself beautiful and take my man out to Sunday lunch.  Maybe somewhere new this time.  Watch this space.

Salute June x

PS Don’t forget to visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

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

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

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

Read Full Post »

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