House hunting in Italy:: Finally the one!

IMG_0040 The Medieval Fortress

As many of you have read over that last 3 years, Frank and I have been house hunting in Italy.

Although we loved living on the Italian Riviera for the last 10 years in our gorgeous flat, the truth is that we are ready for a little slower pace and a big chunk of land. We have been hunting all over northern Tuscany in a place called the Lunigiana. It’s a very quiet place full of mountain ranges and olive groves, chestnut trees, fruit orchards, and general greenness everywhere. We’ve had many ups and downs, trails and tribulations, and many disappointments over the last 3 years. Turns out buying property in Italy is the opposite of “Under the Tuscan Sun.” In fact, no bird shitting on my head could make the sale of a house go any smoother. It’s just a battle until the end. You have to be focused like a laser beam as a foreigner buying in this beautiful, and always complicated, place.

We’ve bought what once was a medieval fortress; it was a lookout tower in a land that had over 120 castles and kingdoms to protect. We found the fortress about 2 years ago; it’s on 27 acres with a working vineyard (yes we will have our own wine). This was one of the first properties I visited when I began our search. Since the time of my first visit, we visited at least 75 properties and had 3 properties we loved fall through. 3 years of solid searching brought us right back to one of the first I ever saw. I loved this house as soon as I saw it. With 3 outbuildings, a vineyard, a massive terrace, and a private living quarters for Frank and I, how did we not grab it at the get go?

But La Fortezza waited for us to come back and make a claim. Over the next 2 years, we will convert the Fortress into a Style + Photo Workshop location with 8 guest rooms, some with fireplaces, a commercial kitchen, guest lounge, a photo studio/meeting space in the insanely gorgeous barn, and enormous terrace to have breakfast lunch, aperitivo, and dinner, plus a swimming pool and kitchen garden. Our new home in Italy will be a perfect live/work situation.

You can be assured that I will be documenting the progress as we go. My BFF Forrest will be head designer and project manager. Forrest has lived in Italy for 30 years; he’s a local, and he knows the ropes. He’s renovated his 3 houses in the Lunigiana, and he and I worked on our flat together. He’s super talented and wonderful to work with. With a 30 year friendship in our pocket, we are good to go.

We hope to have the first Style + Photo Workshop there in late Spring, so make sure to check for updates on that.

In the meantime, we are over the moon to start this new project. I am working on a book about our Italian adventures called “Italy is my Boyfriend”; look for updates about that as well. I can’t wait to share all of this with you.

La fortezza

Our view!

Ciao xx


behind the scenes dream home italy Notes from Italy Personal renovation in italy The Fortress Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 thoughts on “House hunting in Italy:: Finally the one!

  1. Bee

    Congrats, Annette! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with the place and the workshops that you’ll host (found you through Cass LaValle). It’s been almost ten years since my Italy trip and I’m just itching to go back. Hopefully to attend one of your future workshops!

    1. Annette Joseph Post author

      I hope you can join us in Italy, I will be posting all the workshop dates end of September for 2017. Thank you so much for your comment.

  2. WENDY

    What a tremendous project, and so exciting to see your creative ideas blossom in front of your eyes., you must be over the moon. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your blog and instagram, even won a cookbook! You are very inspiring ! Can’t wait to see how your new place unfolds.
    My partner’s grandparents were from Barga, and we are dying to take a trip, would love to see that whole area of Italy.
    Good luck with everything, love the title of your new book, by the way.


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