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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

2017-09-24 09.47.33OK, let’s get Mick Jagger sorted, then we can return to what else is happening in Tuscany and further afield in Italy.  Mick aged seventy-four, the Stones (or should we say the stoned) and entourage arrived at Pisa airport in their own fast jet, emblazoned with their red lipped logo.  In Lucca, just north of Pisa, outside the ancient walls of the city, fifty-six thousand fans roared their approval, whilst clutching probably the most sought after concert tickets of 2017.  It seems Mick also made a private visit to see the original statue of David at La Galleria dell’Accedemia prior to the concert and he ate a gelato on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, as did the other English visitor of note this week, Theresa May.  Well, that was exciting!  Foto La Nazione.

2017-09-22 09.16.26OK, enough of that, what you really want to read about is Italian Fashion, don’t you?  Well, you could hardly ignore the fact that we have just had Milan Fashion Week. Now, I take a serious interest in Italian fashion, as you know, and I can honestly say that the most beautiful clothes will not be found there.

2017-09-24 09.43.07Reading the national and local papers every day, I come across many small fashion designers who produce the most gorgeous clothes that are actually wearable!   The only well-known name I really like is Prada, particularly for handbags and shoes.  So here are a couple of really nice outfits that I found this week.  Don’t you just love these Autumn colours? Fotos La Repubblica.

2017-09-22 09.11.40And, as I mentioned Prada handbags, here is a seasonal one to fawn over! Foto La Repubblica.

871939Meanwhile, back in the glorious Tuscan countryside, we are enjoying a return to lush greenery after lots of rain, cooler weather and sunshine.  What a relief.  And it is that time of year when the enthusiasts head off on foot or bicycle, for a three-day wine and food Slow Travel Fest.  I love this idea and if my little legs were stronger, I would be there with them.  It started yesterday, the 22nd from San Gimignano, past Abbadia Isola and Monteriggioni and covers thirty kilometres with  fabulous views all the way; you might like to look out for next year’s event!  Foto copyright Easyvoyage.

2017-09-22 20.42.22But for me, the real event this week was my plate of pasta with freshly grated Tartufo Bianco (white truffle) over the top.  This is food to die for.  The pasta is lightly tossed in a little butter and nothing else but the Tartufo is needed.  That was Friday evening and Paolo at Ristorante C’era una Volta wasn’t sure if he would have any more this weekend.  Well, I think my man and I will pop over for lunch today, just in case!  If not, there are plenty of Porcini mushrooms available. Yummy!  Foto J Finnigan

OK, time to get glammed up and to go to lunch.  I’ll report back later……..  I’m back, no Tartufo but I did enjoy another lovely Grilled Porcini anti-pasti, so that was good!

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this blog, as much as I enjoyed writing it, and in case you overlooked the announcement, I now have an Official Author Site where you will find everything about my books, my diary, news of Literary Events and other interesting snippits.  Oh, and you can even buy a personalised signed book for your favourite person!  Take a look at Official Website

And, don’t forget to drop me a line, I love to hear from you.  Have a good week.

Salute June x

cropped-2017-05-07-17-25-58

 

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

The return of Montalbano! Glossy mag at Sandra's hairdressers.

The return of Montalbano! Foto Glossy mag at Sandra’s hairdressers.

I make no apology for my gushing in this opening paragraph.   Tonight, Monday, we will be watching the opening episode of the new Montalbano series!  Luca Zingaretti, who plays that mesmerising character, Comissario Montalbano, is fifty-five, short and bald, but there’s no other way to describe him, but hugely sexy!  I know I’m not alone in thinking this.  My man is tall, handsome and has a full head of hair, to me he is perfect.  But there is something about the character of Salvo Montalbano that has the heart fluttering.  Of course, it’s not just the man, it’s also the fantastic cast and plots.  The new series has been written by the original author of the books, ninety-two-year-old Andrea Camillera.  Based in Sicily again, it will be a fascinating series.  I have read all his previous books and watched the DVDs.  So, roll on tonight!

Low flying Air Balloons on a covert mission? Foto P Finnigan

Low flying Air Balloons on a covert mission? Foto P Finnigan

“Hello, what’s this?”  My man is peering sideways out of the car window on the way to coffee in Fiano and it is Sunday morning.  He swerves a little, as he’s not watching the road and then I spot the top of two hot-air balloons flying really low through the valley below us.  “They are far too low, what’s wrong with them?”  My man asks.  He pulls in and gets out of the car and watches.  “They seem to be just getting a close-up view, there is nowhere to set down, it’s too steep here.”  He takes a couple of photos and gets back in the car.  “They may be on a covert mission,”  I say, my mind all full of imaginary scenarios.  “Don’t be silly” he laughs,  “They would be using drones not hot air balloons!”  “Ah, that’s exactly what they would want you to think!”  I insist.  He sighs.

Toscani si Nasce Grande Show, 4th March. La Nazione.

Toscani si Nasce Grande Show, 4th March. La Nazione.

