Posts Tagged ‘landslips’

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

Firstly, a big thank you for all those concerned well wishers.  We have only had a couple of minor earth quakes in our area and all is fine here; no damage at all.

Florence then and now. La Repubblica.

Florence then and now. La Repubblica.

Florence – It is hard to imagine that exactly fifty years ago, Florence was under very deep water after the River Arno burst its banks.  1966 was a terrible year for the historic and beautiful city.  There has been much to say in the newspapers and there is still real concern that the defences are not good enough.  Only a few months ago, a riverside road collapsed, along with a row of parked cars.  An enormous amount of money is needed to further improve things and what with the financial crisis, this is now getting very serious indeed.

Mappa Sosmica - Seismic Map. La Reppublica

Mappa Sismica – Seismic Map. La Reppublica

I read an article in the newspaper this morning, which really shows the country’s seismic risk areas.  If it was not so serious, I would have laughed at the little men in black hats on the map, indicating the areas controlled by the Mafia who have been responsible for the building and rebuilding of properties, and blamed for the inferior quality of materials and design. I must add, that our little area of Tuscany, is outside the worst danger zone and hope it will not stop you lovely people from visiting next season.


King Crimson, La Repubblica

But to brighter things.  Thank you to our good friend Flavio who asked me if I knew that The Cure was currently touring.  I did not know, but it was too late to get tickets anyway.  But I did know that King Crimson were celebrating fifty years in rock with a celebration tour here.  What’s this, you don’t remember them? O Dio!  They were hugely popular between 1969 and 1974, when their progressive rock music stretched across to Jazz and classical.  Robert Tripp, the brilliant lead guitarist, took the band through many changes of members and styles, after reaching number 5 in the UK album charts in 1969.  In 2015 the band, with its unusual front of three drummers and four guitarists, had a very successful tour and their concert in Toronto ‘Live at The Orpheum’ was recorded and released as an album.  I love their track ‘Starless’ a lengthy piece and seriously clever, which will give you goose-bumps.  King Crimson – Starless https://youtu.be/FhKJgqxNDD8  via @YouTube

Italian cheeses at La Dispensain Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

Tuscan cheeses at La Dispensa in Fiano.
Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, that’s got my rock thing out-of-the-way, so back to Fiano and morning coffee.  Today, Sunday, La Dispensa was very busy with locals.  It’s hard to believe that the place didn’t exist three months ago!  The Italians are very quick to turn a place into a home from home, and so we are able to enjoy coffee and catch up on the newspapers in good company.  La Dispensa also has a lovely range of cheeses, which along with local wines, is my biggest downfall, so I had to buy some yet again.  Otherwise we eat very sensibly!

Pasta and white truffles photo J Finnigan

Pasta and white truffles
photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile the olives have been mostly harvested now and the truffle hunters are out an about seeking that illusive Tartufo Bianco (White Truffle).  The best way to enjoy them is thinly sliced, using a truffle slicer, over buttered tagliatelle.  Not spoiled by adding them to a creamy sauce, as a certain local restuarent did the other day and my man had to send the dish back!

Finally, I’m itching to tell you that I have finished the first draft of ‘The Italian Connection.’  However, having read it and edited, I found myself launching into more chapters as my imagination suddenly took off again!  So, another couple of weeks or so and I’ll be satisfied; I hope!

Well, that’s enough for now.  My man is taking me up to C’era una Volta in Lucardo for lunch, where Paolo is currently serving up a delicious leek and potato soup, and he has the latest Tartufo Bianco on the menu.  Mmmmm.

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 all my lovely Friends and Followers

As you know, I always like to bring you fun stories and nice things about our lovely little bit of the Chianti Hills, also snippits of what I have read in the local and sometimes national news.   So I will get the not so nice news out-of-the-way very quickly.

Autumn valley below our house. Foto J Finnigan

Autumn valley below our house. Foto J Finnigan

Tuesday, our bit of heaven was hit by a 3.9 earthquake.  There was a massive bang under the house and things started to rock, so being prepared for anything I got outside grabbing my disaster bag on the way.  We deliberately park our car away from the house, so I got inside and waited.  Now it probably only lasted a couple of minutes, but seemed an awful lot longer.  But we were very lucky, no damage at all, so the house has proved pretty resilient.  Not so lucky were the inhabitants in the Perugia area in Umbria, who suffered a much worse earthquake a couple of days later.  Then Wednesday, along came the hurricane winds and heavy iced rain.  This went on for more than three hours taking out trees and causing flooding & landslides.  My route to Fiano was blocked by a landslide on Thursday morning so I turned around and headed for Certaldo for my morning coffee.  Since then, the weather has been glorious, sunshine and cool fresh air.  Hard to believe it really happened!

