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Posts Tagged ‘Tuscany’

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

At this moment in time, the sun is pouring through my open study window bringing the Tuscan countryside and birdsong with it. A nearby church bell is tolling and all is peaceful on this beautiful Sunday morning. Dogs and their walkers, cyclists and runners have already been spotted on our track and you would never believe we were in an orange lockdown in February. Now we are throwing more windows open and the sun is hot enough to sit outside; what a fabulous day!

Thinking back over last week, when the weather was still cold and damp, I found some great things to occupy me, including a really enjoyable on-line cookery class with my lovely friend and neighbour Judy Witts Francini. Judy, the well-known celebrity cook, has been very enterprising during lock-down with her live cookery sessions and I try to join them as often as possible! If you like Italian cooking, you will love Judy’s classes as they are very friendly and easy to follow.

Judy learnt to cook like a Diva whilst living with her mother-in-law in Florence and has never looked back. Last Thursday, we learnt how to cook Naked Raviolli, which is Spinach and Ricotta Raviolli without the pasta! Amazing and she showed us how to make different sauces to go with it like walnut, butter & sage or tomato. Yum, yum! Judy also has a great cookery book that you can order on her website, where you can also book her weekly classes. Follow her and get all the latest food updates too! https://divinacucina.com

Meanwhile, my man who has just come back in from the garden, handed me a dried up acorn that he found on our outside bench. It’s actually rather beautiful, obviously got at by insects or squirrels but somehow left and forgotten. I will keep it as a reminder of how sweet and kind my man can be. Sigh…..

Then I received a WhatsApp foto from my lovely daughter, who cut these beautiful flowers in her garden near Volterra. Bless her!

So, what else is happening in our little bit of Tuscany on the edge of Chianti? Gosh, well, the political scene continues to evolve as Super Mario, Mario Draghi, is getting to grips with the need for a rapid economic recovery as well as the painfully slow vaccine roll-out. The Five Star Movement has imploded and we are witnessing a lot of change in Government. Just one week to go and hopefully we will be a yellow zone again and able to go out to lunch.

Now, back to lighter things and reminding ourselves how lucky we are to be living in Tuscany and enjoying the fabulous sunsets at the end of the day. I love the gentle move into Spring without the nasty zanzare (mosquitos) that arrive in May. My man has cut the grass so I think a glass of Tuscan wine before lunch in the garden will be on the cards.

Fast forward and it is Tuesday morning. Another day of wall to wall sunshine and relaxing outside before lunch. Thanks to WordPress being a pain in the proverbial, I could not finish this blog on Sunday, so sorry to be a little late. OK, let’s get on with the day job and all have a good week. Life eeez good, life eeez now!

Do drop me a line and visit my website for more about me and my books! http://www.junefinnigan.website

Salute June x

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

As I write this blog the sun is peaking through the wintry clouds and we are celebrating still being a Yellow Zone in Tuscany. Here in Italy we have four zones from a Covid point of view; Red, Orange, Yellow and White. Red is the most restricted zone and whitehass no restrictions at all. Unfortunately there are not any white zones as yet but the country is rapidly turning yellow, which is good news.

And as if to further celebrate our yellow status, we have spotted a few Mimosa trees in blossom, but not many. March 8 will be when the blossoms are cut to celebrate Festa della Donna, International Women’s Day. Bunches of the pretty yellow flowers are gifted to the women we love or appreciate, no matter their status. So I hope there will still be blossoms on the trees then, we have had a few years of the blooms appearing rather too early!

Remaining on the subject of yellow, there are plenty of Italian fashion houses producing gorgeous outfits in this sunny colour and Italian men are not adverse to wearing daffodil yellow either! The on-line fashion houses are currently busy with sales; as much as 70% off some Italian fashion!

