2018 The year in highlights!

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Wow what a year 2018 has been! It marked the conclusion of the Italian renovation of La Fortezza which was a milestone indeed.

Our second season of the La Fortezza workshops were a huge success. We had the opportunity to delve into our region in Italy more deeply, and we welcomed 40 guests this year.

We also welcomed our new chef, Chef Philip Meeker, to our workshops. We cooked in the kitchen with Angie Moser, preserved, jarred and canned and cooked with Domenica Marchetti and enjoyed showing James Beard Award winning Chef Rebecca Wilcomb our region. We introduced Rebecca, Angie and Philip to some local slow food artisans and purveyors. We harvested our vineyard and pressed olive oil at the local press with students in tow. We seasoned our new pizza oven and cooked with all the local products with locals. We ate every single thing out of our kitchen garden. We hunted truffles and sampled our wine (non stop) it was amazing.

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Testaroli tasting

Testaroli tasting

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Truffle huntiing followed by a 4 course truffle lunch, left us stuffed and sleepy.

Truffle huntiing followed by a 4 course truffle lunch, left us stuffed and sleepy.

We had Steve McKenzie paint with our guests. Lucky for us, he will be returning in 2019 to stay for a month and paint a collection that will conclude in our first ever Art Exhibition at La Fortezza.

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It was a rewarding year, and with rewards naturally come some challenges. After all renovating a 12th century fortress in the Italian countryside can be bit daunting, but if you know me, you know I love a challenge. It’s great fodder for my next book, my third book, Italy is my Boyfriend.

Speaking of books, this was the year my passion project, Cocktail Italiano, was published in April. I was overwhelmed by the support and how much everyone loves the book. We’ve put it up for a Book Award, so keep your fingers crossed, and I will most definitely let you know if it wins. To all of you who came out to various book signings, know I loved meeting all of you, chatting about my favorite subject, Italy, and hearing all of your travels and impressions of my adopted country.

Me with Penny Randolph who illustrated my map

Me with Penny Randolph who illustrated my map

Me mixing up a Campari Shakerato from my book

Me mixing up a Campari Shakerato from my book

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Here’s to hoping that 2019 will be filled with new adventures, and new friends. I look forward to meeting all of you at our workshops, and of course, I am excited to send my 3rd book off to the publishers in the spring.

Happy and healthy new year to everyone, and big grazie to all that made 2018 a perfect year. Cheers to La Fortezza and many dinners and drinks on the terrace with all those we love.

xx Annette

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A home tour of our Artist in residence Steve McKenzie

Ciao tutti! I wanted to share the beautiful Atlanta home tour of our La Fortezza Workshop Artist in Residence Steve McKenzie and his lovely wife, Jill. Steve will be with us for a month in July, working on a very special abstract collection inspired by our region Lunigiana. Check out the Artist in Residence Program here.

We are so thrilled to have him.

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The winter issue of Atlanta Magazine’s Home features his abode. It’s so personal well designed and comfortable. Pick up a copy on newsstands now. Make sure to book your days to study with Steve in July here.

See you in Italy! Steve and I are excited.

xx Annette

 

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Atlanta Magazine’s Home, Holiday Entertaining with Hudson|Grace 2018

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As you all know, I take great pleasure in my role working for Atlanta Magazine’s Home as the entertaining editor. This creative endeavor is always filled with great food, fun hosts and interesting guests, but mainly it gives me the opportunity to shine a light on folks I love in Atlanta and places that are worth paying a visit.

I try very hard to pick hosts that have a point of view on entertaining, food cocktails or a particular expertise at throwing parties. The holiday entertaining feature is one of my favorites to produce since it celebrates the period from Thanksgiving to the New Year. This year our hosts were the co-founders of one of the best of the best specialty stores in Atlanta on the Westside, Hudson | Grace.

The store is located at Westside Provisions and has everything from great hostess gifts to all the accessories you would need to host the perfect party. Monelle and her business partner Gary have pitch perfect taste. As you can imagine ,it was a breeze producing this soiree. Have look at the beautiful party we celebrated together in the winter issue. Pick up a copy on newsstands now!

xx Annette

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Easy and Stunning DIY Hanging Wreath

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I first created this easy DIY project a few years ago when I was asked to participate in the Home Depot Holiday Style Challenge, and it’s still one of my favorite projects. I always loved the idea of doing a holiday table under the arbor in our backyard, and this challenge gave me an opportunity to see it through.

Since we usually have mild temperatures for the holidays, consider moving your holiday dinner outdoors. You can recreate this look in your own backyard with just a few supplies, and I promise guests will be super impressed with the finished product: a DIY hanging wreath! It’s easy and really pretty.

DIY Hanging Wreath

You will need:
– 1 6 foot garland
– 3 – 4 ornaments
– Twine for securing the ornaments
– Ribbon for hanging
– Floral wire

To create:

1. Form the garland into a circle.

2. Secure the wreath in 3 places with floral wire.

3. Attach the ornaments with twine.

4. Using 4 pieces of ribbon about 3 feet long, tie the wreath to your light fixture or chandelier. Note: this can be suspended from the ceiling with longer pieces of ribbon or with hooks.

Happy Holidays!

xx Annette

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…leaving Italy 2018

 

2018 has been the year of renovation. We switched into full gear this year, renovating the rest of our fortress. We added a kitchen, a lounge area next to the kitchen, 6 guest rooms, a kitchenette and a new outdoor seating area outside the dependence (the out building that serves as 3 guest rooms).

It was challenging in a way I have never been challenged. That is saying a lot as I have built and renovated many residential and commercial spaces, but this one was a beast. It was challenging but not why you think. Our contractor, project manager and geometra (the architect/engineer, that is required for any construction in Italy) were incredible. The electrician, painter, plumber and marble guy were top notch. Mostly, everyone working on the project was really efficient. However, the mere  scope of the project was daunting. Resurrecting a medieval fortress is not for the faint of heart.

I am happy to say that it’s all behind us. It is finished. We still have many projects ahead, but the idea that the majority of the renovation is history is quite frankly the best feeling in the world.

I loved all the workshops this year. The privates were fulfilling, and everyone who attended this year had a special point of view. I loved doing our wedding shoot; it was fun to imagine a wedding at La Fortezza. Frank and I really had a blast with all of our guests and loved showing everyone our little part of Italy.

La Fortezza guest rooms were a hit with all of our guests, too which was especially rewarding after all of our hard work. Everyone loved all the special touches, and it was really fun hosting everyone. All the aperitivi and all the suppers and discussions around the table were exactly how I imagined it would be. It warms my heart that I made so many new friends and got visit with old friends as well. I hope everyone comes to visit us again. Such precious memories make all the work the past 2 1/2 years so worth it!

Many ask if I am sad to leave Italy. I am sad, but being back in the US with my family and friends is great. I will be back next spring and in the meantime, I am enjoying all the peace of not making renovation decisions every day, but I will miss all the group dinners under the stars and the moon. Until next year…

xx I will miss you Italy. cin cin

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