The vineyard outside our front gate. Foto J Finnigan

The vineyard outside our front gate. Foto J Finnigan

So back to the nicer things in life.  The countryside is looking and smelling absolutely gorgeous, what with all the rain and now the warm sunshine.  Yesterday we managed to sit outside and enjoy an aperitivo before lunch, bathed in sunshine.  The valley below us has shed much of its leaves, however, and beautiful bare Silver Birch trees glow white against the remaining autumnal colour.  The vineyard below our front gate, now harvested, is glowing with striped colours, representing the different grape varieties to be found in each vineyard.  One can never get tired of Autumn in Chianti.

Little Wine Windows in Florence. La Repubblica

Little Wine Windows in Florence. La Repubblica

Now we can reach Fiano again, and over coffee I read a really interesting article about Little Wine Windows, or rather I Finestrini del Vino.  Everything sounds so much better in Italian, don’t you think?  Now these little windows are what remains of the way the Florentines sold their personal wine production direct to the public over the last few centuries.  Imagine, you tap the little window, pay your centesimo di lira and out comes a hand with a glass or jug of wine!  I just love this idea and these little windows are all over Florence.  Now there is a new society, which is dedicated to preserving them and for your further interest you must visit their website which can be read in Italian, English or German!  Go to http://www.buchettedelvino.org  It’s a truly fascinating story.

Radiohead rocks in Tuscany. La Reppublica

Radiohead rocks in Tuscany. La Repubblica

And what about the music scene, you ask?  Well, our latest touring band is ‘Radiohead’.  You know that alternative rock band at the height of their fame during the early 90’s.  An adventurous band, which incorporated electronic elements into their music, one of their classic songs being ‘Climbing Up The Walls.’

Italian shoes and leather look. I love this. Foto La Reppublica magazine

Italian shoes and leather look. I love this. Foto La Reppublica magazine

What else?  Oh yes, I must show you this picture.  It’s an advertisement for shoes, but I just love the whole outfit!  Despite the fact that I buy leather shoes and boots, I can’t quite bring myself to wrap myself in leather.  So a leather look outfit like this suits me fine.  Even my black biker jacket is faux!

But enough of that, time to get this blog off to you and to join my gorgeous man for an aperitivo.  Life eeeez good, life eeeez now.

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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Welcome to all my Loyal and New Followers

It is Tuesday morning and yes, I know, I am a little late sending you this blog.  But I am so glad I waited, because, I have just driven to Fiano for coffee and back in blazing sunshine!  This has given me a real lift and I am able to send you the best possible vibes from this little bit of the Chianti Hills.

Farty Barty on guard. "Did you hear that?" Photo P Finnigan

Farty Barty on guard. “Did you hear that?”
Photo P Finnigan

Farty Barty the cat, despite his wild status, has started guarding his patch particularly if we are in the garden at the time.  He sits facing outwards with us at his rear, just like a dog, ears pricking up at the slightest sound and talking a lot.  He speaks both English and Italian, because he came to us as a pot-bellied stick insect at only two months old, having been abandoned by his wild mother.  He is seven now and has just started settling down again after an amorous couple of months with the girlies, so things are a little calmer in that respect.  The Chianti countryside is awash with wild cats, but just like domestic ones, they know when they are on to a good thing.  The church cats get lots of visits, particularly by our good neighbour and friend next door who takes them daily titbits.

Me signing Valerie's books Photo Jackie

Me signing Valerie’s books
Photo Jackie Grandchamps

Last Friday evening we enjoyed dinner at Trattoria C’era una Volta with new friends Jackie from Belgium and Valerie from France.  Jackie runs a tourist business called French Escapade.  Her customers are mainly Americans who want to go on painting, cookery or other courses in the less touristy parts of Europe.  We, that is my man and I, have agreed to host a group of artists in our beautiful garden in October.  They get to sketch and paint and meet a celebrity English author!  Visit http://www.frenchescapade.com I was very happy to sign my books for Valerie who speaks perfect English.  If you girls are reading this, I do hope you are enjoying a good read and a safe journey home.

Jackie and Valerie holding my book. Photo P Finnigan

Jackie and Valerie holding my book.
Photo P Finnigan

Meanwhile, back at Laura’s Bar/Alimentare in Fiano, Laura is on her own.  Benedetta, her daughter is expecting, so is not so active behind the counter at the moment.  The usual locals are in every morning and Signor Rotund seems to be better after an op, and is appearing more often than before, so we need to make sure we get there before he hogs the newspaper.  The news has been a bit depressing of late.  The thing is, there just isn’t enough about the Peter Pan of Politics Silvio Berlusconi.  He will either make you laugh, cry, rage, envy, ape, avoid, argue or at least feel entertained.  The current Prime Minister, Renzi, just doesn’t have the charisma of our Silvio and the Italians are getting fed up with him, as nothing has changed for the better since he took the helm.  However, we are reliably informed that, like the glowing Phoenix, SB is on the rise again.