Meanwhile, it’s not just fashion here in Tuscany that hit’s the button. I was amazed to read an article in The Florentine magazine about how many products are actually manufactured in Tuscany and despite the virus, production has continued! In this picture you will see IVV glassware, Mangusta Yachts, Locman watches and Laika caravans, all made in Tuscany. ‘Tuscany’s focus on international trade is borne out in the share of Tuscan exports compared to total Italian exports, with a percentage of over 7.5%. Fashion, engineering and precious metalworking sectors are the primary sectors for exports. (Source: ISTAT, Italian Office for National Statistics)‘ for the full article written by Helen Farrell visit the latest magazine at http://www.theflorentine.it

And, what else would you like to hear about? A reader asked me if it’s warm here in January. Well, I have to say no, however, when the sun shines and the wind drops it’s perfectly possible to sit outside and enjoy an aperitivo before lunch! There are fabulous sunsets on some evenings. It’s not just the sun going down it’s the reflection on the opposite hillsides that take the breath away. The countryside can turn a bright orange for just a short period. This foto was taken this evening from my bedroom window!

Well, life is pretty good here in Tuscany. We returned to Paolo’s for another delicious lunch and the first daffodil is out in the garden! Yet more yellow. The government continues to be in disarray over arguments about how to spend the recovery funds being made available by the EU; there’ll probably be a new PM in place soon…. But these things don’t really effect us too much. We continue to work remotely and enjoy our morning espresso in Bar Querceto (our sitting room).

And, on the subject of working remotely, I’d best get back to the day job!

Have s great week, stay safe and well.

Salute June x

Visit me at http://www.junefinnigan.website

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Welcome back to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

Yes I’m back, to let you know that I can really ‘Shake ’em down’, yes I know more sad 60’s lyrics, but we love them don’t we!

Anyway, you want to know what’s happening here in Beautiful Tuscany, don’t you? Yes, of course you do. Well, the good news is that we remain a yellow zone. In Tuscany Covid cases are less than in many regions and we are able to go out to the restaurant to eat, usual rules still apply; masks, except when sat at the table, distancing and strict use of hand cleansers at the door. It is rare to see anyone out and about without a mask and I do not agree with the idea that you are safe in the open without one. Fortunately, the police here will clamp down on anyone seen without one, I wish to god that people around the world would just wise up and wear the masks as a way of life like we do.

Well, we were so happy to return to C’era una Volta Ristorante on Thursday for lunch, the first time since November, and to find both Paolo and Gaia fit and well. Only one other table was occupied, so it was nice and quiet. I drooled over Grilled Polenta con fagioli e cavolo nero, a gluten free version of bruschetta with black cabbage and white beans, swimming in the latest Extra-Virgin Olive oil and fresh herbs from Paolo’s orto. Then it was pasta in a pecorino cheese sauce with a dash of white wine; Paolo’s special recipe. Oh, not to forget, the whole meal was washed down by one of my favourite Chiantis from Bibbiano! Sigh…. http://www.ristorante-ceraunavolta.com

As most of you know, the food and wine here in Tuscany is truly delicious. We have lots of pots of honey, some given as presents, some bought. Yes, Tuscany produces some of the most mouth watering honeys and all are different. We have just finished a pot of Miele di Castagno (chestnut) from Castello Sonnino in Montespertoli. Drissled over a mature Pecorinino cheese the combined flavours are to die for. The Castello has a beautiful shop and you can also buy their wines on-line with other lovely goodies at http://www.castellosonnino.it

Now, like many of you out there, I have found it difficult to think about planning the future. Few flights are going out or coming in here in Italy, which for some time is going to continue effecting things. But there is nothing to stop me putting a date in the diary for my next Tuscan Rock Chick Band Concert and starting on a repertoire and some practice. One has to be optimistic! OK, so we may have to cancel again, but let’s at least knock the idea into shape! Let me know if you have a favourite rock song, I might include it. To give you some idea my favourite music includes Robert Plant, Thin Lizzy, REM and George Harrison, I have a low voice which means I can sing many songs usually performed by men. Female singers I like include Chrissie Hynd, Patti Smith and Stevie Nicks. I like a lot of stuff, so let me know!

