Posts Tagged ‘Tuscany’

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

2018-07-06 14.49.56My man and I live in the Chianti Hills above Certaldo and our beautiful daughter and grandchildren are only thirty-five minutes away.  We always jump to attention when we are invited to lunch, what with my own and our daughter’s hectic lifestyles these are very important get togethers.  We also get to see Monty our grand dog, a beautiful Maremma we think, but anyway he’s adorable.

2018-07-06 14.40.33Long family lunches are traditional here in italy and we are more than happy to embrace the idea.  My man was presented with his all time favourite desert, strawberry Pavlova, a belated father’s day treat!

I am never far from the music scene here in Tuscany, and this time of year there is a lot going on in Lucca, Pistoia and Florence all of which have rock and blues festivals.  My own concert has now slid into the recent past, its time to see who else has been and will be on tour here and the list is very impressive!  If you want to plan your summer for 2019, why not visit Tuscany and plan you itinerary around these fabulous annual festivals.

Back on June 15th we saw the summer start with a fantastic line up at Firenze Rocks in Florence.  The list included Foo Fighters, Guns n’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne and Judus Priest.  Go to website

2018-07-04 09.01.33In Pistoia the three-day blues festival started 13th July and included Graham Nash, James Blunt, Steve Hackett, ZZ Top and Crosby Stills & Nash.  Go to Website

2018-07-10 08.59.41In Lucca the Summer Festival continues up to 26th July and includes Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper, Jonny Depp, Roger Waters, Lenny Kravitz (look him up he’s brilliant) James Taylor, King Crimson, Nick Cave and loads more.  Website

2018-07-16 11.29.10Ok, and continuing for the moment on the same subject, I am pleased to tell you that I am learning to play the acoustic guitar.  About time, I hear you say, and yes I know but I have been so busy writing books and stuff over the last few years, but I am so in love with my new Fender I can’t keep away from it!

2018-07-07 09.27.36#1Well, that’s enough of my music indulgences, what is happening in our local town of Certaldo you ask? Oh, it’s the amazing Mercantia of course, which every year attracts musicians, dancers, acrobats, theatricals and produce from Tuscany, you have to see it to believe it.  The Historical Centre, Certaldo Alto, is the place to be as it provides the most stunning backdrop for all these fabulous goings on.  The festivities finish today, but there’s always next year!  Diary date for 2019! Go to Website

Well, enough for now, must get this blog off to you and think about lunch.

Here’s hoping you have a really great week, the heat is on.

Salute June x

Visit my official author site at June’s site






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

2018-07-04 12.34.03Well, the dust has finally settled and we have at last returned to our quiet & idyllic lifestyle in our little bit of Chianti.  Some of our concert going friends are still here, staying in and around Certaldo, and I was delighted to take two of them to visit Anne Shingleton’s studios at Vico D’Elsa near Poggibonsi.  Now I have known Anne for many years but this is the first time I have managed to visit her, see her wonderful paintings & sculptures and to hear her story.  Foto J Finnigan.

P1000442_2_2 Anne, on the left above, as an artist is way up there with the world’s greatest painters of wildlife, being a zoologist herself, this is the medium of first choice for her.  But Anne can paint anything from portraits to landscapes creating better than photographic images.  Then there are the sculptures and her most recent undertaking was a huge Swan, which is currently exhibited in the beautiful Gheradesca gardens of the Four Seasons Hotel in Florence.  Ask at reception and you will be shown through to the gardens, Anne’s swan is next to the pond.  Hotel Website

Without seeing Anne’s work first hand it is difficult to ‘paint the picture’ well enough to really appreciate just how amazing she is.  However, if you visit her website you will get a good idea and she is always available to discuss commissions, sales or exhibits.  Fotos provided by Anne.  Go to Anne’s website


20180708_175325Well, how does one follow that?  As I was musing over this, my man called out “June, you’ve got to come and see this!”  So I  detached myself from my chair and rushed into his study, where he was watching something on TV.  “You won’t believe this and it could only happen in Italy, but they are showing a recent ‘tug o’ war’ match on a bridge over the River Arno in Pisa!  But they have two teams back to back, trying to push, yes push, each other with their feet in strangely wedged trainers!”  It was a contest called Gioco del Ponte and it had as much action as watching paint dry!  They had been in a gridlock for ten minutes already and it was another fifteen before the sweating big guys in red, finally overcame the red faced yellow ones.  This, and they were all dressed in tudor costume!  Crazy Italians!  Ha ha!  Foto P Finnigan.

