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Posts Tagged ‘Spring’

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World

2019-04-14 09.51.03Yes, it’s that time of year again; the run up to Easter or Pasqua as we say here in Italy.  Florence has experienced a big increase in tourist bookings for the Easter holidays so you can guarantee the city will be heaving.  But don’t worry about that, it’s all part of the Florence experience at this time of year!  Park your car south of the river and walk or telephone Taxi Firenze on 055 4390 and they will pick you up in no time!  The shops are full of giant chocolate eggs and it will be a weekend of family festivities whether you are religious or not.  In the foto you will see an advertisement for Quinoa Gluten Free Restaurant, which is my absolute favourite place to eat.  Don’t be put off by the ‘gluten free’ thing, they cater for all diets and you will love their freshly baked bread.  Website

2019-04-13 09.39.05Whilst in or near Florence, there are some really interesting museums and exhibitions to get your teeth into.  The Stibbert Museum is one place I will be going to in the next few weeks.  I have been promising myself a visit for ages!   It is easy to reach on the tram, which you can pick up outside Santa Maria Novella train station.  The museum has a vast personal collection of military and lots of other collections, from around the world.  Frederick’s English father came to Italy after fighting against Napoleon in Spain.  He came to Rome and then Florence where he met and later married Frederick’s Italian mother.  After Frederick’s death, his home and museum was opened to the public in 1909.  It’s a fascinating story, do read about it and try to visit.  Website

2019-04-11 09.10.33Now I love the work of the Italian artist Marcello Scuffi.  You would be forgiven for thinking his art was from the art deco period of the 1920’s or 30’s.  But no, he was born in 1948 in Pistoia, near Florence and his medium is sometimes described as GrecoArte here in Italy.  I am mentioning Marcello because he currently has an exhibition at the Florence Art Gallery, which ends on 27th April.  If you like his style, do drop in for a visit. I would love to own one or two of his paintings.  Let me know what you think!

2019-04-13 09.49.34Again, on the subject of museum pieces, we may think of Archimedes, his being one of the most famous historical mathematical geniuses of all time.  Hang on a minute, I hear you say, but he was Greek not Italian!  Yes, yes I know this, I was just testing.  Well actually I was leading up to introducing Italy’s very own modern-day Archimedes, eighteen year old Valerio Pagliarino!  It is a reminder that many of the most intelligent mathematicians and inventors were Italian.  And still are.  This is not just a land of wine, olives, pizza and pasta, oh no.  Valerio’s innovative new technology, the LaserWan project, is able to transmit data with light and has been recognised as Industrial Patent of Invention!  Unsurprisingly he was one of the winners at ‘Intel International Science & Engineering Fair 2017.’  So bravo to Valerio and all the other young brilliant Italian techno designers rising to the surface!  Foto La Repubblica magazine.

download.jpgNow what else did I have to tell you?  Oh yes, the Chianti countryside is currently having a deluge of rain.  It’s also cold.  But the coming week is looking better and I know that many of you will be travelling here during the next couple of weeks and will be glad to know that.  I can see the beautiful Hoopoe bird trotting around the wet garden at this moment, easily finding worms that have come up to the surface.  There is nothing like spring in Tuscany.  Foto Pininterest.

Well enough of that already.  Must get the fotos added for you to enjoy and catch up with my Sunday to do list.  Have a great week and do drop me a line.  By the way, my man says this week’s blog is too much like a travel article.  Do you agree?  Let me have your views!

Visit my website at website

Salute June x

PS  The Italians are very active on Facebook and are constantly posting events.  Pop in the location you want to visit and hey presto, masses of things come up including concerts, theatre, exhibitions etc!  All newspaper extracts from La Repubblica.