Well enough for now, hopefully I will be out and about a lot more over the next week, with more to tell you.

Stay well, stay safe.

Salute June x http:www.junefinnigan.website

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

OK, so it’s nearly Christmas and whatever your plans are, I really hope all goes well for you.

For us, the days between Christmas and New Year have historically involved fresh air, country walks and a little gardening. On the subject of gardening, I am not talking manual labour just a bit of pottering and thinking about improvements and the return of spring.

Continuing with the subject of gardens, I am very proud to introduce you to my hugely talented and beautiful daughter Sharon Finnigan-Kilby. Sharon is a highly qualified and experienced garden designer as well as editing Envy Italy mgazine and running a PR Company here in Italy. Now, whilst some of her work has been temporarily effected by Covid, the garden design business is the one area that she is getting a lot of interest for. Not only is it the right time of year for planning designs, walking around your winter plots and visualising wonderful things for the future, you can get designing straight away. Of course, I’m no expert, but Sharon is and you can contact her at https://www.bellaterragardendesigns.com

Well, this may be a short blog but it is an important one as we take a break for the Festive Season. Thank you so much for buying my books and following my blog. And, may I take this opportunity to wish all my followers, family and friends a Very happy Christmas and a very much better New Year.

Salute June x

PS Visit my author site for your Christmas reading http://www.junefinnigan.website

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Welcome and Benveuti to all my Lovely Followers Around the World,

Phew! Things have calmed down a little now after horrendous storms bringing heavy rain yesterday and overnight. The sky remains grey and there is a steady light rain. We can see some quite big branches that have been blown off into the garden and It will be much worse if we went further afield, which we have no intention of doing! North and south of us the country has had terrible flooding and people have been evacuated from their homes. So, the fact that we are not supposed to travel is not such a bad thing.

The view from here remains beautiful. December is the month when the European Oak tree turns coppery orange and there are thousands in Tuscany. So for the uninitiated, Tuscany looks like it’s in the midst of Autumn. We love it! The misty rain has highlighted a giant cobweb in our garden. A very big or very industrious spider and a beautiful work of art!

Meanwhile, Tuscany has now been moved from Red (High Risk) to Orange (Medium/High Risk) from a Covid point of view. So for the time being, we can move about on essential trips and go outside our immediate commune, but this will be much stricter over the Christmas Period. Currently, we cannot go to restuarants, bars or coffee shops except for take-aways. I really miss my lunches at Paolo’s! I rarely cook pasta at home as I have to cook gluten free for myself and I always destroy it. It’s only a matter of seconds between being just right and falling to pieces! So we eat a lot of potato and rice dishes.

Anyway, my man went for a Covid Test on Friday and the next day our lovely doctor Flavio emailed to say the result was negative! Hurrah! Mind you, my man will tell you that having the test is not a pleasant thing. It was two long cotton type buds up each nostril and beyond, then a throat swab at choking depth! Very uncomfortable indeed. Whether it’s done this way everywhere, I don’t know. You need an appointment through your doctor, then you receive an SMS with a date and time for a drive through test. My man’s appointment was very specific to the minute and he was to arrive 15 minutes early. The queue must have been at least thirty cars and they had not yet got everything ready. So if you go to the Certaldo for a test, be very very patient!

On a much lighter note, I laid the Christmas table this morning. The usual dusty old cloths and table centre, but we love it. I know, it’s still the first week in December, but as everyone else has started celebrating I was easily encouraged to do the same. Thinking about Christmas get togethers, we should make better use of Skype or Zoom this year and look up family and friends we won’t get to see otherwise. What do you think?