2018-06-22 09.11.38Of course, not to forget, I did promise you a Hunk of the Month for July, and guess what, it had to be the latest Armani Man!  I have been saving this picture up, but now I think I should share it, I’ve been gazing at him long enough!  Phew, now I’ve completely lost my train of thought!  Foto Giorgio Armani.

2018-07-08 12.57.26Ah, zucchini or courgettes to you.  No, no, no connection you naughty thing.  But here is a bag of freshly picked Zucchini, which was placed on our lunch table today at C’era uni Volta by the adorable Paolo, before we had even ordered our meal!  These were straight out of his orto, veg patch, which is overproducing the things in this lovely weather, forcing me to once again find our kitchen and cook something!  Would love to have some new recipes for Zucchini! Leave your messages below or write to june.finnigan@virgin.net.  Grazie mille.  Foto J Finnigan.

Anyway, time to get this blog posted off to you.  Got a busy week ahead what with the writing and the day job!

Enjoy and have a great week.

Salute June x

Ps Don’t forget to visit my official author site at June’s website


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

DSCN3433.jpgWhat a fabulous evening!  On Friday 22nd June we celebrated the 8th Annual Rock Chick Band’s Concert Party in our beautiful Tuscan garden.  We rocked the night away with lots of well know covers including George Harrison, Robert Plant, Mathew’s Southern Comfort, The Stranglers, Traveling’ Wilburys, Phil Lynox, The Pretenders, Cream, Peter Gabriel, Mumford & Sons, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Patti Smith.  You would have been hard pressed not to have found a favourite there!  Thank you to Stefano, Lorenzo, Lorenzo and Fillipo, the boys in the band!

DSCN3497.jpgGuest performances included our lovely Polish friend Tomek Tryba, who sang the classic Italian song Volare in perfect Italian.

DSCN3543.jpgAnd English buddy John Reilly, who did a stand up comedy song dedicated to me!  Bless him.  Thank you also to John, for teaching me the first steps in playing the acoustic guitar, my fingers really hurt, but it will be worth it!


Also up at the microphone, ten-year old Petra, who wants to be a rock star, sang the ‘ooh’ bits in Robert Plant’s Rainbow, and a great performance that was too!  I also signed her invitation, which unknown to her, gave me just as much pleasure as she enjoyed receiving it!  Lovely girl, I hope she makes it in the big rock scene!

Thank you also to Andrea and his team at Jam Caffe in Certaldo, who provided the buffet.  They bake all their own pastries there and it’s an excellent place for morning coffee or afternoon aperitivi. Find them right next to the station!


Of course, my never ending gratitude for the great support from friends and family in making this one of the best concert parties so far.  And what a cosmopolitan lot we were that included Italians, English, Scots, Americans, Polish, Germans, French and more.  Forgive me if I have not mentioned your country, but thank you to everyone for coming and for your gifts too!  We are already planning the next one, so for you diaries it will be 21st June 2019!

Things seem very quiet now, the house guests have gone and we have returned to the leisurely pace of morning coffee and pastry in the nearby village of Fiano, where we catch up on the local and national newspapers.  We popped over to Montespertoli this morning to watch the world go by, and then to C’era una Volta for lunch.  Ah, life eez good!

Next weekend it’s back to my usual blog, full of local titbits and more national goings on in Tuscany and Italy.  I know, where is the ‘Hunk of the Month’ I promised you?  Well my gorgeous band members should be sufficient for now, but I do have a hunk waiting in line!

Have a great week.  Do visit my website at June’s site

Salute june x

All Fotos J Reilly & P Finnigan.





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So Sorry to all my Lovely Followers around the World,


The Rock Chick Band 2017

Am currently up to my ears in preparing for my Rock Concert and am unable to make the time for a lengthy blog.  Please forgive me.

