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

OK, so it’s nearly Christmas and whatever your plans are, I really hope all goes well for you.

For us, the days between Christmas and New Year have historically involved fresh air, country walks and a little gardening. On the subject of gardening, I am not talking manual labour just a bit of pottering and thinking about improvements and the return of spring.

Continuing with the subject of gardens, I am very proud to introduce you to my hugely talented and beautiful daughter Sharon Finnigan-Kilby. Sharon is a highly qualified and experienced garden designer as well as editing Envy Italy mgazine and running a PR Company here in Italy. Now, whilst some of her work has been temporarily effected by Covid, the garden design business is the one area that she is getting a lot of interest for. Not only is it the right time of year for planning designs, walking around your winter plots and visualising wonderful things for the future, you can get designing straight away. Of course, I’m no expert, but Sharon is and you can contact her at https://www.bellaterragardendesigns.com

Well, this may be a short blog but it is an important one as we take a break for the Festive Season. Thank you so much for buying my books and following my blog. And, may I take this opportunity to wish all my followers, family and friends a Very happy Christmas and a very much better New Year.

Salute June x

PS Visit my author site for your Christmas reading http://www.junefinnigan.website

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Welcome and Benveuti to all my Lovely Followers Around the World,

Phew! Things have calmed down a little now after horrendous storms bringing heavy rain yesterday and overnight. The sky remains grey and there is a steady light rain. We can see some quite big branches that have been blown off into the garden and It will be much worse if we went further afield, which we have no intention of doing! North and south of us the country has had terrible flooding and people have been evacuated from their homes. So, the fact that we are not supposed to travel is not such a bad thing.

The view from here remains beautiful. December is the month when the European Oak tree turns coppery orange and there are thousands in Tuscany. So for the uninitiated, Tuscany looks like it’s in the midst of Autumn. We love it! The misty rain has highlighted a giant cobweb in our garden. A very big or very industrious spider and a beautiful work of art!

Meanwhile, Tuscany has now been moved from Red (High Risk) to Orange (Medium/High Risk) from a Covid point of view. So for the time being, we can move about on essential trips and go outside our immediate commune, but this will be much stricter over the Christmas Period. Currently, we cannot go to restuarants, bars or coffee shops except for take-aways. I really miss my lunches at Paolo’s! I rarely cook pasta at home as I have to cook gluten free for myself and I always destroy it. It’s only a matter of seconds between being just right and falling to pieces! So we eat a lot of potato and rice dishes.

Anyway, my man went for a Covid Test on Friday and the next day our lovely doctor Flavio emailed to say the result was negative! Hurrah! Mind you, my man will tell you that having the test is not a pleasant thing. It was two long cotton type buds up each nostril and beyond, then a throat swab at choking depth! Very uncomfortable indeed. Whether it’s done this way everywhere, I don’t know. You need an appointment through your doctor, then you receive an SMS with a date and time for a drive through test. My man’s appointment was very specific to the minute and he was to arrive 15 minutes early. The queue must have been at least thirty cars and they had not yet got everything ready. So if you go to the Certaldo for a test, be very very patient!

On a much lighter note, I laid the Christmas table this morning. The usual dusty old cloths and table centre, but we love it. I know, it’s still the first week in December, but as everyone else has started celebrating I was easily encouraged to do the same. Thinking about Christmas get togethers, we should make better use of Skype or Zoom this year and look up family and friends we won’t get to see otherwise. What do you think?

Now you may remember that I like to follow the English language on-line Magazine called The Florentine. It keeps me up to date with what’s happening in Florence and the surrounding regions. It also picks up on some interesting facts and historical snippets like the article on the very elegante Grand duke Pietro Leopoldo. Quoted on Saturday 5th December #OnThisDay in 1786, the Grand Duchy of #Tuscany became the first state in the world to abolish torture and capital punishment.  A progressive leader, Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo was the one who made it happen, inspired by Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 essay “On crimes and punishments”. Well, yet another first for Tuscany! https://www.theflorentine.net/

And, finally, don’t forget I’m giving away free copies of my short story ‘The Man in Black’ to all readers who send me a photo of themselves, cat or dog holding one of my other books. Email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Visit my website at http://www.junefinnigan.website for lots more information.

