Posts Tagged ‘Matteo Renzie’

Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

So much to tell you and so little time, but here goes!

Our littel tree nestling between bookshelves in our big kitchen!

Our little tree nestling between bookshelves in our big kitchen!  Foto J Finnigan

Gosh, it’s been a hectic few weeks; I’ve been to England twice to sort out a family bereavement and thank you for your best wishes.  All is fine now.  Being away makes me realise just how much I love my home in our little bit of Chianti; the countryside, the people and the lifestyle in general.  What with all the build up to Christmas, it’s great to be decorating the tree, planning our days, just like we always have.  We celebrate exactly the same way here as we did in England all those years ago.  How about you?

Parade of Reindeer in Wells Somerset England. Foto J Finnigan

Parade of Reindeer in Wells Somerset England.
Foto J Finnigan

Whilst I was in England, I did manage to see the parade of Reindeer, which happens every year in Wells, Somerset.  Then I joined some lovely friends for lunch.  So I did have some nice moments.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen reindeer in Tuscany.

Here in this part of Chianti, the traditional tree is very popular as is Father Christmas, Babbo Natale.  Signore Rotund, himself the perfect size for the role, collared me this morning for two boxes of chocolates in aid of the local Hospital Transport Service; I’m happy to contribute as always.  Of course, the Italians have a natural flair for festas and there are loads of parties, concerts and theatre going on.  New years Eve will be celebrated in our local village Fiano with a big feast in the former cinema, everyone who is anyone will be there.

The Tree of Names outside La Dispensa in Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

The Tree of Names outside La Dispensa in Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

La Dispensa, our busy coffee bar/ alimentare is looking very festive and we customers have been asked to hang little personal greetings on the big tree branch outside the door.  It is now looking very colourful with all the labels sporting people’s names and their messages.

My perfect Christmas wish list! La Repubblica magazine.

My perfect Christmas wish list! La Repubblica magazine.

Of course, a lot else has happened during my absence, which I have not been able to tell you about.  The Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigning for one, after the NO vote, but you will have seen that in the news I guess.  Local gossip says that the former Mayor of Florence was pretty fed up with the political arena and is looking forward to a Buona Festa with his family.  I wonder if we’ll see the resurgence of our eighty-year-old former PM, Silvio Berlusconi in the New Year?  Watch this space.

Christmas hunk of the month and girlie. La Repubblica.

Christmas hunk of the month and girlie. La Repubblica.

Anyway, just to make you girlies smile, I spotted this Dolce Gabbana advert (below) with your Christmas Hunk already partly unwrapped.  There’s a girlie for you guys in the picture too, I try not to be biased!  I wouldn’t mind a bottle of that lovely perfume too!  My own personal Christmas hunk is back from his final business trip of the year, so I must get some mistletoe in the morning!

Finally, thank you to all those who downloaded ‘My Father, The Assassin’ during the freebie five-day period, I hope you enjoy the read over the festive period.  The third book in the trilogy, ‘The Italian Connection’ will be published early in 2017, I’ll let you know as soon as it goes live!

Ok, need to start wrapping presents and get them under the tree.  But might have a glass of vino first…..

So, may I wish you all a fantastic Christmas and lots of love and kisses under the mistletoe.  I’ll be back in the New Year.

Buona Festa June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan




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Welcome to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

Big fat juicy grapes from a neighbouring vineyard. Photo J Finnigan

Big fat juicy grapes from a neighbouring vineyard.
Photo J Finnigan

Most of you will know that by the end of September, the bulk of the grape harvest will have been completed.  It seems to have been particularly frenetic over the last two weeks with tractors and trailers roaring past our little villa, empty and rattling one way, then smelling wonderful with a big load of fat purple grapes on the way back.  Like some crazy person, I have been dashing out trying to get a photo, but they are gone too quickly!  Finally, I was on the way back from coffee and there was a parked trailer waiting for a tractor.  Whoopee, I screeched to a halt and took the photo, with the sound of the tractor arriving full pelt down the track behind me, in a thick cloud of dust!

