Phase 2 Our Italian Renovation begins

This summer, I took a mini break for our renovation. Now it's time to rev it up again for phase 2 of our Italian renovation.

9805ad57babd90a52c11c2c107ffcc6f 248626b53b6f56f40eaa596e0db15802

This summer, I took a mini break from our Italian renovation. Now it’s time to rev it up again for phase 2. Sometimes I think it’s a good idea to take some time and think. I know for me that better solutions emerge and more functional ideas come to light. In this case, time has really solidified the functionality of the guest rooms and the commercial kitchen area.

Here are some ideas that showed-up for me. The walls in the commercial kitchen will remain deconstructed concrete and stone. The ceilings are already inlaid with wood and are beautiful. We will have white washed walls and industrial lighting. Of course, our giant stunningly beautiful black Lacanche will be included in the floor plan with plenty of room for prepping and demoing. Side note: I can’t wait to start teaching in our new kitchen.

We will have a student lounge that will double as another guest room. There will be a full pantry and a terrace overlooking the mountain views and the vineyard. We will have a large terrace with a shady pergola for enjoying the mid-day sun. It will overlook the kitchen garden.

Stay tuned for more updates as we start this very important part of our Italian renovation project.

I think the next phase of this project is going to be fun. xx

 

 

All bedroom decorating ideas behind the scenes Decor italy Notes from Italy Personal renovation in italy shelter The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A special place for balsamic vinegar: a passion and a mission

il-borgo-de-balsamico-visite-acetaia-1 IMG_0313 IMG_0308

Deep into the Emilia Romagna region of Italy there is a beautiful little hamlet called Albinea where a beautiful former fashion house makes the most amazingly delicious balsamic vinegar in the world.

IMG_0338 IMG_0336

I was lucky enough to meet one of the owners through a friend; an introduction I will forever be grateful for. Cristina met me at the gate. Dressed fashionably, her dark wavy hair elegantly styled and a little bit out of place. Behind the gate was the most beautiful estate. It is her family’s, of course, ¬†and like all estates in Italy, a bit rough around the edges. It is a work in progress much like most things precious in Italy. For me, this always makes the location even more charming and alluring. As Cristina walked us around, she lovingly described her childhood here her father, the head of a major Italian fashion brand, and his passion for food and mostly balsamico. His hobby, well his passion, was making the strong syrupy stuff, and as you walk up to the attic where the original kernel of the idea for this brand was born, you can almost feel it. Stuffed into the attic of the main house are the ancient casks of her father’s original recipe. The scent as you climb the stairs hits you in the face with the sweet and sour notes of the vinegar. As Cristina describes the process, you can tell she too has the passion that her father has for the product.

IMG_0342 IMG_0324 IMG_0319 IMG_0348

After a very informative talk by Cristina, we headed down the spiral stairs to the very beautifully designed tasting room to taste all the different incarnations of balsamic vinegar. From the mild notes to the heady sweet and syrupy symphony of the most concentrated flavor, we had an education in the aging process and the misconception of how balsamic vinegar is aged for 15 20 or even 40 years. There is a range, and no balsamic can have a printed label that states it’s been aged for a finite number of years, since it is mixed with older batches the aging process is a fluid number.

The grounds are breathtaking, and this year Il Borgo del Balsamico opened a few rooms, so that people can stay and enjoy the entire experience. As you can imagine, the rooms are perfectly appointed, and the service is impeccable. I urge you to make a reservation.

Unfortunately this product is not yet available in the US, so you’ll have to make the journey there. Located right near Bologna and Parma, it is the perfect foodie destination.

Thank you to Cristina and her beautiful family for the amazing tour. Please book my room for next spring I will be back. xx

All Fall Food italian cooking italy Notes from Italy Personal Travel Tuscany Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , ,

Pumpkin cake, new 2018 workshops, & more: it’s the top 4

4 for September Now that we’ve officially dipped into October, I’m reflecting back on September. As you now, September marked my last month in Italy. I am here for a few weeks before heading back in early November for our first olive-centric workshop which is going to be incredible if I do say so myself.

In September, I shared sagra festivals, exciting new workshops, scrumptious fall recipes, and more. Fall is a wonderful season, and we saw glimpses of it in Italy. Now, it’s here in Atlanta, and we’re enjoying every bit of it.

Here’s a look at my top 4 for September. Take a look at my favorite posts of the month (including that pumpkin cake). Let me know if you give it a try.

September is Sagra Season

Italy Renovation Update

Great Pumpkin Layer Cake

Announcing Summer 2018 Workshops

xx Annette

All behind the scenes cooking Entertaining Events Fall Food fall menus Food styling Halloween treats for kids Halloween Holiday Holiday Decor Holiday Entertaining holiday guide holiday recipes Holidays italy Notes from Italy Personal Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

All behind the scenes dream home Entertaining Events Instagram italy my picks Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling photostyling like a pro renovation in italy The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Italy renovation update

Sarah_Dorio_5G6A3949

This will be the guest quarters, under the bridge.

Sarah_Dorio_5G6A3931

the commerical kitchen and guest lounge ( bat cave) will be below the terrace. Photos by Sarah Dorio

As you all know by now, we worked at our new workshop location in Italy all summer long, La Fortezza. Some of our attendees witnessed the renovation first hand, and those brave soles that signed up for our first ever Style + Photo Workshop got an eye full of what it looks like to do a large renovation project in Italy. We had scaffolding up as we were in the midst of reappointing the dependance which will serve as 3 bedrooms and baths in this beautiful outbuilding on the side of the main house. It will have a beautiful terrace, be near the outdoor oven and have a super view of the vineyard. The scaffolding came down right before our second workshop. At that time we halted all works for the summer and took a well deserved break from hammers, drills and heavy equipment.

After a quiet summer, we are ready to resume all the noise and changes to the property. Here’s a renovation update and what is on the to-do list for this coming winter:

  1. Finish the outbuilding guest rooms and bath rooms.
  2. Finish the guest quarters in the main building.
  3. Finish the outdoor oven and grill area with seating area.
  4. Finish the commercial demo kitchen
  5. Finish the student lounge area which our son Levi named the bat cave (we may or may not have a bat family living there now; don’t worry we plan to erect a proper bat home for them on the property).
  6. Expand the garden – this includes planting an olive grove. Frank is keen on having our own olive oil.
  7. Large stone wall for the front of the house for privacy.

After the holidays in December, work will commence once more. At this point, we are in the planning and design and budgeting stages with our Italian team. Stay tuned for regular updates. Of course, follow along on my Instagram account.

We are super excited to continue work on this amazing project. Stay tuned…xx

All before and after behind the scenes Decor dream home italy Notes from Italy Personal renovation in italy shelter The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , ,