Dreaming of Italy

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

I recently worked on a party with one of my colleagues that left me dreaming of Italy.

Billy Dove at Company Catered Events asked me to collaborate on a Tuscan themed event he was preparing for a client. He knows I love decorating tablescapes in various themes and looks and I tend to go for "lush". I've been using a lot of herbs, fruits and vegetables lately. I was so excited to get to use these concepts and help design this gorgeous presentation for a cocktail party to display the DELICIOUS Company Catered menu.


I felt like I was at a Tuscan feast when the table was finished and needless to say this made me start wishing, hoping and dreaming of another trip to Italy.



The food was mostly presented buffet style. A few hors d'ouevrres were passed, but we felt very strongly on presenting the antipasto offerings in a bold and striking way and highlighting all the flavors of the Italian inspired party. I love the huge display of mint and rosemary in place of the traditional floral centerpiece. David Hechler of Hechler Photography had been working with the family for years. He was on hand to capture the night for the family and their guests. Luckily we were able to have him capture the beauty of the table too!



This pork belly was so savory and delicious. One of the Company Catered chefs had made the dry rub that morning, It was so fresh and tasty!


I love these fresh leaves we had made by Gunsteens Lettering for our buffet items. We tied them to a fresh lemon with twine and I truly felt I was transported to the Amalfi Coast when the table was filled.

Each dish was simply prepared with the freshest ingredients and absolutely delicious!

Fresh herbs and vegetables were as much a part of the decor and equally as important as fresh flowers to create the lush effect we had on the tabletop.


Billy created a cocktail to highlight the limoncello drinks you often see and hear about on the many Italian apertivo menus.

The guests were greeted at arrival with these and loved it as they spent the evening eating, drinking and enjoying!



So after the party it got me thinking of Italy and wishing I could go back soon...well that is to be determined when... as I am currently traveling through Copenhagen and Oslo as I write, but one thing is for sure- I would love to visit some of these places and or RE visit a few that have left long lasting memories with me over the years!!


I have been lucky enough to travel to various parts of the country a few times and here are some highlighted hotels I would like to go to or revisit.

I love hotels and travel, and I SO appreciate any place with amazing hospitality.

Here are some of my favorite picks.


Le Sirenuse Positano


Maybe I have seen too many photos or old movies but I had heard about Le Sirenuse for the longest time and it was totally a bucket list place for me. Let me tell you it was everything it appears to be.... glamorous, gorgeous, refined and sophisticated, but it also felt very intimate and comfortable. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to make that CHECK on my bucket list. I do hope I can go back one day!!




Walking into my room and opening the french doors to the patio and seeing that view of the Amalfi Coast I seriously felt I had been transported to a movie. I had to pinch myself and remind myself this check on my bucket list was something to be VERY lucky, grateful and thankful to experience.



The hotel is very small- something like 65 rooms- I felt like I was in a rather large home not a hotel. The common spaces look intimate as well.



You would have thought there had been glue on the chairs at the pool...as it was awfully tough to pry myself off that lounge chair for a few days! Talk about the ultimate place to relax. It was divine. The food is delicious too, just throw on a cover up grab a bite and real with the pretty view.



One early evening I couldn't decide what to do for dinner so I just landed at this beautiful patio spot and ordered a glass of rose thinking I'd just have a cocktail and think about it. The waiter suggested bubbly and asked if I might like some oysters too. Why not!?



As I wrote in my last post on photography sometimes you see a photo and it takes you back in time - you can feel and remember the moment almost instantly...Every time I see a photo of that gorgeous patio, wooden table and spot overlooking the Amalfi Coast I can taste that rosé and I have never had an oyster as good as those that night! I suppose it's the sea breeze and beautiful view that makes them taste so much better??!!:) Needless to say I never went anywhere for dinner...it was just too comfortable to leave.


Another favorite thing about this hotel for me is the delicious smell. They have this amazing line of bath and hair products called Eau D'Italie. I had to bring it home. I refused to use the last of this bath gel until I could get my hands on more of it. The smell transports me back to Positano. I love it!!! I have found that it is available on Amazon or Neiman Marcus





Rosewood Castiglion Del Bosco


There are a number of places I have read about and have not visited but would like to see and experience. To begin with- Rosewood Castiglion Del Bosco sounds amazing!


One of the oldest and best-preserved estates in Tuscany is The Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco. It is located in Montalcino, Tuscany, in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Val d’Orcia. The property offers a variety of accomodations. 23 suites and 11 luxury villas, as well as a spa, winery and vineyards. I have been interested in this resort for quite a while and would love to go there!!


Housed in the buildings of the Borgo itself, the 23 suites have antique furniture, genuine textiles and exude harmony with all the craftmanship and details.. Old world exposed wooden beams and cozy corners features combine with modern comforts and the latest technology. The terraces, pergolas are picture perfect and one can relax looking at the lush greenery and views.


Can you imagine ending the day here and seeing this sunset?!!

Each an every bedroom has a gorgeous old world charm.


In the summer months the area comes alive in an authentic, festive Tuscan village fair animated by live music, local artisans and delicious regional and Italian cuisine.


