On May 26, 2020, my memoir, Italy is my Boyfriend, was born. It was a monumental moment for me. It complies all of my experiences in Italy, including finding our home here, all in one place.
It was a strange year to be releasing a book. No book signings. Everything was via Zoom or Instagram stories and lives. Different, but necessary. I had a wonderful interview to kick off the virtual book tour with The Florentine and at The Atlanta History Center via Zoom, with my great friend and Editor and Chief Betsy Riley. I also did a fun podcast with Bit by a Fox. But to be honest, I would rather have been on the road meeting people and signing books. Having said this, the response was amazing. I had so many people reach out that had read my book, and tell me that in some small way, my book gave them a little reprieve from what was happening in the world.
To celebrate it’s one-year birthday, I will be giving away lots of books and one very large prize. Of course, there will be some surprises, too, so make sure to follow me on Instagram to keep up with all the birthday celebration events.
The celebration will kick off the week before the birthday with all sorts of announcements, Instagram lives and much more. On May 18th, I will be chatting with my friend Thea Duncan of Doing Italy about buying a home in Italy and writing my book. I will be giving away books live during the interview, so you won’t want to miss it. May 21st, I will be on IG live answering questions and giving books away live again. We also will be doing TWO major book basket giveaways: one to an individual and one to a book club. You will not want to miss it. Come and join me as I celebrate one-year with Italy is my Boyfriend.
In life there are definitely a few pinch me moments. This is one of those moments for me. I have finally told my story in the pages of my new book, Italy is My Boyfriend. Now I am able to share the story of how we came to own several properties in Italy, how my love affair grew and how it all came about. It includes the ups and downs of living in Italy and is truly a pure love story of life and love. Life (and love for that matter) is not always what you think it will be, but that is what makes it fun right?
I’m proud to say my latest book is now available for pre-order here.
I am over the moon to share this tale with you. Stay tuned for book signing updates as the official release date is May 26, 2020.
Thank you to all the have supported me over the years in Italy and in the US; I could not have done it without all of you reading about my journey right here on the blog.
The last and final piece of our renovation was an out building, the dependence. It was a very fallen down structure when we bought the Fortress. Forgotten and neglected, I knew it would be make a fun and funky addition to our compound. We brought it back to life last summer by literally rebuilding the structure stone by stone. Reinforcing the structure, tying it together with earthquake bars and creating lofts and doorways. In many ways, it was one of my favorite projects, and the design possibilities were both endless and limited. Endless, because we could put anything into the space, limited because the size was finite, and we needed to house specific features: 3 bedrooms and 3 baths. I love when projects are so precise in nature.
We came up with a clever design for the smallest room: the bathroom would be on the main floor and the sleeping nook in the loft above. It turned out great with lots of character as I used an antique wooden and zinc tub as the vessel that would be the shower. I found a ready made vintage library staircase that fit perfectly into the space and leads to the sleeping loft. A Moroccan window shutter became the door, and we retrofitted an iron cage as a hanging lamp.
The other 2 bedrooms are situated in the room next door. We decided that the best thing was to make it an a joined room sharing the loft space. Although it is a shared space, there is a sense of privacy because of the half wall. The only shared space is the ceiling. Each room has its own bath and its own entrance.
The dependence has a wonderful outdoor seating area overlooking the vineyard which is a completely different view from the terrace that has mountain views. I am pretty pleased with the outcome.
The proof will be in the next weeks as fall workshops begin. I’ll keep you posted. x
Many thanks to my design partner Forrest. Although it’s come to an end, we will always be collaborating. x
Ciao everybody! Greetings from Italy! If you follow me on my instagram feeds, you know that I have been BUSY!!! Honestly, that’s an understatement. Busy getting everything in ship shape for our upcoming workshops and photoshoots.
It feels like I have been here for 3 months, but it’s only been 2 weeks with all that we have accomplished on getting everything from the new renovation ready for guests and attendees.