Have a safe week, Salute June x

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

So sorry, but am ‘snowed’ under with work at present so will have to send you a big newsy blog next weekend. At least I managed the tree and here is a picture to cheer you up until next time.

Salute June x

PS Buy my books for Christmas via http://www.junefinnigan.website

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

Well, since I spent most of Saturday morning a week ago ordering stuff for Christmas, packages have been arriving every day since. Now I do find it frustrating that Amazon.it don’t seem able to send my orders in one box, every single video, book etc is packed separately! Far too much packaging in use, however, I understand that they are using the Post Office a lot, as the cost is much less with small packages! Mmmm, methinks Amazon is wealthy enough, but hey ho! Nevertheless, I am enjoying building up the pile of presents to wrap. Lets hope that our plans to be with our family at Christmas goes without a hitch. Our grandson has a flight booked from England, so fingers crossed! I see our daughter has already got the tree up, bless her.

So, back to our garden in our little bit of Chianti. We went outside last Saturday and covered all the vulnerable pots against the expected frost. And, we were amazed to see our English climbing rose in bloom! Mind you, there was a strong cold wind coming from the north, so we were glad to get back inside. Today the sun is shining and looks beautiful looking out from the warmth of our lovely old converted monastery farmhouse.

Meanwhile, I continue to window shop the fashion designers here, who are mostly now on-line as it’s the only way they can hope to survive. To be honest, I don’t need any clothes and anyway there’s no point in glamming up as we are not allowed out! But I have ordered myself some brightly coloured slipper boots for my man to give me for Christmas. He’ll wrap them up and put them under the tree. I won’t tell you what I have bought him as he reads this blog! Anyway, here is an outfit that I love. A hint of festive sweater with a rock chick edge in faux leather trousers! Enjoy.

Now I’ve been doing a bit of research as I have been reminded to share an Italian Hunk of the Month. And, I have found an Italian Actor and producer who has made an impact in films like John Wick 2 (2017) and Loose Cannons (2010). His name is Riccardo Scamarcio and was born in Apulia in 1979. Hope you approve!

Anyway, what are you up to during this current lock-down? We continue to work remotely and relax reading. We’ve got a massive amount of books that are slowly being read now. I’m currently reading book five of the Strike novels called ‘Troubled Blood’ by Robert Galbraith. Brilliant private detective stuff! You should start at book one as it is a series.

Do drop me a line and get ordering my own books in time for Christmas! If you send me a foto of yourself holding one of my books, I will send you a free short thriller called ‘The Man in Black’ which is based in London’s theatre land. http://www.junefinnigan.website

Have a great week and enjoy your on-line shopping!

Salute June x

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

Today, Sunday, November 15, Tuscany became a “red” zone, which is effectively a lockdown situation similar to the spring, although infant, primary and the first year of middle school education will be guaranteed. As stated on the Italian Government website, “Without a valid reason to go out, it is mandatory to stay at home, for the good of everyone”. So, we tuck in, enjoy working from home, as is normal now, and having morning coffee in Bar Querceto (our sitting room). My man and I spend a little while chatting, putting the world to rights and then go off to our own studios, or down to his gymnasium or my music studio to do a bit of singing.

First thing this morning and before coffee, my man gave me a guided tour of the newly mown grass and we did a bit of casual pruning. The sun was shining, lots of flowers were blooming and we felt at one with ourselves. Life eeez good, life eeez now!

Anyway, I must tell you about the huge Tartufu Bianco (white truffle) found in Italy wieghing in at 900 grams and sold at a charity auction for 100,000 euros! Yes, really! White truffles are considered to be the buried treasure of the rich at present and you are not allowed to go off and find your own. Also, many productive woodlands are out of bounds. Sadly, it’s not going to be possible to go to our favourite restaurant for a while either to indulge in any Tartufu bianco, due to the lockdown. So we wait and drink Chianti wine instead!

