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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

Polenta e Fungi antipasti. Foto J Finnigan

Polenta e Fungi antipasti. Foto J Finnigan

“Could we look at the wine list please?”  I said in Italian of course.  The waiter went a little pale and disappeared.  Then his wife arrived and said, “We don’t need a wine list, we have our own wine!”  “Oh good!” I gave her my broadest smile.  “We’ll have half a litre of the house red then.”  She happily bounced away.  Now, this was the start of our visit to a tiny family run restaurant called Taverna del Fiorentino in Marcialla, which is just fifteen minutes away from our home.  We chose to go there for the first time, because we had been invited by friends to go to the theatre, just around the corner, for a jazz evening.  Having arrived at seven-thirty, this gave us lots or time to relax over dinner, well so we thought.  Now the couple who run the place are really sweet and the wine was delicious.  But the wait for the food was the longest we have ever experienced.  OK, this is Italy where slow food is the rule, but after a while, we realised that this was not the place to go if we had a limit on our time.  also, it gradually became clear that the place had expectantly filled up with people, and they did not have the staff to cope with it.  We had probably chosen the wrong day too.  But the simple polenta & fungi antipasti arrived and it was delicious, also, when it eventually came, my man enjoyed his pasta dish.  so, it was an experience and we are not sure whether we should go back, but we will see.

The cosy theatre before the concert. Foto J Finnigan

The cosy theatre before the concert. Foto J Finnigan

So, it was then a last-minute dash around the corner to Teatro Regina Margherita to meet our friends and neighbours.  As we waited to buy tickets, I snuck around the red curtain and took a photo of the almost empty theatre, which looked lovely and cosy, the band’s instruments all set up on the stage, ready to go.  I’ve never been a big fan of Jazz, I prefer Rock, so we awaited the start of the performance with curiosity.

The band Simone Graziano - Frontal. Foto J Finnigan

The band Simone Graziano – Frontal. Foto J Finnigan

Well, I am not sure how to describe the band, who call themselves Simone Graziano – Frontal,  perhaps in their late twenties or early thirties and hugely talented on their particular instruments.  I found myself drawn to the drummer, Stefano Tamborrino ( a fabulous name for a percussion man) who was amazing on the drums and more, even jangling a big bunch of keys at one point.  But the overall sound was just too weird and a little crazy for my taste.  In saying that, we enjoyed being in the theatre, but next time we go it won’t be for the Jazz.  Afterwards, we joined our friends (thank you Paolo and Paola) for wine in the foyer, which was supplied by Villa S. Andrea from San Casciano.  The wine was very good and the Villa, should you be out that way, is a fabulous place to visit.  Go to http://www.villasandrea.com

Well, back to normality, and trying to ignore the cold wet weather.  Spring is leaping forth in our lovely Tuscan garden, but the weather is keeping us inside.  Despite that, we might pop over to C’era Una Volta for a nice hot lunch shortly.

New book cover proof for The Italian Connection. Foto J Finnigan

New book cover proof for The Italian Connection.
Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, the hard copy proof of my new book ‘The Italian Connection’ is arriving special delivery on Tuesday, so hopefully, by the weekend it will finally be ready to launch!  Here is a screen shot of the cover.  The wording may change a little on the reverse.  If you would like personal notification of the publication date, email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net

Anyway, must go and make myself beautiful and get taken out to lunch by my gorgeous man.  And, don’t forget that Wednesday is Festa Della Donna, so we girlies expect to be spoilt on that day with a piece of Mimosa, or any given present actually!

Have a great week.

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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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

The Grape Harvest begins. La Nazione

The Grape Harvest begins.
La Nazione

Hurrah!  September is here with its cooler weather and a little rain!  After a seriously hot humid August, it was a relief when we hit the 1st September.  And, on this day the first mechanical grape picker started trundling through the vineyards below our house, collecting all those plump purple grapes that will provide us with our next supply of Chianti wines.  Also on this day, the shooters were allowed to start banging away at first light, celebrating the start of the hunting season.  I make no comment on this except that we would be happy for local wildlife to take up arms and fire back.  Oops, sorry, that was supposed to be no comment.

2016-09-03 14.31.57

Our lovely big kitchen table and fruit. Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, What else to celebrate?  Ah well, the seasonal fruit; we are gorging on lovely fresh fruit salads for breakfast every morning.  Peaches, plums, apples and some imported things like bananas and kiwi.  So I thought you might like a picture of my big kitchen table with its baskets of fruit.

Porcini Mushrooms. La Nazione

Porcini Mushrooms. La Nazione

The other things I adore at this time of year is the fungi harvest.  In particular the big porcini mushrooms that are delicious grilled whole as an anti-pasti.  Yummy!

