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Posts Tagged ‘June Finnigan’

OK, so let’s get away from all the bad news and concentrate on happy things. The first bit of happiness is found every morning in the changing view from our old former monastery farmhouse, down across the valleys and across to Certaldo. It is the time of year for mist filled valleys and winter colours. This picture was taken a few days ago by our lovely next door neighbour Paola at La Poggiolaia, where you can book wonderful holidays in beautiful self-catering apartments. http://www.poggiolaia.it The view is just the same from here, we are so very lucky.

This weekend we will be enjoying a family lunch. We may be able to sit outside which, will depend on whether the sun is shining or not. This time of year the sun can be lovely and hot, however the air temperature remains chilly, so the decision will be made an hour or so beforehand. Big family lunches outside are a joy and the most natural thing to do all year round here in Tuscany. Why don’t you join us soon?

Meanwhile, I have been browsing the latest fashion here in Italy and have not overlooked menswear. Although not all, Italian men do have a natural flare for wearing clothes well. Only in Italy can they get away with no socks and monogrammed slippers in the city. Such style! My man tells me that Saville Row in London is considered to be the place to go for the very best tailoring and, the Italians are well aware of this, often endeavouring to emulate the cut! Well at least the jackets, but the trousers at half-mast are very much the Italian style.

Returning to our little bit of Chianti, we drop down to Certaldo, where we enjoy a coffee and pastry at Jam Cafe. This is our favourite caffe bar in town and where our good friend Andrea produces the most glorious cakes and pastries. Andrea also does the catering for my Rock Concert parties and lets hope our scheduled gig for 17 June goes ahead this year! Can’t wait!

Back in our lovely garden the Ancient Oak Tree, which guards our gate, has finally shed all its leaves. The European Oak tends to hang onto its brown leaves until the first new shoots are coming through, so the countryside retains an Autumn look right up until the end of February. Our big tree has a fabulous shape and here is a foto.

OK, time to think about lunch and perhaps an aperitivo beforehand. The sun is shining so fingers crossed we may make it outside.

Do drop me a line, I love to hear from my readers. Email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net or leave a message on this blog. Oh, and do visit my website at 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,

Well, it’s a beautiful sunny Saturday morning but very cold. Hopefully, if we sit in the right spot in the garden, the sun will be hot enough to enjoy an aperitivo before lunch and we are well stocked with local wines, so no worries there. Meanwhile, I’m getting on with writing to you.

January is an interesting month for events. Every year you will spot the male fashionisti in Florence and particularly around the Fortezza da Basso, flaunting themselves at Pitti Uomo in anything from very classy suits and overcoats to gaudy excentric outfits. These guys just love to be noticed and photgraphed! I had a big choice of fotos to show you and finally decided on this one borrowed from The Florentine and taken by Marco Badiani. Elton John would fit right in! You will find lots more at http://www.theflorentine.net

As most of you know one of my indulgences is Handbags, made in Tuscany of course. I spotted these lovely bags hand crocheted and apparently available locally. But the website does not seem to offer on-line shopping. I suggest you visit Le Kosette on Facebook and if you find a way to buy on-line, let me know! Otherwise, there is an email address and a chat line, probably only in Italian I suspect, I might try it later.

Meanwhile, back here in our little bit of the Chianti Hills, we were very sad to say addio to our once beautiful Ash Tree, which finally gave up the ghost just over a year ago. It has now been chopped down and there are various ideas floating around for adapting the remaining stump. We had spent many happy shady hours under it’s branches, it will be sadly missed. We also have the piece from above the stump, included in the foto, which I am convinced could be turned into a beautiful carving of some kind. I would love to have your ideas, drop me a line.

‘So what are the rules for your bit of Tuscany now?’ I hear you ask. Somewhat confusing, I reply. We are currently a yellow zone, white being no restrictions and up to red being total lockdown. In yellow It’s very important to be fully vaccinated and to be able to prove this by showing your ‘Super Green Pass.’ This applies to virtually everywhere; restaurants, caffes, shops, buses & trains and the new white FFP2 mask must be worn in all public places. and, It is likely to become mandatory for the over 50’s to be vaccinated soon. But things can change with little notice, so watch this space!