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all My Lovely followers around The World,

2019-03-03-10.11.50Yes, Spring has sprung early this year, hopefully we won’t get another nasty cold snap and kill things off. Bees have been buzzing for the last couple of weeks and I learnt recently that they take nectar from dandelions if there is nothing else available, so don’t dead head those weeds yet! Other insects are appearing as are small creatures like lizards, which is a little worrying as animals are starting to come out of hibernation a tad too early. Our resident Viper will no doubt appear soon; she had a big nest of swirling babys last spring. Our resident pheasant Phil, is sending out mating calls from various perches around the garden so we look forward to seeing one or more hens arriving.

2019-02-28-14.35.06This is also the time of year for finding Wild Asparagus. These are not the big thick stems you find in the supermarkets, oh no. They are lovely thin stems often missed growing amongst grasses that resemble them and under brambles. Well, you know me, I let other people hunt them down and then I buy and cook them. I was delighted to find a big fat bunch in a pot of water, just waiting to be grabbed by me at La dispensa in Fiano. There was enough for me to eat them three days running. Now, most of you know I am not the greatest of cooks; I like to do things the easy way. I snapped off the tough bits, then steamed for about five minutes, dropped them on to some baking paper, drizzled with olive oil, topped with pecorino cheese & pine nuts and baked in a hot oven until the cheese had browned. And, hey presto! I know you are out there clapping, which I appreciate.  I just hope my friend and neighbour the celebrity cook Judy Witts Francini isn’t reading this, she would probably hold her hands up in horror.  A local signora told me I should make risotto with them, but that’s too much like hard work.  PS you should go to Judy’s site and buy her wonderful Tuscan cook book!

2019-02-21-10.08.00Today is Sunday and the forecast is for temperatures up to 17 degrees centigrade! Well, I braved it this morning, popped on some thin tights and flats, so glad to have my feet out of boots. Meanwhile, I have been thinking about spring jackets and coats. Why is it that on every change of season, I find myself with nothing to wear? My man is horrified when I say this, he says I have a wardrobe full of stuff, how can I have nothing to wear? But you girls understand, don’t you? Then I saw this rather lovely coat in a magazine at Sandra’s hairdressers, perfect for the cool to warm weather, what do you think? I love it. And, the bag too!  But I could only find the bag on the website, which is a rather nice one, website that is, so I will have to do a bit more research!  Ah, I’ve found it in the Sale section!  The site is obviously still work in progress, so not brilliant to negotiate.  But the clothes are really gorgeous!

2019-02-26 18.21.30OK, enough of my fashion indulgences and time to go off for lunch at my daughter’s home between San Gimignano and Volterra.  Meanwhile, here is another sunset picture; it’s the time of year for fabulous skies every night.  Enjoy.

And, don’t ever say that I never indulge the man I love.  I do not eat or cook with eggs, but for him I am persuaded to cook pancakes on 5th March as it’s pancake day and he misses them more than words can say.  Bless him.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  Visit my website at my site and email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net if you have not already received an invite to my Tuscan Rock Concert in June.

Salute June x

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

2018-04-17 17.42.00Well, thank God for that, spring is really here at last and the forecast is sunshine for the next couple of weeks.  But hang on a minute, if you are thinking of rushing out to Tuscany with your cossies, the swimming pools do not open up until the beginning of May and anyway the air temperature can still be quite chilly this time of year.  On the other hand, there are no mossies around in April, so if you pack layers and don’t want to swim outside, come anyway! Foto J Finnigan

2018-04-15 09.39.32Now for me, spring brings a big lift to the spirits and I feel much more like going out and about.  I noticed an advert for an exhibition over on the coast in Pietrasanta, which is in the Comune di Lucca.  It’s called ‘Il dolce Rumore della Vita,’ which translates to ‘The Sweet Noise of Life’.  It is all about paintings and sculpture by very talented people including the Irish sculptor Paddy Campbell and Tuscan artist Simona Dolci.  I really fancy going over, and to breathe in some sea air before the bulk of the tourists arrive.  It’s easy to get a train there too, so no need to slog along the fipili dual carriageway.  Now I just need to persuade my man to join me.   Foto La Nazione.  Have a look for yourselves, the exhibition is open until 10th June.  Perhaps we’ll see you there.  visit the website

