Posts Tagged ‘valley’

Buon Giorno to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Wet misty morning viewed through cobwed to the lower terrace. Photo P Finnigan

Wet misty morning viewed through cobweb to the lower terrace.
Photo P Finnigan

My man and I woke early this morning, despite the fact that it is Sunday, and found thick fog obscuring our view down to the valley.  We got in the car and my man said, “That’s interesting, we are one minute earlier than yesterday and four minutes later than the day before.  Oh, and we have done eighty-eight thousand miles!”  “Well, thank you for that….” I smiled.  Don’t you just love him?  Desperate to find sunshine, we drove further uphill to Fiano for our morning coffee.  Hurrah, there was the sun, smiling down on this little hilltop village, so we relaxed, read the papers and greeted the locals, who were all dressed for Sunday, mostly in fashionable track suits.  On our return to our little villa, we were still fog bound, however, my clever man noticed some incredible cobwebs and took a misty picture for you.

autumn Vines through Paolo's window. Photo J finnigan

autumn Vines through Paolo’s window.
Photo J finnigan

Wood fired grilled Porcini mushroom. Photo J Finnigan

Wood fired grilled Porcini mushroom.
Photo J Finnigan

Earlier in the week and before visiting a possible new property, we popped into Paolo’s Ristorante C’era una Volta, where Porcini Grilliata was on the menu.  The larger Porcini mushrooms are really delicious if cooked over an open fire, which is how Paolo grills all his food.  Yummy….  It was a lovely warm sunny day and we sat in the picture window where we could see the Autumn vines stretching away in all directions.  My man glowed with contentment as his Pici alla Pecoraia (thick spaghetti in a pecorino cheese sauce with sweet baby tomatoes) arrived.  I just love to see him enjoying himself!

Daniel joins us for coffee. Phew! L Nazione.

Daniel joins us for coffee. Phew! L Nazione.

Then yesterday, Saturday, we dropped down to Certaldo and Bar Solferino for coffee where we were joined by Daniel Craig, looking absolutely gorgeous in Armani and flashing an expensive watch.  Yes, I know, not really, but a girl can dream.  We then went to see another potential country house that turned out to be an apartment with a shared garden; I don’t think so.  So far I have viewed seven possible new homes, and we may have found the ideal place not far away from where we are now.  Watch this space!

Meanwhile, I am currently working away on an exciting ghost writing project.  It is a thriller based on a real life story and is a fascinating and topical subject.  But do not worry, you will not be forgotten and my weekly blogs will go out without fail.  Also my monthly column in Expat Focus, the on-line magazine for, not surprisingly, expats!  My book, ‘The Italian Connection’ will now hopefully be published by the summer of next year.

Pre-lunch drinks on the upper terrace. Photo J Finnigan

Pre-lunch drinks on the upper terrace.
Photo J Finnigan

And finally, it is so important to have that relaxing aperitivo in the early evening.  Also a nice drop of wine before lunch in the garden.  We have been lucky enough to enjoy several lunches outside this week.  When the sun comes out the middle of the day is quite hot, despite the chill in the air.  I know, we are so lucky!

Well must get on, more writing to do, places to go and people to see.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

PS Do visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

'My Father, The Assassin'. Book one 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 Loyal and New Followers

My god, it’s the first day of November!  I know, because my man wished me ‘Happy New Month’ this morning when I came up with the fruit juices and climbed back into bed.  It is Sunday of course, and I like to stay in bed just a little longer to read a novel.  I have just finished a really good book called ‘The Insider’ by Ava McCarthy and left a five star review on Amazon.  It’s all about insider trading and hacking and the latter subject is currently of considerable interest to me, as I am working on a writing project all about this.  Watch this space.

The beautiful eighty-one year old Sopia Loren. Dolce Gabbana Advert.

The beautiful eighty-one year old Sophia Loren.
Dolce Gabbana Advert.

