As part our Grazie series we’re taking a closer look at the most exciting artists, designers, chefs and creatives inspired by Italian style. Irene Berni encapsulates the Italian ideals of living simply and beautifully. A strong believer in good food and great atmosphere, Irene spends her days managing Valdirose – a gorgeous family-run B&B set just outside Florence, where she takes inspiring photos of her idyllic surroundings and creative lifestyle. We caught up with Irene to talk about working with family, the importance of small details and how food and slow living have made Italy a paradise.
Hi Irene. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
Since 2007 I’ve been running Valdirose, a family B&B. Here I create atmosphere, develop recipes and host workshops and retreats that celebrate the beauty of the small things. I surround myself with creativity and I'm constantly looking for new ideas and projects. My eyes are caught by details, light, fabrics and natural materials. When I'm not at Valdirose preparing breakfasts or taking photos, you can find me wandering the wood or browsing local market and antique stores. I have also written two cookbooks: Quello che piace a Irene and I doni di Irene, both published by Guido Tommasi Editore.
How did you come to run Valdirose and what are your favourite things about running a B&B?
Valdirose is the home where I was born. It has always been full of people. We would have parties with friends and family dinners almost every night, so it was easy to imagine this home as a guest house. For me it has been natural to dedicate all my time to this project with my family. I love to meet people from all around the world and create new friendships.
What do think makes Italy so special?
I think Italy is really unique for its relaxed atmosphere. It’s the birthplace of la dolce vita and the al fresco dinner. Food and slow living make this country a little paradise.
Tell us about your favourite places to visit in Italy in summer.
Summer is made for the sea: the Amalfi coast, Puglia and the Maremma are my favorite destinations.
You take beautiful photos of your experiences – what inspires your photography?
I am constantly inspired by nature. My eyes are always focused on details and materials.
You’ve also written two cookbooks. Can you describe your perfect Italian meal for us?
Antipasto with the food you find in the fridge, such as cheese, prosciutto, salame and crostini, followed by a simple pasta dish, like pomarola or aglio olio and peperoncino. Then, meat in the oven with all kinds of vegetables – especially potatoes for children. Finally, cake; tiramisù is an easy favourite.