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Posts Tagged ‘Florence’

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

2018-04-17 17.42.00Well, thank God for that, spring is really here at last and the forecast is sunshine for the next couple of weeks.  But hang on a minute, if you are thinking of rushing out to Tuscany with your cossies, the swimming pools do not open up until the beginning of May and anyway the air temperature can still be quite chilly this time of year.  On the other hand, there are no mossies around in April, so if you pack layers and don’t want to swim outside, come anyway! Foto J Finnigan

2018-04-15 09.39.32Now for me, spring brings a big lift to the spirits and I feel much more like going out and about.  I noticed an advert for an exhibition over on the coast in Pietrasanta, which is in the Comune di Lucca.  It’s called ‘Il dolce Rumore della Vita,’ which translates to ‘The Sweet Noise of Life’.  It is all about paintings and sculpture by very talented people including the Irish sculptor Paddy Campbell and Tuscan artist Simona Dolci.  I really fancy going over, and to breathe in some sea air before the bulk of the tourists arrive.  It’s easy to get a train there too, so no need to slog along the fipili dual carriageway.  Now I just need to persuade my man to join me.   Foto La Nazione.  Have a look for yourselves, the exhibition is open until 10th June.  Perhaps we’ll see you there.  visit the website

2018-04-16 09.17.41Meanwhile, yesterday saw Florence full of fun runners and their supporters, all there for good causes.  Yes, it was the annual Half Marathon.  What I love about Italians is that they always remember to include families and particularly children.  So, not only did you have the competitive race, but also a non-competitive race of 8km, a walking race over 5km and a kids race called ‘The Tommasino Run’ over 1.5km.  The events were spread around the beautiful city and included Piazza della Signoria and Piazza Duomo.  Foto La Nazione.

2018-04-15 09.25.25What else?  Oh yes, we cannot ignore that beautiful Italian creation the actress Claudia Cardianale who is celebrating her 80th birthday!  Can you believe it?  Now, some of you younger readers may not have seen her films that included starring roles in the sixties opposite leading men like Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson and Paul Newman.  Most of her films are now classics, so look them up!  Just like Sophia Loren, Claudia still scrubs up very well indeed.  Buon Compleanno to her.  Foto La Repubblica   Read about Claudia

2018-04-13 09.50.33Meanwhile, back in our local village of Fiano, relaxing over coffee and reading the newspapers, I found an article about Sulla Orma Citta Millenaria, that is ‘On the Millennium City Footprint.’  I know, it doesn’t really make sense, so one should not always try to translate literally.  What it actually said was, it is a thousand (mille is a thousand in Italian) years ago when the foundations were laid for San Miniato al Monte and other churches in Florence and the surrounding province.  A thousand years!  Think about it, that’s the year 1,018 AD or the 9th century.  These incredibly beautiful buildings were built all that time ago with no electronic or mechanical assistance.  Of course Florence is a most stunning atmospheric ancient city, and that’s not just the places of worship.  Florence was also the birthplace of Leonardo di Vinci and other illustrious designers and inventors.  So, If you have not visited yet, you really should!  Florence website

Queen 3.1Back here in our lovely bit of Chianti countryside, we had an invasion of bees in my study!  A queen had flown in the open window, yes it’s warm enough, and refused to leave.  After she eventually left, the worker bees found her scent and thought she was still here.  So my man being a gung-ho ex-marine, goes in and tries to encourage them to leave by waving a cobweb brush around.  The buzzing got angrier and louder.  “Get out of there!”  I screamed from outside the door, which opened a crack and he squeezed out.  After much discussion, we decided to shut all connecting doors and wait.  Over four hours later, all went quiet, they had finally given up and flown out into the dusk!  What a relief.  I hope they found their Queen.  At least my daft hero man did not get stung!  Foto Queen Bee – pixhark.com

OK, enough already, must concentrate on the day job now.  Do drop me a line or leave a comment, I love to hear from you.  Also note my dates for visiting the UK on my blog at My website

Have a great week.

Salute June x

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

Now, if you read my blog on a regular basis you will know that it is very rare for me to grumble.  However, I hope you will allow me one gripe having almost got past the final Christmas, New Year and Befana celebrations here in our little bit of Chianti.  As you know the Italians love festas.  That is the excuse to take time off for a day or more and celebrate with family, friends, good food and wine.  Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say.  Last Sunday was the final celebration called Befana, when the good witch pays a visit to all the Italian children to check if they have been good or not, and then award them with presents or a lump of coal.

