Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2018

Gift guides are always one of my favorite posts to write, but this one for Mother’s Day might be the most fun. I had a blast rounding-up items that not only I would enjoy receiving, but I thought you might like to receive as well. Dads and kids, use this list as a guide for choosing the perfect gifts for the moms in your life. Moms, feel free to pass this post along to anyone you think could use a little push.

This year’s guide includes everything from books to chic summer accessories. Some of the items would even pair nicely together for one amazing Mother’s Day gift. Let me know what items are on your wish list in the comments. Who knows? Maybe I need what you want!

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Onyx Magnetic Mask: I use this, and it’s amazing.

Gucci Belt Bag: Talk about a fanny-pack improvement.

Hermes Cleansing Gel

Gucci Sunglasses

Hermes Silk Scarf: I’ve been eying this for months!

Anthro Passport Holder

Zara Straw Bag

Beaded Keychain: Pair this with the bag above for a fun present

Italian Workshop Gift Card: I think mom would love to join us in Italy, don’t you?

Cocktail Italiano

Smith & Cult Nail Polish

xx Annette

 

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Dispatch from the Parma Antique Fair

I have always wanted to attend the Parma Antique Fair because I have bought many things from the fair thanks to my pickers in Italy. Since we have been working on La Fortezza, I have woken up on Saturdays to tons of pics and choices sent to me by my designer Forrest and his partner Roberto from the Parma Fair. They both have an amazing eye. I am blessed to have them in my world, and the objects they have found for me over the past 2 years are astounding. This year I wanted to go along and see what all the fuss was about.

Well…I can tell you that the fair was dizzying. I have been to lots of fairs and antiques shows, like Round Top in Texas and Isle sur la Sorgue, but nothing compares to the beauty and the perfection in selection at Parma; it is like nothing I have every seen. There is row after row of Italian treasures. I was gob-smacked. No words could describe the sheer quantity and quality on sale. Mind you, we attended at the end of the show, but there were still gobs of beautiful objects everywhere. We waited until the end of show on purpose, too. Since I was shopping for basics, I felt that I could miss the crowds and leisurely take advantage of end of show pricing.

With Forrest by my side, we flew up and down the aisles with laser beam focus. I picked up a large dining room table and classic Italian wood chairs for the commercial kitchen as we plan to eat some meals in the commercial kitchen, mostly in the fall and winter if it’s too cold outside. The table will also serve as a beautiful surface for cooking, foodstyling lessons, and photography. The student lounge, located next to the commercial kitchen, now has some wonderful leather club chairs – all worn in, soft and comfy. The club chairs were in the most elegant booth manned by a most elegant vendor. She gave us a great deal, and we bought the last matching set. The guest quarters has a really cool rustic table for the entry, plus I found some wonderful wire chairs and a table for folks to hang out on while enjoying an espresso of a glass of wine with a few nibbles in the guest kitchenette.

We loaded all our finds into the old Range Rover. It’s incredibly roomy, but even I was surprised how much fit into the back, and we headed back home just in time for Aperitivo. It was a super successful trip – efficient and inspiring, just the way I like it. If you’re thinking about attending the Parma Antiques Fair, I highly recommend it. I would definitely schedule at least 2 to 3 days since there is so much to see. Plus Parma is such a wonderful place to visit.

Make sure you check in with the blog over the next months as we will be outfitting the rooms with all of our finds starting in May. I can’t wait to share the end results with you as we get ready for our summer of workshops and retreats.

xx Annette

 

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The Marrakech Express

Last weekend my friend Oma and I decided to take a quick trip to Marrakech. Since it is a quick flight from Italy, it is a rather easy weekend excursion.

We stayed at a charming Riad, and once we figured out how to get back to the place, we were golden. It is quite hard to find your way around the center of town, even if you’ve been there a bunch of times like I have. One incredible discovery was a map app that literally saved us a couple times called maps.me.

The maps.me app, once downloaded works offline. If you’ve every been terribly lost in another country, this is a MUST.

The food in Marrakech is delicious and fresh. Some of my favorite places include Le Jardin, Nomad, and Terrasse des esepices  , but make sure you make reservations, this is very easy to do online. Note: Don’t miss Norya ayroN at the top of the stairs at Le Jardin for one of a kind Moraccan style kaftans and tunics.

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We had a great time shopping for rugs and furnishings for our guest quarters. One of my big finds this trip was the most glorious rug vendor Bazar Du Sud, introduced to me by our guide Monica. I highly recommend that you hire a shopping guide. If you are interested in hiring my guide, just contact me through my site and I will connect you to Monica. I had a few places in mind for my shopping excursion, however our guide Monica had some new places on the schedule as well. I love shopping at Mastupha Blaoui, and if you have not been, GO! I found all sorts of great pieces for the guest quarters.

Warning: Leave plenty of time in your schedule as this place is enormous and chocked to the brim with amazing rugs, furnishings and home accessories. One amazing place we went, although it was not Moroccan and is owned by a Belgian woman, is called Magasin General. It is in an industrial part of town and is styled perfectly with treasures from all over Europe with a focus on Belgium. The owner is charming and full of helpful information; not to be missed. It is swoon worthy for sure.

All in all, our Morccan adventure was successful, and I managed to snag a few treasures for La Fortezza. I hope you will come visit sometime and stay with us in our newly appointed rooms.

