A Dream Weekend in Tuscany

Tuscany midsummer

I was once asked by an Italian why the Brits love Italy so much and found myself reeling off the obvious attractions: climate, food & wine, scenery and the relaxed way of life.  At the disappointment on my friend’s face and his response “Yes, but it must go deeper than that”, I as a Brit living in Italy felt frustrated and a little ignorant as to why I couldn’t provide a more substantial historical or socio-economic explanation.

Podere Paugnano

Podere Paugnano

The truth is, as a wedding planner in Italy, I welcome numerous British clients out here each year to celebrate their nuptials and without fail the reasons cited for choosing this country are; sunshine, cuisine, views and the laid back vibe.  These elements constitute a snapshot of human well-being so often represented in the media by an image of an outdoor Italian dining table.  For a nation of umbrella wielding, self-conscious bad cooks – the appeal is all too obvious.  Add the short distance travel time and it’s a no brainer!

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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West choose a Florence fortress wedding

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West - or 'Kimye'

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West – or ‘Kimye’

The streets of Florence filled with hype and excitement this weekend as two of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the moment arrived in the ‘cradle of the Renaissance’ to celebrate their wedding.

As my father was finishing a large glass of Chianti and musing over the possibility that one day babies will be inserted with microchips at birth, the guests of undoubtedly one of the biggest weddings of the year were being tagged with electronic bracelets, allowing them entrance to the 16th Century fortress Forte di Belvedere in Florence on Saturday to see Kanye West and Kim Kardashian exchange their wedding vows in front of a wall of white flowers.

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A new wedding venue in town – Welcome Castello di Verrazzano

Dominating the Chianti hillside, Castello di Verrazzano

Dominating the Chianti hillside, Castello di Verrazzano

After years of venue vetting for parties and weddings in Italy I have lost count of the number of properties I have seen.  The portfolio of villas, castles, wineries and palazzos that I end up proposing however is a number I have a very firm grip on and fortunately is ever increasing.  With an instinctive understanding of what clients are looking for when they start their search for the perfect wedding venue I can tell almost immediately whether a property has that special ‘wow’ factor.   This week I was invited by Galateo Ricevimenti to a private viewing of Castello di Verrazzano in Chianti.

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WEDDING LOCATION HOTSPOT: PISA

WEDDING LOCATION HOTSPOT: PISA More than a Leaning Tower!

The natural beauty of Pisa

The natural beauty of Pisa

When it comes to locations for weddings in Tuscany, historically the area of Chianti enjoys the largest portion of the cake, with cream on top.  Christened ‘Chiantishire’ by its English-speaking fan base, this alluring haven of rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards between Florence and Siena is generously portrayed on postcards and book covers the world over to represent Tuscany at large.

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10 Errors to avoid when getting married in Italy

To create the perfect wedding day you need to know how to avoid any faux pas!

To create the perfect wedding day you need to know how to avoid any faux pas!

A WEDDING IN ITALY can be the stuff of dreams, and very often is.  As an experienced wedding planner organising nuptials for English speaking couples in the land of romance and sunshine for a number of years, I’ve seen it all.  Below are ten of my top tips to make sure the dream becomes a reality and not a nightmare.

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That Business of Love

Just go with it...

“I can love whoever I want.  You are what you love, not what loves you. That’s what I decided a long time ago.”  Donald Kaufman, Adaptation.

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Celebrating Chocolate!

My thoughts exactly!

Smell it, lick it, drink it, spread it, crunch it, live it!

Today is the 12th February and it feels like Christmas.  The snow is falling for the first time in Florence, the glowing stores are rejuvenating shoppers by inhaling them off the streets, warming their toes and cheeks, showering them with glittering sales bags, and delivering them back into the crisp air.  More importantly however, the annual chocolate fair is on…Hallelujah indeed!  Piazza Repubblica is literally oozing with cocoa in every form and I smile inside.  If it weren’t for the brave South American street artists blowing out the theme tune to ‘Titanic’ on their pipes, the scene would have been pretty close to perfection!  On one of the coldest days of the year so far, a hub of Italy’s master chocolatiers, in fur hats the size of enormous cakes, proudly display their goods and offer samples of chocolate salami, lavender truffles and spreadable white chocolate – all hand-made.

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Duffy the Don of pre-digital

You soon realize that everyone is an artist in some shape or form, as everything you see can be regarded as art in some shape or form.  Living is creating.  The artists that get a name for themselves have the characters that get noticed.  “Is a plug socket art?…it is if you say it is.”  Brian Duffy, 2011. “My work ended up being 99% advertising…crap!” he reflects.  “Remember that all artists talk too much and talk mostly rubbish, including me.”  Exhibition DUFFY – A Photographic Genius currently showing at The Alinari Photography Museum in Florence until 25th March 2012.

Brian Duffy British photographer of Swinging London

Brian Duffy British photographer shoots for Vogue, Ponte Vecchio 1964

Brian Duffy British photographer

Duffy - photographer of Swinging London - for French Elle 1975

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Down and Digital

Every now and again I am reminded of the speed of change and the effects, small or great, on each and every one of us.  Today humans are born into a digital world, where some of us are only just experimenting with what this means.  As Dante looks over Piazza Santa Croce from 14th Century Florence, his view is snapped on a 21st Century screen into pixels by a new player in the digital game.
Piazza Santa Croce

Getting down and digital for Dante

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