Now you may remember that I like to follow the English language on-line Magazine called The Florentine. It keeps me up to date with what’s happening in Florence and the surrounding regions. It also picks up on some interesting facts and historical snippets like the article on the very elegante Grand duke Pietro Leopoldo. Quoted on Saturday 5th December #OnThisDay in 1786, the Grand Duchy of #Tuscany became the first state in the world to abolish torture and capital punishment.  A progressive leader, Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo was the one who made it happen, inspired by Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 essay “On crimes and punishments”. Well, yet another first for Tuscany! https://www.theflorentine.net/

And, finally, don’t forget I’m giving away free copies of my short story ‘The Man in Black’ to all readers who send me a photo of themselves, cat or dog holding one of my other books. Email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Visit my website at http://www.junefinnigan.website for lots more information.

Have a safe week, Salute June x

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

So sorry, but am ‘snowed’ under with work at present so will have to send you a big newsy blog next weekend. At least I managed the tree and here is a picture to cheer you up until next time.

Salute June x

PS Buy my books for Christmas via http://www.junefinnigan.website

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

Well, since I spent most of Saturday morning a week ago ordering stuff for Christmas, packages have been arriving every day since. Now I do find it frustrating that Amazon.it don’t seem able to send my orders in one box, every single video, book etc is packed separately! Far too much packaging in use, however, I understand that they are using the Post Office a lot, as the cost is much less with small packages! Mmmm, methinks Amazon is wealthy enough, but hey ho! Nevertheless, I am enjoying building up the pile of presents to wrap. Lets hope that our plans to be with our family at Christmas goes without a hitch. Our grandson has a flight booked from England, so fingers crossed! I see our daughter has already got the tree up, bless her.

So, back to our garden in our little bit of Chianti. We went outside last Saturday and covered all the vulnerable pots against the expected frost. And, we were amazed to see our English climbing rose in bloom! Mind you, there was a strong cold wind coming from the north, so we were glad to get back inside. Today the sun is shining and looks beautiful looking out from the warmth of our lovely old converted monastery farmhouse.

Meanwhile, I continue to window shop the fashion designers here, who are mostly now on-line as it’s the only way they can hope to survive. To be honest, I don’t need any clothes and anyway there’s no point in glamming up as we are not allowed out! But I have ordered myself some brightly coloured slipper boots for my man to give me for Christmas. He’ll wrap them up and put them under the tree. I won’t tell you what I have bought him as he reads this blog! Anyway, here is an outfit that I love. A hint of festive sweater with a rock chick edge in faux leather trousers! Enjoy.

Now I’ve been doing a bit of research as I have been reminded to share an Italian Hunk of the Month. And, I have found an Italian Actor and producer who has made an impact in films like John Wick 2 (2017) and Loose Cannons (2010). His name is Riccardo Scamarcio and was born in Apulia in 1979. Hope you approve!

Anyway, what are you up to during this current lock-down? We continue to work remotely and relax reading. We’ve got a massive amount of books that are slowly being read now. I’m currently reading book five of the Strike novels called ‘Troubled Blood’ by Robert Galbraith. Brilliant private detective stuff! You should start at book one as it is a series.

Do drop me a line and get ordering my own books in time for Christmas! If you send me a foto of yourself holding one of my books, I will send you a free short thriller called ‘The Man in Black’ which is based in London’s theatre land. http://www.junefinnigan.website

Have a great week and enjoy your on-line shopping!

Salute June x

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

Today, Sunday, November 15, Tuscany became a “red” zone, which is effectively a lockdown situation similar to the spring, although infant, primary and the first year of middle school education will be guaranteed. As stated on the Italian Government website, “Without a valid reason to go out, it is mandatory to stay at home, for the good of everyone”. So, we tuck in, enjoy working from home, as is normal now, and having morning coffee in Bar Querceto (our sitting room). My man and I spend a little while chatting, putting the world to rights and then go off to our own studios, or down to his gymnasium or my music studio to do a bit of singing.

First thing this morning and before coffee, my man gave me a guided tour of the newly mown grass and we did a bit of casual pruning. The sun was shining, lots of flowers were blooming and we felt at one with ourselves. Life eeez good, life eeez now!