Check out my instagram feed for more photos of our weekend trip to Marrakesh…Ciao for now

xx Annette

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Workshops: Summer 2018 Updates

I cannot believe that we’re just a few months away from embarking on our second summer of workshops at La Fortezza. If you follow along on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that we’re in the thick of renovating our guest quarters. They will hopefully be done soon, just in time for our guests.

If you’re considering coming to Italy this summer, we’d love to have you. There isn’t anything like summer in Italy. While I might be partial, I can assure you that you’ll agree with me. Our location is just a short drive from just about anything you could possibly want: beaches, historic towns, mountains, quaint spots – it’s all at your fingertips.

We have just a few spots left in several of our workshops. While some of our events have already sold out, we do have a few spaces left (and a few surprises, too!) in the following workshops:

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My June 6 – 11, 2018 Strictly Styling Workshop will be the traditional styling workshop we’ve offered over the years and will feature two AWESOME guest instructors and stylists that you are going to love: Joanna Hawley & Eliza Honey.

Joanna Hawley is a Seattle-based blogger, stylist, and digital influencer. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in Industrial Design, she worked as a product designer and trend scout for Nordstrom and Anthropologie before turning her keen eye to the online space. Her talent for curation has earned her a Pinterest following that totals 3.8 million, and her frank, funny, and fashion-forward approach to content creation has made her site jojotastic.com a go-to resource for modern yet casual lifestyle inspiration. When she’s not documenting her renovation misadventures, she’s mostly likely sailing the Puget Sound with her wiener dog companions.

An ex-editor at goop (yes, that goop!) and at Elle Decoration UK, Eliza Honey has made the fulfilling switch to floristry at the legendary Harper & Tom’s in London.  Her focus is on arrangements and installations with a wild, naturalistic and joyful feel.

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We also have a few spots left in our Figurative Photography workshop with renowned photographer, Harriet Leibowitz. We will provide the experience, the models, the location, the instruction and the motivation to make memorable and magnificent images.  With our experienced male and female figurative models, you will have the opportunity to create beautiful and unique work involving the human body.

We’ve been working to create the most amazing experiences imaginable. Our location at La Fortezza in Tuscany offers breathtaking vistas and intimate interiors. Every detail has been created with photo shoots in mind. There will be technical instruction to maximize our creative vision. We will dine on chef created organic food from the garden, drink wine from the vineyards and indulge in all that Italy offers.

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Finally, join me along with premiere Southern wedding and event professionals, Master Florist/Event Designer, Kim Cheney, and Luxury Fine Art Wedding Photographer, Donna Von Bruening at our Tuscan Wedding Workshop. Our exclusive instructors to share their knowledge and insight on storytelling, creating and documenting the perfect celebration or wedding.

This intimate workshop is for creative minds seeking inspiration, world travelers looking for a new experience abroad and wedding and event professionals looking to broaden their palette and build their portfolio. You will enjoy hands-on experience mixed with lively lectures and one-on-one instruction throughout the week. Expand your visual language and hone your artistic voice to tell stories that arouse emotion whether you are setting a table for your own special guests or seeking to enhance your professional portfolio.  For inspiration and fun, you will scour super-secret Italian flea markets for special props, enjoy Italian dinners al fresco while mingling with creative and industry professionals. It’s truly a creative retreat – a picturesque place to recharge and refresh.

We truly have a workshop for everyone this summer. Come along and experience Italy in a creative, life-changing way. We’d love to have you!

xx Annette

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My Life in Photos, September

It’s hard to believe that earlier this week, I wrapped-up an incredible summer in Italy. My first at La Fortezza, it was unforgettable in so many ways.

September was nearly as busy as the rest of the summer, but I found a little more time for relaxing with friends and visitors while exploring the region on my own or with Frank. I arrived back in the States on Monday and have been recovering from jet lag which is a very very real thing.

In the spirit of reminiscing, I wanted to look back at my photos throughout September. For those of you who follow along, this will be a trip through September’s memory lane. For those of you who don’t, enjoy these photos from my last summer month in Italy.

We’ve got some exciting things up our sleeves for October…including opening next summer’s workshops. Join my mailing list to get first dibs. In the meantime, a few inspirational photos to get you in the mood to come along.

Just another magic Monday.

Just another magic Monday.

Gorgeous birthday bouquet thanks to my rose garden and Forrest Spears for the sunflowers.

Gorgeous birthday bouquet thanks to my rose garden and Forrest Spears for the sunflowers.

Today was a good day! This is the first harvest since we've owned the house. I'm so excited!

Today was a good day! This is the first harvest since we’ve owned the house. I’m so excited!

Next to last weekend here. Fall is definitely making an appearance, too. What an incredible indescribable summer it has been!

Next to last weekend here. Fall is definitely making an appearance, too. What an incredible indescribable summer it has been!

Did I mention that I'm having a love affair with bistecca? Full disclosure: we always have it for our farewell dinner for our workshops...well because I love it, and it's Tuscany after all...and of course it goes great with our red wine!

Did I mention that I’m having a love affair with bistecca? Full disclosure: we always have it for our farewell dinner for our workshops…well because I love it, and it’s Tuscany after all…and of course it goes great with our red wine!

Parma is pretty! I've spent so much time in Parma this year! It's my new city in our new location. As I count down to summer's end, I will be reminiscing about the summer here...

Parma is pretty! I’ve spent so much time in Parma this year! It’s my new city in our new location. As I count down to summer’s end, I will be reminiscing about the summer here…

Afternoon light...I'm really going to miss this place.

Afternoon light…I’m really going to miss this place.

 

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