2018-04-16 09.17.41Meanwhile, yesterday saw Florence full of fun runners and their supporters, all there for good causes.  Yes, it was the annual Half Marathon.  What I love about Italians is that they always remember to include families and particularly children.  So, not only did you have the competitive race, but also a non-competitive race of 8km, a walking race over 5km and a kids race called ‘The Tommasino Run’ over 1.5km.  The events were spread around the beautiful city and included Piazza della Signoria and Piazza Duomo.  Foto La Nazione.

2018-04-15 09.25.25What else?  Oh yes, we cannot ignore that beautiful Italian creation the actress Claudia Cardianale who is celebrating her 80th birthday!  Can you believe it?  Now, some of you younger readers may not have seen her films that included starring roles in the sixties opposite leading men like Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson and Paul Newman.  Most of her films are now classics, so look them up!  Just like Sophia Loren, Claudia still scrubs up very well indeed.  Buon Compleanno to her.  Foto La Repubblica   Read about Claudia

2018-04-13 09.50.33Meanwhile, back in our local village of Fiano, relaxing over coffee and reading the newspapers, I found an article about Sulla Orma Citta Millenaria, that is ‘On the Millennium City Footprint.’  I know, it doesn’t really make sense, so one should not always try to translate literally.  What it actually said was, it is a thousand (mille is a thousand in Italian) years ago when the foundations were laid for San Miniato al Monte and other churches in Florence and the surrounding province.  A thousand years!  Think about it, that’s the year 1,018 AD or the 9th century.  These incredibly beautiful buildings were built all that time ago with no electronic or mechanical assistance.  Of course Florence is a most stunning atmospheric ancient city, and that’s not just the places of worship.  Florence was also the birthplace of Leonardo di Vinci and other illustrious designers and inventors.  So, If you have not visited yet, you really should!  Florence website

Queen 3.1Back here in our lovely bit of Chianti countryside, we had an invasion of bees in my study!  A queen had flown in the open window, yes it’s warm enough, and refused to leave.  After she eventually left, the worker bees found her scent and thought she was still here.  So my man being a gung-ho ex-marine, goes in and tries to encourage them to leave by waving a cobweb brush around.  The buzzing got angrier and louder.  “Get out of there!”  I screamed from outside the door, which opened a crack and he squeezed out.  After much discussion, we decided to shut all connecting doors and wait.  Over four hours later, all went quiet, they had finally given up and flown out into the dusk!  What a relief.  I hope they found their Queen.  At least my daft hero man did not get stung!  Foto Queen Bee – pixhark.com

OK, enough already, must concentrate on the day job now.  Do drop me a line or leave a comment, I love to hear from you.  Also note my dates for visiting the UK on my blog at My website

Have a great week.

Salute June x

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers (A little late in the week, mi dispiace)

Sunrise casting a golden glow over the Chianti Hills.
Photo J Finnigan

On Sunday morning I was overwhelmed with emotion as my man and I set off down a white track, and into the centre of the wilder side of the Chianti countryside.  I was particularly pleased because walking any distance has recently been a problem for me.  But that morning, I put on my determined hat and was rewarded with the wonderful smell of spring and fabulous vistas that I had not even seen before!  Looking back towards our home rather than from it, was exhilarating.  You may think you know the Chianti countryside; Vineyards and Olive groves, you think.  However, you may not realise that there is a massive amount of wild mixed woodland on the steeper slopes and my man, being an ex-Commando, was able to identify a number of footprints including Cinghale, deer and porcupine.  So thank you once again to my man and the beautiful Tuscan countryside.