Beautiful blossom and scented flowers on the upper terrace. Photo P Finnigan

Beautiful blossom and scented flowers on the upper terrace.
Photo P Finnigan

On a happier note, our garden has erupted with blossom and the perfume is intoxicating.  Wisteria, Jasmin, Evening scented Stock and much more.  Saturday evening we were able to sit outside and enjoy it all until quite late.  However, we have noticed that the deep canyon at the bottom of the olive grove below us, seems to have crept closer!  You may recall that this part of Chianti is full of crumbling inland cliffs and from time to time a little more falls away.  Not so far away from us, one little villa has recently lost half its garden!  But we don’t worry about that, life eeez good, life eeez now!

Well enough of that, I have a heavy workload this week and am hammering away at my book ‘The Italian Connection’ in between times.

Have a great week and do drop me a line, I would love to hear from you.

Salute June x

PS Don’t forget to check out my books below on Amazon.

My Father, The Assassin.  Book on 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

Crumbling cliffs below our villa. Photo J Finnigan

Crumbling cliffs below our villa.
Photo J Finnigan

One minute I was happily writing at my keyboard, the next me and my desk are swaying from side to side for a long and unnerving five seconds!  A rumbling and groaning noise accompanied this rather queasy experience, and it was to happen three times more during last Friday.  No this was nothing to do with my man’s amorous intentions, it was in fact an earthquake, yes a real one.  In the evening we drove over to our lovely Bavarian friends who live across the valley, and whilst we were sat at their kitchen bar, there was another brief further rumble, but we carried on enjoying ourselves regardless.  Of course in the morning we received numerous messages like ‘Did the earth move for you yesterday?’  But thank you to all the well wishers, and yes we are all OK.  Fortunately we were a couple of miles from the epicentre, however, we read in the paper that several families had spent the night outside for fear of having their homes crash down on top of them!  The Italians are very good at barbeques and outside pizza ovens, so most survived well fed and unscathed.  I had a dream not so long ago, that our little villa had slid down the hill and then over the cliff at the bottom.  But we just floated through the air and landed safely.  So I am convinced that we are protected by the Roman Gods.

Ha ha, moving? Photo Discover Tuscany

Ha ha, moving?
Photo Discover Tuscany

My man returned from England last Sunday, with our fourteen year old grandson who is home from his UK school for the Christmas holidays.  Yet again, the trains were on strike, so the guys and our daughter traveled by bus first to Florence, and then had to change for Poggibonsi, which is near Siena.  Amazingly they arrived only an hour later than they would have done on the train.  But the strikes in Italy are getting more frequent.  A week ago there was a general strike so absolutely nothing functioned for a day.   If you want to travel to Italy, double-check with your flights, trains and buses if there is likely to be strike action, particularly the day before you go.  If you are already in Italy, keep your wine cellar stocked up.

Then there are the worsening taxes in Italy!  Small businesses are now really struggling to survive as customers can no longer afford to shop like they used to and business taxes have gone up yet again!  It is sad to witness, particularly as it is affecting people we know and have enjoyed doing business with.  There are posters up with a picture of the prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the words below are, in Italian of course, ‘Renzi has wet his pants!’  We are not sure exactly why, but one can guess that the electorate are starting to believe that he is still in nappies and too inexperienced to make grown up decisions, like saving the country from ruin!  Someone may like to correct me here,

Anna and I enjoying a chat over lunch at La Raccolto in Florence PHoto P Finnigan

Anna and I enjoying a chat over lunch at La Raccolta in Florence
Photo P Finnigan

if they know a better reason.  Perhaps he did ‘wet his pants!’

My new painting next to the fireplace in our sitting room Photo J Finnigan

My new painting next to the fireplace in our sitting room
Photo J Finnigan

But enough of that.  Our week has otherwise been really good.  We have dined out several times, firstly at ‘Osteria Sosta di Pio’ near Poggibonsi for sunday lunch, with a new Australian friend Simona at ‘C’era Una Volta Ristorante’, with Anna Balzani Editor in Chief of ‘Florence is You’ who introduced us to a lovely new vegi & biological restaurant in Florence called ‘La Raccolta,’  which is also a mini-market http://www.laraccolta.it and of course with our Bavarian friends at their home for supper.  Thank you all for your excellent company.

