Announcing 2020 Workshops and Retreats: run don’t walk to sign up!

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 7.29.00 AM

Run don’t walk to sign up for 2020 La Fortezza Workshops and Retreats. I feel like this year we have hit the sweet spot with our selections. Photography and styling are, as always, center stage, but we also have a great selection of workshops that highlight the unique part of Italy we call home. You’re going to love it.

Check the selection. I am sure there is something for you with us in Italy.

Click here to see the full descriptions. Keep in mind we have limited spaces, and private rooms are first-come, first-serve. I am so excited to head back to La Fortezza in May to prepare for these amazing experiences.

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions, in the meantime, have a look below and grab a spot! See you in Italy x

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 1.54.53 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 1.55.58 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 1.56.13 PM

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 1.57.43 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 1.57.53 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 1.58.22 PM

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 1.59.35 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 1.59.55 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.00.10 PM

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.02.05 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.02.19 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.02.28 PM

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.03.40 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.03.57 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.04.09 PM

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.05.22 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.05.34 PM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.05.45 PM

 

All before and after behind the scenes Entertaining Events how to be a stylist Instagram italy Meet the Team Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling photostyling like a pro secrets on how to become a stylist style lessons Styling stylist tips The Fortress tips from a stylist Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Arrivederci Italia 2019

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.48.05 AM

It’s always hard to say arrivederci, but his year, in particular, was bittersweet because it was such a wonderful season. Our La Fortezza Workshops started off with a bang: 2 styling workshops in June kicked off the season. We had 3 talented instructors and 4 lovely attendees. Joanna and Maren and Sarah, had a lively group and did some really fun projects with their guests. The second styling session was with moi, the Strictly Styling Workshop. I had my BFF Barbara, a stylist from Modena, join me to teach styling. She brought all sorts of foodstuffs from Modena. It was epic.

This workshop also marked the yearly return of PR maven Liz Lapidus she brought her mega bloggerlious friend, Alexandra Darling in the City (although unfortunately she never wrote about her experience at La Fortezza on her blog? 🙁  But she did write about neighboring towns lol) NOTE* bloggers do not bother to contact me about a free workshop and that you’ll post about it. No comping anymore…live and learn…). I digress…

During that workshop I met one of my favorite guests (there’s always an upside to all negative experiences) of the season, the super talented photographer and stylist Alicia, The Chic Shot. You can see some of her amazing shots of La Fortezza on this post. Thank you, Alicia, for sharing your amazing talent. I LOVED working with you, and thank you for all the beautiful photos of your experience here. We hosted the fantastic podcast host Heidi Rew, her podcast featured me and Philip and Barbara, and the ladies from our first workshop in June. Listen to it here. It’s a great look into what we do.

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 7.23.10 AM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 7.22.06 AM Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 7.22.27 AM fullsizeoutput_65f7

We also had our first ever intern in June and July from Wellesley College, Adri. She was a wonder and delight. She speaks perfect Italian and was energetic and eager to learn. We loved having her help us with guests and chores around the fortress. We loved her so much that we are bringing another intern from the same Wellesley Italian Studies program back next spring. Let’s just say whoever she is, she has big shoes to fill.  Plus Adri learned to drive a stick shift during her 8 week stay – pretty impressive!

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 7.21.49 AM

In July we hosted our first-ever Artist in Residence with abstract painter, Steven McKenzie for the month. It was a stroke of genius on my part, if I do say so myself. Steve was a delightful addition to the La Fortezza Workshop roster, and he brought the sunshine everyday in the studio. Because of Steve’s curiosity, I visited places and experienced things I never would have. Like visiting the antique book archives at our local library in Fivizzano and caving in Equi Terme. Some I loved more than others. (Caving not my thing, go figure) He made jam from our plum trees and filled the studio with his beautiful art inspired by the region. Even during his opening party when we had a torrential downpour, he never lost his bright smile and positive attitude. The Opening Party was amazing, sometimes when the best-laid plans are dashed, and the skies open up, it turns out to be just as great. At his opening, we had visitors from London, Paris, Greece, and the US and of course all of our friends from all over Italy. It was a great July. We had a fun visit with Rue Magazine Editor and Chief Kelli Lamb, and her lovely artist hubby Timmy, Kelli made an amazing video series about La Fortezza.

iPQriTRIyCTMHdtxDe5Q AC526767-37F6-4EA2-8DF6-E60BBF72FE26 oYtGyPPOTV2GEEDJAbmN9w-e1564666633873-624x832 fullsizeoutput_68cc QHiErGrCR7q0SzNgbDwg-e1564666769335-624x832

In August our son visited with 3 friends; we cooked and toured and ate plenty. Then I visited Pulglia, a place the had been on my list for a while. I experienced the Messors Workshop, which was interesting. read about it here.

fullsizeoutput_6b09

September was filled with great cooking by Chef Philip. There were cooking lessons and artisan food visits with our Slow Food Experience group. We had the lovely photographer Kate Blohm visit again, she was part of a workshop with Angie Mosier in 2018. This year she was our BTS photographer; she’s amazing and will be joining us every year in the fall to document the Slow Food Workshops, something that is close to my heart.

