Posts Tagged ‘Tuscany’

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

It’s a beautiful sunny Saturday morning here on the edge of the Chianti Hills in our little bit of Tuscany. And, I am inspired to write just for the joy of sharing my thoughts with you at last. Yes, I know it’s been a while since my last blog and I am sorry about that. I have no excuses other than being engrossed in my day job and being exhausted on the weekends. But somehow, this weekend feels different, my head is clearer and I feel very bullish about the New Year.

As a writer it’s so important to keep writing and my fourth novel is in draft form waiting to be completed. So I am very excited to tell you that once I get this blog off to you I will be back in back in the world of Joanna Wilde taking her on new exciting and potentially dangerous adventures.

Tuscany is a wonderful place to be inspired, as a writer and also as an artist. There is not a month when the scenery is dull, even in the depth of winter. Thanks to the late shedding of the European Oak’s leaves, Autumn colour spreads over into January. But it has been unseasonably warm here too and out of any wind you can enjoy an aperitivo outside! It is also the time of year for stunning sunrises and sunsets.

We have just had three family birthdays over ten days, sadly finding a lunch venue is difficult this time of year. So we gathered together for supper (cena) at C’era una Volta Restaurant where Paolo is serving up White Truffles (Tartufo Bianco). My mouth waters as I write this; white gold found by local truffle hunters and their wonderful dogs. http://www.ristorante-ceraunavolta.com

It’s now Saturday evening and we have been to Paolo’s again for lunch. A typical big Italian family birthday was underway and probably at least four generations. We sat in the little back room so had some peace and quiet, then we returned home and enjoyed a nice chilled limoncello. Mmmmm.

OK, what next? Well, January is a good month for walking through the countryside as very few tourists are around and one can spot the early spring shoots that are just beginning to peep out of the ground. It’s also a good month for sorting out the garden and getting the shrubs pruned. Our daughter is coming over to help here as she is the expert having planted our 18 month old shrubbery in the first place, so that’s something to look forward to.

And, what about the next Tuscan Rock Chick Band concert party? I hear you say. Well the date is agreed as 16 June and if you are not already on our invitation list you will need to send me your email address, if you want to come. I have just started on a brand new repertoire and can’t wait to get back behind the Mic.

Well, it’s now Sunday morning and the last of the Christmas stuff has been put away. Gosh, what a lot of dust! And so to tidying this blog up and getting it off to you.

Do get in touch, I love to hear from my readers! Leave a message here or email june.finnigan0@gmail.com Oh, and do visit my website at http://www.junefinnigan.website

Salute June x PS Thank you for buying my books!


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

Now, its always been my policy to get my Christmas List sorted the first week in November. This is important because deliveries here in Tuscany can be very unreliable particularly if using the Post Office. Deliveries have often arrived a month or more after having been posted outside the EU & regularly comes with an an import tax to pay! Thankfully, I have discovered some very good on-line retailers here in Europe and in particular Next.it. The warehouse may well be in Germany, but thats not a problem. We also have Amazon.it and M&S.it. We had some quick deliveries from Nike Italia too.

So, it’s time to get my own books out to the world again. Whilst I know many of you lovely people have already read them, they do make nice presents. There’s nothing like unwrapping a book for Xmas, then curling up in front of the fire for a good read. I shall be concentrating on gifting lots of books this year! You will find my books on any Amazon site and numerous other sites if you don’t use Amazon. To remind you I write thrillers with a vein of romance running through them. The order in which I wrote them is My Father, The Assassin, The Bolivian Connection then The Italian Connection. All three follow the continuing Adventures of Joanna Wilde and her undercover activities around the world. Go to my website for lots more information and, you can buy there too: even signed books are available. However, The latter should be ordered early as they will be posted from Italy. http://www.junefinnigan.website As a treat, you can download a short thriller based in London’s Theatre land for just 99p!

Meanwhile, here in our lovely little bit of Tuscany on the edge of Chianti, we are thoroughly enjoying the new wines and the mouth watering taste of Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It’s an annual reminder of just how lucky we are to be here. Thankfully the busy tractors and trailers are less frequent now, whilst necessary to do the work, the squeaking banging and clattering along our track can get a little tiresome.

My man and I are just about recovered from a virus (not covid) that he brought back from a trip to England. The 18 years we have lived here has been a blessing for me as I don’t seem to catch Italian colds or flu. When I lived in England it was one cold virus after another, my doctor advised me to move to a drier climate, it worked! Onwards and Upwards!