2017-12-31 09.35.11The next day I thought, hurrah, we can get back to normal, ditch or plant the Christmas trees that many of us are allergic to, the shops will all be open and the post office will be functioning.  How, after nearly fourteen years living in this beautiful bit of the world, could I forget that Befana also heralds the start of a week’s holiday for thousands of Italians, when many shoot off to ski destinations!  Last Monday I found a note in my post box, telling me that a long overdue Christmas parcel was waiting for me at Certaldo Post Office.  So I waited in the usual queue and arrived at the counter feeling pretty relaxed.  “Sorry Signora” the male counter assistant said, in Italian of course, “The sorting office is still on holiday, you will have to come back tomorrow!”  Take note, the date was 8th January…..  I took a deep breath and walked back out into a hail storm and did not have a brolly with me!  OK, grumble over, I went back the next day and got my parcel.  Foto La Repubblica

2018-01-15 08.55.09And on the subject of skiing, you would love the Dolomites in Northern Italy this time of year.  Very crowded mind, although from next week onwards most of the Italian tourists may have finally returned to work.  Meanwhile, a little further north in Austria, our brilliant female ski team have just won the World Championship and good for them I say!  Are you a keen skier?  I have always wanted to ski, but never got round to it.  Too many other priorities I guess.  My man skied in Norway with the military; when you next see him, ask him about his experiences, he loves to talk about his wooden skis!

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Meanwhile, back in our local village of Fiano, we continue to enjoy morning coffee and despite the owners, Fabio and Sandra, being on holiday, their lovely daughter Rossella (on the right) was running things at La Dispensa.  She and I always speak in English and at normal speed so that she can even further improve her very good command of the language.  Relaxing over coffee and the newspapers here, always starts my day off brilliantly. Foto J Finnigan.

Well, must get my head around completing my column for Expat Focus and complete a short story called ‘The Man in Black,’ which I started a few years ago.  My man has, over the last few weeks, inspired me to go back and finish it.  So watch this space for news of its publication.  Or, if you have not yet registered for updates on my website, go to June’s Official Website

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

Salute June x

PS My fourth novel ‘Assassin’s List’ is also progressing well!

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

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Oliver and Nicola on the right. My Hunks of the month.  Foto J Finnigan

Visiting Florence is a wonderful experience at any time and we don’t do it often enough.  Last Tuesday we not only went to that beautiful city, we also had an appointment with Sartoria Vanni a hugely popular bespoke tailor with a history going back two hundred years.  My man needed a new city suit and this is where we were recommended to go.  We were greeted by Nicola Papa and Oliver Scavetta, lifetime friends and both, I have to say, absolutely gorgeous.  Oh dear, now I’ve lost track!  Oh yes, for the next hour Nicola was my man’s personal tailor and I was truly impressed with his attention to style and detail.  My man looked pretty good when we arrived there, but in Nicola’s final mock-up suit he looked amazing!  We have four weeks to wait for the final suit, so that will be another excuse to return to Florence. Yay!   Quote Nicola Papa – ‘Self-empowerment and success can all start with your diligence to apparel. When you dress your best you’re empowered to become your best.’  Absolutely, I say!  Visit the Website  for full details of their traveling service.

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The cool courtyard setting of Ristorante Quinoa. Foto J Finnigan

Now for ages I have wanted to visit Ristorante Quinoa, a completely gluten-free restaurant in Vicolo Di Santa Maria Maggiore.  It was a bit of a walk for me, but I was really determined to enjoy a good lunch after our visit to Nicola and Oliver.  I was not disappointed.  We walked into a lovely cool open courtyard with colourful seating and a menu to die for!  I ordered a vegan burger, which came with big slices of avocado and lots of other trimmings in a crispy home-made gluten-free bread roll.   This was just heaven to me and washed down with a delicious dry white.  I should have taken a picture of the food, but I was so ravenous that I had eaten the top of the bread roll before I thought of it!  Sorry.  Anyway, I must recommend this place to you, particularly if you are gluten-free like me; they cater for meat eaters, veggies and vegans.  Visit Website

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The freebie newspaper ‘Florence is You’ Foto J Finnigan

As I walked to the bagno, I noticed a table with the free newspaper ‘Florence is You’ on top and this reminded me of our meeting the lovely Editor in Chief, Anna Balzani, a couple of years ago.  Her paper is brilliantly put together and caters for Italian, English, Chinese and Russian visitors and residents.  Not only is it newsy, it also has great interviews and articles about the most interesting people and places.  I read the paper on-line and you can too, just visit Website

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Meanwhile, in the world of Rock Music, Prato, a small city north of Florence, is currently hosting seventeen days of Afterhours shows in the Piazza Duomo.  Now this is a very popular location for festivals and is very beautiful too.  Prato is also famous for its textile industries and is very popular with the Chinese as a place to live.  Foto La Nazione

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What else?  oh yes, I read over coffee in our local village of Fiano, that Silvio Berlusconi is currently on the hustings for his party Forza Italia, in Sicily.  Well, I don’t want to hint at anything, but in the colourful world of Italian politics, I can’t imagine he will have any trouble getting votes there!  Nudge nudge, wink wink.  Foto La Repubblica.