Look out for my next blog on the weekend of 30th June, when I will send you lots of concert foto’s and The Hunk of the Month for July!

Visit my website at June’s site

Salute June x


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Welcome and Benvenuti to All my lovely Followers around the World,

20180603_104928What a beautiful morning it is, here in our little bit of Chianti in Tuscany.  So much so that I thought you might like to see a picture of our garden my man having cut the grass, or rather the weedy stuff, yesterday!  No matter what else is going on in the world, we always have our lovely haven to return to.  Foto P Finnigan.

A little later, my man and I were tootling down our track to the main road, when we came across a big display of white balloons and several members of our neighbour’s family standing outside their little cluster of cottages.  Their ten-year old son was dressed in a long white gown and obviously about to go off for his Confirmation.  This Catholic Doctrine ‘enables the faithful to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit’ or so it says in Wikipedia.  Based on the look on the ten-year old’s face, I think he would rather be off for a game of football.

From Puglia to the lumbard, geography of the Conte government  

Meanwhile, back in the world of Politics, we finally have a new government!  Yes, it has been rather thrown together as the time-lapse between the elections and now, has become an embarrassment in Europe.  Conversation in our local bar evolved around the pressure from Germany and France coming down on Italy with heavy threats of ‘involvement,’ I dread to think what that might mean!  So, we have a coalition, and a virtual unknown for Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte from Puglia, who almost qualifies for Hunk of the Month but not quite!  He is, after all, a politician.  Check out next weeks blog for the June Hunk of the Month.  Foto Yahoo.

2018-06-03 09.28.25Anyway, back in the real world, yesterday (Saturday) was Festa Della Repubblica.  Another holiday and yes, everything was closed apart from a sprinkling of enterprising bar and shop owners.  Goodness only knows what the tourists were thinking when they found whole towns and villages virtually shut down and on a Saturday!  Meanwhile, the Festa itself, was in full swing in most towns and villages, commemorating the institutional referendum held in 1946, in which the Italian people were called to the polls to decide on the form of government, following the Second World War and the fall of Fascism.   Phew!  At the same time, the male members of the Royal family, The House of Savoy, were sent into exile!  Foto La Nazione.

2018-06-03 09.31.57Enough of that!  What about our Motorcycle racing hero Valentino Rossi who, at the age of thirty-nine, has just clocked up his 55th pole position after completing a new world track record in advance of the World Grand Prix.  Sadly, he was to come third in the actual event on Sunday afternoon, but a brilliant effort nonetheless!   Foto La Nazione.

2018-05-29 08.13.15And so to my other love, my man being my first love, Rock Music.  Firenze (Florence) will shortly be hosting an incredible line-up of iconic rock bands.  Be there, or be square I say.  The concerts are over four days from 14th to the 17th June.  The difficulty is, which day to attend?  I would not want to miss any of these, but four days might be tough going.  I think I would probably go for the Guns N’ Roses line-up but then what about Iron Maiden?  Oh and Ozzy, what to do?  Mama Mia!  I think I had better let you decide so here is the link for the ticket office; you had better act fast as the tickets will rapidly sell out! Tickets & Info

If you fail to get tickets, or even if you do, you can always come to my own Rock Concert Garden Party on 22nd June.  This is by personal invitation only and you will need to email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net.  It will be The Rock Chick Band’s 8th annual event and I am already getting very excited.  Our first rehearsal is this coming Saturday!

OK, time to organise Sunday lunch; perhaps I can persuade my man to pop out to a local ristorante.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  Oh and, don’t forget to visit my Official Author Site at Junes website

Salute June x



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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around The World

20180505_115604My man came rushing in from the garden yesterday, shouting “The Rose is Out!”  Now what is exciting about a rose being out?  You may ask.  Well, this rose, my friends is very special rose indeed.  In 2004 we packed our whole life up into a furniture van and loaded up our car, in readiness for our journey of no return with Bosun the dog, to Italy.  The last thing to go in the van was a metal dustbin into which my man had put some of his tools.  We took a last look around and then I saw the rose, a beautiful red English climbing rose that had really taken root and was climbing up the front of our old farmhouse.  “I can’t leave the rose behind” I whined.  The van driver said, “Sorry missus, it’s illegal to take plants across European borders, soil contamination and stuff you know.”  I was heartbroken so my man persuaded him to put it in the bottom of the dustbin and surround it with the tools. The driver would be paid well, so he agreed!  So over fourteen years, we moved five times and in each garden, we planted the rose.  Somehow it survived, not very well I have to say, but now it’s liking its current position and is blooming!  Praise the Gods!  Foto P Finnigan