Anyway, time to tidy up this blog and get it off to you. Sorry for the lack of blogs over the last few months, I hope to make up for that over the next few months.

Have a great week, life eeez good, life eeez now!

Salute June x

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

It’s been a very busy week here on the edge of Chianti in our little bit of beautiful Tuscany. We are surrounded by vineyards and it is the middle of La Vendemmia (Grape Harvest) when all the existing squeaky tractors and clanging trailers are hurtling along the track like there’s no tomorrow. To add to the traffic chaos, the main road is closed for repair between Certaldo and Fiano, so most vehicles are following our track and taking the country route. This then also creates a hell of a lot of dust! But things will quieten down later today as rain and wind is forecast; mind you, although not good for the harvest, the land and gardens could certainly do with some heavy showers. But we don’t care about all that, life eeez good, life eeez now!

Meanwhile, we can enjoy the fruits of the woods and trees in the shape of Figs and Porcini Mushrooms. Both are two of my favourite locally grown indulgences. Autumn is definitely peeking through and hopefully Tartufo Bianco (white truffles) will be on the menu soon. The local truffle hunters and their clever dogs know the exact weather conditions and the secret locations for successful hunts.

Now, you may remember that the Commune di Certaldo holds an event called the Calambur every September and our local village of Fiano is represented by Rione Le Fonte, a bunch of very enthusiastic athletic and bright people dressed in red and white. So last Sunday was a day of races and intelligence tests and all four teams tried their very best to win. Then when the winners were announced as our team, for the second year running, everyone jumped around whooping and cheering waving the coveted banner in the air. So well done again to the guys and gals of Rione Le Fonte!

Now it’s rare for me to promote the work of another writer. However, this one is a lovely friend, is Italian and is called Rita (Carla) Francesca Monticelli. She has just published a hard back English version of her thriller Kindred Intentions and it would make a great Christmas present for your thriller loving friends and family. I love her books. Go to her Amazon link https://mybook.to/intentionsHB/opt/1

Well, time to think about lunch. I’ll go check the fridge out!

Have a great week, do drop me a line at june.finnigan0@gmail.com or visit my website at http://www.junefinnigan.website

Salute June x

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OK, so let’s get away from all the bad news and concentrate on happy things. The first bit of happiness is found every morning in the changing view from our old former monastery farmhouse, down across the valleys and across to Certaldo. It is the time of year for mist filled valleys and winter colours. This picture was taken a few days ago by our lovely next door neighbour Paola at La Poggiolaia, where you can book wonderful holidays in beautiful self-catering apartments. http://www.poggiolaia.it The view is just the same from here, we are so very lucky.

This weekend we will be enjoying a family lunch. We may be able to sit outside which, will depend on whether the sun is shining or not. This time of year the sun can be lovely and hot, however the air temperature remains chilly, so the decision will be made an hour or so beforehand. Big family lunches outside are a joy and the most natural thing to do all year round here in Tuscany. Why don’t you join us soon?

Meanwhile, I have been browsing the latest fashion here in Italy and have not overlooked menswear. Although not all, Italian men do have a natural flare for wearing clothes well. Only in Italy can they get away with no socks and monogrammed slippers in the city. Such style! My man tells me that Saville Row in London is considered to be the place to go for the very best tailoring and, the Italians are well aware of this, often endeavouring to emulate the cut! Well at least the jackets, but the trousers at half-mast are very much the Italian style.

Returning to our little bit of Chianti, we drop down to Certaldo, where we enjoy a coffee and pastry at Jam Cafe. This is our favourite caffe bar in town and where our good friend Andrea produces the most glorious cakes and pastries. Andrea also does the catering for my Rock Concert parties and lets hope our scheduled gig for 17 June goes ahead this year! Can’t wait!

Back in our lovely garden the Ancient Oak Tree, which guards our gate, has finally shed all its leaves. The European Oak tends to hang onto its brown leaves until the first new shoots are coming through, so the countryside retains an Autumn look right up until the end of February. Our big tree has a fabulous shape and here is a foto.

OK, time to think about lunch and perhaps an aperitivo beforehand. The sun is shining so fingers crossed we may make it outside.

Do drop me a line, I love to hear from my readers. Email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net or leave a message on this blog. Oh, and do visit my website at 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,

Well, it’s a beautiful sunny Saturday morning but very cold. Hopefully, if we sit in the right spot in the garden, the sun will be hot enough to enjoy an aperitivo before lunch and we are well stocked with local wines, so no worries there. Meanwhile, I’m getting on with writing to you.