But Life eeez good, Life eeez now! Our Brick kitchen floor has finally been fixed, so less chance of crashing down into the gymnasium below! It’s Certaldo Red Onion season and Paolo at C’era Una Volta Ristorante is serving up hot Zuppa di Ribolita! Paolo’s Ribolita is like a rich tasty vegetable & bean soup, thickened with stale bread. My man loves it!

OK, time to think about lunch, or better still, an aperitivo! I hear my man already busy in his kitchen; I have to ask permission to enter the room these days! Actually, I love the fact that he learnt to cook during my recovery and he wants to continue too!

So, may I wish you all a splendid week, stay safe and come to Tuscany as soon as you are able!

Salute June x

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

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely followers around The World

Well, where to start?  Here in Beautiful Tuscany the dreaded lurgy played a big part in shaping Christmas and New Year Celebrations.  ‘You’re not alone’ I hear you say.  Yes, I know this to be true, having friends and family all over the world who have had to make the best of things.  Like many self-employed people, I found it difficult to relax despite the fact that we have been working from home for years now, so nothing much had changed!  But I did get the guitar out and tried to get to grips with an on-line course.  This then, prompted me to think about my repertoire for the next Rock Chick Band Concert, currently penciled in for June 17.  So I had a few fun hours singing along to some great rock tracks; watch this space! Foto Certaldo Alto.

A pre-Xmas family restaurant lunch ended up with just the two of us.  In saying that my man and I rediscovered Il Pirate Restaurant in the centre of Certaldo and enjoyed a very nice meal indeed.  It was also quiet as fewer people were eating out at this point in time.  They do a delicious pasta sauce called Crema di Zucca, which translates to Cream of Pumpkin and my gluten free pasta was perfectly cooked.  See pizzeria il pirata certaldo on Facebook.

One bonus about not eating out so much is my man’s newly discovered pleasure in cooking!  Since my little accident at the end of July, it has been a slow recovery and he has had little choice but to start cooking.  So thank goodness, he has discovered he likes his own cooking more than mine and reckons he cooks up some better meals than our local restaurants!  I have to say that I agree with him, but don’t tell him I said that!  I do like to eat out. Note his new professional apron.

A couple of weeks before Xmas our Grandson, who plays rugby for Siena, had enjoyed a great winning performance against a very strong team up north.  Sadly, members of both teams went down with Covid, all were told to isolate  and the series has now been put on hold.  But being so proud of him, I had to include a foto of our boy in action.

Well, today is Sunday 2 January.  The sky is overcast and tomorrow will be a working day for us.  Ooh, I’ve made that sound a bit gloomy, which was not intended.  I’m actually looking forward to a very rewarding 2022 from a business point of view.   I would also like to say thank you for buying my books last year, I hope to have book four in the series out in the spring or early summer. I’ll keep you posted.

What else? Oh yes, very important, I want to thank my man with all my heart for his support over the last few months and during my slow recovery. Apparently I was a terrible patient! But, he still loves me! Proof of this was the surprise gift two days after Xmas of this lovely heart box full of chocolates!

Now, life remains very good here in our little bit of the Chianti Hills and whilst there are restrictions we can still function very well. We are currently in a Yellow Zone which means showing our Green Passes (at least two vaccines) in restaurants and other public venues. Schools are verging on home studies again so our granddaughter is preparing for the worse scenario.

Do get in touch, I love to hear from my readers. http://www.junefinnigan.website

Salute June x

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

After this morning’s fill of SKY and BBC world news, I realise that the only way to treat all this bad news is to concentrate on all the good things in life. Here in our little bit of Tuscany on the edge of the Chianti Hills, the countryside is bathed in morning sunshine. It’s cold and frosty in the shade, but wrap up warm and it’s perfect for a country walk. Then back to light the log fire! Ah, that feels better!