Ok, now today is Saturday and I can’t make up my mind whether to cook lunch and go out this evening, or to go out for lunch and tuck in with an aperitivo and snack this evening.  I’ll check with my man, back in a minute…….  We are going out to lunch, so that’s good, I can relax and finish this blog.

Well, the weather is cooler now but we still need more rain.  High winds are currently whirling around the house, so something might be on the way!  Fingers crossed.

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 June’s site or visit any Amazon site around the world.  Or, simply google June Finnigan.

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

The Statue of David in Florence.  La Reppubblica

The Statue of David in Florence this week.  La Repubblica.

Now, as you know, I always try to bring you fun and interesting news from Tuscany, however, just occasionally I need to talk about rather more serious matters.  The people of Italy, like everyone else with warm beating hearts, were devastated by the news from Manchester.  And the loss of so many children; so very difficult to comprehend.  In Piazza Della Donna in Florence, the Florentines woke to find the Statue of David wearing a black armband and holding the Union Flag.  Whoever did this, thank you for the show of solidarity.  The Italians, in small and large communities alike, evolve everything around their children.  I have had a number of people in our local village expressing their condolences, bless them.

 

The President and the Pope

The President and The Pope.  La Reppublica.

Meanwhile, the President of the United States has visited The Pope.  He and his family wore the traditional black and the women covered their heads in lace.   Apparently, the two men made their peace and for once we saw Donald smiling into the camera.   However, Pope Francis was grimacing, which is most unusual for our very popular Papa.

 

Dante in Pisa

Dante in Pisa. La Repubblica

On a lighter note, Pisa is currently celebrating Dante Alighieri, Il Sommo Poeta, and Fabrizio Gifuni will this evening (Sunday) be reading a selection of Dante’s works from Il Torre di Pisa (The Tower of Pisa) overlooking the Piazza del Miracoli.  This will no doubt be a very atmospheric evening, and the reading starts at ten o’clock.  Have you ever read Dante’s Inferno?  I am thinking that I must have read it at school, I do remember it being described as ‘The Divine Comedy’.  Amazing to think that his works are still celebrated seven hundred years after his death!  Of course, here in Tuscany, he remains hugely popular as he was born in Florence.  I have just read up a little more about him.  He fell in love with a girl who married someone else, so his one and only love, was unrequited.  How sad.  Well, I guess I have better read his works again, as it will come up fresh after all those years since I left the Grammar School.

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Addio Roger.  La Repubblica

Another bit of sadness was the death of Roger Moore.  He is, of course, mostly remembered for his Bond roles.  however, I really liked a TV series called The Saint back in the sixties.  The Italians love the Bond films and there was a big write-up in the newspaper saying ‘Addio to Roger’.

 

Well, here in Tuscany, it’s yet another beautiful day.  We bought four lavender yesterday to plant in a little bare patch, so more lovely perfumes to mingle with the Jasmin.  But Oh, not to forget, I must mention our new resident.  He or she is a large Viper and seems to be living under the path in the lower part of our garden.  My man, being an ex-commando, is very gung-ho about it and says just to make a noise as you near the spot, and it will run away.  Well, slide, should I say.  Well, it may run away from his big noisy feet, but I came face to face with it and it coiled into attack mode and hissed at me.  I just kept slowly walking down to the Cantina with my heart in my mouth!  I ain’t going that way again, thank you!

Well, enough of that.  We have just returned from lunch at C’era Una Volta website where I tasted tagliatelle with sun-dried tomato pesto and smoked ricotta cheese.  Phew, it was Picante!   It was delicious but I had to leave some, much to my disappointment!

So, here’s wishing you all a very good week, free of bad happenings.

Salute June x

PS Do visit my author site at My site

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

I must tell you this true story.  As you know, from time to time, my man has to pop over to London to do a bit of business.  A few days ago, he was trying to make a purchase with his business Visa card and put the wrong pin in…..three times, which he blamed on fat finger small keyboard scenario.  Yes, the bank blocked it.  So he rushed into the local Barclays and realised that he had no identity; his passport was back at his London club and he doesn’t need his driving licence in London! He produced everything he had with his signature on, other bank cards, even his British Library card which sported his photo!  Then finally, in exasperation, he said, “I’m wearing hand-made Italian shoes and they have my name inside.”  Would you believe it, they agreed to unblock his card!  Don’t you just love it!