The other good news is the arrival of an oil painting from England, painted by the very talented artist Mark Loman, from my home town of Exmouth in Devon.  I chose one of Mols Coffee House, a Tudor building in Exeter, as it was owned by my family up until the 1930’s.  So that’s my Christmas present to myself!  Visit http://www.markloman.co.uk

The idol Silvio (Jesu) Berlusconi Photo sdpf

The idol Silvio (Jesu) Berlusconi
Photo sdpf

Meanwhile, back in the land of wine and women, Silvio Berlusconi continues to strut his stuff.  With the present government coming under severe criticism, Silvio is rising from the ashes again like a phoenix.  Back in 2009 he was listed number 141 in the worlds richest men with a net worth of US $9 Billion.  Of course wealth creates wealth so you can guarantee his worth has increased dramatically by now.  So let’s vote him back in, on the proviso that he personally invests in the country and rescues these poor Italians from its crushing economy!

Well, it’s time to go.  We have closed both the UK and Italian office and are now about to celebrate the Festive Season.  I’ve got a pile of presents to wrap and a visit to IKEA lined up, as I am desperate to get some more storage for our little villa.

Have a fabulous Christmas and do drop me a line.  There is still time to download your festive reading, I’d love it if you downloaded ‘My Father, The Assassin’ below.

Tanti Auguri to you and yours.

June xx

ps visit http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1



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Benvenuti to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

The main reason for moving to Italy was to learn the language.  We also thought that the weather might be a little warmer, brighter and dryer.  Whilst the latter was a secondary issue, right now we are beginning to wonder if the Roman Gods are being unkind to us.  Looking out of the double windows opposite my desk, it could well be a view of English grey skies, and the sound of wheels splashing past the villa sound so wet and chilly.  These days our Italian friends in the cafe bar in Fiano, talk as much about the ‘brutto Tempo’ (bad weather) as we brits did in the local pub after work in England.  This is not a complaint, just an observation, well actually I am complaining, let’s be honest.  However, I have just bought a lovely new pair of soft leather boots from Gabor and my beloved waxed coat has come out of the wardrobe.  These may not sound important to you, but to little old me, these are two of the perks of winter.

Farty Barty refuses to leave his nice warm chair. Phot J Finnigan

Farty Barty refuses to leave his nice warm chair.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, Tuscany is still struggling with serious flooding and landslides.  We are desperately waiting for the rain to stop and allow some of the poor homeless people to get back to repairing and rebuilding their homes.  Our little bit of Chianti has so far suffered much less than some areas; may that continue.  Farty Barty the cat, remains in his comfy kitchen chair and refuses to go out at night……that says a lot.

Gluten free pasta and white truffles photo J Finnigan

Gluten free pasta and white truffles
photo J Finnigan

But then all turned bright and sunny on the weekend, metaphorically speaking, when our beautiful nine, nearly ten-year old granddaughter came to stay for two nights.  Absolutely no work or writing got done, we were forced to just relax and enjoy ourselves in her delightful company.  We went out to lunch twice.  Firstly to Ristorante Montalbino for, yes again, white truffle pasta.  It is a tiny family run place where they specialise in fungi and it’s really good.  Then on Sunday we went back to La Gramola in Tavernelle, where we had the most delicious Red Wine Pici with cheese and pepper.  This is home-made spaghetti infused with red wine, so comes out a sort of ruddy colour.  It’s really delicious tossed in pecorino cheese and pepper.  Then I had pears that had been poached in Vin Santo, a wine liqueur made from grapes that have been left to wither on the vine, or so I’m told!

The game of Pick'Up'Sticks Photo J Finnigan

The game of Pick’Up’Sticks
Photo J Finnigan

Back at the villa we played the games of ‘Sorry’ and ‘Pick’up’Sticks’.   We also had a fun time, by having a book each, and reading the first full line of each page one after the other.  This can be hilarious, however, our poor granddaughter had a John Le Carre book in her hands and he tends to write very long sentences.  We were very impressed to find that her reading of difficult English words was brilliant.  She is English, but when you consider that she has only been educated in an Italian school, speaks fluent Italian, and generally reads a lot of Italian books, so brava to her.

Well, I hope that you will not mind if I cut this post a little short.  I have a busy workload today and must knuckle down.

Have a great week and don’t forget to visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

Salute June x



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Benvenuti to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

Now, you will have heard me say that the Italians will always find an excuse for a Festa, which often involves everyone stopping work for the day.  However, this last weekend was well deserved as we celebrated La Festa per Il Nuova Vino e Pane Olio (The Festival for the New Wine and Olive Bread).  This was hosted in the hilltop village of Montespertoli where the festivities included walking, running and bike racing.  The locals do like to drink their Chianti young.  This is interesting isn’t it, as traditionally, at least in the UK we have always gone for much older labels.  Many families give a watered down version to the children.  We quite like a new or young Chianti, but still prefer last years or the year before.  We are fortunate to be able to buy our wine from a local vineyard very cheaply indeed.  Now the owner is a friend, however, it is possible to get a pretty good price from many vineyards if you take your own bottles along and cork them yourself.  It’s all about who you know and if you have neighbouring vineyard owners to befriend!