It’s just six days to Christmas and my thoughts turn to our lovely family and friends and organising some video calls. Also, there is much fun in doing some on-line shopping therapy; I’ve just ordered some new leisure wear from Next Italy where they have a huge range of labels on board. My man thought I should go for more colours, rather than my usual black. As he is treating me I have chosen navy, pink and green. I have also noticed some lovely stuff on James Lakeland’s UK site which are made in Italy. Sadly, if I order stuff from the uk I have to pay a heavy import tax now, but hey ho! I just love this really colourful Christmasy retro look frock; if you like it too and are in London you could pop in and buy it whilst the shops remain open! Otherwise go to http://jameslakeland.net

Dare I say it? Yesterday I discovered another hand-made Italian handbag site. All the Italian designers are up there now. This is a godsend if you can’t get out around the shops like you used to! I love this snowy white bag with colourful changeable strap and make-up bag/purse from Elisendra. Well, I hope Father Christmas is reading this! All the presents that I know about are under the tree and it all looks very inviting. http://www.elisendra.com

Oh, I must mention that my man collected his fig and walnut Panettone from Certaldo yesterday and it came in the most delightful box! The packaging here in Italy is wonderful and you are always asked if it is for a gift. Your purchase is then immediately wrapped in colourful paper and bows and place in a luxury carrier bag! No charge.

Well, I hope you’ve got your stock of wine in for the festive period. There’s nothing quite like a warmed bottle of Chianti Classico by the side of the log fire! Put out the cheeseboard and antipasti, pour the wine and away you go! Salute!

OK, time to go and get festive! If we don’t speak again before Christmas do have a wonderful time, stay safe and I’ll see you soon xx

Buon Natale June x

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

Here in our little bit of Tuscany on the edge of Chianti it is 10 degrees centigrade, sunny but with a cold wind. However, we are expecting colder weather to reach us shortly, thus my man is currently putting covers on the vulnerable plants and has brought the lemon tree inside.

Meanwhile, we have turned our thoughts to nice hot winter foods and at the top of my list is Judy Witts Francini’s Tuscan recipe for Red Onion soup using local Certaldo red onions. Judy has posted a great article about the history of Onion soup and her website has the full Tuscan recipe for you to try. Judy, a celebrity cook, is a friend and neighbour as many of you already know and if you are not already signed up for her newsletters, you are missing out on some wonderful Tuscan recipes! http://www.divinacucina.com

Now, my man has a favourite Panettone, which is the traditional festive cake at this time of year. Here in Tuscany they come in many different flavours and his choice is walnut, ordered from the bakers in Via Giugno in Certaldo. In Italy, historical accounts of panettone invariably state that it originated in Milan. The word panettone derives from panetto, a small loaf cake. … The beginnings of this cake appear to date from the Roman Empire, when ancient Romans sweetened a type of leavened cake with honey. However, I like the following version better. One of the legends of its conception says that the person who invented panettone was the Milanese nobleman Ughetto degli Atellani who lived in the 1400s. He fell in love with Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni! But, whatever the originality, it’s hugely popular at Christmas time!

So yes, I seem to have got the Christmas bug already. Seasonal markets are popping up everywhere and there is nothing like going to Florence, even on a cold wet day. This one is in Piazza Santa Croce. Anyway, if really wet, one can always dive into a lovely welcoming coffee bar or restaurant, two more good reasons for going! Foto Corriere Fiorentino.

Now, I’m going to fast forward you to June 2022 and to be precise Friday 17th. Stefano and I have just agreed to do a Rock Chick Band Concert here in Tuscany on this date, so you must put this in your diary. If you are not already on my invitation list, send me your email and I will include you when the invites go out next year. I can’t wait, it is so exciting!

OK, Enough for now. Do drop me a line, I love to hear from my readers! Also, time to order your books in time for Christmas! 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,

I can’t begin to tell you what an emotional week it has been for me. Three and a half months recovering from a broken wrist and knee may seem nothing in this world of pandemics and climate change, but I was brought to tears when I finally walked back into my local restaurant on Thursday! The smell of the damp fresh air as I walked out the front door of my house, the passing Tuscan countryside during the car journey and the company of my man, daughter and grandson was an absolute joy! The day before, my specialist had announced that all had healed and I was good to go! I Just need knee bending exercises and suppliments!

