NOW AVAILABLE: Italy is My Boyfriend

Copy of Confetti Annette (1) 71eEt76QB3L I am thrilled to announce my memoir, Italy is My Boyfriend, is finally here! I am so excited to share my adventures in Italy with you.

To celebrate, I am hosting a giveaway on my Instagram page. The winner will receive all three of my books, signed. Head over to my Instagram feed to enter!

Frances Mayes, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, will be joining me on my Instagram Live, Thursday May 28th at noon. We will be discussing her latest book, Always Italy, as well as my book, Italy is My Boyfriend. I cannot wait to chat all things Italy with Frances! Grab your lunch and join us on Thursday.

Additionally, plan to join me and editor in chief of Atlanta Magazine, Betsy Riley for a virtual talk in partnership with the Atlanta History Center on June 18, 2020 at 7 PM. Find more information here. 

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AJS Team in Quarantine:: Barbara Pederzini

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Ciao a tutti,
This is Barbara, Annette’s friend and Italian member of her team, and I live in Modena, Italy. The global pandemic that hit us a few months ago shook up my plans for spring, and Annette thought it would be interesting for you to read how I dealt with what happened.

When I’m not collaborating with Annette on one of her projects, I am a freelance marketing consultant and a stylist. The first big impact Covid-19 had on my life was that all the events I had lined up for the season were either canceled or pushed to the end of the year. Meanwhile, my beloved home (that had housed my office for the past eleven years) had to be repurposed to accommodate working space for my husband Max (who’s a product manager for an international corporation) as well as homeschooling space for both my children, aged 15 and 9.

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Here’s how I organized our space (a medium-sized flat of around 1560 square feet) and our days to weather out the pandemic:

Everyone got their own ‘work’ space, complete with device and closing door.
This was my number one priority. The week Italy went in full lockdown (on March 8), we brainstormed what we needed to change to achieve this; we moved around some furniture, repurposed a few props I had stored in our garage (since Ikea shipments were delayed until the end of April), and we managed to create work stations for everybody in different rooms. This way, we can all have conference calls, classes, or Intercontinental aperitivo without disturbing or being disturbed. Having well-defined working areas has also helped with keeping healthy boundaries. My husband and I “go into work” and “come back home” at designated times, and I reckon this has been a great way to reduce overwhelm at a time when work is often frantic to make up for the long-distance mode.

We got to work on our home improvement list.
Before Coronavirus hit, I had a long list of home projects I wanted to tackle—some organization ones and a few adjustments that required Max’s technical expertise. We usually have a hectic life, as we both travel for work, and we frequently visit family in another region, so the projects had piled up over the years. Tackling them one at a time, making clever use of what we already have (since shopping opportunities are limited), has been a great way to take our minds off things we can’t control while allowing to make the space we live more functional and purposeful. Plus, ticking the projects off the list enables us to feel productive even on days when it seems we are aimlessly wandering around.

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We wrote down routines, meal plans, and chore lists for everybody.
Lockdown means no cleaning lady, no restaurant meals, double the meals we eat at home and double the mess and dirt. Drafting a routine for everybody, allowing time for cooking, cleanup, and laundry, might seem like a control-freak approach to a shake-up. On the other hand, doing it with common sense allowed us to have guidelines to follow when we felt lost while empowering everyone in the family to do something for the others. Make no mistake, we NEVER follow routines and chore lists to a T. We are a very imperfect bunch. But having that mainframe in place has inspired us to do better, and it has helped us feel more in control of the situation.

I lowered the bar.
As I said, we were never perfect in the first place. But pretty soon after we started sheltering in place, I realized we couldn’t expect too much from ourselves. At this time, concentration is shot, moods swing wildly, and I think we have a stronger need to feel comforted. So there are days when the kids are allowed limitless screen time, others when we splurge on delivery from our favorite ice cream place, others when I take a day off, and binge read a book I love. It would be putting unnecessary (and way too much) pressure on ourselves to expect to perform at our best at these extraordinary times.