Well, my man went off to London to do a bit of business last Monday and come Tuesday I was missing him like crazy.  So I went to see Sandra, my lovely hairdresser, to cheer myself up and to brighten my hair colour.  In the glossy magazine I was reading, I found the most fantastic picture of Sophia Loren.  A long as I can remember, whenever I thought of Italy, it was Sophia who first came to mind.  Not just gorgeous, but a brilliant actress.  Did you ever see the films ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ and ‘Marriage Italian Style’.  If not you really should.  She had the perfect co-star in Marcello Mastroianni; a partnership made in heaven!  Did you know she has made over fifty films?  Yes, fifty.  Now at eighty-one she still looks fantastic and I cannot but smile when I see pictures of her.  She was recently quoted as saying “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes.  It is not something physical.”  Mind you she has an edge on most of us girlies, that is at least from a physical point of view!  Just a random thought; the Italian spelling for Sophia is Sofia, I wonder if the former was a stage name?  Does anyone know?

Golden Fungi in our garden. Name anyone? Photo J Finnigan

Golden Fungi in our garden. Name anyone?
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, the heavens opened on Tuesday and Wednesday, and everywhere was flooded.  But this had its compensations.  Yes of course the gardens and countryside needed it, but it was the fungi that immediately started to pop up everywhere.  Paolo is serving up Tartufo Bianco (white truffles) at C’era una Volta Ristorante and in the garden I spotted this gorgeous display.  Does anyone know the name of these golden coloured fungi?

Italian manstyle with trainers. La Nazione sports magazine.

Italian manstyle with trainers.
La Nazione sports magazine.

Back at the Bar Solferino in Certaldo on Thursday, I relaxed over my morning caffè latte and I could not but help notice an advertisement for Lotto Trainers in the sports magazine.  Now what is so interesting about that, you may ask?  I agree, trainers are trainers.  But for once, here was a picture of an Italian male model wearing the perfect stylish outfit that offset the trainers.  The guy himself was pretty dishy too, but that’s beside the point!  I have never gone for trainers as a fashion item, however, here in Italy they are hugely popular.  There are so many varieties; even gold wedge heeled trainers with fur trims!

The sun breaks through on the glowing autumn vineyards in the valey below. Photo J Finnigan

The sun breaks through on the glowing autumn vineyards in the valley below.
Photo J Finnigan

Later, I returned to our little hilltop villa and breathed in that lovely Autumn damp smell as I walked through the garden.  Below me the vineyards were glowing in the Autumn sunshine and I was once again reminded that ‘life eeeez good, life eeeez now’.

OK, must finish here, hope you enjoyed my ramblings.  Lots to do, places to go and people to see.  Have a really great week and we’ll talk again next weekend.

Salute June x

PS do visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

'My Father, The Assassin'. Book one 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

The man's vintage binoculars at the ready. Photo J Finnigan

The man’s vintage binoculars at the ready.
Photo J Finnigan

It is early evening, Ferragosta and the rain is managing to hold off for all those revellers who want to go out and celebrate the start of the annual two-week holiday.  The silence is deafening and my man and I grip our aperitivi feeling somewhat stunned by the lack of activity in the fields around us.  This happens every year of course, but the countryside, villages and towns have a strange eerie feel about them, as if aliens have sucked ninety percent of the population off the surface of the earth.  Car parks are empty, shops are shut and the only company we have are a sprinkling of tourists wandering around like zombies.  Then my man says, “Hey look at this, you’ll need to come this side of the tree!”  He hands me his vintage binoculars that weigh a ton and points towards the wooden structure that has been slowly built over the last few weeks, carefully hidden from view at the top of a vineyard and out of sight of the road, to avoid the planning permission I expect.  There must be at least fifty people there in brightly coloured clothes, but all standing around not knowing what to do.  “There will be a great view through the valley from there.” I say.  “perhaps there’s a band arriving and we’ll have some music wafting across in a minute.”  But no, within ten minutes they all troop back up the hill towards the road and disappear.  Now this is the kind of thing that has us analysing the reason why.  Perhaps it was part of a tourist trip and they had been walked there to look at the view?  Perhaps it was the last remaining locals who have come out for a jolly and then decided that the structure wasn’t big enough to accommodate all the trestle tables they had brought with them!  We will never know, but I am now determined to sneak down that path and take a look at this mysterious structure over the next few days!

