Saturday, April 12

Italy and Blogtour Milan sponsored by Modenus, Great Design, Great Kitchens

just one highlight of the trip,
climbing to the top of the Milan Duomo 
Part 1: musings from Italy 
recounting great design and food, 
and incredible people.We bonded over our collective love of design, and everything Italian! 

sampling delicious Amarone wine
(it's a tough job, but someone has to do it)

fruit at market in Venice; 
a jaunt through Brera Art District Milan

private gates showing intricacies 
of Italian ironwork
By now, you may have heard me talk and write about blogTour, so let me share the beauty and value of the blogTour brand having just returned from a sponsored trip to Milan and Venice, Italy with Modenus.  I have a series of posts to write and share from my trip over the next few weeks, highlighting a special visit to joined design shows, Eurocucina and Salone  del Mobile.Milan.  These two events run concurrently in Milan every two years (Eurocucina, a bi-annual kitchen & bath; Salone del Mobile, an annual furnishing show).  
my favorite quote from Blogtour Milan
design spotting with the Antiques Diva
In a nutshell, what is Blogtour?  
Founder Veronika Miller hand picks designers and writers she feels have a special tonic of great followers, effervescent personalities, a good design eye and expertise in design.   She whips together some interesting sponsors for our design-infused trip, but the experience no way ends with simply hitting a trade show.  In fact, it's a complete infusion of philanthropy, food, wine, art, collaborations of talented people and yes, design.  The medley of all these factors brings together something magical.  But, then add the incredibly rich country of Italy and you've just considerably raised the bar.  Having just returned last night from this whirlwind visit to Venice then Milan to take in the cultural wonders of the Italian lifestyle and their designs, I am inspired.  

view from a Countess' historic villa 
(a stop on Cristina Gregorini's Slow Venice tour)

Grounded in a love for and expertise in 
interior design, we takes cues from there.
 lunch with Italian bathroom fixture company, Gessi
I have been fortunate to count BlogTourMilan as my third sponsored trip with Modenus.  And, once again, I return home with sore feet, inspired yet feeling recharged.  I retain incredible creative fodder from these experiences, and even months later tap into the creativity in both my writing and design work.   It’s not just a business trip, yet we have sponsors and press visits, and write a plethora of stories about our sponsors mingled in with everything else we see and love.  Then there is a dozen or so other bloggers who at first glance do not always have much of a connection, except our collective love for design, but that quickly changes once we meet and travel together.  BlogTour Milan was impossibly dream-like and that just takes me to my love all things Italian.  
 To begin with, the Italians are impossibly happy and passionate, and love life.  A big part of the Italian culture is an intense pride and love for their arts, and a deep appreciation for history.  

an utter fascination with wood at Salone Mobile 
(look for this in an upcoming blogpost)

The key to Italian design lies in valuing quality living everyday, as well as appreciating history.  The Italians then create something new and innovative, magically mingling the two aesthetics. 

Campari apertifs at Camparino in Galleria Cafe Milano after antique shopping with the Antiques Diva
Italians relish every moment of life to the fullest without angst -- I want to bottle that somehow. 
BlogTour boasts their own talented photographer, 
Chasen West
above: Chasen with founder, Veronika Miller 
About Veronika Miller...
Veronika is both structured and loose at the same time, which makes each travel experience magical.  She is relaxed yet can be all business when it’s warranted.  She is a visionary, yet enjoys the small moments.  During our last evening pizza dinner together as we reminisced about favorite moments from our trip, while tunes played in the background, Veronika immediately broke into a little happy dance, inspiring us all in the sheer joy of our experience.  This encapsulates BlogTour, relishing in moments of great design.  She brings her talented family into the mix as well, with her funny, smart daughter Florence leading much of the charge while we race through through crowded streets to make our appointments, posting on social media along the way, multi-tasking, meeting the faces behind the design brands we cover, and all the while injecting a sense of humor into the process.  

striking a pose with the lovely Florence from Modenus
The incredibly talented invitees 
make Modenus' BlogTour unique

Veronika has developed an uncanny ability to choose talented people for these tours – the ones who she can rely on to give both quality editorials to her clients, and  professionalism and a lightness to the experience.  Let’s be honest, it is not always easy to travel with almost a dozen perfect strangers through different countries.  It takes a special type of person who can do this while juggling different careers at home, then produce great content about design and the sponsors.  Bloggers need to do some of their work on site while socializing.  It can be daunting to balance a glass of champagne, make small talk and tweet/instagram and post all at the same time (sigh).  Veronika has clearly honed in on those who can get it done with panache. 

stealing away a few hours with The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines who introduced us to select antique shops in Milan's Brera Art District.

 Ultimately, bloggers are fastidious communicators, so I must apologize to the country of Italy if we were a little noisy, but we love you 
and our enthusiasm spilled over at times.  
about us...
For the most part, bloggers are entrepreneurial, reinventing themselves, and almost always with great ideas, and equipt with an impeccable attention to detail and great style (patting myself on the back here), but it certainly is not easy as many bloggers do this while juggling another career (or two).  So, well, we are kinda great.  Yup, we are great and brands should want to get to know us even more, don’t you think?  In part because we offer glimpses of the personal behind-the-scenes story of brands and their wares.  As an interior designer (I'm wearing different hats for a moment) that is what me and my clients want to see when choosing a faucet or fabric, and we want to know the story behind the brand, and why this product is special. 

a shared moment with sponsor Cosentino at a beautiful Italian kitchen showroom showcasing their counter tops.
I hope you will also follow the musings of my talented friends as well, and see their profiles here:
 In addition to leading these tours, Modenus hosts a rich website to help source artisans and design products from all over the world.  Additionally, Modenus connects people as well as giving designers a place to post their professional portfolio.  Think of Modenus as a digital resource for design enthusiasts, but they also love to keep an eye on growing those collaborations off line.  

my favorite area in Milan is the Brera district located in the historic center of the city.  The Medieval name is "braida" which means clearing of trees.  In the year 900 this district (just outside Milan's city walls) was cleared of trees for military protection. 
Happy Nesting
XO Tamara