Paolo greeted me at C’era una Volta Restaurant with such a welcome back look on his face, I burst into tears. My man and I were regulars and at least twice a week, sitting at our favourite corner table drinking the best local wines and indulging in the seasonal menu. During my recovery period, my man has actually become a very good cook and he found himself comparing the restaurant food with his own! I thoroughly enjoyed my grilled polenta topped with bietola and canneloni beans. Additional fresh herbs make the dish. One of my all time favourites at Paolo’s is the baked smoked scamorza cheese with raddiccio as in the foto. http://www.ristorante-ceraunavolta.com

OK, what now. Well, it’s yet another rugby weekend and on Saturday at 2pm Italy is playing Uruguay at Parma. Our grandson plays for Siena, but sadly all training and matches are cancelled this weekend due to three Covid cases being discovered! Overall, Italy is not doing too badly, which seems to be due to the mask wearing and green pass requirements still being in place. It is likely that restrictions will be placed on arrivals in December.

Anyway I’ve done all my Christmas shopping on line, so no worries there. Have you done yours? Everyone in my family will get a book this year. I do hope you will all be doing the same; let’s not forget the value of a real book in one’s hands and the ability to keep it forever or share with friends and family. It’s also great to talk about books we have read over some nice mulled wine. Don’t forget, if you like Romantic Thrillers my own books could be right up your street! Go to http://www.junefinnigan.website

Oh and finally, do buy some lovely Italian oranges this year. Make sure everyone has one popped into the toe of their stockings.

Enjoy your shopping.

Salute June x

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

‘The Autumn Leaves, Drift by my Window, The Autumn Leaves, of Red and Gold’. This wonderful timeless song has always been one of my favourites. And, so appropriate for right now. Overnight storms and heavy rain have battered the trees and vineyards surrounding us, and any leaves that were still hanging on are now on the ground or will be shortly. The countryside and the toads in our pond will be glad to have had the rain and the fresh smells are heavenly.

It is currently difficult to take a foto of the Tuscan countryside, which isn’t beautiful. This is a picture taken by Monterosola, a stunning setting for this very popular venue for wine tastings and celebrations of all kinds. My clever daughter has been busy organising vineyard tours for journalists in readiness for the spring deluge of visitors and Monterosola is top of her list. You can, of course, go there now; and why not? http://www.monterosola.com

Meanwhile, what to wear? It’s a little cooler today after the storm so my thoughts go to my autumn/winter wardrobe. As many of you already know, I love Autumn colours as they really suit me. One of my favourite Italian designers is Luisa Spagnoli and she always has a good Autumn range. Now I have selected a lovely snuggly knitted dress, which is designed beautifully to flare from just below the hip. The colour is a deep maroon, which I believe qualifies as an excellent warm Autumn shade. http://www.luisaspagnoli.it

Now, this weekend is a great one for rugby fans, snuggled up in front of the telly. Yesterday we watched poor Italy get beaten once more, this time by Argentina. Then later it was England’s turn and they beat Australia. So at least it was a success for one of the teams we support! This afternoon we will indulge again, I can’t remember which teams are playing, but lets hope for some entertaining rugby!

What else? Well, some of you have asked when my next book will be published. Sadly, things were delayed by my falling and breaking my wrist and a knee. Now, I know, one can still write in these circumstances, but what did surprise me was how it affected my creative thought! So, I am now aiming to get ‘Assassin’s List’ published in the spring. Meanwhile, my first three books and a short story based in London’s theatre land, are available online. Do get buying now in time for Christmas presents. There’s nothing like unwrapping a real book! http://www.junefinnigan.website

Well, it’s been really good to be writing to you again and hopefully this will now be a weekly event! Do get in touch, I love to hear from my readers.

