With a group of eight girls, I enjoyed a glorious week in Tuscany in late June at Villa Fontanelle, which is near the quaint village of Montalcino in Tuscany. This lovely villa is owned by Piero Castellini, an interior designer from Milan. The architecture and interiors were most inspiring, and my creative mind was constantly designing and planning elegant entertaining events to hold at Chestnut Cottage or for clients (two of which were in the group!) www.villasitalia.com/fontanelle.asp.
The week was filled with lazy hours of reading and chatting around the villa’s lovely pool and terrace, wine tastings, antiquing, shopping for exquisite Tuscan dinnerware and linens. Roaming the narrow stone streets in Montalcino, I found my new favorite source for Italian table linens, Montalcino 56h. www.montalcino564.it . It’s owner spoke very little English but our conversation was delightful and I had to purchase an extra piece of luggage to bring home all the beautiful Italian tableclothes, napkins, towels and throws for my own entertaining needs, as well as some for clients and friends.
After prowling through the villa’s collection of tabletop inventory, we were able to put together elegant tables for both dining inside and for lovely late evening al fresco dinners on the villa’s terrace. As I am a hopeless blue and white collector, I was thrilled to find lots of mismatched blue and white china, and blue and white tablelinens! Along with an array of candlesticks gathered from around the villa and a few flowers from the local market we had an informal yet elegant table in the romantic dining room overlooking the Tuscan landscape. I loved the dining room’s mix of chair styles, which reminded me of a project that I did for a young couple in Asheville, N.C.
While in Montalcino, we were fortunate to meet Andrea Ugolotti, a very passionate young man who was awarded Italy’s top wine sommelier in 2006. Andrea came to our villa on two evenings for private tastings, offering his dept of wine knowledge and incredible wines from the area. He provided me with some new ideas for wine themed entertaining events. Andrea is employed at Enoteca La Fortezza Di Montalcina www.enotecalafortezze.com and shipped several cases of wine to stock Chestnut Cottage’s cellar, which greatly pleased my husband.
I could not resist photographing this incredible chandelier at Banfi Estate, while enjoying a private tour with Elizabeth Koening, the estate’s hospitality director. www.castellobanfi.com Although rather oversized for my design projects in the Asheville and Waynesville area, I found the design intriguing with the massive number and color of the wine bottles combined with the interesting texture and design of the metal. Perhaps one of our great local artisans could reproduce it for one of my wine cellar projects.
Back home at Chestnut Cottage, I am still dreaming of Tuscany! Stay tuned for my post on my experience at Badia a Coltibuono www.coltibuono.com a wonderful cooking school and vineyard in the upper woodland area of the Chianti Region, founded by an Italian author and cookbook writer, Lorenzo de Medici.