And, still on the subject of food, last Sunday we went to ‘Ristorante Borgo Antico’ in Tavernelle and I promised to report back to you.  Firstly, the place was all closed down so we enquired at a nearby geletaria.  Apparently, they had moved to the edge of town four years ago!  How little we know….  Well, my friends, I have to tell you that we were delighted with the new place, a beautiful outside terrace, the same big welcome from Katia, as we always used to get at the old place, and food and wine to die for!  So needless to say we are booked to go back today, Sunday!  I’ll post some pictures next week.  Meanwhile, go to http://www.borgoanticorestaurant.com

Autumn fashions from Simona Barbieri. La Republica.

Autumn fashions from Simona Barbieri.
La Republica.

Now most of you will already know that I love clothes and the Italian Autumn fashions are fabulous.  In particular, the oranges and browns that really suit my colouring.  Whilst I hate to give up wearing flip-flops, stylish ones of course, I do adore window shopping for handbags and shoes.  My poor man cannot understand why I keep buying handbags, “You can only use one at a time and you keep most of them in a cupboard for months.” But that’s not the point, is it girlies?

Anyway, that’s enough for now.  Do send me your own September stories either by replying to this blog or by email to june.finnigan@virgin.net.  I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

PS I’m still on target with my latest book, rattling away at least one thousand words a day!  I’ve just got to a very scary bit!

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.

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers,

“I wouldn’t start from here, If I were you, and by the way I found this in the garden!”  The start point my man was referring to was the beginning of my blog and the thing he found in the garden was a porcupine quill.  Now our still new garden is very well fenced and has so far kept out the deer and cinghale (wild boar), but low slung animals still seem to get inside.  We have only ever seen a porcupine once crossing the road, safely I hasten to add, and after dark.

But back to the blog and I always ask my man to do a quick edit.  He quite rightly suggested I start somewhere else, rather than begin by mentioning that he had returned from a business trip to London on Friday feeling exhausted; so I won’t mention that.  Then to change the subject I told him about the earthquake, which happened when he was away.  I had spread a load of work out on the kitchen table and when the tremor started I had to hold on to it to steady myself.  Fortunately, my glass of wine only shivered slightly and quickly settled down again!  Has anyone else experienced an earthquake? Do let me know.

Farty Barty waiting patiently for my return to the studio. Foto J Finnigan

Farty Barty waiting patiently for my return to the studio.
Foto J Finnigan

We have recently had a new internet connection installed and so working on-line has become so much easier.  I can definitely recommend AirWiFi to all those struggling to fund a decent internet connection in this part of the world.  Thank you to  friends Karin and Hans for suggesting it.  Go to http://www.airwifi.it  However, with a cat on one’s lap, who is needing comfort from the nasty thunder outside, it’s not so easy to reach the computer and go on-line!  Everytime I get up he’s back on the chair waiting for my return and I’m too soft to send him away!

Seeing spooks and aliens in my morning coffee! foto J Finnigan

Seeing spooks and aliens in my morning coffee!
foto J Finnigan

Hurrah, we have a winner for my signed book and she is blog follower Odette, who spotted that my coffee had changed to a small black, whereas in previous fotos I always had a white one!  Brava that lady!    So why had my coffee changed?  Well down in Certaldo I had been trying different ways of drinking espresso as I believe the milk is not too good for me.  This is very sad because I love my morning caffè latte, it just no longer seems to like me!  This has been very confusing for Caffe Bar Il Solferino, where they know all their customers and what they drink.   So finally, I have selected caffè latte with soya milk, it has the same creamy texture but I am having to acquire the Italian liking for sweetness!

Vintage band POOH is back on stage and touring! La Nazione

Vintage band POOH is back on stage and touring! La Nazione

Ok, at this time of year, as many of you know, we are gearing up for The Rock Chick Band’s annual concert garden party and we already have one rehearsal under our belts.  I read in the paper that the original line-up of the rock band known as POOH is touring again.  They were very popular in Italy in the 60’s and 70’s and in the rest of the world I’m told!  It’s a great time for the aging rockers of this world, particularly in Italy where the concerts are always sold out!

Fungi in the garden. anyone know what it is? Foto J Finnigan

Fungi in the garden. anyone know what it is?
Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back in our lovely wooded garden, the deluge of rain has bought lots of interesting fungi to the surface.  If any of you clever clogs know the name of these, do let me know.

Finally, we are all very sad to hear that Silvio Berlusconi has been committed to hospital with heart problems and is to be operated on today (Tuesday).  It sounds quite serious and is a four-hour job!

Silvio goes into hospital. La Nazione

Silvio goes into hospital.
La Nazione

There is already talk of finding a replacement leader for Forza Italia, Silvio’s political party.  But let’s hope that all goes well for him; Italian politics will lose a lot of colour if Silvio steps down.

