Posts Tagged ‘landslips’

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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Ciao Ragazzi

I am a little late with this blog and I apologise for that, but it has been a very busy weekend.  Today I am talking about my book, earthquakes, landslips, the Italian Government and the kindness of local people.

Firstly, a big thank you to all you lovely people who have bought my book and, more importantly, for having read it.  Your glowing emails have been heartwarming and spurs me on to complete ‘The Bolivian Connection’ as soon as possible.  I would really appreciate your returning to Amazon and leaving a review as this is very important for my following.  Also, don’t forget to share with all your social networks!  Here is the link again.


Last Thursday was the fourth anniversary of the dreadful earthquake that destroyed a good part of L’Aquila.  Six months ago scientists were convicted of manslaughter for failing to communicate the danger and articles have recently been written questioning the events of 31st January when thousands evacuated their homes in the Garfagnana north of Pisa.  decisions to evacuate are taken by the local mayors;  Italy never used to worry quite so much about ‘little’ tremors, but now the smallest indication of an earthquake creates ‘alarmism’.  Scientists were so shaken when their colleagues were put on trial, they now issue earthquake warnings that are often exaggerated to protect themselves, according to one spokesperson.

I cannot speak for the whole country, however, our region of Tuscany is constantly moving.  We have experienced more landslips blocking roads and roads falling away over the last year, than ever before.  On a lighter note, the geologists and fossil hunters of this world would find the area fascinating.  Hard to believe that these dolce colline (sweet hills) were once under the sea, thus the fabulous array of shells and fossils that fall out of the crumbling hillsides.

Matteo Renzi Matteo renzi (2).JPG

I will report back to you next weekend on the state of our non-government.  Meanwhile, the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzie (above), known as Rottamatore (scrapper) by the Italian media and number two in the Democratic party, has suggested doing a deal with Berlusconi’s Populare Liberta party in forming a government.  Pier Luigi Bersani, he of the shiny bald head & most votes, currently secretary of the Democratic party is furious as he hates the aging yet lovely Silvio.   This has now split the party once again.

Back at our local bar/alimentare in Fiano, the locals shrug and hold their hands up over both the landslides and politics.  Niente e nuove (nothing is new)!  The rotund signore who is usually reading La Nazione and likes to make cheeky remarks about the English,  shocked me by giving me present the other day.  A lovely silver wine bottle collar for catching the drips!

So life goes on and mostly in a very relaxed way.

Alla prossima June x


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