However, I do have something else to look forward to. An on-line get together with Judy Witts Francini our local celebrity cook, who will be showing us how to make that delicious digestivo, limoncello. And, not just limoncello, also Crema di limoncello, which I adore! Why don’t you join us! Go to Judy’s website at https://divinacucina.com/classes/ and scroll down to November 25th. I’ll see you there.

Are you feeling a littel sad? Do not worry, there are lots of places to go on-line and window shop. As you know I love fashion, but I also love shopping for Christmas presents. I saw this gorgeous warm winter dress the other day, another of Luisa Spagnoli’s beautiful designs. Do you know, I had a mini dress just like it in the 60’s, but it was bright yellow with matching platform boots. I also had the figure to carry it off then! Hey ho…. https://www.luisaspagnoli.it/it_en/

As to the Christmas shopping, deliveries can be a little difficult here in the middle of the Tuscan hills. However, I have found that ordering from M&S (Marks & Spencer), Next or IKEA is pretty reliable. I spent yesterday morning ordering just about everything we need! You do realise that it is only forty days away and people are starting early. Even my man said that he didn’t mind if I wanted to too! He brought down the festive boxes from the tower room yesterday and I found this little table decoration which I’ve popped on the corner of my desk. I usually get the tree up the first weekend in December, but methinks I might go for 28 November. What are your plans?

Well, I’m feeling happier now I’ve written this blog. If it makes you smile too, I’m doubly pleased.

Do get in touch and buy my books now in time for Christmas! Visit http://www.junefinnigan.website

have a great week.

Salute June x

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

Espresso facts. Do you know precisely how a traditional Italian espresso is made? I found this extract from an article in visittuscany.com wiritten by Flavio Cori. “Un Caffè” is an espresso: only 25 ml of water. A perfect one has an even brown cream on top and must be ready in less than 30 seconds.
“Caffè lungo” is obtained by draining more water than usual. A long coffee, although it is less dense, contains more caffeine than an espresso.” My man and I prefer the Lungo! We always start the day with a due lungi and a chat.

“I’m torn between writing my blog and going down to the sound studio and doing a bit of singing.” I sigh. My man smiled his melting smile across the table, which separated us in Bar Quercetto, formerly known as our sitting room, whilst cupping his second espresso lungo in his right hand. “Well, it is Sunday and executive decisions are difficult to make on a weekend. Why don’t you go down to the sound studio and write your blog there?” He suggests. I think about this, but I know I will be distracted by my music and I cannot write with music playing. I take my bowl of fruit and bufala mozzerella to my study desk and start writing. The decision is made.

Yesterday, Saturday, was a fabulous sunny day. A gentle breeze and hot sunshine. If you have not visited Tuscany in late Autumn and Winter, you should know that the sun is always hot here, that’s when it is shining of course. The air temperature can be very chilly but if you take your folding chair to a sunny sheltered spot you will be lovely and warm and even catch the sun! A wonderful time of year. My man and I enjoyed a bottle of Toscana Bianco before lunch sitting on our favourite bench under the younger oak tree. Acorns were falling like pebbles, bouncing off branches before landing on the grass surrounding us. Any minute we were expecting one to land in our wine or on our heads! Here is a rare picture of my man hiding behind his wine glass, bless him.