Well, enough of that, must organise some lunch, do voice exercises whilst its cooking and pour myself a nice chilled white to assist my singing practice.  My man is currently occupied in his own studio, with a Skype call to England, so I had best not disturb him!

Have a really great week and do drop me a line, or visit http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

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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Buongiorno all you lovely Loyal and New Followers

The traditional Bullocks arrive with the first of the 'new' Chianti Wine. La Nazione.

The traditional Bullocks arrive with the first of the ‘new’ Chianti Wine. La Nazione.

Now this is the time of year when the nearby small town of Montespertoli has an exhibition of Chianti Wine in its central Piazza and it’s a lovely setting amongst the trees and flower beds.  The piazza is surrounded by white tents and a couple of hundred local vineyards bring their Chianti wine for lucky people to taste.  The traditional start to the festa involves two bullocks hauling the first of the ‘new’ wines into town.  Then the festa goes on for a whole week and with it comes the annual ‘Bomba Acqua’ meaning a deluge of heavy rain to send everyone scurrying into the local bars.

Also during this period of Bomba Acqua, the first of the May wedding parties arrived from England and other parts of northern Europe.  Tuscany is very popular for tying the knot due to its many castles and historical villas.  We met four lovely people, one couple from America and one from Wales, who had arrived for an English wedding celebration and sadly could not see the swimming pool at their B&B, due to the fog and rain!  We hope you nice people enjoyed the wedding despite the weather!

Rosolio alla Rosa and panacotta. Foto J Finnigan

Rosolio alla Rosa and panacotta.
Foto J Finnigan

I’m sure you will agree that the best way to relax during unreliable weather, is to repair to a good local restaurant for a long lunch.  We tend to do this on Sundays anyway, and once again returned to L’Osteria Casa Chianti, which is just ten minutes away. I was not presented with a rose this time but, even better, a bottle of Rosolio alla Rosa Digestivo with my panacotta desert.  It was really delicious, tastes and smells like English Roses and can be bought locally near Barbarino Val D’Elsa!  In fact the restaurant sources everything locally and in particular the tartufi (truffles).  Yummy.  I should mention at this point that the place was packed,  so you should ring and book a table if you intend going!  0039 0571 669 688.

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two. La Nazione.

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two. La Nazione.

Lest we forget, last Thursday was the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two.  We saw marches waving the old Partisan Red Flag, remember in Italy it was the Communists vs Fascists, and some of the old remaining partisan members of the Resitenza were presented with memorial certificates.  I always find these occasions very emotional and it is hard to imagine living in this beautiful country when it was overrun by Fascists and Nazis.

On a lighter note, here is a little bit of fun.  I want you to look closely at the pictures in this blog that include a photo of the local paper and my coffee cup.  Then look at previous blogs and see if you can spot the difference.  The first person to leave a comment on this blog with the correct answer will win a signed copy of one of my books below.  The choice will be yours!  Enjoy…

Meanwhile, have a great week, do drop me a line and visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

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

Yes, I’m back with a wag in my tail and feeling full of the joys of early summer in Tuscany, despite the news from Florence that the road beside the Arno, and close to the medieval Ponte Vecchio bridge, had collapsed.  Be careful where you park!

Farty Barty curled up at my feet under the Oak Tree. foto J Finnigan

Farty Barty curled up at my feet under the Oak Tree.
foto J Finnigan

Now, many of you have asked about Farty Barty the cat and you will be very pleased to know that he has finally settled into his and our new home.  As for ourselves, we are feeling even more content having got some of our well-travelled pictures on the walls.  The house, trees, garden and surrounding countryside are so very therapeutic and I foresee great novels being written here!

Graham Nash in Lucca, great singer and songwriter. La Nazione

Graham Nash in Lucca, great singer and songwriter.
La Nazione

Back in the world of rock music it is less than a month away from our next Rock Chick Band concert and our first rehearsal will be this coming Saturday.  There is no need to smoke and take drugs to be a rock singer; believe me, I get a high immediately I am behind that microphone!  Meanwhile, the Duran Duran tour hits Florence on 10th June and they will already be sold out.  No, I am not going, I did that twice in the ’80’s with my beautiful daughter.  However, I will be singing one of their songs at my own concert; there are just a few of DD’s that I really like and this one is called Skin Divers.  Lucca, near Pisa, is also a very popular venue for concerts and the aging rocker Graham Nash is currently here in concert.  A great song writer too and I would have loved to have been there, but time is currently of the essence.

Complimentary Moscato and rose at L’osteria Casa Chianti. foto J Finnigan.