Over coffee, I read in the newspaper about a new effort to bring one’s attention back to the plight of the earthquake victims.  It is a wonderful idea, bringing together artists, all of whom were ‘Born in Tuscany’ including singers, musicians, dancers and comedians.  The Grande Show called Toscana si Nasce at Al Teatro Aurora, will also be televised on 4th March, and presented by Rodolfo Banchelli.  Lest we forget.

Gorgious Fendi bags and frock. La Repubblica

Gorgeous Fendi bags and frock. La Repubblica

Now, I know there are guys who read this blog and I really appreciate the fact that you do.  So I hope you won’t mind if I wax lyrical about the latest handbags, shoes and frocks currently being marketed by some of the fabulous designers here in Italy.  You see, I do love these things and try as I may, I am constantly falling in love with one or the other.

2017-02-25-08-58-24So very quickly, I have put together a selection to die for.  I would be happy to own the lot.

Ok, I know, enough is enough and anyway, I really must get on-line and make the final decision on my new book cover for ‘The Italian Connection‘.   Once I do this, a proof will be winging its way to me in the post.  So, to everyone still waiting, I promise it will be available very very soon.

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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Benvenuto and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

The traditional Carnevale in Tuscany. Foto La Republicca

The traditional Carnevale in Tuscany. Foto La Repubblica

“Ah, it’s Carnival time again!”  My man looks over his newspaper, as we drink coffee at La Dispensa in Fiano.  “I remember last year,” he continued “because I was on the plane coming back from Bristol, surrounded by a big crowd of carnival enthusiasts from Bridgwater!”   Now, he was talking about Bridgwater in Somerset, England, where they have a huge carnival every year, but nothing like as macabre and gruesome as the Italian ones so often are.  In their defence, the Italian ones are amazing to see.  Huge moving figures, loud music and bright colours.  This year the first one will be in Empoli on 11th February, then they continue through to 5th March throughout Tuscany, the biggest is probably at Viareggio.  Live carnivals will even be shown on Rai 3 television on the 26th and 28th February, if you don’t fancy going out in the cold.  So, whether you are an enthusiast or not, you won’t be able to avoid all the excitement, if you are here in Tuscany.

The forthcoming San Remo Music Festival. Foto La Repubblica

The forthcoming San Remo Music Festival. Foto La Repubblica

Anyway, what about the music scene, you ask?  Well, it’s also San Remo Music Festival time again.  I can tell you, February in Italy cannot be described as a dull or quiet time.  Carlo Conti, the hugely popular TV presenter will be playing host to all the entries from the Italian music world, hoping to be voted as the best and therefore eligible for entry in the Eurovision Song Contest.  What was that you said?  Yes, I know some of you hate this programme, but the Italians talk about little else in the bars during the four days of the festival, between 7th and 11th of February. Also, San Remo does attract a few famous stars to entertain the crowds in between bouts of the contest, and this year includes Robbie Williams and Ricky Martin!  Err, Wow?

The very versatile vegetable Carciofo. Foto La Repubblica

The very versatile vegetable, Carciofo. Foto La Repubblica

Coming down to earth and back in the local restaurants, we are enjoying the very popular vegetable, Carciofo, or Artichoke to you and I.  As you probably know, the Italians eat seasonal veg and fruit, and this time of year the carciofo is being served up in every shape and form.  Now, I love them, but my man does not, so I have never tried cooking them at home.  Anyway, why bother when you can pop down the road to a good ristorante!

Mmmm, lovely Gucci handbags to drool over. Foto La Repubblica

Mmmm, lovely Gucci handbags to drool over. Foto La Repubblica

What next, oh yes, handbags…..  Don’t you just love Italian made handbags?  I do.  I just had to share this collection of Gucci bags, I might go for the black one, as I already have one similar to the orange version.  What do you think?

And finally, sorry to end with sad news, but Italy just lost to Wales in the Six Nations Rugby.  Mind you, if you are Welsh, you are probably very happy about that.  At least we had the pleasure of watching England beat France yesterday, so not all was lost.

Well, enough of that.  Must get this blog off to you as soon as possible.  Have a great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x  PS Hope you like the new background theme.

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

The final sunset of 2016. Foto J Fielding.

The final sunset of 2016. Foto J Fielding.

Well, where were you on the stroke of midnight?  My man, my sister-in-law and I were at the bottom of our garden on the Terrazza watching all the fireworks going off around the valley, from San Gimignano to Certaldo and beyond.  Cheers and excited voices echoed around us, bouncing off the distant hills and up from the valleys below, and whilst we could not see Fiano we could hear it!  There is something very warming about not being in a big noisy party, but hearing them going on all around you!  Then back to the log fire to toast our toes.

Capodanno in Florence La Nazione

Capodanno in Florence La Nazione

In Florence, the annual bash was going on.  A very popular singer called Marco Mengoni was performing and there had been lots of excited babble from the local girlies beforehand.  More than forty thousand people attended the Festa and every single person was checked over by a metal detector before being allowed in.  What a task that must have been!