The Autumn view from here. Photo J Finnigan

The Autumn view from here.
Photo J Finnigan

You may have heard in the news about the terrible floods and landslides over the last week.  Carrara was very badly hit and the locals have stormed the commune offices, as the blame is being put directly in the local authority’s lap.  Disasters like this have happened in the past, however, the lesson does not seemed to have been learnt and flood defences have not been properly catered for.  Tuscany is a province prone to landslips, main roads collapsing and flooding.  If you were to check out the history of any area, there will be something to scare you off!  So, if you fall in love with a particular place it is best to accept it warts and all.  We live in a stunningly beautiful part of Chianti, however, we are perched only two hundred yards from the edge of crumbling inland cliffs!  A local once told us not to worry as our house had not moved for over two hundred years.  Before that it was in the hamlet further up the hill!

The old Mine Workings Photo P Finnigan

The old Mine Workings
Photo P Finnigan

Our beautiful daughter and family are in the process of moving to a lovely old house between Siena and Volterra.  It sits by itself, perched above old mine workings that are now in ruins and with views of the mountains and sea on the west coast of Tuscany.  We went over to help with curtain making and things last Saturday, and were told the story of the famous mine owner who originally owned the land and house, and how his disgusted employees threw him down the well below the house after a dispute!  Ooh, creepy….

I am getting on really well with my novel ‘The Bolivian Connection,’ where things are a little tense, as my heroine Joanna awaits the result of sending off a female Interpol agent, disguised as herself, to flush out an assassin who is trying to kill her!  I can tell you, my blood pressure has gone up over the last couple of days whilst I have been writing the current chapter, it’s all very nerve-racking…..

I love to start the day with a delicious cafe latte and watch the world go by at  Laura’s bar/allimentare in Fiano, it sets me up for the day.  Sig Rotund has been missing for a couple of weeks and we have discovered that he is convalescing at home after an operation.   We wish him well and will keep the sporting pages warm for him.  I went to Laura’s at seven o’clock this morning for coffee, as I had dropped my man off at Certaldo station to get the early train to Pisa airport.  Laura had already been ‘a piede’ (on her feet) for four hours.  She opens at six in the morning, but arrives much earlier for the bread and pastry deliveries.  At seven, the customers are very different to the nine o’clock crowd.  It is busier with workers who start early and the mothers with older children who will be taking the school buses to media school.  School generally starts between eight and eight thirty.  We have a primary school in Fiano which takes children up to age ten, otherwise, they are bussed to various towns at least a half hour away.

he all important wood fire and aperitivo. Photo J Finnigan

The all important wood fire and aperitivo.
Photo J Finnigan

As I write this blog, thunder is rolling and lightning is flashing across the hills.  This means that the electricity might go at any minute, which is usual here, and I should save everything and go off-line.  I’ll update you on the gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi next time!  In the meantime I shall look forward to the log fire and aperitivo this evening.

Have a great week and do drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net, or leave me a message below.  I will respond!

Salute June x

PS Don’t forget to visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan





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Benvenuto to all my loyal and new followers

Readers Digest 1973 cookery book photo J Finnigan

Readers Digest 1973 cookery book
photo J Finnigan

As you all know, I am not the greatest cook, however, as San Valentino’s Day was looming I decided to find my vintage 1973 Readers Digest Cookery Book, which had a very musty smelling recipe page for Mushroom Strogonoff.  Now, if you carefully weigh all the correct ingredients and follow the instructions to the letter, what can go wrong?   The Basmati rice was perfect, the sauce looked creamy and delicious, I had added a drop of best quality chardonnay and the mushrooms were cooked to perfection.  Now in these old books, dried mixed herbs were in everything, however, here in Italy the dried herb mixtures are a little different.  So when I sprinkled some dried mediterranean herbs in, it never occurred to me that there might be a problem with that.  It was only when my delighted man took his first mouthful and smoke came out of his nose and ears, that I knew something was up!  “Oh my god he yelled, what are you trying to do to me!”  Well, I am used to making mistakes in the kitchen, but this was terribly disappointing.  “Never mind” I said, my face all red with embarrassment and hot spicy herbs, “I’ve made us a lovely creamy desert using the rose petal sauce that our good friend Paolo the chef gave us!”  My man is incredibly patient with me over the subject of food, however, he responded through deep gasps for air with “I love the smell of roses, but