The wonderful Hibiscus which survives all weathers. Photo J Finnigan

The wonderful Hibiscus which survives all weathers.
Photo J Finnigan

The orchard and valley below our villa under grey skies. Photo J Finnigan

The orchard and valley below our villa under grey skies.
Photo J Finnigan

Well, the talk in the bar this morning, Sunday, was all about the Bruto Tempo, the bad weather.  We had more heavy rain overnight, but thank god it is now cooler and less humid.  My man and I are now determined to take a day off this week and do things in the garden.  You may think that we are swanning around here in our lovely villa on the edge of the Chianti Hills, but you would be wrong.  I am either writing or running our UK company and he has a heavy workload for UK clients.  Yes, thanks to technology, we could be anywhere in Europe and function perfectly well, but we chose Italy.  It was the lifestyle and language that attracted us here, and we are very glad we came.  But where was I, oh yes, planning a day off to do some gardening, which for me is very therapeutic.  Despite the recent intense weather some of our plants are actually revelling in it.  We also think that some of the grass seed we threw down randomly on our sparse weedy lawn, may have rooted!

Tuscan sunflowers after the rain. Photo J Finnigan

Tuscan sunflowers after the rain.

Now when the sky is grey and it is reasonably bright, the light really brings out the colours in the countryside.  This is one of the uplifting things that keep the smile on one’s face when the sun is hiding.  This time of year there are huge fields of Sunflowers right next to the road, looking like rows of little yellow people whose faces follow the sun from east to west during the day; beautiful.  The orchard, olive grove and valley below us is really bright green, and it is easy to pick out all the variant shades and shapes.  Of course, this area is an artist’s dream and I really must get my easel out again.

Talking of artists, I am looking forward to meeting half a dozen who are coming to visit me in October.  I have organised the sister-in-law to come and make sure all the pots are prettied up.  I think I’ll ask her to position my easel to make it look as if I am actively painting too!

Oh, just a quick mention of the new handbag you saw in my blog last week.  I have just found the maker’s card tucked in an inside pocket, so you really must visit her site http://www.marymccartybags.com as they are to die for.

Well, I must go and make myself beautiful and take my man out to Sunday lunch.  Maybe somewhere new this time.  Watch this space.

Salute June x

PS Don’t forget to visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My Father, The Assassin. Book one 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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A Festive welcome to all my Loyal and New Followers

Early Christmas Morning, thick fog fills the valley below our villa. Photo P Finnigan

Early Sunday morning before Christmas, thick fog fills the valley below our villa.
Photo P Finnigan

“Oh no, we’ve got another one and he’s moving at the speed of a striking slug!” My man gasped.  We had pulled in behind a battered old Fiat at the self-service petrol pump, and the equally battered old driver was struggling to understand the money machine that paid for the petrol and then sent instructions to the pump.  As there had been a queue of just one, we had decided to stop for petrol at this cheaper pump, rather than the other one that was serviced, and as we did so, another car pulled in behind and trapped us in.  We watched in horror as the doddery old boy tapped at various buttons and then went to open his petrol cap.  Meanwhile, his driver’s door was wide open.  He then went around to the passenger door and opened that as well, leaned in and rummaged a bit, then returned to the pump forgetting to close it.  He then went to talk to the proprietor, who came over to help out.  Finally, he got into the car to drive away with his petrol cap and passenger door still open, so I leapt (well hauled myself) out of our car to warn him.  Meanwhile, the Italians now queuing up behind us were quite naturally sounding their horns.  You may ask why have I told you about this, well living in Italy, some things just have to be said.

Christmas morning Fiorentino Iris in the garden. Photo J Finnigan

Christmas morning Fiorentino Iris in the garden.
Photo J Finnigan

The Following day was Monday and we set off early, all bright and bushy tailed, for IKEA near Florence, as I was determined to get a new kitchen dresser before Christmas.  I won’t bore you with the visit, apart from mentioning the hilarious site of a chappy trying to squeeze massive boxes into a tiny car.  Half an hour later he had taken it all out, tried another way and failed miserably.  “Look at that idiot, he’s got a roof rack, why is he not using it?”  My man scoffed.  Why indeed?  The next morning, Tuesday, we took the time out to put the new dresser together.  Never have I experienced such a complicated and lengthy process, just to have our glasses and china sitting in a nice off-white glass cabinet.  After two hours I decided to pop some veggies in the oven to roast.  An hour later, they were all cooked so I turned the oven off and left them to keep warm.  Another hour later and we had finally finished the cabinet!  The roasted veggies were black and unidentifiable, but we were so hungry we ate them anyway, washed down with a good Pinot Grigio.  Never again!

