Italy 2019:: the Arrival

My happy place with my happy cocktail, an Aperol Spritz, the New York Times may be hating on it but there’s nothing more refreshing and Italian than this baby, am I right?

Ciao Everyone! If you’re following on social media , you know Vivi and I arrived in Italy. We had a great flight over. Vivi is amazingly chill on a plane. As long as I am near, she’s just fine. I think that most dachshund owners would agree any anxiety is gone if the owner is nearby. She ceases to need food or water for the entire flight which makes me anxious, but she just sleeps. When we land in Milan, she’s cool as a cucumber and relieves herself for about 4 minutes once we are outside the terminal (how does she do that?). She’s the best.

We arrived and La Fortezza was in tip-top shape thanks to Gian Luca, our master gardener and overall amazing man. Cristina, our house manager, is the best. She caught that there was very little gas in our reserve (thank goodness because there is nothing worse than a cold shower after traveling for 15 hours, am I right?). I am blessed with a great group of people and darling friends in the neighborhood who look out for me (us). It’s country living at its best. I spent the first 2 weeks with friends and neighbors stopping by to say ciao and asking if I needed anything. It’s one of the many reasons we love it here.

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Panigacci a local specialty, we call them Italian tacos but they are so much more

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I also spent the first 2 weeks here prepping for upcoming workshops and entertaining visitors. First, our mother of the bride joined me for a quick tour and some wine tasting. Sometimes my job ain’t so bad. After the mother of the bride, was Ros Atkinson from Her Dark Materials . She was scouting La Fortezza, checking our gorgeous light, and playing in our studio. We also went prop shopping which was pretty darn dreamy. She’s more amazing than I had anticipated which was a lovely treat. We got along like a house on fire as they say. I love her and cannot wait to host her still life photography workshop. If you are at all interested in creating the most incredible images this workshop is for you. She’s so friendly, funny, and talented. We have limited spots, so check it out.

Still life Caravaggio style, created in the studio at La Fortezza by Ros, she is a master.

I just picked up our workshop chef, Philip and we literally stopped at my favorite shop on the way up to La Fortezza. Love this photo of him fresh off the plane stuffing his mouth with cheese and salami. Have you ever seen a happier guy?! He will be teaching everyone how to make pasta, and so much more this year. It is his second season, and now that he knows his way around the local food scene here, this year will be epic. Don’t forget to follow my stories and see what we are all up to as we launch the new La Fortezza Creative Workshop season.

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Come on summer!

xx

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Meet the La Fortezza Wedding Team:: Philip Meeker

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The final member of the wedding dream team I’d like you to meet is our chef, Philip Meeker. Philip joined us for the first time last summer, and he was an amazing fit for our workshops and weddings at La Fortezza. Learn more about Philip in today’s interview!

Q: What is your culinary background/expertise?

A: My formal training is in classical French cuisine, but my first serious restaurant job was garde manger at a little Italian place. I learned to make pasta and tiramisu in the pastry kitchen, and I fell in love. I couldn’t believe how much better food tasted when it was made from scratch which I’d never really experienced before. From there I moved to Paris where I spent years studying the fundamentals of French cuisine, working in a two-star Michelin restaurant, baking bread in a traditional boulangerie, and learning how to properly handle and break down meat in an artisanal butchery. I moved to Atlanta in 2008 and spent several years in the restaurant industry making use of the amazing bounty of local vegetables, cheeses, meats, and grains. I’ve spent the last few years working as a private chef and food stylist which has allowed me to travel the world and deepen my knowledge of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Q: What is your role at La Fortezza? In what ways are you providing more than great food?

A: I get to nourish guests with all the wonderful foods from the garden, local farms, and shops in nearby villages. We often eat yogurt and cheeses from the dairy just across the river as part of our breakfast. I make sure to use local flours from the mill for everything that I bake. Having such fresh ingredients to work with is like being in heaven for me. And then I get to sit down with everybody and hear their reactions while we dine – what a treat!  My attitude towards cooking is pretty playful, so I like to think I add a sense of joy and lightheartedness to La Fortezza.

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Q: Why does La Fortezza make an inspiring backdrop for everything from photoshoots to weddings?