The truth is we were very lucky; as far as we know, nobody in our family was infected by the virus. Last Monday, Italy inaugurated phase two of the pandemic, so businesses that had closed will gradually reopen, and the real new normal will take shape. Restaurants will reduce their seats to allow for a safe distance between patrons; shops will implement queues and booking times to protect shoppers; sanitization procedures will be compulsory for all businesses. So far, people seem to be acting responsibly, and we are hopeful we will be able to keep the curve under control (if not flat) until a vaccine has been developed. To be honest, in our family, we haven’t gone outside much so far, aside from finally resuming exercise (Max is a runner and a cyclist) and longer walks. We are still working from home, and we will be for the rest of May, at least. If people can keep adhering to distancing, mask-wearing, and hands washing, I reckon most of Italy will have reopened by June. That should give us time to learn new routines and new ways of socializing while relieving the stress on our economy and our hospitals at the same time. It is not over, but I think we are better equipped to deal with it now. Also, I like to think this was a wake-up call to all of us to craft more sustainable ways of life.

Best,
Barbara

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Focaccia La Fortezza Instagram Live Cooking Lesson

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Ciao Everyone!  We had a big demand to do a La Fortezza Virtual cooking lesson on focaccia, so we are answering your wishes! Join Chef Philip and me on my IG Live Wednesday at 5 pm EST. Below is the recipe we will be preparing.

We will be making the authentic Liguria-style focaccia. We will tell you all about the focaccia that you will find all up and down the Italian Riviera, and we’ll show you how to make it yourself. I hope to see you on the ‘gram!

Focaccia
Serves 4

You will need:
– 4 cups double zero flour (super fine flour) flour for kneading if needed.
– 1 package dry yeast
– 1/3 cup warm water
– 1 cup water
– ½ cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon for the cookie sheet + 3 tablespoons for finishing before baking, 1 tablespoon to finish after baking
– 1 tablespoon coarse salt + 1 teaspoon for finishing

To prepare:

Place the yeast in a small bowl with 1/3 cups water and let proof in a large bowl allow to bloom for 5 minutes. Place flour and oil and salt and water, combine until it forms a sticky dough, it should be very sticky. Flour your surface and turn the dough onto floured surface. knead gently for a minute until dough forms a soft dough.

On an oiled cookie sheet with a lip, spread the dough out to fit the cookie sheet. With your index fingers poke dimples into the top of the dough you may need to oil your fingers a bit to do this.

Let rest for 1 hour, then repeat by poking dimples into the risen dough, and let rest for 30 minutes.

Before placing in the oven, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse salt.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil immediately and cool and eat warm or at room temperature. The key is to let the oil soak in as the focaccia cools.

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Workshop updates + a peek at my next project

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Ciao Everyone,
As many of us are in our homes sheltering, we are slowly seeing things improve all over the world. In Italy, hopeful signs appear every passing day as things are very slowly starting to open, and people are starting to adjust to the new normal.

Today, I am sharing a few updates of my own. Below, you’ll learn the latest with our workshop schedule, more about my book launch and a few happy news items I am delighted to share with you.

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Workshop Update:
I have been in communication with all of our instructors and my friends overseas. They are hopeful that come fall, we will be able to meet again. I am optimistic that we will be able to return to Italy early September and conduct workshops with small groups on our compound in the Italian countryside. We will see and make decisions as we go. As always, I’ll update you here and on Instagram.

Join me:
In the meantime, as you know, I am conducting La Fortezza cooking classes every couple of weeks with our La Fortezza workshop chef, Chef Philip. Most recently, we have been making handmade pasta and focaccia! You can find the homemade pasta recipe here. Check my Instagram for announcements, and always right here on the blog for recipes we have prepared as well as instructions and shopping lists.

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New Book:
As always, there are some very wonderful things happening in our La Fortezza world. Italy is My Boyfriend, my memoir, will be released this month May 26th. I am hoping that you have already ordered your copy and will be enjoying the tale of how we came to renovate and own a 12th-century fortress in the Italian countryside. Trust me, it is quite an adventure. ORDER your copy here.