20180418_153446Lots of insects are now arriving.  So far no Zanzari (mosquitos) but they’ll be here soon.  An astonishing visitor was a huge Sawyer Beetle who settled on our outside airer.  Go in close and look at its amazing face.  Now, you clever clogs may beg to differ; so if you think its a different kind of insect, please tell me!  Anyway, what a privilege to see such a stunning creature in close-up.  Since last weekend we have also seen the arrival of Swifts, a cuckoo and have heard the Bee Eaters but not seen them yet.  So summer is now ready to go! Yes!  Foto P Finnigan.

2018-05-05 13.42.12Now, I’m sure you remember talking about the ancient European Oak Tree, which guards our front gate.  Well, on Friday it underwent tree surgery as many of the branches were dead and at risk of falling on our heads!  apparently, the tree is listed and could only be cut by authorised surgeons.  Well, anyway, it still looks stunning and I’m sure it will go on for a few hundred years more!  Foto J finnigan.

2018-05-05 09.24.41As you know we like to go out for coffee every morning and usually to Fiano and La Dispensa.  In the newspaper, was an article about the lovely American Ruth Orkin, who became famous for her iconic foto taken in August 1951, walking through a group of lustful Italian men, in La Piazza Della Repubblica in Florence.  Look at the guy on the scooter to the right and the guy to her right is clutching his vitals!  Almost hidden on the left is a very handsome man at a table;  was she going to meet him?  So good-bye to Ruth who died on 2nd May, but never to be forgotten.  Foto La Repubblica 

2018-05-06 09.38.32Also in the paper was an article about the Trevi Fountain in Rome.  Two pictures are printed, ‘then and now’.  Back in 1975, we see local children frolicking in the lovely clear ice blue waters collecting the coins, a normal and delightful scene during a hot summer in the city.  Now, no one is allowed in the fountain.  It remains beautiful and breath-taking, but the coins are scooped out by the local authorities along with all the rubbish that gets thrown in.  I know which era I prefer. Foto La Repubblica 

2018-05-01 09.16.33Back closer to home, new exhibitions are now open to the public at Casa di Boccaccio and Palazzo Pretorio in Certaldo alto.  If you have not visited this beautiful ancient hilltop town, you really should.  I must go and see for myself soon, but I should warn you that there are often some very strange exhibitions there, sometimes macabre or explicit.  But this is Italy.  Foto La Nazione.

2018-05-05 19.12.21And finally, before I try to find the kitchen, here is a lovely foto of our view from the old English bench under our big Ash Tree.  It was taken yesterday, after my man had cut the green stuff that is supposed to be grass, and a heavy shower of rain.  The distance was a little misty, but lovely anyway.  Foto J finnigan

OK, my man has asked for Sunday lunch at home, so once I remember where the kitchen is (it’s easier for me to find local restaurants) I’ll get some roast potatoes going.  Then whilst things are in the oven, I had better do a half hours voice exercise as it is only six weeks to my next rock concert!

Ok, I’m off, have a really great week and do drop me a line, I love to hear from you.  Oh. and do visit my official author site at My site

Salute June x




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

2018-04-24 11.53.47In a moment I’m going to wax lyrical about the plants and wild life in and around our beautiful garden here on the edge of Chianti.  As before, I am not going to talk about Italian politics, other than the fact that we still have no government; you will just have to keep watching this space.

