Tag Archives: travel

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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Ciao from Pisa, Italy

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All these years, I avoided Pisa like the plague. I took the kids once to see that leaning tower. The piazza where the famous tower leans is full, and I mean chocked full of tourists. They are everywhere and FROM everywhere. Watching every person on the planet taking the same ” look I’m holding up the leaning tower” picture definitely makes me vomit in my mouth a little bit, I am not going to lie. I never tell my guests to visit Pisa, “Avoid it,” I say, “and just use the airport.”

However as many of you know, we have moved to the Lunigiana which is northern Tuscany and about 1 hour from Pisa. It’s a pleasant and easy drive, so frequently I find myself hanging out in Pisa (mainly to go to the IKEA..but anyway…).

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A couple months ago, Frank and I spent the night in Pisa. We had a wicked early flight, so we thought, why not? We walked over to the Tower which was about 30 minutes from our hotel and to my surprise in March, there was hardly a tourist in sight. The piazza is quite beautiful, and approaching from the city side was extremely visually interesting, as the town is quite normal and sticking out of the city-scape was this incredible leaning building. I did not clue in at first because it was such an unexpected vantage point, but it was indeed the leaning tower of Pisa, go figure. It looked so odd jutting out of the city view.

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Last week, my son and I decided to take a stroll in the University district of Pisa, and again to my surprise Pisa has its very charming areas, great shops, funky college town fashion and cool edgy eateries, like Filter, a super groovy breakfast spot in the middle of the University. So yes, I have changed my mind, and Pisa is a great place to spend a few hours wandering the pretty cobbled streets and of course visiting the tower…especially since to my surprise, the tower is not the thing that makes Pisa kinda cool; there’s a whole city out there if you take the time to look.

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Every once in a while one’s viewpoint is changed; that’s what makes life so interesting…indeed.

Plus bacon and eggs? Why yes please! Pisa, we will be back soon…

Ciao for now xx

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The Cheese ladies of Metro, Lunigiana, Italy

C H E E S E !!! … full disclosure I could live on it. In our region, we have many local cheese makers. Goat cheese and cows milk as well. Sydney and I (if you read the last post you know Sydney is our son’s girlfriend; she’s studying nutrition here in Italy for the summer as she gets her degree to become a registered dietitian) traveled high above the mountains of Metro to meet and try local cheese made by a mother daughter team of cheese ladies. The Mama is about 90 and still works actively in the processing kitchen. In her white wellies, she scoops the whey and makes the pecorino, the ricotta, and the mozzarella. We had the pleasure of touring their tiny but immaculate facility in the back of their small but well-stocked cheese and salumi store.

The aging room was my favorite part. Neatly stacked cheese just waiting to be picked from the shelves to be enjoyed.

We went home with a new pecorino, aged for 4 months, and a more pungent pecorino aged for 2 years. Mama tossed in a mozzarella ball as a gift to be discovered when we unpacked everything for lunch at noon. What a enormous treat, and you know I will be back to buy more….once we’ve polished off the wedges that we took home.

Thanks to my friend Davide for taking a minute to show us this delicious place.

xx Annette

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The Chestnut Flour of Lunigiana, Italy

As you all know by now, I am in Italy for the summer renovating our home here, a 12th century defensive tower (a fortress) that has a vineyard. As I work on the daily tasks of making this a spectacular setting for our family and for our workshops and retreats, I love to discover local artisans and craftsmen and of course small organic food producers. With the help of my lovely friends here, a secret world has opened up to me. I am meeting so many amazing people, and I am so thrilled to be living in such an authentic and undiscovered place as the Lunigiana.

Saturday, along with my son’s girlfriend Sydney, we visited a local bread maker. Fabio Bertolucci is revitalizing Lunigiana’s ancient bread making; he uses chestnut flour. The Lunigiana is filled with chestnut trees, and in ancient times bread makers discovered that the roasted and dried chestnuts could be turned into a useful and nutritional flour for bread making. Sydney is a Nutrition major at University of Texas, studying to be a registered dietitian, so this outing was of particular interest to her. She’s about to take part in a nutrition studies program in Sicily for six weeks (yes, I am jealous). Watching Fabio was exciting and interesting for us both.

High above the mountains in a tiny village, Fabio has his lovely little bakery. He makes about 100 loafs every other day and distributes them himself to local groceries and bakeries. He’s on a mission to bring back this local delicacy. The bread is called, Marocca, and it is made by mixing finely sieved chestnut flour, wheat flour and boiled and mashed potatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, yeast, a piece of sourdough starter and water. The dough is formed into a round loaf, about 20 centimeters in diameter, which is left to rise for over an hour before being baked in a wood-burning oven.

Fabio Bertolucci is revitalizing Lunigiana's ancient bread making; he uses chestnut flour. In ancient times bread makers used chestnuts for flour.

Fabio is a thoughtful and quiet man; he pulls every loaf of bread from the oven himself. He prefers to work alone. It’s a solitary existence, and life of purpose and exquisite simplicity. As he handed me a hot loaf wrapped in a brown paper bag, gratefully I took it in anticipation of sinking my teeth into a warm slice slathered with local butter and chestnut honey from the bees down the road.

Fabio Bertolucci is revitalizing Lunigiana's ancient bread making; he uses chestnut flour. In ancient times bread makers used chestnuts for flour.

This is as local as it gets, and the very reason I have chosen to live here in the Italian countryside half the year. What could be better than breaking scrumptious sweet bread with friends and family?

Thank you, Fabio for welcoming us. For those of your joining our workshops and retreats, you can be sure a warm loaf is in your future.

xx Annette

Il Forno in Canoara di Fabio Bertolucci
Casola in Lunigiana (Ms)
Via Villa di Regnano, 99 a
tel. +39 +39 0585 983017-347 2354711
lamaroccadicasola@email.it|

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My Life in Photos, May

As many of you know, I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home there, The Fortress. To say it’s been a whirlwind of excitement would be an understatement.

I’m spending my days unpacking and prepping for students who arrive next month and spending my nights enjoying aperitivo on our terrace or sipping our own vineyard’s wine with friends.

Of course there have been many ups and downs, and I’ve been sharing a lot of my experiences on Instagram. For those of you who don’t follow me there, here’s a glimpse at┬ámy life in photos for May.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Faucet of my dreams in my own kitchen in Italy.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Crostata break – oh, with espresso.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Market day! Choosing perfectly aged pecorino.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

The view out of my window in the mornings.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Starting to get to know the light in this place…

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Bedroom vibes

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

My first night at la Fortezza; it’s quiet as a tomb and was my best sleep in a long time.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Pardon me while I post a million pictures of my love, my La Canche.

By the way, if you really want to see some behind the scenes moments, be sure to checkout my Instagram stories. You never know what peeks at The Fortress you might see.

If you want to see The Fortress for yourself, we have just a few spots left for our July workshops. I’d love to see you there.

xx Annette

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