The Museum st San Marco in Florence after the storm. Photo The Florentine

The Museum st San Marco in Florence after the storm.
Photo The Florentine

Florence and a large part of the valley around the city, was hit by a ferocious tornado just over a week ago, and whilst you may have heard about this and that the city was ankle-deep in hail stones, some the size of golf balls,  you will not have realised just how devastating this was for the crop farmers in the region.  Whole vineyards were destroyed, buildings badly damaged and the estimated cost is several millions of euros.

Getting work is difficult enough in Italy, however, the Italians are very good at creating ‘jobs for life’ in the most devious ways.  We have a local man who drives a little truck loaded with a shovel, broom and little else.  Now, he is employed by the local commune to keep the gutters free by the side of a B road and he is out in all weathers.  We have a lot of water running off these hills and it is important to keep the roads flood free.  Our man shovels the mud and silt from the gutter and throws it back up the hill from whence it came.  Yes, you’ve worked it out, it quickly washes down again as soon as it rains!  So here is a job for life.  By the time he’s worked his way from one end of the steep curving road to the other, he needs to start all over again.  Nevertheless, he is a popular character and locals often stop and chat, no doubt recognising a kindred spirit!

Lovely wild yellow daisies by the side of the road near our villa. Photo J Finnigan

Lovely wild yellow daisies by the side of the road near our villa.
Photo J Finnigan

I have recently had a letter from the USL in Certaldo, that is the local Health Centre, telling me that I will not automatically get a discount on health services and medicines unless I go and put my plastic health card (Tessera Sanitaria) in a new machine to register.  So I go and there is a massive queue.  I get to the machine and it asks for my password; I did not know I had one.  So I get in the other queue of people who are also confused by the request for a password, and wait for nearly an hour for the single lady at the desk to be free.  By then, I still have at least ten people in front of me, so I give up and go with four other frustrated ladies for a prosecco in the local bar.  Only in Italia…..

Nearly finished the Chianti and onto the Crema di Limoncello at C'era una Volta Restuarant. Photo J Finnigan

Nearly finished the Chianti and onto the Crema di Limoncello at C’era una Volta restaurant.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, life continues at a gentle pace in our local village of Fiano.  Lots of grey-headed tourists are wandering around, September is a popular time for the oldies, and I hand out my author cards to several English and Americans visiting Laura’s cafe bar/alimentare.  My man thinks I should keep a box of books in the car and sell them directly to the tourists and sign them.  Perhaps he’s right.  There is no way I can tell if my book has been bought on-line by someone who had my card.  Over coffee, I note that I have new photos arrived on Facebook.  “Do you have a Facebook account now, some family photos have been posted?”  I ask my man, who is deep into Il Nazione newspaper. “No, but that’s alright, I know what they look like.” He returns to his paper. I sigh.

Last night, one of our favourite restaurants C’era Una Volta, was very busy with a mix of Italian, German and Swiss.  We met another really nice couple from Germany, Helta and Harold.  If you guys are reading this, we hope you are enjoying your holiday.  Today, Sunday, we are ringing the changes and heading off for San Vivaldo near Montaione, as we have heard about an interesting restaurant called Il Focolare, which will be having vegan fest in October and is in the grounds of a historic monastery.  We have vegan friends, so it would be nice to take them somewhere where they can relax and enjoy their food.  It is not difficult to eat vegetarian in the area, but vegan dishes are harder to find.  So we are off to check it out first.

Silvio at AC Milan Photo Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

Silvio at AC Milan
Photo Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

I’ve just checked on the gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi, and it seems he is back in the news.  However, he spends much of his time visiting his football team, AC Milan by helicopter, where he has been photographed a lot with the players.  This is outside the four hours a week he spends doing social work at a hospital for those suffering from dementia.  I’m surprised he remembers to turn up.  Apparently, he recently met up with his rival, the prime minister Renzie, but I can’t find anything interesting to say about that.  I expect his little dog Dudu would be able to tell us a few interesting facts, perhaps I’ll give the mutt a call.