January is an interesting month for events. Every year you will spot the male fashionisti in Florence and particularly around the Fortezza da Basso, flaunting themselves at Pitti Uomo in anything from very classy suits and overcoats to gaudy excentric outfits. These guys just love to be noticed and photgraphed! I had a big choice of fotos to show you and finally decided on this one borrowed from The Florentine and taken by Marco Badiani. Elton John would fit right in! You will find lots more at http://www.theflorentine.net

As most of you know one of my indulgences is Handbags, made in Tuscany of course. I spotted these lovely bags hand crocheted and apparently available locally. But the website does not seem to offer on-line shopping. I suggest you visit Le Kosette on Facebook and if you find a way to buy on-line, let me know! Otherwise, there is an email address and a chat line, probably only in Italian I suspect, I might try it later.

Meanwhile, back here in our little bit of the Chianti Hills, we were very sad to say addio to our once beautiful Ash Tree, which finally gave up the ghost just over a year ago. It has now been chopped down and there are various ideas floating around for adapting the remaining stump. We had spent many happy shady hours under it’s branches, it will be sadly missed. We also have the piece from above the stump, included in the foto, which I am convinced could be turned into a beautiful carving of some kind. I would love to have your ideas, drop me a line.

‘So what are the rules for your bit of Tuscany now?’ I hear you ask. Somewhat confusing, I reply. We are currently a yellow zone, white being no restrictions and up to red being total lockdown. In yellow It’s very important to be fully vaccinated and to be able to prove this by showing your ‘Super Green Pass.’ This applies to virtually everywhere; restaurants, caffes, shops, buses & trains and the new white FFP2 mask must be worn in all public places. and, It is likely to become mandatory for the over 50’s to be vaccinated soon. But things can change with little notice, so watch this space!

But Life eeez good, Life eeez now! Our Brick kitchen floor has finally been fixed, so less chance of crashing down into the gymnasium below! It’s Certaldo Red Onion season and Paolo at C’era Una Volta Ristorante is serving up hot Zuppa di Ribolita! Paolo’s Ribolita is like a rich tasty vegetable & bean soup, thickened with stale bread. My man loves it!

OK, time to think about lunch, or better still, an aperitivo! I hear my man already busy in his kitchen; I have to ask permission to enter the room these days! Actually, I love the fact that he learnt to cook during my recovery and he wants to continue too!

So, may I wish you all a splendid week, stay safe and come to Tuscany as soon as you are able!

Salute June x

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

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely followers around The World

Well, where to start?  Here in Beautiful Tuscany the dreaded lurgy played a big part in shaping Christmas and New Year Celebrations.  ‘You’re not alone’ I hear you say.  Yes, I know this to be true, having friends and family all over the world who have had to make the best of things.  Like many self-employed people, I found it difficult to relax despite the fact that we have been working from home for years now, so nothing much had changed!  But I did get the guitar out and tried to get to grips with an on-line course.  This then, prompted me to think about my repertoire for the next Rock Chick Band Concert, currently penciled in for June 17.  So I had a few fun hours singing along to some great rock tracks; watch this space! Foto Certaldo Alto.

A pre-Xmas family restaurant lunch ended up with just the two of us.  In saying that my man and I rediscovered Il Pirate Restaurant in the centre of Certaldo and enjoyed a very nice meal indeed.  It was also quiet as fewer people were eating out at this point in time.  They do a delicious pasta sauce called Crema di Zucca, which translates to Cream of Pumpkin and my gluten free pasta was perfectly cooked.  See pizzeria il pirata certaldo on Facebook.

One bonus about not eating out so much is my man’s newly discovered pleasure in cooking!  Since my little accident at the end of July, it has been a slow recovery and he has had little choice but to start cooking.  So thank goodness, he has discovered he likes his own cooking more than mine and reckons he cooks up some better meals than our local restaurants!  I have to say that I agree with him, but don’t tell him I said that!  I do like to eat out. Note his new professional apron.

A couple of weeks before Xmas our Grandson, who plays rugby for Siena, had enjoyed a great winning performance against a very strong team up north.  Sadly, members of both teams went down with Covid, all were told to isolate  and the series has now been put on hold.  But being so proud of him, I had to include a foto of our boy in action.

Well, today is Sunday 2 January.  The sky is overcast and tomorrow will be a working day for us.  Ooh, I’ve made that sound a bit gloomy, which was not intended.  I’m actually looking forward to a very rewarding 2022 from a business point of view.   I would also like to say thank you for buying my books last year, I hope to have book four in the series out in the spring or early summer. I’ll keep you posted.