Today, we received our first Christmas card from the UK. I hear that festive trees are being bought early as if lockdown is feeding the mind with the need to bring the big day foreward! Not so here, no sign of anything festive in our local village of Fiano yet. My man is not going out at all, whilst I go to the village twice weekly for water refills and groceries. But I am prompted to think about on-line shopping for presents as time is rushing by and at least it’s something fun to do at this time. Last night, my man and I decided on getting any of the latest Bourne Series and Matrix on DVD for ourselves. Foto The Guardian

My man said to me earlier, “You know, you should write more about yourself in the blog, not constantly talking about handbags and shoes. Readers what to know what you are up to here in Tuscany.” “Well, I do actually talk about myself,” I snorted. “I spend a lot of my free time, which is limited, window shopping handbags, shoes and fashion! It’s what I do!” He sighed. So anyway, here is a beautiful outfit for you to drool over, gorgeous cut and quality and made in Italy of course. https://www.luisaspagnoli.it/

What else? Oh yes, I thought you would like to know that the beautiful weather has brought out the olive pickers in ‘droves to the groves.’ We can hear the whining of the mechanical hand held pickers and the shouting and laughing of the contadini. (Country folk) Can’t wait for that first cold pressed tasting of the green nectar.

Well, I must sort out some fotos for you and add them in. Then I must get down to the Sound Studio and do at least a couple of songs before lunch. Phew!

Do drop me a line. I would like to know what you would like to hear from Tuscany and our little bit of Chianti. I know that lots of you are really missing being here, I’m sorry about that.

Thinking of you all, stay safe and well.

Salute June x

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

And, yet another beautiful day in Tuscany!

Yes, it’s Mini-lockdown time here in Italy, so called because it will be short and only up until November 24th. To be honest, I am relieved as things had become far too relaxed. We are back to plan A, exactly the way we survived the last lockdown, only going out for groceries and the chemist (farmacia) when really necessary. We had a delivery of local Chianti Wines yesterday, so that sorts us out for the next couple of months! Also, Senoir schools are mostly closed and it’s a relief to know that our granddaughter will be taking a break from being crammed into school buses every morning! foto The Florentine.

Now if you long to be in Italy but can’t be, I suggest you compensate by doing some on-line Italian classes. I was reading The Florentine magazine yesterday and saw an article about Barbara Livolsi’s Europass Italian Language School in Florence. What a good idea! During this period of Covid-19, she has quote ‘gone beyond any logistical limits and created online courses to be close to foreigners who could not come to Florence.’  My man and I really need an advanced course, despite having been here for sixteen years. We must try and make the time to do this too! http://www.europassitalian.com foto The Florentine.

Meanwhile, I am turning my thoughts towards books for Christmas, it is after all 1st November today! My good friend and writer Rosie Meleady has a new book launch today and it’s based on her move from Ireland to Italy. Rosie is a very amusing and entertaining writer, I think you will enjoy her book; it’s called ‘A Rosie Life in Italy.’ A ROSIE LIFE IN ITALY ON AMAZON

I’ve also just looked at the Book Depository in the UK. I like this site and delivery to Italy has always worked well. They have some beautiful hard-backs that I might well order having just put them on my wish list. http://www.bookdepository.com

Ok, what else? Well, as you know I am not the greatest cook and lockdown does mean cooking everyday! If you love Italian food you should go on-line and watch Judy Witts Francini’s cookery demonstrations. She’s also got a lovely cook book you can buy on-line too. Judy is a friend and neighbour and would normally be doing guided foodie tours, but instead has come up with some really good entertaining live demonstrations. If you are feeling a little brain dead over what to cook, let Judy inspire you! http://www.divinacucina.com

OK, hopefully that’s got you well and truly immersed in things Italian for a while to take your mind off the current crisis.

I love to hear from you, so do drop me a line either by email june.finnigan@virgin.net or leave a comment on this blog! Tell me about your plans for lock-down and what you miss most about Italy!

Have a great week, stay safe and well.

Salute June x

Ps Buy my books for Christmas here http://www.junefinnigan.website

PPs Well done to England for finally winning the Six Nations Rugby Cup!