Local celebrations and the back up support for health and safety! la Repubblica

Local celebrations and the backup support for health and safety! la Repubblica

Locally, apart from all the house parties, Fiano held a big bash in the old cinema where a set menu with ten courses was served up and a local band played 70’s and 80’s musica.   I must give a mention for the support network of which is largely voluntary including the police, carabinieri, fire brigade and Misericordia.  And a warm welcome to two local New Year babies!

Special guest Granddog Zoe. Photo J Fielding

Special New Year guest Granddog Zoe. Photo J Fielding

On New Year’s Day, we had a big family lunch here in our kitchen.  Guest of honour was our granddog, Zoe the boxer dog, so the day was absolutely perfect.  What did we eat, I hear you say?  Well, we are not all veggie, but I only cook that way, so we had lovely baked jacket potatoes filled with spicy spinach and ricotta, a cauliflower cheesy bake and ratatouille.  Then a pear crumble with cream, very English and very filling!  I could not eat a thing in the evening, just washed it all away with some lovely Chianti wine.

My choice of festive outfit on the left, from Prada. Glossy mag.

My choice of festive outfit on the left, from Prada. Glossy mag.

Meanwhile and just before the festivities, I was at Sandra’s in Certaldo having my hair colour topped up when I saw this gorgeous Prada outfit (below) in a glossy mag, which for me is the perfect colour combination for when I am not wanting to dress completely in black, which is often.  So this is my festive outfit of the year.  Dare I go online and see if Prada has a sale on?  Very tempting…..

Anyway, my book ‘The Italian Connection’ is back from the editor and I just need to do a final honing.  Then I will select the new cover.  I find this bit hugely exciting as finally, the book takes on shape and personality.  It won’t be long now and thank you for waiting so patiently for this third book in the trilogy.  However, I must warn you, my heroine is already heading off in new directions and a fourth book is very likely to appear in the not too distant future!

OK, lovely people, best get this blog posted and think about warming up all those leftovers from yesterday and a bit more besides.  One of us was obviously not concentrating yesterday, as a missing bottle of red wine has just been found in the fridge!

Have a really great 2017 and I look forward to seeing you all at some stage either at my concert on 24th June or at one of my ‘to be organised’ book signings!

Buon Anno and 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 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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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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Welcome and Benvenuti to my lovely Loyal and New Followers,

Yes, I know, I’m a little late this week!  My apologies, but here we go.

'Il Fonti' the winning team. La Nazione

‘Il Fonti’ the winning team.
La Nazione

The victor's beautiful Banner on display at Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

The victor’s beautiful Banner on display at Fiano.
Foto J Finnigan

The highlight of last week was Fiano’s victory in the ‘Calambur’.  Just to explain, the Commune di Certaldo is divided into five ‘villages’ so to speak and all have their own flag.  These are really districts and every member of the commune belongs to one of them.  Fiano is the main village in ‘Le Fonti’ and the team was made up of many friends and family from Fiano, our local village.  ‘So what’s it all about?’ you ask.  Well the teams compete against each other in a complicated day of races, obstacle courses and intelligence tests, hoping to win the coveted Victory Banner.  Well, guess what, our team won and the beautiful banner has been on display in La Dispensa, our still fairly new bar and alimentare, in Fiano.  It really is a beautiful thing and I have enclosed a foto for you to see.  Wow!

The anticipated olive production. La Nazione

The anticipated olive production.
La Nazione

Well, what next?  Oh yes, the olive harvest.  The grape harvest has been going full pelt since the beginning of September and is the busiest time of year for the country folk.  Then it’s the turn of the olives and the countryside changes once again as multi-coloured nets are spread around the olive groves.  Sadly, I read in the paper that the production is estimated at 30% down on last year due to the pesky olive fly.  So the price of Extra Virgin will likely be higher in the coming months.  Whilst we love freshly cold pressed oil, we still have a huge demijohn from last year in the cantina, so we won’t go short.

The Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, makes the announcement. La Repubblica.

The Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, makes the announcement. La Repubblica.

Meanwhile, down in Rome, there has been a big debate about whether the City should host the 2024 Olympic games.  Now I am a great one for sport, but when I read the announcement from the Mayor of Rome, Virginia Reggi, that the city was withdrawing from the race, I was quietly pleased.  The locals all talk about the lack of money spent on long-term employment, pensioners and the country’s infrastructure.  So good for Virginia and the Romans, lets see some government reaction and some more money put into the economy!

Autumn Italian Fashion, beautiful. La Repubblica.

Autumn Italian Fashion, beautiful. La Repubblica.

Anyway, back to my world and fashion.  Yes I know, I’m a great lover of handbags, scarves, shoes and gloves and this time of year it’s all about autumn colours too.

Then of course, we have the wonderful sunsets as the sun has slipped lower in the sky, or has the planet moved up a shade?  Probably the latter. I sat out on the lower terrace yesterday evening and not one mosquito!  So the imminent arrival of house guests will be pleased to hear that.  August and most of September kept us inside in the evenings to avoid getting bitten, so we’re looking forward to enjoying aperitivi outside.

OK, enough of that.  Must crack on with the day job and the thousand words a day for my third book in the Joanna Wilde trilogy, which I know you are desperate to read!

Have a great week.

Salute June x

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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