What else? Oh yes, very important, I want to thank my man with all my heart for his support over the last few months and during my slow recovery. Apparently I was a terrible patient! But, he still loves me! Proof of this was the surprise gift two days after Xmas of this lovely heart box full of chocolates!

Now, life remains very good here in our little bit of the Chianti Hills and whilst there are restrictions we can still function very well. We are currently in a Yellow Zone which means showing our Green Passes (at least two vaccines) in restaurants and other public venues. Schools are verging on home studies again so our granddaughter is preparing for the worse scenario.

Do get in touch, I love to hear from my readers. http://www.junefinnigan.website

Salute June x

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

After this morning’s fill of SKY and BBC world news, I realise that the only way to treat all this bad news is to concentrate on all the good things in life. Here in our little bit of Tuscany on the edge of the Chianti Hills, the countryside is bathed in morning sunshine. It’s cold and frosty in the shade, but wrap up warm and it’s perfect for a country walk. Then back to light the log fire! Ah, that feels better!

It’s just six days to Christmas and my thoughts turn to our lovely family and friends and organising some video calls. Also, there is much fun in doing some on-line shopping therapy; I’ve just ordered some new leisure wear from Next Italy where they have a huge range of labels on board. My man thought I should go for more colours, rather than my usual black. As he is treating me I have chosen navy, pink and green. I have also noticed some lovely stuff on James Lakeland’s UK site which are made in Italy. Sadly, if I order stuff from the uk I have to pay a heavy import tax now, but hey ho! I just love this really colourful Christmasy retro look frock; if you like it too and are in London you could pop in and buy it whilst the shops remain open! Otherwise go to http://jameslakeland.net

Dare I say it? Yesterday I discovered another hand-made Italian handbag site. All the Italian designers are up there now. This is a godsend if you can’t get out around the shops like you used to! I love this snowy white bag with colourful changeable strap and make-up bag/purse from Elisendra. Well, I hope Father Christmas is reading this! All the presents that I know about are under the tree and it all looks very inviting. http://www.elisendra.com

Oh, I must mention that my man collected his fig and walnut Panettone from Certaldo yesterday and it came in the most delightful box! The packaging here in Italy is wonderful and you are always asked if it is for a gift. Your purchase is then immediately wrapped in colourful paper and bows and place in a luxury carrier bag! No charge.

Well, I hope you’ve got your stock of wine in for the festive period. There’s nothing quite like a warmed bottle of Chianti Classico by the side of the log fire! Put out the cheeseboard and antipasti, pour the wine and away you go! Salute!

OK, time to go and get festive! If we don’t speak again before Christmas do have a wonderful time, stay safe and I’ll see you soon xx

Buon Natale June x

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

Here in our little bit of Tuscany on the edge of Chianti it is 10 degrees centigrade, sunny but with a cold wind. However, we are expecting colder weather to reach us shortly, thus my man is currently putting covers on the vulnerable plants and has brought the lemon tree inside.

Meanwhile, we have turned our thoughts to nice hot winter foods and at the top of my list is Judy Witts Francini’s Tuscan recipe for Red Onion soup using local Certaldo red onions. Judy has posted a great article about the history of Onion soup and her website has the full Tuscan recipe for you to try. Judy, a celebrity cook, is a friend and neighbour as many of you already know and if you are not already signed up for her newsletters, you are missing out on some wonderful Tuscan recipes! http://www.divinacucina.com

Now, my man has a favourite Panettone, which is the traditional festive cake at this time of year. Here in Tuscany they come in many different flavours and his choice is walnut, ordered from the bakers in Via Giugno in Certaldo. In Italy, historical accounts of panettone invariably state that it originated in Milan. The word panettone derives from panetto, a small loaf cake. … The beginnings of this cake appear to date from the Roman Empire, when ancient Romans sweetened a type of leavened cake with honey. However, I like the following version better. One of the legends of its conception says that the person who invented panettone was the Milanese nobleman Ughetto degli Atellani who lived in the 1400s. He fell in love with Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni! But, whatever the originality, it’s hugely popular at Christmas time!

So yes, I seem to have got the Christmas bug already. Seasonal markets are popping up everywhere and there is nothing like going to Florence, even on a cold wet day. This one is in Piazza Santa Croce. Anyway, if really wet, one can always dive into a lovely welcoming coffee bar or restaurant, two more good reasons for going! Foto Corriere Fiorentino.