The view from the sofa on Christmas Day Evening. Photo J Finnigan

The view from the sofa on Christmas Day Evening.
Photo J Finnigan

Christmas day arrived.  This is the only day of the year when my man cooks.  I still need to supervise and hurry things along, because if he’s left to his own devices he’ll take four hours or more to achieve what a normal person does in half an hour!  But it’s the thought that counts.  I defrosted some plums that we had picked in the garden a few months earlier and made some lovely creamy desserts, whilst looking over my shoulder and giving directions as needed.  He had bought some parsnips in England and brought them home on his last trip, so we had some lovely roast potatoes and vegis, with red peppers packed with a nutty stuffing, topped with scamorza cheese.  Yummy.

Chocolate Fountain and dips. Photo P Finnigan

Chocolate Fountain and dips.
Photo P Finnigan

On Boxing Day, we bootled off to our daughter’s new home between San Gimignano and Volterra for present opening and lunch with the grandkids.  A perfect family day of course, lovely lunch followed by the excitment of a new Chocolate Fountain Machine, which gurgled hot melted chocolate up and over, well yes, a little fountain.  We dipped fruit, biscuits and cake into the chocolate and our grandson became so mesmarised that we had to prize his attention away before he made himself irreversibly sick!

Giorgio waits to be noticed, his paw slightly raised.

Giorgio waits to be noticed, his paw slightly raised. Photo J Finnigan

Another highlight of my Christmas was a plate of gluten free mini-macaroons and sweet desserts, handed in by my lovely neighbour and celebrity cook Judy Witts-Francini.  This was such a treat for me; thank you so much Judy xx

And finally, to all our friends in Fiano for the festive chat and shouts of ‘Auguri’ from all and sundry, and we do hope that Giorgio the cat did get rewarded for his long wait outside the butchers.

Do drop me a line and I would really love it if you happened to read ‘My Father, The Assassin’ over the holiday and left a review on Amazon.

Tanti Auguri June xx

PS here is the direct link for ‘My Father, The Assassin’.







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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Last week was undoubtably one of the busiest this year.  so I thought I would get in to calm mode and take you out into our garden.  Firstly to look at the plants and then to enjoy an evening glass of Chianti with my man.

Lovely Clematis on the upper terrace. Photo J Finnigan

Lovely Clematis on the upper terrace.
Photo J Finnigan

It is the time of year to get the Clematis and Pansies into beds and pots.  Now don’t think this is something I spend a lot of time doing, unfortunately I don’t.  It’s a question of dashing outside for half an hour, in between work and writing.  On Saturday mornings we tend to drop down to Certaldo for coffee, buy veg, fruit and cheese and if we are lucky, some plants assuming our lovely plant selling lady is there.  She was there last Saturday and, it being the first one of the month, there was also stands selling handbags and shoes!  I put on my blinkers and headed over to buy plants, as time was short.  I needed to get back and write another chapter, which was burning inside my brain.  So we got the C’s and P’s and I managed to plant the former when we got home, before dashing upstairs to my keyboard.  Come the evening, it was all so worthwhile, enjoying a wine or three and the splash of colour in the freshly planted pots.

Back at my keyboard, I was agonising over one of the evil characters in my current novel, ‘The Bolivian Connection.’  Sapphire is an Italian hired assassin and I felt I had made her too horrible in the scene I had just written.  She came across as a pathological killer, however, it did not feel right.  So I finally changed the murderous act to be something she regretted, but deemed necessary.  Now I am happy and am able to forge on without doubts!