Easter Display at La Dispensa in Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back in our local village of Fiano, our local caffè bar and Alimentare had been busy preparing a lovely Easter (Pasquale) table for us all to enjoy.  I’m not sure when Easter actually is, but my grandchildren will remind me very soon.  The Italians are, of course, very big on Easter.

The new ‘People Mover’ shuttle train between Pisa airport and Pisa Centrale railway station.
La Nazione

Anyway, what else.  Oh, yes, at last Pisa has a new link from the central railway station to the airport.  My man tried it out on Monday morning and commented that the bus was just as easy.   Previously, there was a long walk to the bus and then a bumpy ride to the airport!  However, let’s hope it makes things a little easier and less confusing for the tourists, who will start arriving soon.

In case you are wondering, the final hard copy of ‘The Italian Connection’ will be with me on Friday, following which, assuming it looks OK, I will give the thumbs up for publication.  Then the hard work of publicising and marketing will begin in earnest.  I will be doing a book promotions visit to the West Country in England between the 24th and 28th April.  Let me know if you would like a book signing event or talk in your own area.

Addio to rock legend Chuck Berry. La Repubblica

Now, I know this is not a Tuscan thing, but I would like to mention the passing of Chuck Berry, that great Rock and Roller from the sixties.  He has just died at the age of 90, so when I saw him on stage in 1964, he was already fifty-three!  Hard to believe!  My absolute favourite song was No Particular Place to go;  ‘Driving along in my automobile, my baby beside me at the wheel….’   So addio lovely man.

Have a great week and keep rocking on.

Salute June x

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

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

Daybreak in Chianti. Foto J Finnigan

Last Tuesday morning, I opened the shutters and then the window, because the sun had finally returned to our little bit of Tuscany.  Hard to believe, I know, that Tuscany can have several long days of drizzle and grey skies, so much so that one can feel a little dejected.  So, it was a huge relief to have the hot sun on my face again.  The countryside quickly reacted, by sending up lots of spring shoots and buds out on the trees, now everything looks and smells wonderful.

Delicious Chianti Classico Bibbiano. foto J Finnigan

Anyway, how are you?  Drinking plenty of Chianti wine I hope.  My man and I have recently started enjoying a Chianti Classico wine at C’era Una Volta in Lucardo.   It’s called Bibbiano, the 2014 version, and whilst I am not usually attracted to the Classico range of wines, I really like this one.  Do try it and let me know.

Last Wednesday was La Festa Della Donna or Women’s Day to everyone else around the world, I joined my lovely friend and neighbour Paola, who owns the fabulous La Poggiolaia Agriturismo next door. We met at L’Osteria di Casa Chianti, where they were having a celebratory evening for we ladies.   http://www.osteriadicasachianti.it

I love this girlie frock! La Reppublica magazine

It was the first time that Paola and I had gone out on this Festa day, let alone celebrate it.  Celebrating women is when you think about it, something that should come naturally, every day.  I think most men do really appreciate their women, and if you don’t have a man or partner that does, then remember to put a value on everything you are lucky enough to have or be able to do.  You are, of course, a beautiful person, and life is far too short to feel undervalued.  Indulge yourself with a gorgeous frock like the one here or a nice pair of  Italian shoes!

L-R Renzi, the current Premier Gentiloni, and Minister Martina. La Repubblica.

Now It’s some time since I mentioned Italian politics.  I guess that’s because the arena has become a little dull in the last few months.  But things are heating up again.  In mid-February, Matteo Renzi the former PM, resigned as leader of the Democratic Party (DP) intending to fight his way back into power.  Shortly afterwards, several members of the DP joined a new radical left parliamentary group.  This had the effect of putting the PD back to being almost neck and neck in the polls with the Five Star Movement (M5S) led by the comedian Beppo Grillo!  Are you still with me?  Meanwhile, Silvio Berlusconi now intends going for the premiership next year with his party Forza Italia, but his support has dwindled to fourth place in the polls, so he’ll need to pull his eighty-year-old finger out!  But it’s good to see him back if just for the glamorous entourage he brings with him.

