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Our fall workshop instructors are amazing

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I’m so excited about our La Fortezza fall workshop instructors roster. It just keeps getting better and better, I swear!

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Starting in September, I will be guiding a slow food experience The Lunigiana Slow Food Experience~ September 4th-9th. I am so excited to make this food forward retreat the most exciting foodies’ retreat yet. Harvest in our vineyard, make handmade pasta, meet all my foodie friends, make tomato sauce, jams, and pickled vegetables from our kitchen garden. Relax, do yoga, and enjoy all that the Italian countryside has to offer; we will pamper you and you will leave refreshed, rested and inspired.

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September 11th- 16th Antiques and Merchants of Italy-  You know how much I love cooking, but right up there is shopping. Since living in Italy, I have loved attending monthly antique fairs, and perusing the local flea markets, and shopping with local bespoke artisans in nearby towns. I’m so happy Antiques Expert Lisa Burnett of Inner Pieces Inc. will be lending her expertise. Lisa and I have been friends for 20 years, and she’s my go to person if I am buying antique pieces. She will be my co-leader and guide to all things vintage, antique and stylish. We will shop private vendors, my go to flea markets, and we will take you shopping in various towns that feature store after store of art, handmade clothing and accessories. Of course there will be beautiful food and wine, and lots of Aperol Spritzes, Lisa’s favorite cocktail. Join us and shop ’til you drop!

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October 9-14th Lifestyle Photography Workshop~ William Abranowicz, world renowned lifestyle and interiors photographer, with beautiful coffee table books to his credit like his latest book America Originals . He will work with students as a group each morning with one on one instruction throughout each day.  Participants will be taught to simplify the technical aspects of photography, understand light and composition to create well executed, emotionally impactful images, and to edit to form a concise visual articulation of what we see and hope to say. This is a once in a lifetime experience. Honestly I can hardly believe he said yes when I asked him to come teach at La Fortezza. Bill is a gentleman and a scholar – spending days with him creating will be an amazing experience. Spots are limited, so grab your spot before they are all gone. I am beyond thrilled to welcome Bill and all attendees to this special creative retreat.

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October 16th-21st Her Dark Materials Old Masters Still Life Photography Workshop~ I have been obsessed with “her dark materials” unique photography for years. I literally am bringing her to La Fortezza to watch her work. Her sense of composition is like nothing I have ever seen. True that Old Masters still life photography is all over the place, but Ros’s approach is both gorgeous and leaves me breathless. I told her that if no one signs up for her workshop I will be the only student, so I don’t care if anyone shows up I selfishly want her to myself… Ros Atkinkson, the photographer behind @her_dark_materials and a still life and food photographer who has achieved international recognition for her Old Masters style set ups and lighting will take students through the process of creating an Old Masters scene. Learn as she teaches you how to choose the right camera setting, capture the light in the best possible way and style using props and local produce. You’ll be guided in how to capture the scene, from tiniest details to the whole frame while using camera settings to maximize the use of light and shadow. I am SO excited to welcome Ros to La Fortezza this year…I am hoping it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and she comes year after year.

xx Annette

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Fall 2019 La Fortezza Workshops Launch

I am beyond excited to announce our roster of fall 2019 La Fortezza workshops in Italy. I have really listened to the feedback of past workshop attendees, and I think that fall simply put, “nails it.”

We have a variety of workshops that speak to everyone. There will be food-forward workshops, shopping excursion workshops and photography workshops with incredible talents and professionals. We want to make our workshops the best they can be, so thank you to all who participated last year and gave us such great advice.

Ready to see what’s in store?

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September 4th – 9th

First off is my Preserving Italy Workshop. We will dive deep into the region I call home, the Lunigiana. I feel passionate about sharing this unknown, and in some cases untouched, region. The people of this region work the land, live off the land and truly live seasonally. I like to say that I learned about the seasons here since we live season to season year after year.

The food artisans, the farmers, the vintners, the cheese makers and the fresh olive oil producers are a way of life. It’s the most authentic life I’ve known. We will be cooking throughout our workshop with Chef Philip and with locals too. I will share it all with you at our beautiful location, La Fortezza, overlooking mountains, vineyards and villages. I am thrilled to show you my secret Italy.

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September 11th – 16th

This one is all about shopping. If you follow me on Instagram , then you know how much I love shopping flea markets in Italy. How would you like to come along and shop with me? This workshop is geared toward the flea market shopper although shopping at this retreat will be peppered with plenty of artisan finds including handmade handbags and bespoke seaside markets.

Coming along to lend her expertise is professional picker and antiques expert Lisa Burnett of Inner Pieces. She will be leading the group and sharing her incredible eye with all of us. This is the perfect girlfriend retreat because of course there will be cooking classes and great food, lots of wine and Aperol Spritzes, Lisa’s favorite Italian Cocktail, and a little yoga as well. I cannot wait. These spots will be snatched-up fast, so don’t think about it; just do it!