The guest quarters are ready to house everyone all comfy and cozy. It’s been a lot of fun pulling all the decor together with a little (a lot) of help from our friends. Steve and Jill McKenzie helped with styling touches and great advice. Look for their guest post coming up soon! Let’s just say we are excited to welcome them back in September for Steve’s abstract painting workshop in the Italian countryside. We had some great brainstorming sessions as we were busy fixing up the guest quarters.
The commercial kitchen is ready for some cooking action. Here’s where we will cook, offer cooking lessons to workshop attendees and of course have breakfast every morning.
Teri Mammini, our private chef, and I worked our tushes off to make sure the kitchen is perfection. We are really going to enjoy working in this beautiful place all season.
To say that putting all of this together was daunting is an understatement, but it has been worth every bit of sweat every step along the way.
Our Strictly Styling Workshop is underway. Head to my instagram account to check out all the best bits. I will be back with a recap of every adventure and workshop experience soon on the blog.
Commercial kitchen view from the dining room, you can see the configuration and where the student lounge is located on the left
Hi Guys, time for another update about our renovation in Italy before I head over in mid May. Here’s where we left off in case you need to catch up.
We had specific areas of the fortress we wanted to focus on this winter.
the fortress guest quarters
the commercial kitchen
the student lounge which also serves as an extra bedroom that sleeps 3 people
outdoor oven, the forno
kitchen garden patio under the pergola
The guest quarters are almost finished. We will have 3 bedrooms and one with a fireplace. All of the bedrooms will have bathrooms with soft comfy towels and a custom natural soap collection. Our beds will be very comfortable with 100% cotton sheets bedding from Merci in Paris. We will make sure everyone has a stellar experience during our workshops; luxurious monastic rooms are our credo. I had so much great feedback from our attendees last year about their expectations and desires as far as housing goes. We listened, and we hope that our guest rooms will meet your expectations. Our goal is to make you feel super comfortable.
We found a great checked concrete vintage tile to use in the kitchenette in the guest quarters.
As you know, we live in a defensive tower from the 12th century. It has 4 floors. The main house is located on the 3rd and 4th floors, the guest quarters is located on the 2nd floor under the main house, and the cantina (storage room) is located on the ground floor.
pictured the defensive tower the guest quarters on the 2nd floor
We finished the main house project last May 2017, moved in, and then used the main house kitchen for our workshop cooking lessons and photo lessons last summer and to prep all meals for our attendees and guests. Full disclosure, having lots of people cooking in your own kitchen is challenging; we all had a great time but at times it was a bit out of control. Teri, our private chef, really cranked out some incredible meals for a large crowd during our workshops from our smallish narrow kitchen.
Teri working her magic
entrance from the student lounge to the commercial kitchen dining room
As you can imagine, it was so exciting once we pulled the trigger on completing the commercial kitchen located under the studio. Of course, Teri was also excited. The studio is a separate building from the tower, a space we teach and work in all year long. Our styling and photography lessons happen in the studio. It’s where we store props as well.
We have most meals outside the studio on our expansive terrace. However now with the commercial kitchen, we will have another gorgeous dining space where we can all gather for breakfast and some dinners and use for photos and extra prep space.
The kitchen has Cararra marble countertops all around to allow everyone cooking to have their own prep area. Watching the delivery complete with a crane was so exciting. Of course the highlight of the kitchen will be the Lacanche stove. It’s a biggie, and I am excited to welcome my second baby to the family. The floor is terracotta tile which was installed in the last few weeks. The decorative tiles behind the counters are coming soon.
Next to the kitchen will be a full pantry, and full bath complete with shower. The student lounge is next to the kitchen as is the entrance to the kitchen and dining room. Double metal doors with glass panes will lead you to the kitchen garden from the student lounge area where we have built a patio area that will be under a wisteria covered pergola. Here breakfast or drinks can be enjoyed while taking in the kitchen garden and rose garden view. It will have large pots surrounding the vintage tables and chairs, planted with herbs and eatable flowers.
The most exciting addition this year is the outdoor oven. I can hardly wait to stoke the fire and make homemade pizzas, focaccia, flat breads, and slow cooked Tuscan beans. I am jazzed!!!
I can’t wait until mid-May to share the progress with you all. Our summer workshops are full, and I can’t wait to meet everyone! x