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Book Launch
As with my past books, I will be doing a book launch for this exciting title. The launch will happen on June 18th at the Atlanta History Center with Betsy Riley, editor and chief of Atlanta Magazine. She will be interviewing me—live or virtually—it is yet to be determined.

Next project:
I am working on my next book, a La Fortezza Cookbook. I feel blessed to work on this project while at home waiting for all of this to pass.

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Big News:
La Fortezza is featured in the May Issue of Elle Décor magazine. It is an issue devoted to Italy giving you a complete virtual vacation. It is on newsstands now. Check out the online feature here.

I am also excited to say that we were featured in Quin in partnership with Lacanche. See the beautiful photos and full spread here.

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Finally, I recently collaborated with Frontgate for an Italian Riviera photoshoot featuring their Italian-inspired summer collection. See the spread and read my interview here.

Again, please stay safe and stay well. We hope to welcome you to Italy in the future.
It will be okay.

xx Annette

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Update on La Fortezza, Tuscany Italy

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I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how we’ve been doing at La Fortezza during these challenging times.

As some of you might know, I was in Italy March 1-7th working on my next cookbook, the La Fortezza Cookbook, (Rizzoli,NY)  fall- 2021. I had all intentions of staying until March 23rd, but COVID-19 had other plans for all of us. After talking to with family, I made the difficult decision to postpone the shoot and head back to the US. I self-quarantined for 14 days, and I am happy to report at this time, I am healthy. We are continuing to stay home. My husband, Frank, a doctor, is starting to televisit with patients, and it’s working well.

We continue to communicate with the staff in Italy. They check on our property, and they work on the property following the work and lockdown guidelines when possible. Last week, our vintner worked in our vineyard. Our gardener is preparing our garden to plant. We continue slowed down progress on the swimming pool. Everything should amp-up towards the end of April and in May as people are able to work outside and leave the lockdown in Italy. We continue to pay our staff and help them however we can in these challenging times in Italy. The good news is that our staff is well and healthy, and our friends like us are doing the best they can during the lockdown. I text or talk to everyone at least once a week. We can only hope that the cases in Italy continue to decline.

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Workshop Updates:

We have made the decision to cancel the “How to Publish Your Cookbook” workshop in June. We will also postpone the “Mark Making with Nature” until late August

All of our fall workshops remain the same as we believe that most of this will pass by late spring or early summer, and we continue to stay optimistic. As of this moment, we intend to conduct all of our fall La Fortezza workshops and experiences. We are hopeful that this will pass, and slowly, we will be back to the new normal. Just know that we always have the best interest of our instructors and attendees in mind, and if anything changes, we will let you know.

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New Cancellation Policy:  

Our current policy is on our website. It states no refunds on deposits. However, because of these unprecedented circumstances, we have decided to issue credits to all attendees that decide to pass on fall 2020. This credit can be redeemed at any time and for any future workshop. You may also transfer or sell your spot if you wish. We will honor your credit however you choose to redeem it.

Once again, we feel strongly that we will be able to conduct fall La Fortezza workshops, and we are confident because of our remote location and secluded compound, everyone will feel safe.

We think that La Fortezza (a medieval fortress) has seen many rough times, some worse than this, most likely. We wholeheartedly feel one thing is for sure: Italians (and all of us) are resilient, and we will get through this and again enjoy aperitivo on the terrace at La Fortezza.

In the meantime: Our La Fortezza workshop Chef Philip and I will be doing some online cooking lessons on Instagram stories. So keep an eye out for that! It will be a fun thing until you can all join us in Italy and cook with us in person. I know that Betty Soldi has been doing some online art courses as well.

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Just know that we are eager to see you in Italy and have faith that this will happen soon. Please email me with any questions annettejoseph@mac.com. Keep the faith, stay home, and stay well.

xx, Annette

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