Al Bar Fiano, needing lots of people to bring it alive again. Foto J Finnigan

Al Bar Fiano, needing lots of people to bring it alive again. Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back in the calmer atmosphere of our local village of Fiano, I made a second visit to the new Al Fiano Bar.  Two locals were sat drinking coffee and eating pastries, then a certain well-known signora arrived, shouting at the top of her voice.  She only wanted some crisps, but for an Italian lady who stands at around four-foot-five, she’s got the voice of a giant.  Then she spotted me, trying to read the newspaper, and came and sat down!  I think she was telling me, and the rest of the village, about her one visit to London, when Steffi Graff was playing at Wimbledon.  If not, I may have bought an old tennis racket and a donkey.  I’m not sure which, I’ll let you know.

Natalia waiting to serve you a very nice Espresso at Al Bar Fiano. Photo J Finnigan

Natalia waiting to serve you a very nice Espresso at Al Bar Fiano.
Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, the lovely lady behind the bar turns out to be Russian and has been here in Italy for I think sixteen years.  She is called Natalia and her smile brightened the room, which is still in need of a lift to make it more welcoming.  However, do go in, the more that try it out the better it will become.  Fingers crossed.

The artist Marcello Scuffi. I love his work. Foto La Republicca.

The artist Marcello Scuffi. I love his work. Foto La Repubblica.

OK, what next.  Oh yes, I spotted this article about Marcello Scuffi, the Tuscan artist.  I love this kind of contemporary art and at first, I thought his work must be from the nineteen twenties or thirties.  But no, Marcello was born in 1948, is alive and well and still producing these masterpieces.  He was born in Tizzana (Pistoia) which is not far from Florence and currently works out of Quarrata and Marina di Pietrasanta.  He is also very sought after and has made quite an impression in France, Belgian and Switzerland.  Google him and you will be able to see lots more of his pictures.

‘And what about the touring bands in our area?’  I hear you ask.  Well, at last, the wonderful Piazza Arena in Lucca is to host the Rolling Stones!  This will be during the summer music festival in July, so won’t compete with my own concert with The Rock Chick Band on June 24th!  You may have difficulty getting tickets for the Rolling Stones, but my concert is free!  However, it is by private invitation, so if you would like an official invite to my concert, drop me an email at june.finnigan@virgin.net

Oh, must just mention that the weather here has been glorious around lunchtime, a hot sun and no cold wind.  so, over the last few days, we have snuck down to the terrace a couple of times for an aperitivo.  Cin Cin!

Well, enough of that, my man is taking me out to lunch so I must go for a shower and make myself beautiful.  Whoever said ‘how do you hope to do that?’ Can go and crack their own mirror!  Ha ha to you too.

Have a great week and do get in touch.  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 published Books.
Foto J Finnigan

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all you lovely Followers

“What’s that man doing parking on the road, he should be on the pavement like all the other Italians!”  I groan aloud.  What’s this strange statement you may be thinking?  Well, I like to walk down the road, it’s less potholed than the path and anyway, there’s usually cars parked on the pavement.  Why? Because there is a line saying that they cannot park on the road.  Err, what is this madness you may ask?  Well, the Italians always park on the pavement in Fiano and I think they are trying to say “I won’t be long, I’m only partly on the road, so don’t give me a ticket.”  Meanwhile, we pedestrians, including pushchairs and wheelchairs, use the road.  It’s quite simple and now we are so used to it, it’s annoying when someone does things differently!

The lilac boys and a dejected Juventus player. La Repubblica

The violet boys and a dejected Juventus player.
La Repubblica

Anyway, some very good news.  This morning the bar was awash with local football fans celebrating Fiorentino’s win over top of the league Juventus.  There is a profound change in the atmosphere of Fiano, who support the boys from Florence in their violet strip and this win was particularly amazing.  So, despite the bitterly cold wind and the recent minor earthquake, everyone was in a very good mood.

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Coffee with Walter the Donkey. Foto J Finnigan

After five days back in England, I was so pleased to be home in Tuscany, drinking decent espresso and eating good food.  I had an awful time trying to find a decent meal in Devon and Somerset.  Everything was either under or overcooked and far too much salad for these cold winter months!  Gianluca at C’era Una Volta ristorante presented me with Walter the Donkey who he had purchased in Guatemala whilst on holiday, a present to go with my coffee, how neat is that!

Chunky Hunk and Italian Gorgonzola. La Repubblica

Chunky Hunk and Italian Gorgonzola.
La Repubblica

Now where was I?  Oh yes, I want to mention the fact that many Brits think of parmesan Cheese when I mention living in Italy.  Not only do we have a fabulous range of Pecorino, sheep’s cheese, and gorgeous Buffalo Mozzarella,  but we also have a mouth-watering Gorgonzola, which this nice man below is demonstrating.  I also present him as Chunky Hunk of the month as not all the best looking Italian men are skinny!

OK, enough of that.  Time to finish the editing of my latest novel and get it published!  I know, I keep promising to get it out there, it won’t be long now my friends!

Have a great week.

Salute June x

 

 

 

Visit http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinngian

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

 

 

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