So, its back to the real world, an aperitivo on the upper terrace, gazing at the sunset lighting up the few clouds in the sky, going for coffee in the mornings and greeting the locals, doing the odd bit of work and writing my current novel.  Life can be hard at times.

Have a really good week and don’t forget to read ‘My Father, The Assassin’ before I publish the sequel ‘The Bolivian Connection’ later this year.

Salute June x

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Benvenuto to all my loyal and new followers,

Matteo Renzie on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Matteo Renzie on the cover of Vanity Fair.

last Sunday, the village hall in our local village of Fiano, was all set up to receive the voters for the election of the new Mayor of Certaldo.  Our resident Moroccan street seller had positioned himself close to the entrance, so everything was ready.  We had received forms to complete, that would have allowed us the opportunity to vote, however, life being so hectic, I clean forgot to return them.  We have no idea who the candidates were, but for sure, it will be difficult to find someone equal to the handsome and charismatic Matteo Renzie, the original Mayor of Florence, who is now Prime Minister.

the vicious Processionaria that builds nests in Fir Trees. Photo National Geographic

the vicious Processionaria that builds nests in Fir Trees.
Photo National Geographic

Back in the countryside and gardens, vicious caterpillars called ‘Processionaria’ are causing a lot of problems.  They are lovely to look at, but deadly to approach.  If they think they are being threatened they will fire sharp spines that are very dangerous for animals and humans alike.  Our poor son-in-law was trying to clear some from the garden when a spine was shot straight into his eye!  After hospital treatment, the painful injury should be OK, but be warned…..

Eurasian Jay Photo Wikapedia

Eurasian Jay
Photo Wikipedia

However, there are some good things to tell you;  particularly the sight of four Jays doing a mating waltz, directly in front of us over the steep valley below.

Back in the village, we were approached by local man Sergio, who owns a 1960’s English MG sports car and he was keen to know what an Englishman would have worn then, whilst driving the car.  My man said over coffee, “I think he needs some Clarks Desert Boots, a houndstooth or checked sports jacket, cravat and cap.  Think Terry Thomas!”  So back in my studio, I did a bit of research on-line.   I could not find any really good pictures of our Terry, but came across one of  Michael Caine dressed in perfect attire.   I then found some excellent British sites that still sell the exact same clothes.  It will be possible for Sergio to buy a new all British double-breasted navy sports jacket with brass buttons from M&S, and have it posted!  There were even sites dedicated to English cravats!  so I printed off some pictures and left them in the bar for Sergio to collect.  I look forward to hearing from him and seeing him looking like a proper English, if Italian, gent.

Meanwhile, Farty Barty the cat seems to have slowed down and, thank god, is probably over the call of the wild.  The sun is now quite hot by mid-day so he is lying on his back on the wooden bench, in a most ungainly fashion, and enjoying himself.  We have been able to throw open the doors and windows for a large part of the day and have even started some spring cleaning!

Silvio re-launches 'Forza Italia' Photo Reuters

Silvio with his party ‘Forza Italia’
Photo Reuters

And so to the undaunted and charismatic billionaire Silvio Berlusconi.  Undaunted, because he is now planning to run for a place in the EU parliament!  If he wins, he may not be able to take his seat in the legislative body, which traditionally meets in Strasbourg, France.  Why?  Well firstly, he does not currently hold a passport, handed over to prevent him fleeing the country, and secondly he maybe under house arrest when the vote takes place.  You have to admire the man though;  down, but definitely not out!  What do you think?

Well, enough of that.  Time to beautify myself and to go out to Sunday lunch with my man.