2014-09-21 19.17.08

The last orange of the season. Photo J Finnigan

Returning to our garden, the man has been tidying and trimming, and the air is heady with the smell of grass and hedge cuttings.  I just love that.  We have two terraces and tend to enjoy our evening aperitivo on the upper one, with distant views between  Barberino Val D’Elsa and San Gimignano.  Yesterday I sliced into our last orange of the season for our aperitivo, however, thankfully the trees are already heavy with new green ones.

2014-09-18 19.38.01

A bottle of Chianti to warm the cooler evenings. Photo P Finnigan

Later in the evening, we enjoyed a bottle of Claudio Corbenelli’s delicious Chianti.  We can actually see his farmhouse across the valley from here.  The evenings are cooler now, but as long as the wind stays light, it’s still plenty warm enough to sit outside.  Also, there has been a bright moon over the last few days, all very beautiful.

There has been a rash of American tourists here over the last two weeks.  I don’t say rash unkindly, we have met some very nice ones.  We have an American friend who owns a property nearby and we met some friends of his who were staying at his house while he was away.  They were hugely enthusiastic about being in Tuscany and we were able to give them some pointers.  If you guys are reading this, we hope you have a great holiday and we recommend you to pop into the Alimentare/bar in Fiano for a coffee, fresh bread and groceries.  I also managed to slip a few of my author cards their way!  We met them at C’era una Volta,’ one of our regular restaurant haunts and it has proved quite a good hunting ground for potential readers of Romantic Thrillers!

The Italian James Bond

The Italian James Bond

On that same subject, I wonder if Silvio Berlusconi has read ‘My Father, The Assassin’, my current published novel?  Theres a hint of mafioso links in the book.  Does he find time to read?  Probably yes, he has so much more time on his hands these days.  There seems to be very little going on news wise, so I have just downloaded ‘Silvio Berlusconi – A Biography’.  I know, don’t say anything…..  Did you know he was a former film star and singer?  Well apparently he made two films, ‘Mediterraneo’ and ‘Volere Volare.’  Watch this space.

Well back to the day job and some more writing this evening.  Thank god for the local wine.

Have a great week.

Salute June xx

ps visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/junefinnigan/author




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Ciao to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

The Common Cuckoo

The Common Cuckoo Photo Wikimedia

On the  first day of April, and right on cue, we heard the first Cuckoo of the year.  Then, on the way back from coffee a swallow swooped over us and out across the valley.  So we are now certain that spring has arrived.    Later, I was delighted to see two wood pigeons building a nest in one of the fir trees surrounding the villa.  I just love that sound; doo-do0 doo doo-doo, doo-doo doo doo-doo.  I rushed into the kitchen and found my man, “We are going to have babies!” I announced.  “I bloody well hope not, not at our age…! He groaned.  “No, no, baby wood pigeons silly!”  “Oh, of course, how did I not guess the first time, baby wood pigeons…” he sighed.

The stunning Copper Carnival, one of our new garden plants. Photo j Finnigan

The stunning Copper Carnival, one of our new garden plants.
Photo j Finnigan

Despite the weather warnings from the farmers, we have bought more plants for the garden pots at the market in Certaldo.  Our lovely plant lady popped in some freebies as well, as we are such good customers.  By next weekend we will be very ship-shape and ready to show off the garden in all its potted glory.

Meanwhile, I mentioned to my man that Farty Barty the cat was due for his first jab in April, and he had a swollen front knee.   He is very good at sensing when this is about to happen, will disappear for up to five days, and then come in starving in the evening when the vet is closed.  But this time we managed to fool him and got him off for the jab and some antibiotics on Friday morning!  The

Farty Barty preening after his visit to the vet. Photo J Finnigan

Farty Barty preening after his visit to the vet.
Photo J Finnigan

vet said, oh, but he’s not due for a jab until May.  “You’ve got your Marzo’s and Maggio’s confused again,”  my man groaned on the way home.  “And that swelling is no worse than ones he’s had before and we just got charged 30 euros for the visit!”  Then we went to the farmacia (chemist) for the antibiotics and they cost another 13,50 euros.  Meanwhile, Barty has disappeared without trace.  If you spot a grey tiger cat, who swaggers  like John Wayne, let me know.

