Italy Summer Style + Photo Workshops Recap

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dinner on the terrace was incredible

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signature cocktails were a must at aperitivo time

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this was our wine and cheese party…

Well it’s fall. Summer went by so quickly. Our first ever summer Style + Photo Workshops here at La Fortezza were a big success and lots of fun. We met so many wonderful people, and we cooked, we ate, we drank wine, we created beauty, we talked style and photography, and of course, we prop shopped until we dropped.

I want to thank the great instructors who joined us, Christina Wedge, Sarah Dorio, and Sif Orellana; they did an amazing job, and our attendees enjoyed every minute.

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la fortezza worked well as a location

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the studio worked as well as I imagined and more…

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a one on one styling lesson with moi…

My intention with these workshops is to mentor and share my vast professional experience and expertise in styling and producing photo-shoots and bring the very best of the best experts to teach with me.

This summer was a learning experience, not only for our attendees but for me, too. Working at this new location, I wanted to make sure that everyone experienced the very best. My mantra here at the La Fortezza workshops is that everyone should be inspired, challenged, pampered and gently nudged to a new creative heights. We will all nurture the goals every student has set out to accomplish in a beautiful setting.

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we made and photographed handmade ravioli, and then ate them…

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prop shopping at my favorite flea market was a great day excursion with these ladies

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in the studio with the lovelies, photography instructor, Sarah Dorio doing her thing.

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getting to know equipment is essential…

This summer my experience with our attendees and instructors had me thinking about every detail. We tried chefs, and we tried menus. We worked with new equipment on site. We honed our team and added new team members. With everything new, there are growing pains, and I so appreciated the insights and suggestions from everyone involved. Know that I have dissected every moment of each workshop to better improve it for our attendees.The studio space worked amazingly well, as well as I had imagined; it is truly a magical space to work in.

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Teri, our workshop chef, will be back in November and all next summer! Her warm out of the oven burnt butter chocolate chip cookies were the perfect mid day snack mmmmmmmmm

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Always smiling and so kind…Elena did an amazing job at our first workshop, and we will have her back next summer.

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Leo, our badass chef and part time hand model knocked, it out of the park with his new twist on Italian cuisine and handmade pasta!

What I came away with is a greater knowledge of expectations not only of our attendees but of myself. Thank you to all who participated and who helped me gain an understanding of what it means to operate such a life changing business model.  All of you were so gracious and thoughtful and patient with us. Our chefs and our support team now have a better understanding of the importance of creating a safe and welcoming environment. But mostly in the end, it’s the great people that I get to spend time with that make these workshops most worthwhile. This first time with all our attendees was so incredible. I loved teaching you and spending time with you and getting to know you. Please come back anytime.

I can’t wait until next year. I have created a roster of incredible workshops. We will have the most amazing creatives joining us next year. We will work with an internationally known wedding design and photography team, a figurative fine-art photographer, an abstract painter, and an Italian fine art photographer. Perhaps the most exciting addition is that I will be offering 2 one on one styling workshops with me! One in spring and one in the fall. Stay tuned for more Workshop updates soon.

Thank you again to all who attended our first ever La Fortezza Workshops, and to our fantastic team of pros.

Love you guys!

xx

Photos: the summer team

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Italy renovation update

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This will be the guest quarters, under the bridge.

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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

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Cooking Local, the Paper Plane and More: It’s the top 4

4 for August

It’s the top 4 for August, and what a busy month it has been. I’ve enjoyed sharing some of my favorite Italian secrets with you this month. I recapped our final summer workshop with Sif, we discussed the best kept antiques fair secret in Italy, and I may or may not have spilled the beans on one of my guilty pleasures.

I cannot believe it’s almost September and that in just a few short weeks, I’ll be boarding a plane back to the U.S. In the meantime, I’m going to soak up every moment I have left of my first summer at the Fortress. Stay tuned in September for some exciting content. You won’t want to miss it.