September is the time of year we do our grape harvest, although this year the harvest was a month late, we still had an amazing time with our incredible group. One of our guests were a married couple, PR team Valerie and Garrett, a powerhouse PR team in Atlanta specializing in Chefs and Food, from Via Failla PR and Events  They will be part of the La Fortezza PR team helping to promote La Fortezza Workshops in 2020. I can’t wait to see what they have in store. We also hosted a shopping workshop with Lisa Burnett a whirlwind tour with shop til you drop attendees that left me breathless.

E8F40B1B-D2FC-4E35-B8E9-294D4DD1F73E fullsizeoutput_6d3d IMG_1828 fullsizeoutput_7102 fullsizeoutput_72f3

October was the month of photography with 2 of my favorite photographers joining us. Bill Abranowicz and Ros Atkinson of Her Dark Materials on Instagram. I am honored to call them friends and I am excited to announce they will be back with us in fall 2020. The workshops were not only informative but really fun. We got so many beautiful shots!

fullsizeoutput_7469 ABA1D38D-53DB-4C72-A68D-2C9974166437 Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 8.06.36 AM

These incredible workshops have proved to be even more wonderful than I had imagined. People gathered around the table, like-minded with so much passion to add to the discussion. Being surrounded by creativity from all creators, from what Philip creates and places on the table, to the interesting creatives from all over the world, (this year we had our first attendee from India) they have so much to offer. It is my idea of heaven.

Although our surroundings are gorgeous, I must say without the people that come to visit, it would be much less beautiful. Thank you to all the support people in our village that take great care of me, and to Chef Philip who is gracious and talented and helpful always with a smile on his face he goes above and beyond. Thanks Philip for all the amazing Pizza Parties!

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 7.26.06 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.50.47 AM

To the guests that grace our doors, grazie mille. I look forward to welcoming new faces in 2020. Please check the website November 9th for our new workshops to post. We have limited spots, first come first serve with private rooms. So grab your spot in 2020 La Fortezza Workshops and Retreats.

x

Photo Credit: The Chic Shot, Kate Blohm, Nandi Shaw, Ros Atkinson, William Abranowicz

All behind the scenes cooking Crushing On dinner party dream home Entertaining Events Fall Food Food styling Instagram italian cooking italy Meet the Team Notes from Italy photography photostyling photostyling like a pro secrets on how to become a stylist Shopping style lessons Styling stylist tips The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Decadent Grilled Cheese

dinnerparty_ppp_6

Is there anything better on a fall day than sitting down to nosh on grilled cheese? Honestly, I’m not sure there is. Grilled cheese is one of those comfort foods that is always good, but it can be made even better if you gather top-notch ingredients. I like to use unexpected cheese and unique condiments. Oh, and bacon…because everything is better with bacon. Meet the decadent grilled cheese.

This sandwich would be perfect with a bowl of soup or chili on a crisp fall day. If you have guests over, set-up a station allowing them to create their own sandwiches mixing and matching ingredients while you man the grilling station. Interactive foods are always so much fun for a party.

You can also cut these into quarters and serve them as an appetizer or finger food. How fun is that?!

This recipe is from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and the photo on this post is from a fabulous party that Design Sponge threw a few years ago using Picture Perfect Parties as a guide.

Decadent Grilled Cheese with Brie, Crispy Bacon, and Apricot Jam
serves 6

You will need:
– 1 loaf challah bread
– 6 pieces bacon cooked and crumbled
– 1 12 oz. wheel brie cheese
– 6 tablespoons apricot jam, 1 tablespoon per sandwich
– 6 tablespoons butter softened 1 tablespoon per sandwich

To prepare:

Cook bacon until crisp in the oven at 400 degrees F, drain set aside.

Slice challah into 12 slices. Assemble the sandwiches. Place crumbled bacon , thin slice of brie, and apricot jam on the bread, place another slice of bread on top forming a sandwich. Butter the top and repeat until you have made 6 sandwiches.