They also have culinary experiences that sound amazing...

Overlooking the chef’s orto, or kitchen garden, enjoy a real farm-to-table experience in an intimate and stunning setting. You can enjoy delicious cuisine as you dine on the taste of fresh, seasonal vegetables straight from the garden alongside a selection of traditional Tuscan and Italian dishes and mouth-watering barbecue specials.



If I was going in the Fall I would definitely want to go truffle hunting! I used to joke with a client that I am not as excited as many are with the likes of caviar, but give me truffles any day. I love a dish with fresh shaved truffles!!! It is a magical time to visit Tuscany in the Fall as truffle season is at its peak.


At Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco they will arrange what you need to discover the secrets of searching for truffles with a special guide, also an expert who will teach you how to find truffles, learn and enjoy more about this delicious delicacy.


As much as I love to cook I have never been that interested in joining any cooking classes....I think I could change my mind with a visit here!


The resort host two-hour classes in Tuscan cooking. They keep the group small in order to guarantee personal attention and hands-on involvement. During the classes, a chef recreates a real situation that begins with selecting raw ingredients from the organic kitchen garden. Returning to the kitchen, the class goes through the phases of preparing and tasting the recipes which include pizza, fresh pasta and forgotten flavors of Tuscany. The informal style of the lesson recreates the way traditional cooking skills were handed down in the past. This sounds like the ultimate farm to table meal and an amazing experience!!!


JK Place Capri


I haven't been everywhere, but I have been to enough places to know that JK Place Capri is in a class by itself. I arrived after what felt like one of the longest travel days ever and was picked up at the ferry by someone in a perfect blue linen suit who transported me in something like a golf cart to a very private little road and before my eyes the most magnificent villa...palazzo...gorgeous structure appeared. Walking through the front door I felt like I entered one of the nicest homes ever. That's what it felt like- home. I was asked to take a seat in what was a living room and in seconds someone appeared with the prettiest drink ever.



Finally in my room I found the most gorgeous bed and the even more perfect view from the balcony like the one below. True bliss!


Every view and spot in the hotel was wonderful. I barely left. The food was so good. The service impeccable.


The best part of the day and one of the highlights and most impressive things was just taking a seat on this gorgeous patio and without anyone asking someone just dropping off a small bite to nibble on and a glass of rose. I realize they do this often in many places in Europe, but it was just the perfect way to relax as the sun set. I felt like I was in someone's home again....possibly it was the monogrammed cocktail napkins that caught my eye. What a nice touch! No one asked what I wanted -they knew what I had ordered from the first day. I actually never saw a bill for this either, this wasn't what impressed me- it wasn't about the money one way or another it was about the hospitality!



The view from every angle was just so gorgeous and serene...basically I just had no desire to leave and I am dying to go back!!!



Cala Di volpe Sardinia is in another area that I have never visited, and would really like to see. I hear the area and hotel are both amazing!


The entire place has such an old world feeling and again it seems like you would be staying in someone's home.


What an amazing view to enjoy relaxing, eating and enjoying!


Hotel Russie Rome


Smack dab in the middle of the Eternal City you will find the chic Hotel Russie.

Located between Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps, elegant and classic combine with modern and sophisticated at the Hotel de Russie in Rome.



It is between two of Rome’s most picturesque piazzas, Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo, Hotel de Russie is one of the chicest luxury hotels I have encountered.


The rooms are comfortable and stylish in the heart of Rome.



The Mediterranean tiered Secret Garden, has rose bushes, orange trees, and mature pine, and is surrounded by the gentle sounds of a small waterfall..this will transport you to a dreamy place!


Even if your budget doesn't allow for a room there be sure to visit the stunning

Stravinskij Bar, sipping expertly-mixed cocktails under the stars.

Indulge in one of the best aperitivo experiences in the city as you sip your cocktail and enjoy a small bite on the gorgeous terrace lined with candles.



There are so many options, choices and wonderful places in Italy. There is no possible way to cover it all. These are just merely places I've loved, and have been interested in. There are experts out there who do know it all tho....

I know that my friends and colleagues rely on Jack Ezon from Embark Beyond for travel advice. He has been everywhere and is an expert on luxury destinations whether you are looking to enjoy a vacation or host a destination event. I highly recommend Embark Beyond for advice on any luxury travel. They are the best of the best!


Well, my calendar is quite full this Fall with events and other travel already filling it up so I think Italy will have to wait a bit longer.

In the meantime I think I will satisfy myself with a few delicious Italian dinners in NYC. I'm going to make a plan to hit some of these hot spots to dine in NYC in the next few months.

I plan to relish the delicious cuisine and make my way thru the gold coast of Italian restaurants in NYC like Scarpetta, I Sodi, Marea, Via Carota, L'Artusi, Locanda Verde, Il Buco, Paolas, and I am finally going to Carbone!!


I'll be taking notes as I keep dreaming of Italy and another trip there.


So for now ....Ciao Bella!!!



34 views

Carolyn Bender 
info@cbealifestyle.com

914-722-9094