I've been home now for several weeks from "La Dolce Vita" 2016 and I'm past due in sharing my thoughts and memories from another fantastic edition of the retreat. For those who are new to my blog, "La Dolce Vita" is a creative lifestyle retreat for women set in Tuscany Italy. With a concentration on antiquing, culinary activities and creativity, this retreat is one of the great passions of my life!
This year presented a new challenge for me, in January my co-host Terri Brush made the difficult decision that due to continued slow healing from second and third degree burns she needed to withdraw from participating. So, for the first year, I led "La Dolce Vita" by myself. I learned so many things - but isn't that the way when a new challenge is set before us?
Knowing that we needed to secure a talented jewelry artist as a substitute we reached out to Amy Hanna, who I have known since 2008. Along with Amy, artist extraordinaire Pam Garrison came as Amy's assistant and general retreat helper. Thank you to both of these talented ladies who helped me facilitate the week. I appreciate all your help and hope that your time in Italy was enjoyable!
This year "La Dolce Vita" was blessed to welcome women from Israel, The Netherlands, Norway and the USA. We were a group of ladies from around the world who created our own little art tribe in Tuscany.
I am always amazed at the dynamics and magic of getting a group of women together. While there are often pockets of ladies who know each other, there are also always some who come by themselves, or just knowing one other person. It is a special thing when women come together, and the sacred bonding of the group is always a shared love of creativity in its many forms. There are paper crafters, jewellers, pastry chefs, textile artists - so many different creative disciplines represented and we all learn from each other during the week. It is such an encouraging environment!
To read about the retreat from the perspective of an attendee, Debby Schuh has two posts about "La Dolce Vita" 2016 on her blog. The first is here, and the second is here. Debby has actually attended the retreat all 3 years, so if you search through her archives you can find posts from each of the previous two years as well!
Again this year the meals were amazing and such highlights! We are blessed to work with Tuscan women who know their way around the kitchen and spoil us with fresh, seasonal meals. Thank you to Antonella and Lory who feed us SO well. It sure was difficult to come home and have to cook my own meals again!
The cooking lessons were also wonderful and I learned how to make gnocchi (surprisingly easier than I thought!) Thank you to Andrea, Giovanna and Patrizia who led the workshops in Anqua, and Giulia who led the cooking lesson in Scorgiano this year.
A huge THANK YOU to the 18 ladies who joined me in Italy this year. It goes without saying that without you there would be no "La Dolce Vita". I enjoyed meeting you all and hope that when you think back upon your time at the retreat it brings a smile to your face and happiness to your heart.
Thank you to Terri, who cheered me on from back home and helped by making several jewelry gifts which were given to the ladies during our week together.
A final big thank you to Paola, my Italian big sister, who is my right hand in hosting "La Dolce Vita". I am so thankful that I chose to stay at your family's estate 5 years ago. Who knew back then that we would end up being such a part of each other's lives? Mad love to you and your family.
As I wrap up 2016, I move onto "La Dolce Vita" 2017. After three amazing years of leading "La Dolce Vita" retreats in Tuscany with my co-host Terri Brush, she has decided to step back from "La Dolce Vita" and graciously wished me the best as I continue to offer this special brand of creative lifestyle retreat to attendees. (Terri continues to offer jewelry workshops in her home studio in Chehalis, WA and online, so I would encourage you to check them out as she is an excellent instructor!)
I wanted to do something special to kick off this new chapter in the "La Dolce Vita" story, so I reached out to Jo Packham, Founder and Editor of "Where Women Cook", "Where Women Create" and "Where Women Create: BUSINESS" magazines and asked her to be my special guest in Italy for 2017. I was overjoyed when she said "yes"! With special activities planned that reflect the creativity celebrated in the pages of Jo's magazines, attendees are sure to be in for a treat! The date for "La Dolce Vita" 2017 is June 3-10 and I hope to see you there.
Registration is not open yet, but if you visit it at www.ladolcevitaforever.com you can sign up for our newsletter in order to be notified when the website is live!