Leisurely, Alfresco Lunches & Summer Garden Inspiration: Italian Style…

Dining Italian Style – Inspiration from Italian Country by Robert Fitzgerald

Food, wine and alfresco dining beneath the shade trees… I can’t stop thinking about Italy’s Amalfi Coast today, and I am going to go ahead and blame it all on my new Italian friend, Rosanna. I am working on an interesting, long-distance landscaping project with Rosanna; designing a garden for her home on Long Island, (I will share some of the details of this project later this week). Because she is in New York and I am in Vermont, Rosanna and I have been spending quite a bit of time on the phone these days as we work through project details. Over the weekend, our conversation slowly took a leisurely turn, meandering back to our international childhoods. Although our extended families come from different nations, we have discovered many things in common. Rosanna and I are both first generation, European-Americans (though for me, this is but one set of Alpine roots on my mother’s side) and we both maintain connections to our families and cultural histories abroad.

I love all of South Central Europe —homeland of my extended family—but like many romantics the world-over, I lost my heart somewhere on the Amalfi Coast long ago. Those effortlessly stylish Italians, is there anything they don’t do with perfect flair? From an intimate table beneath a wisteria-draped pergola or a secluded cafe setting inside a shady loggia, to a casually elegant stone terrace or grand plein air dining room bound by clipped hedges and formal topiary; when it comes to meals out of doors, Italians always get the garden setting right. Lucky Rosanna will be vacationing in Italy later this summer. I may be a little envious, but although a trip abroad is not in the cards for me this summer, (maybe fall?) I can still enjoy a bit of Southern European style in my garden here at home. Looking for some outdoor dining-room inspiration? Flipping through my dog-eared copies of Italian Country, Mediterranean Gardens, Italian Style and Tuscany Artists Gardens,with a glass of chianti in hand, I am reminded of why it is that I always fall for the Italians…

Understated Elegance on the Terrace  – Italian Country by Robert Fitzgerald

Refreshment – Italian Styleby Jane Gordon Clark with photography by Simon Upton

Wine and Bread, the Art of Living – Italian Styleby Jane Gordon Clark and Simon Upton

Italian Eye Candy – Tuscany Artists Gardens

Here at Ferncliff, I seem to be revealing my Southern European roots. Raised Goshen stone terrace and steps by Vermont artist Dan Snow

A rusting bench for sipping wine and a rustic clay pots for oregano at Ferncliff. The stone terrace is by artist Dan Snow.


Some European-inspired outdoor dining and decorating pieces for the garden, found online at the always stylish

Rustic, Beer-Garden-Style Table and Benches from Terrain

For Casual Elegance Beneath a Porch or Pergola – Terrain’s Scrolling Teak Chair and Graceful, Matching Settee

Terrain’s Miniature Garden Torches Light Up the Dining Area by Night


Article and photographs of Ferncliff © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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4 Replies to “Leisurely, Alfresco Lunches & Summer Garden Inspiration: Italian Style…”

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Hi Michaela, Much as I know that “rustico” is very hot (pun intended) right now, I can’t help but wonder about sitting there without staining your clothes. Too much practical – not enough romantic, I guess?
    But I really wanted to mention “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes as being an incredibly transportive book… Makes me wonder about having been there in a previous lifetime, it’s pull is so evocative. oxDeb

  2. Michaela

    Hi Deb, Ha. You know, I’m not sure of exactly why… but when I sit on my rusty bench, I never get rust on my clothes. Perhaps because it is exposed to the weather and is ‘clean’ rust? I do throw cushions on it when I have guests over, and I’m usually in jeans… I would probably think twice in a white skirt. I do love the look of rusting metal, but you’re right, it’s not practical everywhere.

    Oh and pots… I collected most of the pieces while traveling across the border in Mexico (by car); also in while working in Arizona and New Mexico and elsewhere in the Southwest. As for the urns, some are from a VT store called ‘A Candle in the Night’ and some were gifts. I love pottery.

    I haven’t read ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’… but I will check it out. Thank you for the recommendation.

    xo Michaela

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