Anyway, I must tell you about the huge Tartufu Bianco (white truffle) found in Italy wieghing in at 900 grams and sold at a charity auction for 100,000 euros! Yes, really! White truffles are considered to be the buried treasure of the rich at present and you are not allowed to go off and find your own. Also, many productive woodlands are out of bounds. Sadly, it’s not going to be possible to go to our favourite restaurant for a while either to indulge in any Tartufu bianco, due to the lockdown. So we wait and drink Chianti wine instead!

However, I do have something else to look forward to. An on-line get together with Judy Witts Francini our local celebrity cook, who will be showing us how to make that delicious digestivo, limoncello. And, not just limoncello, also Crema di limoncello, which I adore! Why don’t you join us! Go to Judy’s website at https://divinacucina.com/classes/ and scroll down to November 25th. I’ll see you there.

Are you feeling a littel sad? Do not worry, there are lots of places to go on-line and window shop. As you know I love fashion, but I also love shopping for Christmas presents. I saw this gorgeous warm winter dress the other day, another of Luisa Spagnoli’s beautiful designs. Do you know, I had a mini dress just like it in the 60’s, but it was bright yellow with matching platform boots. I also had the figure to carry it off then! Hey ho…. https://www.luisaspagnoli.it/it_en/

As to the Christmas shopping, deliveries can be a little difficult here in the middle of the Tuscan hills. However, I have found that ordering from M&S (Marks & Spencer), Next or IKEA is pretty reliable. I spent yesterday morning ordering just about everything we need! You do realise that it is only forty days away and people are starting early. Even my man said that he didn’t mind if I wanted to too! He brought down the festive boxes from the tower room yesterday and I found this little table decoration which I’ve popped on the corner of my desk. I usually get the tree up the first weekend in December, but methinks I might go for 28 November. What are your plans?

Well, I’m feeling happier now I’ve written this blog. If it makes you smile too, I’m doubly pleased.

Do get in touch and buy my books now in time for Christmas! Visit http://www.junefinnigan.website

have a great week.

Salute June x

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

Espresso facts. Do you know precisely how a traditional Italian espresso is made? I found this extract from an article in visittuscany.com wiritten by Flavio Cori. “Un Caffè” is an espresso: only 25 ml of water. A perfect one has an even brown cream on top and must be ready in less than 30 seconds.
“Caffè lungo” is obtained by draining more water than usual. A long coffee, although it is less dense, contains more caffeine than an espresso.” My man and I prefer the Lungo! We always start the day with a due lungi and a chat.

“I’m torn between writing my blog and going down to the sound studio and doing a bit of singing.” I sigh. My man smiled his melting smile across the table, which separated us in Bar Quercetto, formerly known as our sitting room, whilst cupping his second espresso lungo in his right hand. “Well, it is Sunday and executive decisions are difficult to make on a weekend. Why don’t you go down to the sound studio and write your blog there?” He suggests. I think about this, but I know I will be distracted by my music and I cannot write with music playing. I take my bowl of fruit and bufala mozzerella to my study desk and start writing. The decision is made.

Yesterday, Saturday, was a fabulous sunny day. A gentle breeze and hot sunshine. If you have not visited Tuscany in late Autumn and Winter, you should know that the sun is always hot here, that’s when it is shining of course. The air temperature can be very chilly but if you take your folding chair to a sunny sheltered spot you will be lovely and warm and even catch the sun! A wonderful time of year. My man and I enjoyed a bottle of Toscana Bianco before lunch sitting on our favourite bench under the younger oak tree. Acorns were falling like pebbles, bouncing off branches before landing on the grass surrounding us. Any minute we were expecting one to land in our wine or on our heads! Here is a rare picture of my man hiding behind his wine glass, bless him.