Back in our local village of Fiano, Paolo from ‘C’era una Volta restaurant’ waltzed in to the bar (yes he has a funny sort of dancing walk) to buy his bread, looking very bronzatta after ten days lying on a beach somewhere in the Indian Ocean.  We are glad to see him back, as we have taken to having Sunday lunch there of late.  On Wednesday the Sister and Niece returned to England and were disappointed to have found him closed when they were here.

Last week I promised to let you have a snippet from my current novel ‘The Bolivian Connection’, which is in progress.  So, here it is:

Chapter two;  Joanna, our heroine,  is relaxing in her farmhouse garden in Devonshire with a glass of Pinot Grigio and her black Labrador Dippy…..

‘I do not know how long he had been standing there. I sensed him before I saw him. There had been no sound of a car or footsteps on the gravel drive. The air had become very still, just like the lull before a storm. The birds had stopped singing and the gentle breeze had gone. He moved then, reaching inside the gate to untie the string, his face breaking into a crooked smile. Dippy had not moved and neither did I.  My half-brother raised his hand in greeting and started walking slowly across the lawn towards me.  I had no idea who he was.  A youngish man, perhaps in his twenties, smart dark suit, black shirt, and matching tie. Shiny expensive black shoes, black hair greased flat to his head and curling at his neck. His crooked smile revealed a gold tooth and he looked foreign, possibly Spanish.’

Maybe a little tweaking, but hopefully that’s wetted your appetite and it also reminds me that its gone two o’clock and I’ve missed lunch……

So I’m off to have an aperitivo in the little bit of sunshine that is peaking through the heavy clouds.

Have a great week and I’ll update you on the continuing adventures of Silvio B, next time.

Amore June xx

PS Here is the link to my Amazon author page:









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Benvenuto to all my loyal and new followers,

Matteo Renzie on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Matteo Renzie on the cover of Vanity Fair.

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

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

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

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

Eurasian Jay Photo Wikapedia

Eurasian Jay
Photo Wikipedia

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

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

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

Silvio re-launches 'Forza Italia' Photo Reuters

Silvio with his party ‘Forza Italia’
Photo Reuters

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

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

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

Grazie Mille and Salute, June x

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

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Crumbling Cliffs left and our villa top right. Photo P Finnigan

Crumbling Cliffs left and our villa almost hidden in the trees, second from right.
Photo P Finnigan

Driving along the strada bianca this morning, the sun was a russet gold and the light fantastic.  So much so, that my man stopped the car and took some lovely photos of the of the foggy valley and inland cliffs below our villa.  I have mentioned before that we live in an area which is constantly on the move and the crumbling cliffs provide a reminder that within staggering beauty is a landslip always waiting to happen.  The cliffs are full of fossils and ancient seashells, reminding us that these Dolce Colline (sweet hills) were under water during the ice-age.   The steepest parts are largely covered in mixed woodland, so the area is teaming with wildlife.  A young roe deer crossed the track this morning at some considerable speed, so we braked and as anticipated a second one was not far behind.

The much hunted and beautiful Cinghale.

A Tuscan Cinghiale.

A couple of weeks ago our daughter was driving across country and a big old male cinghiale (wild boar) broke cover and dashed across the road.  She expected several more to follow or perhaps hunters’ dogs, but no, the frightened animal was being chased by a cock pheasant!  Don’t you just wish you had a camera at a time like this?

Back in Laura’s bar/alimentari in Fiano,  the ever popular Sig Rotund enjoys a shoulder and neck massage provided by a number of passing local ladies, whilst reading his paper.    My man has recently been acting very stiff shouldered to see if he can get the same attention, but no luck so far!  Sig Rotund has provided the Christmas Raffle this year which, unfortunately,  consists of some rather gaudy silver plate things.  The thing is, do we buy a ticket and ask to have the prize put back if we win, not buy a ticket or buy a ticket and try to lose the prize somewhere?  What do you think?  Oh, dio….  Here in Tuscany the festive season is taken very seriously and Christmas Markets are everywhere.  Germany is said to have the best European Christmas Markets and, would you believe it,  Florence is actually hosting a ‘German’ Christmas Market right now!

