Tag Archives: the fortress

Italy Summer Style + Photo Workshops Recap

AJS Fortress Workshop-73

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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House Updates, an Olive Centric Workshop, and More: It’s the Top 4

4 for July

As you’ve probably noticed, July in Italy has been full. Whether we’ve been hosting workshops in the studio, enjoying wine from the vineyard, or gearing up for fall workshops, this has been an awesome month.

Each month, I bring you a round-up of the best blog posts. The idea is that you can see the best of the AJS blog all in one place. Find the top 4 July below!

Italian House Updates

Oh, and We have a Vineyard 

Announcing our Olive-Centric Workshop

Strictly Styling Workshop Recap

xx Annette

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My Life in Photos, July

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. We drank wine from our vineyard. We learned invaluable cooking tips from Sif.

Needless to say, it’s been busy!

Here’s a look at everything that has been going on. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more shots of Italy and on the style+photo feed on Instagram for more shots of our workshops and The Fortress.

xx Annette

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Happy Friday! When your vintner drops off your bottles with your label now I feel like a vineyard owner!

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Outdoor movies on the terrace Fridays are the best.

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Sunday morning coffee gram; this view never gets old!

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Prop shopping!

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

We’ve been experiencing an incredible workshop strictly styling workshop with Sarah Dorio as our photographer.

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Okay, so this is the best day ever!!!!

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Vineyard view last night we drank wine in our vineyard.

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Lunch with Sif Orellana; she’s extraordinary. It’s been pure magic!

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chestnut honey, mountain views, secrets things and places, and other sweet things about living in the Italian countryside

The only way to see Italy is with an Italian, or someone that has lived here for many years. We are still discovering secrets about Italy everyday.

As most of you know, Frank and I have lived in Italy now for over 15 years, enjoying our summers here with family and friends. You have also heard me say that Italy is like an onion. Most tourists only scratch the surface, so when reading all these travel guides, keep in mind the best stuff (just like the olive oil) is reserved for Italians.

The only way to see Italy is to see it with an Italian, or someone that has lived here for many years. We are still discovering secrets about Italy everyday. It’s actually one of the many things I love about Italians. Unlike Americans, Italians are not over-sharers. In Italy you have to earn trust, and then the world opens up to you like an exotic flower. The treasures here are endless, and the rewards of putting your time in will be the exquisite payback for your patience. Finally, right about now, I am starting to feel like I have a few Italian secrets of my own to share. It only took 25 years, LOL.

We lived on the Italian Riviera for 15 years, and now we are living the countryside in a very unknown region called Lunigiana. We live on 27 acres with a working vineyard and giant ancient fortress that has kept me on my toes for just about a year.

I will say country life agrees with me, and I can see growing older here watching the changing seasons in mountain range that is our view. The life is slower here, the people are authentic and friendly which is a big difference from living in a bustling vacation destination like Alassio where people only appear each summer.

People here stop by and drop off eggs from their chickens, chestnut honey from their bees, freshly jarred preserves from their fruit orchards, and olive oil from last fall’s harvest. It’s pretty much what I expected in my fantasies, but the reality is so much richer.

Everyone eats local here. Hell, we eat out of our garden: lettuce, eggplant, zucchinis and herbs. Tomatoes abound; they literally sprung out of the earth as soon as we planted them. We have sour cherries and figs, and our plum trees and grape vines are maturing as well. Unlike in the US, in the country here in Italy, it’s no big thing to eat off the land everyday. So yes, I love it. Milk comes from the cows and goats up the mountain, and beef comes from the steers down in the valley. You can smell the steers as you drive by the butcher/slaughter house everyday.

One of the things that surprised me was that when we lived in Alassio, there was so much pressure to dress in the latest fashion and look presentable everyday. I would never go out on the streets without the “right” look. Here it is easy, and the feeling of fashion pressure is gone. It’s more laid back and therefore much more livable. I have slowed down. Enjoying nature is something that is a daily routine. What’s in my closet is an after thought.

I will continue to write about my experiences here in the Italian countryside this summer.

As you know, I am in the middle writing a book of our story here in Italia.

Stay tuned for more updates, and for now I will relish all the gifts from my surroundings, the people that live here, and all the secrets Italy has to show me. The secrets I have patiently waited for.

ciao xx

Photo credit: Frank Joseph MD

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