Today, we received our first Christmas card from the UK. I hear that festive trees are being bought early as if lockdown is feeding the mind with the need to bring the big day foreward! Not so here, no sign of anything festive in our local village of Fiano yet. My man is not going out at all, whilst I go to the village twice weekly for water refills and groceries. But I am prompted to think about on-line shopping for presents as time is rushing by and at least it’s something fun to do at this time. Last night, my man and I decided on getting any of the latest Bourne Series and Matrix on DVD for ourselves. Foto The Guardian

My man said to me earlier, “You know, you should write more about yourself in the blog, not constantly talking about handbags and shoes. Readers what to know what you are up to here in Tuscany.” “Well, I do actually talk about myself,” I snorted. “I spend a lot of my free time, which is limited, window shopping handbags, shoes and fashion! It’s what I do!” He sighed. So anyway, here is a beautiful outfit for you to drool over, gorgeous cut and quality and made in Italy of course. https://www.luisaspagnoli.it/

What else? Oh yes, I thought you would like to know that the beautiful weather has brought out the olive pickers in ‘droves to the groves.’ We can hear the whining of the mechanical hand held pickers and the shouting and laughing of the contadini. (Country folk) Can’t wait for that first cold pressed tasting of the green nectar.

Well, I must sort out some fotos for you and add them in. Then I must get down to the Sound Studio and do at least a couple of songs before lunch. Phew!

Do drop me a line. I would like to know what you would like to hear from Tuscany and our little bit of Chianti. I know that lots of you are really missing being here, I’m sorry about that.

Thinking of you all, stay safe and well.

Salute June x

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

And, yet another beautiful day in Tuscany!

Yes, it’s Mini-lockdown time here in Italy, so called because it will be short and only up until November 24th. To be honest, I am relieved as things had become far too relaxed. We are back to plan A, exactly the way we survived the last lockdown, only going out for groceries and the chemist (farmacia) when really necessary. We had a delivery of local Chianti Wines yesterday, so that sorts us out for the next couple of months! Also, Senoir schools are mostly closed and it’s a relief to know that our granddaughter will be taking a break from being crammed into school buses every morning! foto The Florentine.

Now if you long to be in Italy but can’t be, I suggest you compensate by doing some on-line Italian classes. I was reading The Florentine magazine yesterday and saw an article about Barbara Livolsi’s Europass Italian Language School in Florence. What a good idea! During this period of Covid-19, she has quote ‘gone beyond any logistical limits and created online courses to be close to foreigners who could not come to Florence.’  My man and I really need an advanced course, despite having been here for sixteen years. We must try and make the time to do this too! http://www.europassitalian.com foto The Florentine.

Meanwhile, I am turning my thoughts towards books for Christmas, it is after all 1st November today! My good friend and writer Rosie Meleady has a new book launch today and it’s based on her move from Ireland to Italy. Rosie is a very amusing and entertaining writer, I think you will enjoy her book; it’s called ‘A Rosie Life in Italy.’ A ROSIE LIFE IN ITALY ON AMAZON

I’ve also just looked at the Book Depository in the UK. I like this site and delivery to Italy has always worked well. They have some beautiful hard-backs that I might well order having just put them on my wish list. http://www.bookdepository.com

Ok, what else? Well, as you know I am not the greatest cook and lockdown does mean cooking everyday! If you love Italian food you should go on-line and watch Judy Witts Francini’s cookery demonstrations. She’s also got a lovely cook book you can buy on-line too. Judy is a friend and neighbour and would normally be doing guided foodie tours, but instead has come up with some really good entertaining live demonstrations. If you are feeling a little brain dead over what to cook, let Judy inspire you! http://www.divinacucina.com

OK, hopefully that’s got you well and truly immersed in things Italian for a while to take your mind off the current crisis.

I love to hear from you, so do drop me a line either by email june.finnigan@virgin.net or leave a comment on this blog! Tell me about your plans for lock-down and what you miss most about Italy!

Have a great week, stay safe and well.

Salute June x

Ps Buy my books for Christmas here http://www.junefinnigan.website

PPs Well done to England for finally winning the Six Nations Rugby Cup!

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