Paolo who made the Rose Sauce, shaking a bottle of frozen crema di limoncello.  Photo J Finnigan

Paolo who made the lovely Rose Sauce, shaking a bottle of frozen crema di limoncello.
Photo J Finnigan

I’m not sure about eating them…..”  So I presented the gorgeous looking rose perfumed creamy desert.  He managed two mouthfuls.  “I’m sorry June, I know you’ve tried really hard, but I don’t like it…”  I was also finding it a bit rich and realising that the lovely sauce was obviously meant to be used in tiny quantities, so I gave up on the fourth spoonful.  “Let’s open that new bottle of Vin Santo” we chorused, and then got out the game of ‘Sorry’ to take our minds off the food thing.  Well, we downed two glasses of Vin Santo each and thoroughly enjoyed the board game.  So it was a lovely evening after all.

The following morning we are back at Laura’s Bar/alimentari in Fiano , where I had bought the mushrooms, and everyone is rolling around in hysterics as my man describes my cooking.  Fortunately, I don’t really mind being laughed at, but secretly would love to be up to the amazing standards of some of my blogging friends!

Last Wednesday, we bade farewell to our friend Simon Moodie at his funeral in Certaldo.  Many of his friends are musicians and as the grave was being filled in (by a JCB!), we played and sang some of his favourite rock songs which he had particularly asked for.  He would have loved it.  Addio Simon.

Mimosa in our February garden. Photo P Finnigan

Mimosa in our February garden.
Photo P Finnigan

On a much lighter note, we are delighted to see our Mimosa tree already in full blossom.  As the mornings start to get lighter my man is looking forward to getting up at six and doing a couple of hours gardening before going out for coffee.  We do have a fabulous terraced garden and I can’t wait to bring all the pots back out from under the polytunnel.  We will wait until the 1st April though, as past experience has seen the weather change dramatically in these Chianti hills during February and March.  We have been incredibly lucky with the weather so far; quite a bit of heavy rain, however, temperatures are currently up around the 17 centigrade mark!

Henry Winkler, The Fonz and Matteo Renzie, The Prime Minister... Photo Il simplicissimus

Henry Winkler, The Fonz Vs Matteo Renzie, The Prime Minister…
Photo Il simplicissimus

You have probably picked up on the international news, that Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigned after a vote of no confidence.  Well no surprise really, everyone was complaining that the so-called reforms were not happening fast enough.  However, our friends in Fiano all seem to like his replacement, the current Mayor of Florence Matteo Renzie.  He will certainly get the female vote, and quite a few guys, as he is young and handsome and rides a bicycle to work.

Well enough of that, I’ll update you on Silvio next time and meanwhile wish you all a very happy and exciting week.

Salute June x

PS  Don’t forget, there is currently a huge discount when you download the e-book ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan from Amazon or Firstchapters!

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Crumbling Cliffs left and our villa top right. Photo P Finnigan

Crumbling Cliffs left and our villa almost hidden in the trees, second from right.
Photo P Finnigan

Driving along the strada bianca this morning, the sun was a russet gold and the light fantastic.  So much so, that my man stopped the car and took some lovely photos of the of the foggy valley and inland cliffs below our villa.  I have mentioned before that we live in an area which is constantly on the move and the crumbling cliffs provide a reminder that within staggering beauty is a landslip always waiting to happen.  The cliffs are full of fossils and ancient seashells, reminding us that these Dolce Colline (sweet hills) were under water during the ice-age.   The steepest parts are largely covered in mixed woodland, so the area is teaming with wildlife.  A young roe deer crossed the track this morning at some considerable speed, so we braked and as anticipated a second one was not far behind.

The much hunted and beautiful Cinghale.

A Tuscan Cinghiale.

A couple of weeks ago our daughter was driving across country and a big old male cinghiale (wild boar) broke cover and dashed across the road.  She expected several more to follow or perhaps hunters’ dogs, but no, the frightened animal was being chased by a cock pheasant!  Don’t you just wish you had a camera at a time like this?

Back in Laura’s bar/alimentari in Fiano,  the ever popular Sig Rotund enjoys a shoulder and neck massage provided by a number of passing local ladies, whilst reading his paper.    My man has recently been acting very stiff shouldered to see if he can get the same attention, but no luck so far!  Sig Rotund has provided the Christmas Raffle this year which, unfortunately,  consists of some rather gaudy silver plate things.  The thing is, do we buy a ticket and ask to have the prize put back if we win, not buy a ticket or buy a ticket and try to lose the prize somewhere?  What do you think?  Oh, dio….  Here in Tuscany the festive season is taken very seriously and Christmas Markets are everywhere.  Germany is said to have the best European Christmas Markets and, would you believe it,  Florence is actually hosting a ‘German’ Christmas Market right now!