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

Now, we have lived here in our beautiful bit of Tuscany for sixteen years and other than the country sinking below the waves, I will certainly spend the rest of my life living in Italy. So what, you may ask, has got me so rankled? Well, we are asked to complete two Attestazione di Iscrizione Anagrafica (Certificate of Registration) due to Brexit. So my man and I called into the office in Certaldo, were given two forms each and an appointment for the next day at 9.30. We were instructed to get the top of all four forms stamped by a tabacchi (sells Tobacco, stamps and lottery tickets). So off we went for the stamps. After going into two tabacchi we discovered that they no longer sell stamps and we would have to go to the Post Office. I waited in the car until my man came out and he said, “You’ll never believe it, we must go back to a tabacchi and ask for a Marco di Bollo, which is different to a Francobollo (postage stamp) the latter being what used to be used!” He raced back into a tabacchi and returned with his purchase. “The ruddy stamps cost sixteen euros each, so I just spent sixty-four euros for forms that no-one needs!” He groaned. Anyway, the next day at nine-thirty the forms were completed and just when we were about to leave, the embarrassed young man said, “Err, you need to pay us fifty-two cents for each form!” He pointed to the top left hand corner of the forms and there it was in print, another euro and eight cents were handed over and he responded by handing us our two copies. Shall we send an invoice to Boris?

Anyway, on to brighter things and the subject of the Olive Harvest, which is in full flow. Brightly coloured nets stretch out over the grassy slopes under the olive trees and we can hear the strange whining of the hand held electric pickers echoing across the valleys. There are thousands of groves in Tuscany, some so small that hand picking for family consumption is all that is required. Others big and commercialised. We are generally gifted a bottle of the green nectar as soon as it is cold-pressed; fresh bread for dipping or drizzled over toast and garlic is just to die for!

Also, the fruit harvest is producing delicious plums and pears. We have a bowl of chopped fruit every day for breakfast; I confess to adding some Mozzarella di Bufala to mine. Now before we moved to Italy, I had not discovered Mozzarella di Bufala or Burrata, an even creamier verson of the former. If you have not eaten these heavenly cheeses before, please do. The only danger is you could get addicted. But hey, life eeez good, life eeez now!

What else? Well, I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands, but I am doing a little more on-line window shopping. As you know I love Italian Fashion and try to keep up with what is happening here in Italy. Like the rest of the world, the fashion industry is struggling here, particularly if they have not got a good on-line site. But yesterday, I realised that it’s pointless thinking of buying new clothes when Covid is keeping us at home. But hang on a minute! We need to go out for groceries so window shopping for cuddly coats and boots is OK. And, amongst James Lakeland’s lovely coat selection, made in Italy, I found this gorgous faux fur snuggly look. Hurrah! http://www.jameslakeland.net

So, now it’s time to tuck-in and be grateful for our comfortable home in the Chianti countryside. Good Wine, olives, cheeses, fruit and autumn vegetables, all readily available and of course Amore. Time to light the log fire and enjoy an aperitivo with my man. The next month or so we are returning to plan A and lockdowning by choice. What will you be doing?

Have a great week, stay safe and secure.

Salute June x

Ps. Visit my author site at http://www.junefinnigan.website

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Yesterday morning, Saturday, I drove into Fiano for groceries. It was damp but the sun had broken through. I parked the car in a very quiet Piazza and carried the water bottle crates to the fountain to fill up with fresh water. I felt an overwhelming pressure in the air, like a looming storm, but there was nothing to indicate this in the sky. I walked up the empty street to La Dispensa, just three people were inside and, the conversation was subdued. Rosella behind the bar chatted with me and her final words were, ‘There is talk going about that we are likely to be in lock-down again by December.’ So it wasn’t just me. Today, Sunday, we are expecting a big announcement from the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte.

But we are not worried, Life eeez good, Life eeez now! My man and I are very fortunate, we live in the middle of the Tuscan countryside and can easily work from home. We are already in partial lock-down by choice and this morning’s walk around the garden was really uplifting. Everything remains lush and green, with heavy dew in the mornings and sunshine to encourage continued growth.

Masses of acorns are falling from our oak trees and we should probably rake them up. Last year several took root and my man has been mowing the tiny shoots down. The thought crossed our minds that maybe we should let them grow and have our own oak-tree forest! What do you think? A neighbour has nets under their big tree, collecting the acorns for some reason. Wine, tea? Any ideas?

