Tag Archives: tips and tricks

Sarzana Antique Fair

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Every year in August I wait for it…in Sarzana there’s the most wonderful event, the Sarzana Antiques Fair. Sarzana is about a 40 minute drive from our house in the Lunigiana. Sarazana is a quaint medieval town 20 minutes inland from the sea, right before you get to Cararra where the marble is from. Complete with a citadel and duomo, it’s our region’s fun little secret hipster haven. It’s also virtually unknown by tourists. In fact I cringe a little bit letting you all in on my secret happy place. It’s chocked-full of artisan clothing boutiques and antique stores, yummy hip restaurants, and the most charming little bakery/tearoom, Melissa’s (Ill be writing about it in the next blog post, so you will want to come back, and read about it this Thursday). There’s even a hipster barber shop.

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This year I went twice. Once to scout it out. I found a charming hand painted terracotta urn that I have proudly displayed in our front entry. I headed back to find some pieces for the guest quarters and kitchen, and a trunk for the master bedroom.

The stalls under the brightly lit passageways always make me smile. Striped umbrellas and trillions of trinkets catch your eye. It always makes me a little dizzy with anticipation. Oh, and it’s held at night which is a stroke of genius since the August heat can bring upwards of 100 degrees in the shade. It’s the perfect time to have an aperitivo and people watching at the fair is an added plus.

All summer long there are wonderful antiques markets all around the region, but this once-a-year fair is the one I wait for. Now that I have let you in on my little secret, you should think about visiting our region inland from the Riviera. Thirty minutes from the very popular and incredibly over-crowed over-marketed Cinqueterra, there is a treasure trove of quaint towns and beautiful views, amazing hikes and unexpected local cuisine. Adventure awaits you off the beaten path. Start with Sarzana; you won’t be disappointed. You’re welcome. xx

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Cooking Healthy and Local Workshop with Sif Orellana

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Sif Orellana is a force of nature. I have followed her on Instagram for years, and you should too. She’s creative, and oh so talented. We have been IG friends for a while, and when I finally met her in real life, she did not disappoint. In fact she’s even more wonderful which I thought would not be possible.

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She arrived from Denmark 1 day before her workshop, and we headed out to an incredible local grocery store here in Italy. Here the super stores are really SUPER. She, like me, LOVES to grocery shop. Her eyes widened when we stepped in to my favorite grocery in all of Italy Esselunga. Read all about it; it has an unusual history and has been around since 1957. Our nearest store has 2 floors and is incredible. We spent the better part of 2 hours buying items for her workshop, but the rest of the produce came right out of my garden.

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Everyone arrived on Wednesday. When we all met at the welcome dinner, it was love at first site. What a wonderful group we had. So smart, energetic, and full of life. They had amazing questions and got on with Sif like a house on fire. I don’t think they took a breath until they parted ways.

Cooking in the kitchen with Sif was such fun a whirlwind of activity. Our chef, Teri, and I were non stop making sure all the attendees were busy with cooking chores. The kitchen turned out Sif’s delish and healthy recipes. Some recipes were from her new venture, a healthy restaurant in Aarhus, Denmark called Greenilicious. If you’re in the area ,by all means stop by. Sif’s super electric energy and great tips made for a wonderful meeting of the minds both in the studio and in the kitchen.

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We headed out of the kitchen for two local food excursions, too. One was to our favorite baker Fabio at l Forno in Canoara di Fabio Bertolucci; you can read about him here.

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We also had supper at a local agriturismo di la dall’aqua and watched the ancient preparation of Testerolo, a large crepe which is then cut up into square, boiled for 30 seconds, and served with pesto or ragu, thought to be one of the first inceptions of pasta in Italy. Giovanna, the owner, is a gracious and attentive host, and she is also the local food ambassador to the region. She was kind enough to pop in on Friday and familiarize our attendees of all the local product produced in the region. We had a magical evening at her location and learned a lot about the local cuisine.

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I loved spending time with everyone learning their stories and their dreams and goals. Fingers crossed Sif will have time to come back and teach again; she’s such a great addition to our team.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Sif. You really gave it 150%. You’re a powerhouse of creativity and wisdom.

Thanks to Luba for some of these super captures!

 

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Strictly Styling Workshop

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Ciao tutti, as you know, it’s been a whirlwind here in Italy. I have held 3 workshops back to back from June – July with a mini break in between. The first workshop (you can read all about it here) was a big success. We all had a great time, and the truth is, I learned a lot.

Our second workshop named “Strictly Styling” was just that. We did have a photographer, but mostly it was all about styling with lectures and demos and lots of hands on. This was a new concept and not so photography based. No cameras were needed, although we did have folks bring along their cameras, and photograph their own set up. But mainly we worked on composition for the camera and prop styling. Of course, shopping for props and inspiration all over the region was a big hit. Let’s face it who does not like to shop? It was such a success that some of my attendees are coming back for more. I have decided to do 2 One on One styling Sessions here next summer. A student will stay with me at the main house, we will style discuss the business of styling and marketing strategies, and of course shop until we drop at all my secret haunts all over the region for exceptional unique props. Stay tuned for the dates on this one.

I loved spending time with our Strictly Styling attendees. They were enthusiastic, fun, funny and above all, a pleasure to hang out with. We shopped, ate, and drank wine and cocktails while taking in the sunset on the terrace. It was a truly unforgettable gathering of creative minds. God I love my job.

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Thanks to Megan for some of these beautiful captures. x

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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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My Life in Photos, June

If May was a good month, then June can only be described as great. We had tons of visitors at The Fortress in June, including our very first workshop attendees. My son, Levi, and his girlfriend spent some time with us, too, along with other friends. I’ve loved every second of being here.

The Fortress has proven to be a wonderful place for workshops. The energy is rhythmic, the lighting spectacular, and the views awesome. Of course, June has been a busy month too.

There were lots of things that had to be done to prepare for guests, but we found time to tackle it all. We even managed to squeeze in a few area adventures, too.

If this month is any indication of what the rest of the summer will be like, I can’t wait. As always, follow along on Instagram to see first-hand what our day-to-day looks like here. From lots of antiquing to aperitivo on the terrace, there’s always something to see.

If May was a good month, then June can only be described as great. As always, follow along on Instagram to see first-hand what our day-to-day looks like.

Just a day at the beach

Coffee bars are something we like to have everywhere. This one is in our bedroom what a way to wake up in our 12th century fortress.

Coffee bars are something we like to have everywhere. This one is in our bedroom what a way to wake up in our 12th century fortress.

Loving my new side table (and sofa).

Loving my new side table (and sofa).

Morning conversations.

Morning conversations.

It's here it's here the workshop is about to begin, and we are off to the local markets to collect goodies for our photoshoots this session!

It’s here, it’s here! The workshop is about to begin, and we are off to the local markets to collect goodies for our photoshoots this session!

Our welcome dinner was truly dreamy last night.

Our welcome dinner was truly dreamy last night.

Tour day in Parma

Tour day in Parma

Our farewell gathering was lovely the perfect send off.

Our farewell gathering was lovely the perfect send off.

 

xx Annette

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