Once upon a time, I was renting this beautiful Parisian apartment. It wasn’t in a gorgeous Haussmanian building with high ceilings and antique features like you see in the movies, but it was spacious and it had a wonderful, well-proportioned living-dining room with a breathtaking view over the rooftops of the city. As a 20-something English girl, trying to eek out a life in France, it was perfect. I nicknamed it “Burnt Cream HQ.”
When the time came to leave Paris, my landlord asked, “over the 5 years that you’ve been living here, how many people do you think have walked through that front door? A hundred…?” I paused, tallying up the dinner parties, wine tastings, supper clubs, wine-industry lunches that I had hosted. I bit my bottom lip and replied “I think it’s closer to a thousand.”
As my relationship with Paris became increasingly embittered, another country was starting to pull at my heart-strings: Italy!
I eschewed the well-trodden cities like Florence and Rome and instead chose a little known hillside between Verona and Vicenza, in the Veneto, up in the north-east of the boot.
I made the move not knowing anyone in the area besides the winemaker and his partner who had kindly agreed to put me up for a couple of months while I was picking grapes and making wine for them. A total leap of faith which could have ended in complete disaster but seems to be panning out well.
During that harvest, I met a man who understands me, supports me and loves me. We now live together, with a dog, and we’re renovating a house. (For more on that, click here.) It’s a house set on a hill, surrounded by vineyards, and even though it’s not your picturesque rustic farmhouse, it will also have a large, open-plan kitchen-and-dining area. I was very particular about how I wanted this room to be – much more so than for any of the other rooms – because I want to once again welcome people, pass round plates laden with food and pop open bottles of wine.