And now something completely different.  If you live in Italy, well certainly in Tuscany, finding an idraulica (plumber) who a) actually arrives, b) can do any plumbing job and is not restricted to one specialist area, and c) does not take all day to do a few little jobs, is almost impossible.  Well, we popped into Bar Italia in Certaldo the other day and discovered that Fabiola, who works behind the bar, is married to just the man we have been searching for!  The amazing Salvatore arrived the next day and did everything in less than three hours, then rushed off and said he would leave his bill in the bar at sometime in the future!  We now have flushing loos and taps that no longer drip, so we are all ready for the festive visitors!

OLive trees overlooking thefog filled valleys. Photo P Finnigan

Olive trees overlooking the fog filled valleys.
Photo P Finnigan

Back at the villa, despite the freezing air temperature, we have been able to sit outside in hot sunshine at around 1pm on most days this last week.  The magic thing about southern Europe is the fact that the sun, when it comes out, is still hot in winter.  So if you take your folding chair, even on a frosty day, get out of the wind and have direct sunlight on your face, you can soak up that much-needed vitamin D and enjoy a pre-lunch aperitivo at the same time!

And so to the Peter Pan of politics.  How is the gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi doing?  The New York Times provided a very amusing article last week.  Quote, “SB cares about his friends as long as they do what he says.  He talks fondly about his late Mama and adores his kids, in fact he loves family so much, he has had three already!  Hang in there SB, the girlies still love you!

Well, as it’s a lovely sunny day, we are off to Montespertoli for an aperitivo in the main piazza, then a bit of lunch.

Have a great week and don’t forget to check out ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan on http://www.Amazon.co.uk (.com or .eu) or http://www.firstchapters.net for your Christmas reading and/or presents.  If you would like my autograph, I can send you a very nice sticky label to go in your book.  Email June.finnigan@virgin.net with your details.

Amore June xx

PS We have just bought a nice bunch of mistletoe, so may be a little preoccupied for a while….

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Well, September is here and it is a little cooler.  However the light is really fantastic and I recommend all you artists to grab your easels and head for these hills.  The sun is now lower in the sky revealing valleys and cliffs that you don’t see at the height of summer.  We were reminded just how beautiful this area is when we had two English friends to a five-hour lunch on Saturday.  This was their first visit to the Chianti countryside and they were awe-struck.  What with the view, the light, the Chianti, the Vin Santo, my cooking (it was OK for once) the background rock music and the laughter, it was a perfect day!

Our first Pomegranate or Melagrana Photo P Finnigan

Our first Pomegranate or Melagrana
Photo P Finnigan

The garden remains a huge source of pleasure and I’m delighted to tell you that we have pomegranates!  I know, I hear you say, what’s so exciting about that?  Well, my man rescued this little tree that was stuck inside a big laurel bush last year and we had no idea what it was.  Then a week ago, the first fruits started to appear!  Well, we think it’s exciting.  We also have other flowering plants to brighten the late summer garden,

Flowering Hibiscus photo P Finnigan

Flowering Hibiscus
photo P Finnigan

including Hibiscus and Plumbago.    The darker mornings mean that my man is not up so early to water the garden, now in some ways he’s disappointed, however, we must move with the seasons, don’t you think.  ” There’s no point in getting up at seven-thirty (first light) because there’s no time to garden before we go out for coffee, ”  he moaned.  So he’s been forced to stay in bed and play with his smartphone instead.   He’s really looking forward to pruning the fruit trees which will happen after the olive harvest in October.  In the meantime, every other conversation includes “can you think of anything that needs doing in the garden?”  The fact is he’s done such a good job of readying things for Autumn, that it’s hard to find things to do!

Cascading Blue Plumbago Photo J Finnigan

Cascading Blue Plumbago
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back in Fiano our local village, everything is hunky dory again.  Smiling readers hog the newspapers and chat about the start of the shooting season.  I won’t deny that I am very anti-hunting, especially when the shooters park on the edge of our olive grove and set off a volley of shots at seven-thirty on Sunday morning!  The hunters still have the right to roam here and fencing one’s property is very restricted.  So fencing is done surreptitiously and not concreted in (temporary so to speak), in case the vigilante police tell you to take them down.  But I have a secret cunning plan…..!

