The last time I was in Italy was via luck of the draw due to being assigned to an Italian client at work in 2016. And it was during that trip to Lake Como I knew I needed to come to Italy every year until the stars align and I have my little Bed & Breakfast on the Italian countryside and maybe an Italian hubby. So when a friend of mine told me she was having her wedding in Italy in October of 2017, I knew this was going to be my best trip to Italy yet. And it was. After months of phone calls, emails, group chats, side texts to those in the group chat, and not one but two Google spreadsheets, I was off on my Italian adventure.
Things kicked off in Bologna – the meeting spot for the pre-wedding, we-about-to-have-the-best-meal-of-our-lives crew. We met up in the afternoon for eats, drinks and just all around giddiness and fuckery because we were about to kick off what quite literally is the definition of Black Excellence. As part of the months long planning we managed to get a reservation at Osteria Francescana, a 3 Michelin star restaurant owned by Massimo Boturra, and named THE best restaurant in the world in 2016. It placed second in 2017 and 2015, and third best in 2014 and 2013… so, not to brag but this was a big fucking deal to have snagged reservations here. If the name sounds at all familiar, you may recall it as the location of Dev and Arnold’s multi-course meal in the second episode of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None in season 2.
Osteria Francescana was the most exceptional culinary experience I have ever had. First, just think of how good Italian food is, period. Then, its like your favorite dishes are taken apart to really extract the individual flavors that make up said Italian deliciousness. Then Massimo blows your mind by taking it beyond your wildest culinary dreams by remixing it with some avant-garde-ish. Literally. For example, one course was all about parmesan cheese called Five Ages of Parmesan Cheese. Parmesan cheese was served in a variety of different textures and temperatures. Parmesan cheese. Served. FIVE. DIFFERENT. Ways, y’all. Or, how about the crunchy part of Lasagna? Cause that was a course too. The Crunchy Lasagna was some kind of pasta made from scratch but the thinnest, origami-type looking piece of pasta I’ve ever seen on top of a DECADENT ragu. I mean. Damn. The food itself was mind blowing and the pictures will do more justice than I ever could but the real special sauce? The fact that we, eight African Americans, sitting in a private room, eating a 12 course meal at the worlds best restaurants. Something we discussed at the table to make sure we took a moment to truly express gratitude and appreciation for this moment we were sharing together; something our ancestors could never have imagined. And it was this sentiment that gave official kick off of the wedding hashtag: #upfromslavery.
Public Service Announcement: reservations at Osteria are no joke. They open reservations 3 months in advance and they go quick. So, a recommendation: recruit a few friends on the day you can make your reservation (remember, this day you make the reservation is 3 months before your desired dinner date). A couple to hit the phones, others to be on the website to up your chances of getting in.
After the epic dinner, it was time to make our way to the wedding destination. Alex and Rob, bless their hearts, had secured a villa for a number of their guests and when I tell you it was like the black and bougie Real World house, I mean it was the blackest and bougie-ist Real World house Italy, minus the drama. Nestled up the narrow streets in the lush hills of Tuscany, our house was a blend of modern architecture and art gallery aesthetic that we were lucky to call home for a few days.
The venue for both the wedding, and pre- and post-events was at a darling art hotel, Locanda al Colle. It was here my dream of having a Bed & Breakfast in the Italian countryside was born. Winner of Best Luxury Hotel in Southern Europe, Locanda feels more like a home than hotel. The property, originally an 18th century farmhouse, has been converted into 12 guestrooms, each with their own uniqueness and design aesthetic, features a heated salt-water swimming pool and is surrounded by lush gardens, olive trees, and panoramic views of the hills and sea.
Post wedding, it was off to sunny Sardinia. Originally I had planned to travel with about 10 people from the wedding but, long story short, it ended up being four of us; 2 of whom I didn’t know. But, as I’ve been lucky to travel a few times, I’ve learned the most important things to hold on to when things change direction are flexibility and positivity. And so, there I was in this amazing villa that sleeps about twelve, with only 3 people, two of which who were married. What ensued for the next couple of days was more eating, drinking, exploring ways to entertain ourselves and moi making homemade, dope-ass burgers. We chose our villa because originally it was meant to be said 12 of us just boozing, chilling, and pooling so we figured a lot of time would be spent at the house. However what actually happened was that it ended up being four of us, 2 of whom seemed to want nothing to do with myself and my homegirl which is a story in itself. But I digress! We continued to eat, drink, take in the majestic views of Sardinia and just be our black ass selves.