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October 9th – 15th

I can’t believe he said ‘yes” when I asked him, but one of my all time favorite photographers is coming to teach lifestyle photography at La Fortezza. I think I jumped up and down for 10 minutes when he agreed. William Abranowicz is an icon in the photography world with many books under his belt. He has shot for every single magazine in the world. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I cannot tell you how much you will learn seeing the world through your lens with Bill as your instructor. He will be able to work with you one on one since the class is small. Imagine working with a world class photographer! Well my friends, you no longer have to imagine it. Just grab your place, and you can. I am beyond excited that we will be hosting Bill. This workshop will sell out fast, so don’t hesitate come to Italy and up your photography game. This is a “pinch me” experience, believe me!

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October 16th – 21st

Ros Atkinkson, Her_Dark_Materials on Instagram, will host our final workshop of the season. I invited Ros and selfishly told her I don’t care if it’s just she and I because I want to learn from her, and I want to walk around in her brain (I know I sound obsessed…and I am). Her still life photography moves me because the emotion and incredibly complex composition makes my heart sing. I was so pleased when she agreed to come and teach at La Fortezza. Apologies for all of the gushing, but I have a serious girl crush on Ros.

Come play with us! If you’re a fan of composition, food styling, photography or beauty in the highest form, please join us. Like I said, I’m happy if you can join us, and fine if you don’t because sharing Ros and her talent is going to be tough for me. There will be plenty of food, and wine and inspiration.

Who’s joining the fun in fall 2019? Book your spot today! 

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How I plan a layover on my way to La Fortezza:: Milan!

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The Duomo

When coming to my workshop in Fivizzano, the cheapest flights are to Milan. Why not spend a day or two exploring the city?! I love layovers especially, Milan layovers.

The Milan Airport, Malpenza airport is about 45 minutes from the city center. Needless to say, taking the train from the airport is the way to go. Note driving in Milan is very challenging. Parking is virtually impossible (unless you stay over night then parking at the hotel makes it easy).

If you’re staying over night, then feel free to rent a car, although honestly, I still advise against it.

Overnight, I recommend the Rosa Grand Hotel.  It has a great location, is affordable and well run. Of course you can stay in the Armani, or Bulgari, but I prefer to have aperitivo in those hotels.

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Aperitivo at the Armani Hotel

Once I check in, I head to the the Duomo. It’s a great place to take a selfie and to people watch. Plus there are tons of places to grab an espresso.

The Galleria is amazing and is located adjacent to the Duomo.

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The Galleria

I like eating at the top of the Rinascente Department store rooftop restaurant .Yes it is literally right next to the Duomo, and you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and aperitivo on the rooftop.

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roof top of the Rinascente department store

After lunch, I love going to the Brera Shopping district. It’s where the art school is, so you can imagine it is filled with amazing shops and hip artisan wears. Of course if you’re more interested in designer shopping, there is the  Via della Spiga shopping district.

There are so many must sees in Brera:

Don’t miss the Rosanna Orlandi store. They have home furnishings that will blow you mind. Wait and See is one of my favorite clothing stores in Milan and across the street is Funky Table Milano, my favorite home accessories and tabletop store. Here’s an entire blog post about Wait and See.

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wait and see

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funky table milano

You can also visit the Villa where I am Love was filmed in. Read about it here. Villa Necchi IMG_9789

Screen Shot 2019-01-26 at 7.53.40 AM If you want a destination that you can tour and have lunch, head to Prada Foundation, a wonderful museum that is architecturally inspirational…with the Luce restaurant designed by Wes Anderson, it’s a great way to spend a few hours on your layover.

Don’t forget to grab an espresso and a pastry at one of the oldest pasticceria in Milan, Marchesi.

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Whatever you plan, make sure to wander the city and enjoy all the sites.

Layovers can be great. Why don’t you join us in Italy, so you can plan one soon?! Safe travels!

xx Annette

 

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How I fly:: My carry on essentials

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I have had many people ask me about how I travel since I spend lots of time traveling overseas. After many years, I think I have it down. Having your products and snacks all sussed and organized makes travel easier and more comfortable. If you make the effort before you fly, it will pay off, believe me.

In order to have a great trip, it all starts with what you put in your carry on for the plane (not the one you put overhead with your clothes). I have serious opinions about how to put a carry on together.

For many years I carried a big carry on bag – a shoulder bag. It was a bag big enough for my computer to fit in. My shoulder nearly broke by the time I got to my destination. Why did I do it? Well for fashion, of course!