And now something completely different.  If you live in Italy, well certainly in Tuscany, finding an idraulica (plumber) who a) actually arrives, b) can do any plumbing job and is not restricted to one specialist area, and c) does not take all day to do a few little jobs, is almost impossible.  Well, we popped into Bar Italia in Certaldo the other day and discovered that Fabiola, who works behind the bar, is married to just the man we have been searching for!  The amazing Salvatore arrived the next day and did everything in less than three hours, then rushed off and said he would leave his bill in the bar at sometime in the future!  We now have flushing loos and taps that no longer drip, so we are all ready for the festive visitors!

OLive trees overlooking thefog filled valleys. Photo P Finnigan

Olive trees overlooking the fog filled valleys.
Photo P Finnigan

Back at the villa, despite the freezing air temperature, we have been able to sit outside in hot sunshine at around 1pm on most days this last week.  The magic thing about southern Europe is the fact that the sun, when it comes out, is still hot in winter.  So if you take your folding chair, even on a frosty day, get out of the wind and have direct sunlight on your face, you can soak up that much-needed vitamin D and enjoy a pre-lunch aperitivo at the same time!

And so to the Peter Pan of politics.  How is the gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi doing?  The New York Times provided a very amusing article last week.  Quote, “SB cares about his friends as long as they do what he says.  He talks fondly about his late Mama and adores his kids, in fact he loves family so much, he has had three already!  Hang in there SB, the girlies still love you!

Well, as it’s a lovely sunny day, we are off to Montespertoli for an aperitivo in the main piazza, then a bit of lunch.

Have a great week and don’t forget to check out ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan on http://www.Amazon.co.uk (.com or .eu) or http://www.firstchapters.net for your Christmas reading and/or presents.  If you would like my autograph, I can send you a very nice sticky label to go in your book.  Email June.finnigan@virgin.net with your details.

Amore June xx

PS We have just bought a nice bunch of mistletoe, so may be a little preoccupied for a while….

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"Read my lips, I am not fat!"

Farty Barty – “Read my lips, I am not fat, I can still see my paws!”
Photo J Finnigan

It’s hard to believe that we are already into November, particularly as the days have been really balmy over the last week.  We are still enjoying lunches outside on the upper terrace and marvelling at the peace and quiet after the vendemia (grape harvest).  The olive picking has now really got going and it has been an unusual year with both harvests so close together.  Farty Barty, the cat, is getting far too plump as he builds his winter coat and fat layers.  In no time at all he will be off courting and running himself ragged again.  Yes, I know, at six years of age, he still has his vital bits.  The problem is, whenever we try to trap him in his cage, he  knowingly disappears off into the wild for four or five days!  Now my man feels that, at such a mature age a male’s important bits should be left well alone!

Orange harvest from the orchard. Photo P Finnigan

Orange harvest from the orchard.
Photo P Finnigan

The garden continues to amaze us with new growth on many of the flowering plants and shrubs.  The potted lemon trees are sporting autumn blossoms and the oranges from the orchard are huge and juicy.  The man is very happy, of course, because there is still plenty to do outside.  In addition to this, we are decorating the spare bedroom for our discerning friends & family that will be here before and over Christmas.  These things may not be exciting to you, however, my man and I spend a lot of hours each week doing brain work, so it is a joy to turn one’s attention to practical stuff.

Back at the Laura’s bar/alimentari in Fiano, Tuesday was a day for the locals to burst into song.  It was a case of the conversation suddenly inspiring a song (mostly Italian) and short bursts of pop, rock or ballads were sung with gusto.  I threw in a few English lyrics and it was great fun!

Giovana and Vittorio's memorial. Photo P Finnigan

Giovana and Vittorio’s memorial.
Photo P Finnigan

Friday was a festa (All Saints Day/Day of the Dead) and Halloween to you.  The churchyards are now full of fresh flowers  and we particularly like to visit Giovanna & Vittorio’s memorial in Luccardo Alto, which has hand painted likenesses on the wall.  if you have never visited an Italian churchyard, you really must.  Each dearly departed has a photograph, and at night lovely little lamps let out a warm glow.   Laura’s bar was closed that day, so we had morning coffee outside Bar Piazzetta and soaked up the glorious sunshine.  Reading the paper there, we discover that Empoli, a town about half an hour away, has a Sherlock Holmes Society.  How amazing is that?  This is an all Italian group of people who just adore S.H!