A: From the moment you set foot on the property you’re engulfed in beauty. There are mountains surrounding you, gentle breezes, chirping birds, olive orchards, and little villages with terracotta roofs dotting the landscape below. Then there’s the house itself: the ancient fortress that Annette has brought back to life. The vineyard is full of grapes and the cellar is full of wine pressed and brewed by the local winemaker. The garden is full of tomatoes, herbs, and delicate greens. Each season different trees bloom and fruit. I loved eating the persimmons growing outside my room last fall.

Q: Why should someone consider planning a trip to La Fortezza?

A: La Fortezza exposes you to a side of Italy that you wouldn’t be able to get if you spent your time with tour guides, and Annette has a particularly unique point of view given her 15 years in Italy. The location of La Fortezza is near so many delicious locations: Emilia-Romagna and the towns of Parma and Modena, Carerra with its marble and lardo, and Liguria with its own riviera full of focaccia and fresh seafood. Annette is familiar with all of these regions, and La Fortezza provides easy access to each of them.

Q: What is your favorite part of preparing meals for La Fortezza guests?

A: I love cooking for people – it feels like my life’s purpose. It’s great getting to chat with (and sometimes teach) the guests as I cook, showing them how to roll out pasta or prepare pesto. The kitchen is totally inspired as well, from the marble countertops to the Lacanche oven to the ancient farm table and sunsets outside the kitchen window.

Finish this sentence: I love Italy because people in Italy understand how to live well.

Q: What is one food/beverage/ingredient you couldn’t live without?

A: I couldn’t live without olive oil, especially when it’s sourced from local olive mills.

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Meet the La Fortezza Wedding Team:: Lisa Redgrave

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We’re continuing the excitement of our wedding page launch by introducing you to a few more members of the wedding dream team. Today, I’d like you to meet Lisa Redgrave of Hitched in Italy:

Q:  What is your wedding expertise? How long have you been a part of the wedding industry?

A: My family and I bought our home in Tuscany in 2004. I have huge affection for the region, so it was the natural choice to get married there 10 years ago. It was a small wedding, but I tackled the Italian Bureaucracy and planned it all myself. It went without a hitch. I thought if I could do it for myself, I could do it for others. That was the start of Hitched in Italy. I have since organized over 100 weddings: elopements, same sex ceremonies, Catholic, Jewish and Indian weddings. I’m proud to say I’ve done it all.

Q: What is your role when it comes to weddings at La Fortezza?

A: I’m the bride and groom’s “go to girl.”  I source suppliers suitable for the occasion. I keep a calm head in what can be a stressful environment. I maintain a level of cool when people are feeling far from cool, and I iron out the creases. Once all the planning is done and vendors are in place, I’m there to hold your hand and walk you through the most wonderful day of your life. I stay in the background on the wedding day, but you will feel reassured by my presence. I’m equally as happy adjusting your bouquet or getting you a cocktail. I have my eye on everything, and I’m thinking ahead. You’re safe in the knowledge that I will have already thought of ‘it’ and can fix ‘that’.

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Q: Why does La Fortezza make an exquisite wedding venue?

A: La Fortezza is an incredible venue, not only is the location staggeringly beautiful, the careful and thoughtful renovation and the styling of the property, and it’s private grounds are second to none.  Those who choose La Fortezza as their wedding venue will have a wedding day that will be truly unique.

Q: Why should someone consider planning an Italian destination wedding?

A: The best pizza in the world, cocktails at sundown, endless sunshine, delicious regional wine, breathtaking scenery, rich culture, real coffee…need I go on? A destination wedding is far more than just a wedding day; it’s an opportunity to spend several days with your family and friends, drinking in the atmosphere and making lifelong memories.

Q: What is your favorite part of a wedding day?

A: After the cake is cut and everyone is dancing and the drinks are flowing, I get to sit back and watch everyone literally having the best day of their lives. There is no better feeling.

Q: What is your number one piece of advice for brides?
A: Keep cool! Having organized hundreds of weddings, I know that the brides who are most relaxed have the most fun. At La Fortezza your wedding will be planned and styled with the utmost care and attention. Leave the hard work to us and allow yourself to kick back and enjoy.

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Meet the La Fortezza Wedding Team:: Kim Cheney

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Today I’m introducing you to our talented stateside wedding liaison, Kim Cheney of August Floral and Event Design.