2018-04-28 08.37.42So, back to our garden and what a wonderful week we have been experiencing.  Last weekend the Acacia trees started dripping with white blossoms and the Fiorentina Irises we planted last year have burst into flower!  We have been swamped with butterflies, including the Swallowtail and the birds, well, the birds!  We now have an owl which we have yet to identify, who hoots in the daytime, pairs of pheasant, Jays, Hoopees, swallows and wood pigeons.  Arriving anytime soon will be the colourful Bee Eaters.  Two visiting hares, deer and the occasional cinghiale (wild boar).  And, the weather has been glorious, so my man and I have been able to spend aperitivo time outside, breathing in all the exotic perfumes!  Fotos J Finnigan

2018-04-22 11.55.40And continuing on the subject of aperitivi, I’m really pleased to tell you that the last two weekends have seen us back over in Montespertoli for cocktails, a lovely village just twenty minutes from here.  It is a year ago that we stopped going as the pressure of writing deadlines had me working away every weekend at the keyboard.  But with the weather having turned to sunshine we have returned, and it is so nice to greet old friends again and watch the occasional vintage car rally hooting past.  Foto J Finnigan.

2018-04-29 09.57.46One friend is the lovely Caterina, or I should say The Baroness Caterina de Renzis Sonnino.  Caterina is a very hardworking lady who entertains guests from all over the world giving guided historical tours of Il Castello, Educational visits and Wine tastings.  Yesterday the newspaper printed this article about a visit by Gucci, the Label having chosen Il Castello Sonnino as one of seven cultural projects.  Now, I will try to find out a lot more when I next speak to Caterina, but in the meantime you should visit Il Castello’s website.  My man and I were very lucky to have been given a private viewing a few years ago, and believe me it is an incredibly beautiful and atmospheric place to go.  Oh, you can also stay there, so check it out here!  Website

2018-04-26 08.51.44Meanwhile, back in the world of Music, I noticed that good old Ringo Starr, or Sir Richard Henry Starkey, was in the news and is doing a tour in July/August.  He will include Lucca, Marostica and Roma.  Now I have been to outside concerts in Lucca, which is just over an hour from us, and the setting is fantastic.  Open air concerts are held in one of the most beautiful piazzas and the acoustics are amazing.  Now, in case you did not know, Ringo does do more than just play the drums; he also sings, acts and paints.  It will be interesting to hear the old boy performing, he is seventy-eight, bless him!  I think it’s great that so many of the oldies are still performing live, so there’s still hope for me being discovered at a late age and being sent off on tour!  Rock on I say.  Foto La Repubblica.  See Ringo’s dates here Website and tickets

2018-04-26 08.45.58Now, lest we forget, the 25th April was Liberation Day and it should be remembered that there are a lot of Partisans still alive today who can tell you all about the German Occupation.  Apparently, we are supposed to say Nazi Occupation these days, strange how things get changed for the sake of the modern lifestyle and the now friendly relationship with Germany.   There are some amazingly heroic stories still to be heard about the fight to rid the country of the nasty Nazi’s.  My novel ‘The Italian Connection’ includes a bit based on a partisan’s real life experience, my having interviewed a lovely man called Gianfranco in Montespertoli a few years back.  Foto La Nazione. Visit my author site at Website

2018-04-20 09.19.59Meanwhile, something else being celebrated last week was the 50th anniversary of La Vespa.  That iconic scooter that we all loved seeing in the sixties films and still to be seen today weaving in and out of the traffic in the major Italian cities, and whizzing through the country villages at the weekend, often in big convoys!  Tourists can also hire bright red ones in Florence and surrounding areas, so I’m told.  Did you ever have a Vespa Scooter or were you a Rocker like me, dangerously hanging off the back of 650 motorbikes?  Hey ho!  Send me some of your Fotos.  Foto La Nazione.  Visit Vespa’s site at Website

2018-04-25 09.51.56And finally, lets end with another beautiful Italian fashion shoot, this time found in La Repubblica magazine.  I just love this casual yet sophisticated colourful summer look.  And, the models are so enjoying wearing the clothes, which as you know is something I strongly support, not the usual miserable lot many designers employ.  Also, the weather here is now warm enough to enjoy having one’s feet back in sandals and flip-flops; wonderful. Visit Oltre’s site at website

OK, must go, things to do, places to go and people to see.  May your week be full of nice surprises and as happy as mine.  Oh, and do drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net or visit my official author site at June’s site

Salute June x

PS Don’t forget if you want to come to my Rock Concert on 22nd June, write to me at june.finnigan@virgin.net and ask for an invite.




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