Now, I’m going to fast forward you to June 2022 and to be precise Friday 17th. Stefano and I have just agreed to do a Rock Chick Band Concert here in Tuscany on this date, so you must put this in your diary. If you are not already on my invitation list, send me your email and I will include you when the invites go out next year. I can’t wait, it is so exciting!

OK, Enough for now. Do drop me a line, I love to hear from my readers! Also, time to order your books in time for Christmas! 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,

I can’t begin to tell you what an emotional week it has been for me. Three and a half months recovering from a broken wrist and knee may seem nothing in this world of pandemics and climate change, but I was brought to tears when I finally walked back into my local restaurant on Thursday! The smell of the damp fresh air as I walked out the front door of my house, the passing Tuscan countryside during the car journey and the company of my man, daughter and grandson was an absolute joy! The day before, my specialist had announced that all had healed and I was good to go! I Just need knee bending exercises and suppliments!

Paolo greeted me at C’era una Volta Restaurant with such a welcome back look on his face, I burst into tears. My man and I were regulars and at least twice a week, sitting at our favourite corner table drinking the best local wines and indulging in the seasonal menu. During my recovery period, my man has actually become a very good cook and he found himself comparing the restaurant food with his own! I thoroughly enjoyed my grilled polenta topped with bietola and canneloni beans. Additional fresh herbs make the dish. One of my all time favourites at Paolo’s is the baked smoked scamorza cheese with raddiccio as in the foto. http://www.ristorante-ceraunavolta.com

OK, what now. Well, it’s yet another rugby weekend and on Saturday at 2pm Italy is playing Uruguay at Parma. Our grandson plays for Siena, but sadly all training and matches are cancelled this weekend due to three Covid cases being discovered! Overall, Italy is not doing too badly, which seems to be due to the mask wearing and green pass requirements still being in place. It is likely that restrictions will be placed on arrivals in December.

Anyway I’ve done all my Christmas shopping on line, so no worries there. Have you done yours? Everyone in my family will get a book this year. I do hope you will all be doing the same; let’s not forget the value of a real book in one’s hands and the ability to keep it forever or share with friends and family. It’s also great to talk about books we have read over some nice mulled wine. Don’t forget, if you like Romantic Thrillers my own books could be right up your street! Go to http://www.junefinnigan.website

Oh and finally, do buy some lovely Italian oranges this year. Make sure everyone has one popped into the toe of their stockings.

Enjoy your shopping.

Salute June x

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

‘The Autumn Leaves, Drift by my Window, The Autumn Leaves, of Red and Gold’. This wonderful timeless song has always been one of my favourites. And, so appropriate for right now. Overnight storms and heavy rain have battered the trees and vineyards surrounding us, and any leaves that were still hanging on are now on the ground or will be shortly. The countryside and the toads in our pond will be glad to have had the rain and the fresh smells are heavenly.

It is currently difficult to take a foto of the Tuscan countryside, which isn’t beautiful. This is a picture taken by Monterosola, a stunning setting for this very popular venue for wine tastings and celebrations of all kinds. My clever daughter has been busy organising vineyard tours for journalists in readiness for the spring deluge of visitors and Monterosola is top of her list. You can, of course, go there now; and why not? http://www.monterosola.com

Meanwhile, what to wear? It’s a little cooler today after the storm so my thoughts go to my autumn/winter wardrobe. As many of you already know, I love Autumn colours as they really suit me. One of my favourite Italian designers is Luisa Spagnoli and she always has a good Autumn range. Now I have selected a lovely snuggly knitted dress, which is designed beautifully to flare from just below the hip. The colour is a deep maroon, which I believe qualifies as an excellent warm Autumn shade. http://www.luisaspagnoli.it

Now, this weekend is a great one for rugby fans, snuggled up in front of the telly. Yesterday we watched poor Italy get beaten once more, this time by Argentina. Then later it was England’s turn and they beat Australia. So at least it was a success for one of the teams we support! This afternoon we will indulge again, I can’t remember which teams are playing, but lets hope for some entertaining rugby!

What else? Well, some of you have asked when my next book will be published. Sadly, things were delayed by my falling and breaking my wrist and a knee. Now, I know, one can still write in these circumstances, but what did surprise me was how it affected my creative thought! So, I am now aiming to get ‘Assassin’s List’ published in the spring. Meanwhile, my first three books and a short story based in London’s theatre land, are available online. Do get buying now in time for Christmas presents. There’s nothing like unwrapping a real book! http://www.junefinnigan.website

Well, it’s been really good to be writing to you again and hopefully this will now be a weekly event! Do get in touch, I love to hear from my readers.

Salute June x

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