On Sunday we went to Montespertoli and, whilst enjoying our aperitivo in the Piazza, we met Rhett & Ginger, two lovely American ladies who were on holiday.  Girls, if you are reading this, we hope you enjoy my book and the rest of your holiday!  And so to Sunday lunch.

Gianluccas brings our antipasti. Photo J Finnigan

Gianluca brings our antipasti.
Photo J Finnigan

I have been meaning to introduce you to Gianluca who is a waiter at ‘C’era una Volta’ in Luccardo.  Gianluca has been a temporary member of staff for around eleven years, as he is really a perpetual student of History.  He is also very charming to girlies of all ages and speaks English, French, German and Spanish.  We are very fond of him, however, he loves to stop and chat to us at some length, despite shouts from his boss Paolo to get on with serving the customers!  You could say that he likes to perform for his favourite customers, which regularly gets him into trouble!  He is off to Cuba next week with his mates, and asked us for all the words for a joint!  Did he mean a smoke or a seedy bar?  We did our best to help.

Whilst the storms have abated, we are still seeing the after effects and a busy B road near Montespertoli has subsided.  I know I mention this quite often,

Road subsidence near Montespertoli. Photo la Republica

Road subsidence near Montespertoli.
Photo la Republica

however, you need to travel these roads regularly to appreciate the precarious state of shifting land around us.  I won’t bore you too much with stories about Italian drivers, but this morning driving along the two kilometre stretch of strada bianca from our villa to the main road, we had to break three times as to avoid oncoming vehicles cutting bends at speed, over seriously eroded surfaces!  Then we were overtaken by an elderly Signora, on a blind bend and it is a single track road!  Enough of that, but sometimes one has to rent one’s feelings!

I have just checked on the latest news for the gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi.  Well, golly gosh, bunga-bunga girl Marythell Polanca has claimed that SB married his overage fiance Francesca Pascale three weeks ago, in a private chapel at his home!  Francesca is currently seeking 10 million euros damages after a TV station broadcast claimed that, according to a Bulgarian Actress, she was a lesbian!  Meanwhile, SB has managed to persuade the courts to reduce his alimony payments to his ex-wife by half.  The poor wretch is now having to manage on only 1.2 million euros a month!   So, nothing really sensational on Silvio’s front then.

Enough for now.  I really must get on with the day job and do a bit of business.  Please get in touch, and if you have read my current book, do leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  Thank you.

Amore June x

PS You can now find me and ‘My Father, The Assassin’ on http://www.goodreads.com, http://www.firstchapters.net and of course on Amazon.  Enjoy!

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Ciao Amici

Well here we are again, with lots to talk about and smile at.  Today I will be talking about my being famous in Fiano, the Italian stampede to buy plants for the vegetable gardens, Silvio Berlusconi (who?), Enrico Letta (who?), Big slabs of concrete and Italian roadworks.

I am delighted to report that our local cartoleria (stationers) in Fiano, run by Milko and his lovely mother, want to sell my novel to the tourists.  Milko thinks they should promote me as their local famous writer!  Well, I said (in Italian of course) I am delighted to hear it, you are the first bookseller to suggest this, so I had better order you a batch!


After two months of political wilderness, things seem to be coming together here.  Enrico Letta has been nominated as the new Prime Minister by our aging friend President Giorgio Napolitano.  He’s only in his forties, which kind of goes along with a number of other European countries, and has the ear of the lovely Silvio Berlusconi.  Silvio, however, wants back in as Minister of the Economy.  In other words he’ll still be running the country!  This is important as he is also a great advertisement for the thousands of hairdressers, plastic surgeons and makeup artists in the country.

My man and I went to Certaldo this morning and got caught up in the stampede to buy freshly delivered plants for the vegetable gardens (l’orti).  It’s important not to be shy on occasions like this, because everyone pushes in front of one another.  Fortunately, I am taller than the average Italian and can shout as loud as the locals, so got my purchases reasonably quickly!  We will be planting Courgettes (zucchini), peppers (pepperoni), and numerous herbs (l’erbe) this weekend, assuming the rain stays away.

Last Wednesday, I set out for Fiano and my coffee fix.  After two km’s of dusty track I came to the main road and turned left for Fiano.  Then I was waved down by a local farmer (contadino), who told me to turn found, because the three week old landslide was finally being removed and the road was blocked by diggers and cranes.  So I did and found the road blocked the other way by more workmen and a no through sign!  So I retrace my steps and the only way to go was back past my villa and down to Certaldo for coffee!  We have a favourite saying here – ‘Only in Italy!’  Thursday, the road was open again and vast concrete blocks have been placed below the cleared landslide – unfortunately the Italians love concrete!

I have not included a snippit from ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan today, but will do so next weekend.  Why not view the whole book on Amazon!

Buona Domenica x

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