Salute June x

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

We are currently enjoying a cooler few days and a little rain here, but that won’t last.  July and August are subject to climate change like the rest of the world, but you can guarantee that these months will be generally hot, humid and dry.  As I write this I can feel the air heating up. The countryside is typically July; fields bleached pale gold, the vines standing out in long contrasting green lines and the silver olive groves providing shade. You can often see a three dimentional view, as if looking through a telescope, which is caused by the amazing light. Artists love this time of year and can be found perched in strategic spots with their easels, wallowing in the fabulous surroundings.

Meanwhile, I don’t mean to boast, but it has been a brilliant few weeks for our adopted country. You will all know that we won the European Cup at football, but did you realise that we also won The Eurovision Song Contest, The Softball European Championship and The Top EU Web Award with ‘Visit Italy’! And, The Basketball Team qualified for the Olympics and the gorgeous Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian to reach the Wimbledon final! Matteo also more than qualifies for my Italian Hunk of the month! Foto Tennis World.

And, what else do the Italians do better than anyone else, well Fashion of Course! Italian Fashion Designers are second to none. I have just read an article in Marie Claire, where the writer looked at the top 5 Italian Fashion Brands. These include Versace, Bottega Veneta, Valentino, Moschino, Georgia Armani, Miu Miu and Etro. So I thought you might like to take a look at Etro, I’ve heard of them but can’t say that I’m familiar with their designs. The prices are not unexpectedly up with the top end, but they do have a Summer Sale on at present. I liked some of their designs, both male and female, but really fell for this printed silk dress, truly gorgeous. However, I have once again fallen for one of the most expensive outfits not in the sale. Dammit! Will I or won’t I? Check out my next blog, I’ll need to think about it…..http://www.etro.com

Anyway, I’m going to take a break now and prepare some Sunday Lunch. I’ll be back later.

Mama Mia, it’s Monday already. I slept for four hours yesterday afternoon, so sorry. Anyway, I have mentioned in previous blogs that The Florentine English news magazine for Florence is a great mag to find all the interesting things going on. http://www.theflorentine.net Now I may be a Rock Chick but I also enjoy good classical music and you will find a wonderful Chamber Music Festival at Teatro Verdi in the mag’s Lifestyle Section. It’s really heating up today so if you are visiting Florence, try and go to inside events like this one! Also, go to The Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti for fabulous strings as musicians from the Cherubini Conservatory of Florence feature in six evenings through to the end of July.  I would love to go with you but sadly my knee is playing up. Enjoy and let me know all about it! Foto The Florentine.

OK, so lets get on with the working week, no rest for the wicked. Do drop me a line either by email or direct on my site at http://www.junefinnigan.website I love to hear from my readers!

Have great week, enjoy and stay safe.

Salute June x

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

What a fabulous birthday week. Surrounded by family, gorgeous presents, sunshine and a delicious supper at Osteria Di Casa Chianti.

One of the most delightful things about living here in Tuscany is that one can buy Italian Made products a short drive away. No need to trawl the internet, we are surrounded by local Artisans. Now my beautiful daughter knows me really well. What I would choose to buy myself, colours and indulgences. So what did she buy me? Yes, you guessed it, a handbag! But this is no ordinary handbag, it was hand-made in Florence and is a really high quality. And, look at that colour, so rich and luscious. I started using it straight away! Thank you my darling Sharon.

I begged my man to buy me some ceramics from our local village of Fiano. He wondered if this was personal enough, but gave in when he was reminded that I am a girlie who is already piled high with perfumes and scarves. So he came with me to Ceramiche Carbini Gabriella and spotted a large black and white dish, which was very nice, but I already had my mind set on certain colours to blend in with our kitchen. I am always drawn towards torquoise and blues, this must be something to do with being a water sign! So here is my choice, a lovely collection of dishes and vases embelished with pomegranites. There is also a larger dish, which is displayed on the kitchen table. We have several pomegranite trees in the garden that are already showing off their bright red blossoms, so the cermamics have brought a little bit of the outside inside. Thank you my lovely man. xxx

Now, one of the most famous trees Italy is known for is the Lemon Tree. My sister-in-law, who sadly could not be here, organised the arrival of a lovely little tree in a hand-made Terracotta pot. It is already boasting a little green lemon, so I must take good care of it. Lemon Trees must be taken inside during the winter months and it is a sure sign of late Spring when we see lots of lemon trees appearing on terraces and doorsteps. Yet another wonderful tradition in this beautiful country. Thank you La Bella Jane. xxx