I mentioned fungi last week and the damp weather continues to encourage wonderful displays of mushrooms and other fungi at the base of some of the older and rotting tree stumps. And, from the lower terrace the view was stunning as we watched the morning mists gradually dissapating in the rays of the morning sun.

Back in my study I checked my emails and was once again was reminded of another reason why I love Autumn so much. Yes, I’m talking about Autumn/winter Italian fashion, you guessed! Here is an outfit that I love, again from Luisa Spagnoli; I’m on her mailing list. I know, but I am only window shopping, one day when I have made a fortune from book sales, I’ll fill my wardrobe with her stuff! http://www.luisaspagnoli.it

Well, that’s enough, my man is expecting roast potatoes for lunch. I can’t complain when he looks at me the way he does, I just love him to bits. He’s currently overjoyed about Exeter Chiefs winning the European Rugby Championship. Exeter is my city of birth and my man used to go to the old Rugby ground there when it was still ‘standing only,’ weeds growing up through the cracked concrete and on the site of the old speedway racing stadium! Well done Exeter Chiefs!

OK, time to sign off and send you this blog. May you all remain safe and sound, I miss you all, maybe we’ll meet again next year.

Salute June x

PS Visit my author site at http://www.junefinnigan.website

Fotos J & P Finnigan.

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Yes, it’s pouring down with rain here and thunder has been rumbling across a leaden sky all morning. And, when we came back from morning coffee in Fiano, the electricity had gone! It was so dark and gloomy we lit a candle and placed it on the coffee table! Funny how, even in Tuscany, we have the same dilemmas as every other country that normally has electricity, what shall we do now? There was enough light to see but not to read. We contemplated lighting the log fire, but it wasn’t cold enough. Then, the moment we decided to relax and sit in the rather pleasant candle light to talk, it came back on again!

Despite unpredictable weather, October is a very popular time for visiting Artist Groups; some are currently packed into the holiday cottages just up the lane. The forecast is so bad this week that I am starting to feel sorry for them. I use to get a little irritated by the fact that they had positioned their easels so that they could paint the vineyards with our home in the middle, or in our gateway so that they could paint our view! But I have discovered something called tolerance, I can’t say I feel the same about the hunters though, but that’s another subject! foto ancoradelchianti.

But I cannot deny that right now the Autumn vines are a site to behold and a joy to paint. This picture was taken by my friend Ute who works at Villa Il Pozzo, just down the road. Every year I see the vines changing colour and there is one spot coming out of Fiano that is glorious, but difficult to photograph. So with Ute’s permission, I am sharing her foto which was taken from Villa Il Pozzo just a few days ago. Absolutely gorgeous. http://www.villailpozzo.it

Meanwhile, the banks are full of golden yellow wild crocuses. Also the ground is throwing up an amazing number of different fungi, a fascinating time.

And, at last we have Tartufo Bianco, White Truffles, being served at Paolo’s restaurant C’era un Volta and are now just about affordable. I set up the table ready for the arrival of my plate so I could photgraph it for you. Then to my horror my man said ‘What are you doing? You’ve just scoffed two huge mouthfuls without taking a foto first!” So I must apologise, I just couldn’t wait as it was our first taste of the season, food of the gods, that’s all I can say. So sorry about the gap in the middle!

So, what to do on this cold wet Sunday? I know, some on-line window fashion shopping will sort me out. Somehow, Italian men and women fashionisti seem to be recognisable wherever they go. Oh, we say, they must be Italian! Now, I love Italian Fashion, as you know, but somehow despite being very Italianised I still can’t quite pass myself off as anything other than English. But I can dream, can’t I? foto whowhatwear.co.uk

Anyway, perhaps we should light the log fire and have a nice glass of wine before lunch. How about you?

Do get in touch, I love to hear from my readers. Hoping you are well and safe in your little bit of the world.

Salute June

Ps Visit my author website at http://www.junefinnigan.website

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