Meanwhile, here in our little bit of Chianti, we are pleased to say that we are now returning on a regular basis to a local osteria that was taken over by new owners a few months ago.  Yesterday, Sunday, it was amazingly devoid of customers and we were told that part of the road had been closed to accommodate the annual cycle race.  So we were able to enjoy a strangely quiet lunch.  The food really is excellent here and, if you don’t mind loud theatrical serving at the table, you’ll love it.  It is the L’osteria Casa Chianti where they specialise in Tartufo (truffles) and Fungi Porcini.  We indulged in wood grilled Pecorino Cheese covered in locally sourced truffle shavings, followed by the lightest creamy Panacotta with mixed fruits.  Mmmmm.  With the desert, we were served complimentary glasses of Moscato and I was presented with a little rose bud.  Of course it was the rose that did it for me, so you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I am now hooked on the place!  Go to http://www.osteriadicasachianti.it

Silvio is honoured with a special Pizza in Napoli. La Nazione

Silvio is honoured with a special Pizza in Napoli.
La Nazione

Oh yes, I know you like to hear about our Silvio so here is a little snippet from our national paper.  Down in Napoli, Il Cavaliere, also known as Silvio Berlusconi, was spotted being presented with a Pizza made in his honour.  It was a long pizza with a ‘mare’ flavour, that is ‘flavour of the sea’.   He is hugely popular down south and it’s only a matter of time before he’s back in the chair, or so they say!  I’ll keep you posted.

Well, enough of that.  Books to write, wine to drink and voice exercises to endure.  If you are passing, ignore the strange screeching, it’s just me trying to make those high notes!  And don’t forget, you are very welcome to come to my concert party on 25th June here in Tuscany, just send your email address to june.finnigan@virgin.net

Meanwhile, have a great week, do drop me a line and visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

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 Loyal and New Followers

Well, this last week has been a busy old-time, what with the house hunting, writing, working and eating out, it disappeared in a flash.  So here we are chatting away again and talking about our little bit of Chianti in Tuscany.

Paolo's Chanterelle Harvest. Photo P Finnigan

Paolo’s Chanterelle Harvest.
Photo P Finnigan

Last Sunday my man and I popped into C’era una Volta Ristorante for sunday lunch.  ‘What again?’ I hear you ask.  Well, you know, if one is lucky you might find a local restaurant that ticks most of the boxes and it is so convenient to keep going, especially when the owner treats you like royalty, serves perfect gluten-free pasta and fresh food and herbs straight from his own orto (vegetable garden).  Paolo does all these things and more.  He goes out to the woods to find fresh mushrooms or buys from a local contadino who has beaten him to it!  He and his wife Gaia make the most delicious Tiramasu and a digestivo to die for, Crema di Limoncello.  This last time, Paolo showed us the latest chanterelle harvest and you could still smell the earthy woodland aroma in them.  Heavenly….

Now, you may remember that we have been house hunting, as our landlady wants our little villa back at the end of the four-year contract in February.  She is being a little flexible so we are thinking in terms of the first of April, when the cold weather should be finished.  We have viewed nine properties so far, ranging from awful to beautiful, the latter one that we really like, will need a bit of a compromise on our part, because it is a large apartment in a converted rustic property.  It does have a lovely garden with great views; we must deliberate.

The gorgeous Simon Baker. La Nazione.

The gorgeous Simon Baker. La Nazione.

Anyway, back at Il Solferino bar in Certaldo, we enjoy our coffee and read the papers.  O Dio, not again.  Last week it was Daniel Craig and now it’s that gorgeous blond actor Simon Baker joining us.  There he is, my second choice for playing Dominic in the film version of my books, sporting another expensive watch.  I say second choice, but likely now to be my first choice, as methinks Daniel will probably be too expensive.

Olives and cold pressed oil. La Nazione.

Olives and cold pressed oil.
La Nazione.

Meanwhile, and out there in the real world, the olives have all been picked and we are told it is going to be a good year for olive oil, unlike last year which was a disaster.  We are already enjoying the tangy taste of the cold pressed olives; heavenly drizzled over bread or garlic toast.  Mmmmm.

Then, last but not least, the highlight for many Italians in the Provincia di Firenze, has been the visit by Pope Francis to Florence and surrounding areas.

Pope Francis in Florence. La Nazione

Pope Francis in Florence.
La Nazione

Thousands thronged to every appearance by this popular man, but I have to say that he is looking older and tired.  He is currently having to deal with accusations of fraudulent activity within the Vatican Bank and that’s just the money side of things.  However, his smiling face does seem to lift the spirits of his followers, and whilst terrible acts are occurring elsewhere, like Paris, maybe he will have some influence on the state of mind of our fellow Europeans, christian or otherwise.

Finally, on behalf of all us British expats around the world, may our Parisian friends find peace and the strength to recover from these latest atrocities as soon as possible.

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.

 

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