Here’s my top 4 August:

Cooking Healthy and Local Workshop

The Testament of Testaroli

The Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe

Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes

xx Annette

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My Life in Photos, August

As August comes to a close, I am spending some time reflecting on our absolutely amazing summer here in Italy. As most of you know, it was our first summer conducting workshops from our new home, La Fortezza, and it’s been a huge success.

I’ve spent August thinking about the workshops – what worked and what didn’t – and planning for the next round of workshops to come. We have our olive workshop in November along with an awesome summer line-up coming your way in the next few months.

My life in photos for August have been full of antique shopping, delicious meals straight from our garden, and a few fun days of exploring. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. There’s always something to see and things to do here, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing like a cocktail on the terrace.

Happiness is my kitchen in Italy. It greets me every morning and makes my day!

Happiness is my kitchen in Italy. It greets me every morning and makes my day!

What's for dinner?

What’s for dinner?

I call this "dinner for two."

I call this “dinner for two.”

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#drinkmorewine

Sarzana is the best kept secret in Italy.

Sarzana is the best kept secret in Italy.

 

Rainbow in the street.

Rainbow in the street.

xx Annette

Photos by me and Pictory Video.

 

 

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My secret mega obsession in Italy

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Hi I’m Annette Joseph, and I am a professional shopper…and I have a problem. Well not a problem exactly. More like a secret obsession. As you all know, I live in Italy about 1/2 the year, with Donald Trump in office, it will probably be more like 12 months out of the year…(not kidding).

I live here, therefore I live a normal life, and I need normal stuff like wrapping paper, light bulbs, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, glass jars, paper plates, and a mop and pail. When I first summered in Italy about 25 years ago, one had to shop at many specialty stores for those items. There were not giant conglomerate hardware stores like Home Depot, or SUPER markets like Whole Foods or even stores that cover it all like Target. We would go from place to place picking up mops here and laundry detergent there, meat at the butcher (which I still do) and wrapping paper…well there was no wrapping paper…none. I used to have to be super creative with birthday wrapping, or I would bring it with me from the states.

My point is like with all things, things change. It’s still hard to find everything in one place like Target, but the world is becoming more homogenized as the internet has made the world smaller and smaller. Something terribly clever is going on here in Italy. The inception of the catch all store. Mostly owned and operated by Chinese families, these mega stores have everything, and I mean everything. I am totally obsessed with them. Need cute cocktail straws or cute ribbon? Doggie poo bags or votive candles? Pots and pans, hardware or sunscreen? Here’s your place. They even have clothing, hats, cosmetics and perfume. The skus go on and on. Need a grill? Charcoal? A chocolate bar? Gum? Motor oil? You get the picture.

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I AM OBSESSED. It is something that has made living here nearly perfect. I know you’re saying what is she talking about? But these stores are literally life changing. It used to take hours to find wrapping paper, gift bags and even cocktail straws, and now with the Happy Megastore, I can get everything in one spot. The thing I like most is that the store is so unpolished, so utilitarian and almost kitsch. No sparkling photography of pretty people trying perfume or walking their perfect pooch. Just down and dirty racks with all sorts of useful items stocked up in obscene quantities.

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The biggest secret is when I am in a bad mood (yes one can be in a bad mood in Italy :-)), I go there for an instant pick me up. I buy a few items, a scented candle or a bag of charcoal for our grill, and I feel 100% better. Let’s face it: it’s cheaper than therapy, and one can pick up some useful hard-to-find items to boot. Next time you’re in Italy in a town, find the Happy Megastore or something like it. (Hint: they look like a Chinese container threw up on the sidewalk) Go in; you will be amazed. If you forgot to bring something from home, I swear they will have what you need. I know this is not the most Italian-ish romantic post I’ve ever done, but it’s a very important post because it documents the changes that have taken place as the world becomes a smaller place. It’s relevant and important and mainly, it’s my happy mega place.

xx Annette

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