OK, nearly there with my latest book, The Italian Connection.  Just done the final, final book edit and it will be winging its way to the publisher by the end of Thursday.  Sorry to keep you all waiting, but I think you will find it was worth it.  Watch this space!

Have a great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

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

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

Sunset in Chianti. Foto J Finnigan

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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 lovely Loyal and New Followers

Our granddaughter feeds the church cats. Photo P Finnigan

Our granddaughter feeds the church cats.
Photo P Finnigan

We had a nice surprise last Friday, when we were asked to have our granddaughter for the night on account of her parents going out to a test dinner at Borgo San Pietro, which has a new A la carte chef.  Meanwhile, we had beans on cheese on toast and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Yes, we can get baked beans locally, not the Heinz variety, but as good as.  Before supper, Granddad walked our lovely granddaughter up to the church, which is sadly out of use, but has a big family of cats.  They took cat biscuits and were not too surprised to find a number of Farty Barty look alikes.  Farty Barty, for those that haven’t been introduced, is our resident wild male cat.  We are the family he has adopted to feed him when he choses to call in, and provide a cosy kitchen chair and indoor toilet if its raining.  After supper we were cosied up on the sofa and the granddaughter said, “Granny, do you have your tablet?” “I only take one in the morning now.” I smiled.  “No June, she means Ipad.” My man explained.  “There’s nothing wrong with my eyes!” I said, somewhat surprised.  “No Granny, you know, your electronic Ipad.”  “Oh, you mean my Kindle.  It’s next to the bed where I keep my tablets.”  They both roared out laughing.  What is it with this world, bring back the Queen’s English I say.

Mmmmm, Festa time for chocolate lovers. Photo J Finnigan

Mmmmm, Festa time for chocolate lovers.
Photo J Finnigan

Back at Laura’s cafe bar/alimentare, we are enjoying morning coffee and reading the papers, as one does.  A week ago Tuscany was enjoying La Festa del Cioccolato.  Yes, you’ve guessed it the festival of chocolate.  Such is the enthusiasm for the sweet that Siena filled the Piazza del Campo with hundreds of stands selling variations of the theme and a train carriage travelled across the area stopping at stations where chocolate fans could board for a shopping extravaganza!

The terrible match for Italy against Wales. Photo J Finnigan

The terrible match for Italy against Wales.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, the Six Nations Rugby was gripping the country, well at least part of it.  Calcio (football) is the most popular game in Italy.  If we were not cheering on Italy we were rooting for England, the former sadly ending up fifth after the final matches on Saturday.  The score for Italy versus Wales was terrible at 61 to 20!  ‘La disfatta means ‘The rout’ and it certainly was.  We desperately need some investment into the facilities and support for the game in Italy.

But now for some good news.  Spring is springing.  Lovely blue skies, trees in blossom, spring flowers everywhere and, we will be taking off all the protective covers in just a few days time.

A beautiful blue sky spring morning. Photo P Finnigan

A beautiful blue sky spring morning.
Photo P Finnigan

I’m really looking forward to my beautiful sister-in-law’s arrival on Wednesday, as she is coming over from England to do all the spring pots.  By the weekend the terraces will look wonderful, so I will send you some pictures next time.  The other thing she has offered to do is catalogue my huge collection of steam train books and videos.  I inherited these from my great-uncle as he was a great steam enthusiast, like me.  However, It is time to think about letting these go to another enthusiast, otherwise they will just stay in boxes for another ten years.  I’ll let you know when the list is complete and if you have anyone who might like to make an offer for them, drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net.

No time to report on Silvio B this time, but watch this space.

OK, I must crack on with the day job, after I’ve been out for my morning coffee that is.

Have a really great week.

Amore June x

Book cover for 'The Bolivian Connection' Available very soon.

Book cover for ‘The Bolivian Connection’
Available very soon.

 

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