I travel with loads of photographers, as you can imagine, and they all carry backpacks…not chic. But over the years, and after tons of travel and a little prodding, I finally broke down and became unfashionable (in my mind, anyway) and started carrying a backpack. Let me tell you it’s a revelation. Why did I wait so long?! Now I carry a bag from The North Face which can fit all of my carry on essentials.

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What’s in my backpack?

1. The must-haves: my computer, my iPhone, my Passport, Vivi’s passport (yes she has one), wallet, water bottle, sunglasses, a scarf to wrap up in in case it’s cold, and sanitizing wipes. I wipe down the entire seat, back of the seat in front of me, arm rests, table and monitor. Yep I am that person. If there’s a remote, I wipe that too and the seat belt as well. I also always have noise canceling headphones. I like Beats.

All cameras and essential equipment should also go into your backpack. Non-essentials can go into your luggage, like portable hard drives, flash drives, converters and extra batteries.

2. Toiletries Pouch – I use one from Mochithings. What’s in the pouch? Tooth brush, tooth paste, travel size mouth wash, floss, hand sanitizer, Kiehls lip balm #1 Jurlique moisture replenishing day cream, sample size Aveeno body lotion, Evian facial spray, Susanne Kaufmanm moisturizing spray, spare contact lenses, spare glasses, band-aids, an eye mask to sleep, under eye masks, and lavender facial wipes from goop

3. Cable Pouch – I use one from Mochithings. In it, I store all chargers, cables and converters.

4. Snacks Pouch – I love to bring my own food. I always bring my dinner on the overseas leg. It’s usually sushi, an amazing sandwich or salad and crackers, dark chocolate, my own peanut butter, (usually Justin’s small pouches; they’re great on crackers for breakfast), and a chocolate chip Cliffbar. Airline food is the worst, so I make sure to bring plenty of snacks.

Why all the pouches? It just makes everything easy to pull from your backpack and place in the seat pocket in front of you. That way, you’re efficiently putting your seat together with all of your comfort things. I love the idea that everything is organized and at your fingertips. I like everything streamlined, and in it’s place, and traveling is no different. If you have everything in a pouch, you will most likely never leave or forget anything.

5. Most important is that I have all my documents in my favorite passport holder. Lodis makes it and I have used it for 15 years. I like the bright color because it’s easy to see in your backpack, plus it fits perfectly in the front pocket of the backpack I use for easy access.

The main thing about traveling with ease is organization, and that involves a bit of thought about what you need and what will make you feel comfortable. Travel can be challenging, so ease is essential.

xx Annette

 

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How I pack:: Workshop Wardrobe Essentials

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Happy Valentine’s Day! As our month of travel advice and tips continues, I’m sharing all of the things I *love* to pack to Italy. How apropos for today, right?!

I have rounded up the few wardrobe essentials you will need to pack for one of our creative workshops in Italy. I pack light, but I am all about comfort and mixing and matching. I always include comfy shoes, a little fashion and some really fun pieces as well. If you want to participate in yoga on the terrace, then a yoga top would be essential. I hope this helps you pack, so you will feel great while joining us this spring and summer in Italy.

To pack one carry on of clothes, which is what you should plan to do, the Away Bag is the way to go. Your camera equipment, if needed for the workshop, can be packed in your backpack along with your other carryon items (more on that soon!).

As far as clothing selections go, remember versatility is key. Sundresses that can double as bathing suit cover-ups and cropped jeans that you can wear more than once. For travel days, plan to wear leggings, sneakers (a MUST!), and a tee shirt on the plane, and plan to carry a shawl with you as well. Some folks, like me, like carrying-on their jacket, too. A denim jacket is perfect for layering and is a great choice.

Other items of note to consider:

  1. Dressy option for dinner on the terrace or dinner out. I love this breezy dress, and this sun dress for other dinners and outings.
  2. Don’t forget to pack practical shoes for walking like Converse or other sneakers.
  3. Rompers or shorts are good choices for workshop days. Jumpsuits made of light-weight material also make great choices for excursions.
  4. I love overalls, too. You can easily travel and work in these. Add a summery checkered shirt or a striped tee underneath.
  5. Wrap sweater for the cool summer nights on the terrace.
  6. A denim shirt and white slacks is a great, neutral combo for day or night. Just trade your sneakers for sandals.
  7. As for accessories, don’t forget chic sunglasses and a catch all bag for excursions and beach day. A small clutch can be used in your plane bag to store necessities, but double as an evening bag during the workshop.
  8. Finally, a bathing suit is a necessity in the summer!

This is not a sponsored post. All choices are my own, and I believe these examples are a wonderful starting point to assemble the perfect wardrobe for ultimate function and comfort during our workshops and retreats in Italy. Happy packing xx

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