In the coffee bar/alimentari Signore Rotund is blissfully happy, he has his sporting pages and the local ladies are queuing up to give his broad back a scratch and massage.  This morning at coffee, he is sitting in his regular chair getting his shoulders massaged by one lady whilst chatting up another one, eating his pastry and drinking coffee at the same time!  It’s a funny thing, it all seems quite normal in Fiano.

The man shivering in hat and fleece

The man shivering in hat and fleece
photo J Finnigan

I am loving the slightly cooler evenings, however, my man has donned his Australian bush hat and fleece jacket and sits holding his aperitivo, like it’s a block of ice!  ‘It’s cold, it’s winter!” he moans. “But look at the beautiful sky” I say “and the lights are starting to twinkle across the valley!”

Sunday was our traditional visit to Montespertoli and I may not have told you that  Mr Bean’s twin sister, Miss Bean, is alive and well and runs a certain shop in the main piazza.  The man calls her Miss Hasbean, but then it’s more likely to be Miss Neverhasbean.  This may sound a little mean (ha, rhymes with bean), however, it cannot be denied that she must be related to Rowan Atkinson.  Despite this, she is a very nice lady and so is her mother Mrs Bean.  The father has a close resemblance to Wilfred Bramble!  I’ll stop there….

Silvio gets emotional in Rome. Photo Reuters, Alessandro Bianchi.

Silvio gets emotional in Rome.
Photo Reuters, Alessandro Bianchi.

So what has the gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi been up to?  Well, it’s a relief to know that a certain amount of verbal blackmail has come back into the proceedings.  Senior aides to Silvio say he may pull his ministers out of government if he is ousted.  Now, in case you are not aware, SB’s supporters prop up Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s Democratic party in a coalition.   On the 9th September, the Italian Senate Committee began discussions on whether SB should go or be allowed to stay.  Silvio’s aides say that the law to suspend anyone from parliament when convicted for tax fraud, came in last January, which was after SB ‘committed’ the crime!  Don’t you just love it?  An Australian friend, he knows who he is, says they would love to have a character like Silvio in Australian Government as it would make things much less boring.

Well, enough of that and as it is now Monday morning I must get this blog off to you and do some work!  On the other hand, the sun is now shining……..

Amore June x

PS Don’t forget to share this with your friends and visit http://www.firstchapters.net for your Autumn reading.  I am still recommending ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan.

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This morning I look down from our hilltop to a frozen landscape of valleys filled with freezing fog that look just like lakes.  A different kind of beauty and a little awe inspiring.  Image

My man set out at seven o’clock this morning to collect the grandson and son-in-law on the way to Siena.  There they will pick up the coach to take them to Roma to watch Italy beat Wales at rugby.  I hope I’m right about it being Wales!  Last Saturday my man drove across to our wine supplier across the valley below us.  There Claudio fills our empty bottles and my man puts in the corks with a special punching machine.  It’s a nice man thing, and he comes back feeling rather pleased with himself.  The Chianti is delicious and organic as it has not yet gone through the processing bit.  Mmmm, I fancy a glass now but it is only 9am, so I will wait a bit!  Claudio exports his wine world wide and you should visit his website at http://www.corbinelli.it.

I am currently playing very loud rock music as I have finalized the repertoire for my next concert in June.  It’s good to brainwash myself with the same music (25 tracks) whilst I am writing.  If you did not get an invite last year and would like to come this year, send me your email address!

Back at the local cafe bar; I no longer have to carry my own coffee to my table because I am a famous author.  No, no Juni they say, (Italians cannot say June) we will bring your espresso fix over.  The Italian for June is Giugno.  Now the Italians find this a little odd because it is masculine and I have to explain that June in Inglese (English) is feminine.

Well, I must crack on with ‘The Bolivian Connection’ which is the follow on novel to ‘My Father, The Assassin’.  My heroine, Joanna, is currently organising herself for a trip to Bolivia for the reading of her deceased father’s will.  Now I know what’s ahead of her, but she doesn’t.  It will be yet another thrilling adventure and I will be with her all the way!

Not read ‘My Father, The Assassin’ yet? Go to


Have a good week and see you next Saturday, Salute June xx

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