My birthday supper was wonderful. Spoilt rotten by Max the owner and his really efficient theatrical staff, the family enjoyed prossecco followed by a bottle of Sticchiano Reserva wine. Oops sorry, yes we did eat too! The Osteria specialises in Tartufo (Truffles) that are sourced from the Tuscan countryside. My anti-pasti (starter) was Creamy Buratta Cheese with liberal shavings of white truffle over the top. Delicious. The Digestivo (after dinner liqueur) list is amazing too. We were impressed by our teenage granddaughter’s knowledge of the various Vin Santos; the waiter was dumbstruck. Oh, and Max gave me a present to take home; a bottle of his own label red wine designed by his young son. Thank you to Max and the team xxx http://www.osteriadicasachianti.it

Well, I know, I’m trying to prolong my birthday celebrations. The only sadness is that this is the second year without a Rock Chick Band concert in our garden and a house full of friends. But then everyone has made sacrifices and at least we can now look forward to planning next year’s bash with renewed confidence.

Wherever you are in the world, I wish you good health and happiness. May my joy of living here in Tuscany touch you and bring an extra ray of sunshine to your lives.

Salute June x

Contact me via my website at http://www.junefinnigan.website

STOP PRESS! The Cicaddas have arrived, so summer begins in earnest!

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

For many who come to Tuscany for the first time, they will thinking pasta and maybe Pizza. Whilst these are popular dishes, our local restaurants serve up a lot more than that and are known for their wood fire grills for both meat and veggie eaters. I was surprised to find Porcini on the menu last week as these are not currently very seasonable. They were in fact imported from Serbia which is not more than a few hours away and had arrived fresh and delicious! An all year round dish, which I love, is smoked Scamorza cheese grilled or baked over Radiccio. This is one of C’era Una Volta’s specialities along with Paolo’s hugely popular vegetable, herb, courgette flower or cheese fritters! We went there twice last week! http://www.ristorante-ceraunavolta.com

The countryside is very much reflecting the month of June. Meadowland has turned a pale gold and dried grasses have replaced the wild flowers other than the bright yellow of the broom. Colour is appearing in the form of flowering Oleanders and the rose bushes continue to bloom. This is also the month for intense activity in the fields and vineyards. Strimmers start at first light and squeeky tractors rumble up and down the vineyards, spraying and turning the soil. Tourists who had expected a quiet time on their sunbeds will be a little shocked at the noise!

Meanwhile, back on our little bit of the Chianti hillside, our garden designer daughter, Sharon, has planted a new shrubbery full of gorgeous roses and other flowering shrubs. She is going to list everything in it for me, so that I can become more shrub savy. This is in our front garden, which has been crying out for some colour and interest for years. I am also having some wrought iron climbing frames and a bench made, so that we can sit and enjoy it all with a nice chilled aperitivo. Sharon is organising everything for us, bless her. Visit her site at https://www.bellaterragardendesigns.com/

Stop Press –ITALY TO DROP MASKS: Italy is the latest country to unveil plans to drop the mandatory wearing of masks outdoors, according to Corriere della Sera. The government is expected to drop the rule either on July 1 or July 5, the paper said, with the precise date to be announced this coming week. In the meantime we are now in a Zona Bianca, that is white one, which is very good news indeed. We continue to wear masks and keep our distance for now, but watch this space. Tourists are getting thicker on the ground and mostly from northern Europe. It was still nice and quiet in the restaurant for lunch today, so that was good for us, not so the restauranteur. Apparently the Brits are not being encouraged to come yet as the Italian Government has set a new rule that means 5 days in isolation for any that arrive here! So do keep an eye on the changes for travellers!

Well, it’s currently very hot here, so if you are coming make sure you have air-conditioning in your casa vacanza. A pool maybe a good idea too. Whatever your plans I wish you good luck, good health and happiness.

Salute June x

Vist http://www.junefinnigan.website

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