As we launch weddings at La Fortezza, I thought it was important for you to meet the amazing team that will be carrying out all of the details. Here’s a little bit more about Kim:

I can’t remember exactly where Kim and I met; I think I approached her at a restaurant many years ago in Atlanta. She had a great fashion flair, and I knew she owned a very stylish vintage home store at the time. I felt compelled to know her. I was working with the Michael C. Carlos Museum on an event and needed artisans to design table-scapes for an event. I think I said something like, “You’re an artist.” Kim has always been very humble, and I think she was a little surprised by my straight forwardness, or maybe she thought I was crazy. Whatever the case, she looked up at me and said, “NO”, I said “YES! You need to design a table for us.”

She agreed maybe because she was a little scared of me. I would like to think she was just up for a challenge. The important part is that she agreed, and she did an amazing job. I hired Kim to design and install another huge event for me, and the rest is as they say is history. It was a new friendship and a new passion that would turn into an incredible business. I like to think I had a little something to do with her path. But mostly, Kim is one of the most visionary and talented hard working boss ladies I know. I am honored to call her a friend, and thrilled she’s agreed to help us with our weddings at La Fortezza. She is the best of the best. That’s the truth. I trust her implicitly. I am beyond thrilled to have her working with us. Get to know her below. x

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Q: What is your wedding expertise? How long have you been a part of the wedding industry?

A:  I have been part of the industry for 11 years. I started in Atlanta as the floral director for 2 large design companies. In the spring of 2015, I moved to Savannah and opened August. I am a member of Chapel Designers. I have built a studio on my property where I live with my husband Dale and my giant Goldendoodle, Grits.

Q: What is your role when it comes to weddings at La Fortezza?

A: We are primarily a floral design company, but I hope to lend support to the wedding planner with design aspects of the event. Whether that be linens, place settings, paper products or ensuring the entire party is cohesive is crucial to a successful design.

Q: Why does La Fortezza make an exquisite wedding venue?

A:  The fortress is stunning! It has several fantastic spots to have the vow exchange…including an on-property vineyard!  Being in the mountainous region provides breathtaking views and awe inspiring sunsets. The effortless elegance of the property lends itself to boho, adventurous couples. The layout of the property allows for guests to stay and eat and drink and celebrate in one spot. It has a charming little “downtown” area and is close to the west shore of Italy where attendees can venture out for day trips.

Q: Why should someone consider planning an Italian destination wedding?

A: If the couple enjoys adventure and travel and the size of their wedding guest list is on the smaller side, Italy is perfect. Italy is wildly romantic! The food is AMAZING! And lastly I believe that travel is important in this day and age. I think it opens the mind to new people, experiences and culture diversity that is transformative.

Q: What is your favorite part of a wedding day?

A: I love when the couple first lays eyes on the designed space. I always make sure I am there to help walk them into the reception. They are at their happiest because they have just been married and now it is time to have fun!

Q: How do flowers set the tone for a wedding?

A: Flowers can be very emotional for people. They are the living element of the design. They can elevate anything! They soften hard surfaces; they provide a focal point, and their beauty adds to the importance of the day.

Q: What is your number one piece of advice for brides?

A: Trust the professionals you have hired! They are there to relieve all the stress of the day, so you can focus on the  most important part…sharing the love of your life partner with those closest to you.

If your dream is to have your wedding in Italy, I’d love to hear from you. Email me directly at annette@annettejosephstyle.com for more information!

xx Annette

Photos by Pictory Productions

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Get Married in Tuscany at La Fortezza

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It’s here! The wedding page on our site launches today, and brides can officially get married in Tuscany at La Fortezza! I am beyond excited. We had the brilliant idea to host 2 weddings per year with the help of my amazing team, and as of today, it’s actually a reality. Pinch me!

Over the next couple weeks, we will be introducing you to the talented wedding team that will be working with brides to make their day absolute perfection. I will make sure styling is on point. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing talents. Our chef will oversee every delicious detail; our wedding planner will attend to every wish, and our events designer will make sure the the atmosphere is heavenly.

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Please take a minute to check out our new page. If you are interested in having your wedding with us, email me directly annette@annettejosephstyle.com, and we can begin the creative process of making your wedding day all that you imagine.

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