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Italy Summer Style + Photo Workshops Recap

AJS Fortress Workshop-73

dinner on the terrace was incredible


signature cocktails were a must at aperitivo time


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.


la fortezza worked well as a location

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the studio worked as well as I imagined and more…

AJS Fortress Workshop-21

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…


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


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.


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


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!


Photos: the summer team

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Americasmart Style + Photo Workshop


As you know, I teach workshops all over the world. My day job being producer and stylist sort of morphed into a teaching gig. I am excited about new opportunities that have presented themselves since I took a leap and changed my career tact. I have been a stylist and producer for over 25 years; it’s hard to believe but it’s true, so you might imagine I have lots to share. Over the years I have trained many assistants that have gone on to find success, and to be honest other than the pride I feel for my own children, seeing my assistants’ achievements gives me great joy. Although I have styled thousands of campaigns and magazine editorial features, the greatest pleasure has been sharing and teaching my craft to others.

That’s why I am always super excited to teach an Americasmart style + photo workshop during shows. I meet so many fantastic people and some of them who have taken my workshop end up in Italy with me at one of my workshops here. This year I had the pleasure of hosting an interior designer in Italy teaching her how to style for the camera that I orginally met at the Mart at one of my workshops. We had a wonderful time, and she left feeling so much more confident in styling her own portfolio.

September 28th, I will be teaching a workshop geared towards interiors. With Christina Wedge photographing the entire process, we will explore the how-to’s of styling a room for the camera. The workshop sold out in about 24 hours, however you can sign up for a styling one on one with me in Italy next summer. In summer 2018 and fall 2018, I will be offering for the very first time one on one styling in Italy with me. These intimate workshops will be three intensive days covering the business of styling, making your brand, and styling for the camera. These lessons will be totally custom, and you will have an opportunity to cook, shop, and style with me all while enjoying La Fortezza, our 12th century fortress in the Tuscan countryside. Feel free to email me (annette@annettejosephstyle.com) to learn more. The one on one’s launch early October; there is only 1 in the summer and 1 in the fall. If you want it, you better grab it. Thanks to everyone that signed up for the Americamart workshop! See you soon!

Photo cred: Amber Fouts


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September is Sagra Season

What the heck is a "sagra"? A sagra is a local festival, mostly held in villages, all over the Italian countryside. Join me as I share my sagra experiences!

What the heck is a “sagra“? A sagra is a local festival, mostly held in villages, all over the Italian countryside. It’s something that I really had no experience with since we lived in a seaside town for so many years. I vaguely knew what it was from visiting friends in the countryside, but I had never attended one. This year, as you know, we moved to the countryside, and there are sagre (sagre, plural) everywhere. Usually tied in someway to food, apples, polenta, truffles, boars…you get the picture. The village gathers in the main square (in most cases) or even a field or the streets. Since it’s hosted by the village for the surrounding area, everyone turns out. Sometimes there are food trucks or food vendors, and usually there’s an open fire somewhere where a local specialty is being cooked by your neighbors, or yummy things are being fried or grilled. There are lots of families and of course family activities like jumpy houses.

What the heck is a "sagra"? A sagra is a local festival, mostly held in villages, all over the Italian countryside. Join me as I share my sagra experiences!

It’s a great way to raise money for the community. Communities here are a very tight knit group. Plus everyone can come together and celebrate the season. Needless to say, it’s a great place to people watch, catch-up with folks in the neighborhood, eat great food, and drink local wine. Most likely these festivals originated from old country fairs or harvest celebrations. It’s easy to attend a sagra because everyone is welcome. Look for signs along the road near villages, the theme (most often food related) will be on the poster along with the dates. They are usually held on the weekends, and keep in mind these are nighttime events usually starting at about 8:00 pm.

Most sagre are set up the same: you buy a food and drink ticket, and then they bring your order to your table. The way it works most often is they either give you a number for your table, or they come pick up your ticket, retrieve the order, and bring it to you. Knowing the ropes is super helpful. Next time you’re in Italy and nearing a village, look for the posters. You can’t go wrong or more authentic.

We are attending several this fall; I am seriously thinking this might just be my next cookbook.

Sagre of Italy…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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Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes Sarzana, Italy

As you know from my last post, I am in love with the little right down the road from us town, Sarzana, Italy, and Melissa's Tearoom and Cakes is a gem. FullSizeRender 3

Ciao! As you know from my last post, I am in love with the little town right down the road from us town, Sarzana, Italy.  My sweet friend from Berlin, Heike, told me that I needed to check out this cute tearoom, Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes, while I was there, and mostly I needed to follow her on Instagram, as she was a German sweets sensation. As I have said before, Sarzana is a treasure trove of hip and yummy places.

Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes is on the main drag, and you cannot miss it. It’s the store front with the charming, super cozy hunter green facade, sparkly crystal lighting, and pistachio colored cafe tables and chairs in front. Inside the deep rich hunter green walls set off the glittery silver teapots on the back wall and draw you right in. Cake stands hold several freshly baked cakes, and cupcakes are displayed like delicious jewels in a vintage glass case. In Italy, there has been a invasion of cupcakes which to me is a revelation since Italians tend to like drier, less sweet pastries and proudly defend their territory as far as pasticcerias are concerned. But I like the fact that Italians are widening their horizons. Check out Melissa’s facebook page, and definitely follow her on Instagram as her feed is pretty yummy.

Don’t worry, there are still plenty of fantastic pasticcerias in Sarzana to choose from, but I love Melissa’s balls to the walls concept of tea and cakes in a espresso and biscotti driven market.

If you’re in the hood, stop by for a visual treat. Of course, it’s a treat for your mouth, too. Like I’ve said before, go off the beaten path and explore outside your comfort zone. You never know what you’ll find…maybe even a cupcake! xx

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