Have a great week, do drop me a line and, if you have read the book,  please pop a review of ‘My Father, The Assassin’ on Amazon or Goodreads.

Grazie Mille and Salute, June x

Ps  I must mention the fact that I have been chuckling all day over something I wrote yesterday in chapter eleven of ‘The Bolivian Connection’.  It is an exchange of conversation between our heroine Joanna and her Interpol protector and former lover, Frenchman Laurent.  Sorry, you’ll have to wait for the book to be published….ha,ha,ha!  on the other hand, I might let you have a snippet next weekend….watch this space.

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Benvenuto to all my loyal and new followers

Winter colour in the garden. Photo J Finnigan

Winter colour in the garden.
Photo J Finnigan

As I write this blog, the morning sun is pouring through the open studio window and there is nothing like it for being inspired to write.  The weather has been so spring like, apart from the hailstorm yesterday, that many trees and flowers are well in advance with their blossoms.

Our grandson kicks a winning drop goal. Photo P Finnigan

Our grandson kicks a winning conversion aka Jonny Wilkinson.
Photo P Finnigan

Last weekend we went to the historical centre of Poggibonsi for lunch with our beautiful daughter and two grandchildren.  You may recall that our thirteen year old grandson is bravo at rugby and is capitano of Siena under fourteens.  Unfortunately his leg was in plaster after his friend and team-mate landed on his knee during Tuscan trials in Arezzo.  He’ll be on the bench for up to six weeks with damaged tendons.  Later this year he will be off to Blundells school in England having brilliantly won a scholarship and is really looking forward to enjoying the vastly improved sports facilities!  Our nine-year old granddaughter has her sights on a horse, as they live right next door to some stables!  Watch this space….

Italian mens' street fashion in Florence. Photo lettersfromflorence.blogspot

Italian mens’ street fashion in Florence.
Photo lettersfromflorence.blogspot

Earlier this week, we were relaxed over coffee at Laura’s bar in Fiano.  My man was reading the paper and I was making my usual observations and notes.  “Well, well, how strange” said my man, “It says here that one in four Italian men live alone!”  Now, we found this an interesting subject to analyse.  Italian men are mostly very tied to their mothers and if that fails, they are more likely to find a replacement in a wife.  The younger generations are slowly changing this, however, it seems that fifty-two percent of 25-34 year olds still live with their mothers, compared to thirty-five percent of women.  We do know a few men in Fiano who are getting on a bit, have never married and live alone.  Apart from one of these, they all have a rather hung dog look about them and it is obvious that they lived with their mothers until she died of a ripe old age.  It’s also true, that we are all living longer, so elderly men have increased in number and many of these will be widowers.  However, one in four men living alone seems quite high given the fact that women still usually outlive their men.  I would be interested to have your thoughts on this….

Silvio & Angelino Alfano in happier times. Photo BBC News Europe

Silvio & Angelino Alfano in happier times.
Photo BBC News Europe

You will be aware that it has been all change on the political front.  Our aging Peter Pan, Silvio Berlusconi is disgusted with the fact that his former right hand man, Angelino Alfano, has been invited to join the coalition government and is complaining that the new members have not been elected, which is undemocratic!  A bunch of sour grapes methinks.  At the bar, most of those who have anything to say, like the new interim Prime Minister Matteo Renzie, mainly because he was the Mayor of Florence and they are all keen Fiorentina football fans.  The new government is also very young and I could only find two over sixty!  In fact, the majority are below fifty!  Well, things could not get any worse, so fingers crossed for the promised reforms and reduced unemployment figures.

Well, I will be off to London on Thursday for a  gathering of authors, publishers and literary agents.  It should be interesting and the day will finish with a lavish gala dinner……Yummy.   Meanwhile, I must get this blog off to you and get on with the day job.

Have a great week.

Amore June x

PS  Don’t forget there are still big discounts for downloading ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan from Amazon and please, please write a review.  Grazie Mille.

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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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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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