In a heated sauté pan place sandwiches butter side down, butter the top half. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook the other side. Continue until all the sandwiches are done. Let set for 1 minute and cut sandwiches into quarters.

Serve at room temperature.

All behind the scenes celebration cooking DIY Entertaining Fall Food fall menus Food styling great easy menus grilling Parties photostyling Picture Perfect Parties quick appetizers Recipes Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our First Ever La Fortezza Antiques and Merchants of Italy Shopping Retreat

fullsizeoutput_6ea9

Ciao Tutti! We had amazing whirlwind of a week with our first ever La Fortezza Antiques and Merchants of Italy Shopping Retreat. My co-leader Lisa Burnett of Inner Pieces Inc. could not have been a better partner in crime. We hosted 7 lovely ladies and toured them all over the Italian countryside, to shop and meet local artisans and vendors that I love. It was an insiders shopping tour that was both exciting and informative.

Every day there were new destinations and some surprises. We could not have asked for a more fun group of ladies. Even though they did not know each other before, I think some solid bonds were formed. We danced, drank, made pasta and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather on the terrace.

Of course, there was a pizza party where a few of our attendees tried their hand at making pizza in the pizza oven. We loved sharing information about how and why we choose certain props, discussed searching for antiques and loved shopping at my super secret locations. Lisa spent a couple of extra days, so we checked out some of her Italian vendors and hope to expand the shopping experience next year.

We will be conducting this retreat again in 2020 because it had such an overwhelming response when we posted it. Since we still have 50 people on the waitlist from last year, we have decided to do this retreat for 2 consecutive weeks in 2020. If you are interested in joining us and want first dibs sign up for the newsletter. We will be sending a private mailing to our list before the workshop goes public.

fullsizeoutput_6d98

grazie Lisa you’re simply the best! x

fullsizeoutput_6e38 IMG_3475 caeb579a-85cf-4117-8687-1285e4c02820 0F1B3842-D8ED-492E-8248-3C5CE1B12519 c1540bd7-8e53-4367-8053-b46f2bd1ec2b

We only have 6 spots available in each retreat, so this shopping retreat very limited. We have decided to vary the schedule in case some of you want to join us for both weeks. We have so much to show you. I cannot express how wonderful it is to meet like-minded shoppers, who share the love of beautiful things. As a prop stylist, I have to say sharing my resources with our groups gives me great joy. Thank you again to my most talented and lovely friend, Lisa. x Let’s shop ’til we drop in 2020.

All behind the scenes Crushing On Decor Design Inspiration Events how to be a stylist interior design italian riviera italy Meet the Team Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling shelter Shopping style lessons The Fortress tips from a stylist Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Preserving Italy Workshop:: the slow food experience

E8F40B1B-D2FC-4E35-B8E9-294D4DD1F73E fullsizeoutput_6d3d Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.48.54 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.24.39 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.11.42 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.13.36 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.17.42 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.18.17 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.55.51 AM

We just wrapped up the Slow Food Experience workshop, and I must say it was a wonderful experience not only for our attendees but for me too. We visited food artisans in the area and sampled local food like panigacci and chestnut fritters, and with the help of my foodie friends, I think we represented the region of the Lunigiana proudly.

There are so many interesting and different local foods here. It’s so different, in fcct, that I am writing my next cookbook about it (keep your eyes peeled for the La Fortezza Cookbook, due out in 2021). It is a region rich in history and food history with many kitchens born out of need and lack of funds; the “poor kitchen,” or as they call it, “cucina povere” was creative and inspired.

We made pasta with Chef Philip using jarred tomato sauce, (passata) from our kitchen garden tomatoes. We made grape jam with my friend and slow food ambassador, Giovanna, and sampled bread from the local bread maker Fabio

fullsizeoutput_6d60

We enjoyed chestnut fritters with chestnut honey and dined on all the products from around the area breakfast lunch and dinner, and of course many aperitivos…

This workshop will be available next year. All workshops for 2020 will post in November. We would love for you to join us and sample all the local food products and meet all the lovely people that work so hard to preserve the traditions of this beautiful region.

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.50.47 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.48.05 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.50.15 AM

Thanks to all the attended and we really loved meeting your eating with all of you. See you next year.x

Some imagery is from our team photographer Kate Blohm

All baking behind the scenes celebration Cocktail Italiano cookbook collection cooking how to be a stylist Instagram italian cooking italy Meet the Team Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling photostyling like a pro renovation in italy secrets on how to become a stylist style lessons Style Pin the art of a party The Fortress tips from a stylist Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,