In 2014, Luigi and Gretchen Crosti began renovations of the main villa of Poggio Verde, which has been in Luigi’s family since November 11, 1897. Maintaining the beautiful character of the 18th century building, and using materials and techniques original to the villa, additional bathrooms were added, a new kitchen was built, internet service was improved and air conditioning was added in order to begin sharing the villa with visitors.

An inaugural group of eight women from Chattanooga came to the first “Be Charmed” tour in October of 2015 and Gretchen’s sister, Judith Wencel, came along to assist. The trip was such a delight and a success that additional itineraries were developed and added to a growing list of all-inclusive trip options for groups of women, couples or family.

G at Villa Olmo (1)Gretchen Romig Crosti (email)
I grew up in Kansas and met Luigi when the company I worked for transferred me to Milan 30 years ago. The villa has been in Luigi’s family for generations. We used it a lot when our children were young but now that they are living abroad we are pleased that others might share and enjoy this beautiful place.

I love to cook and both Luigi and I enjoy sharing meals with friends, so when we decided to refurbish the kitchen, we joined three smaller spaces into one large gourmet kitchen and informal dining space, with plenty of space for sous-chefs and conversation groups, and all the utensils needed to facilitate a great meal.  

Over the years the villa has been used for innumerable family gatherings, musical evenings, holiday parties, charity tea parties and family weddings. We love having the opportunity to share the beauty of Poggio Verde with our three children, all of our extended families and with friends.

IMG_0299Judith Wencel (email)
When my sister, Gretchen, told us she was moving to Italy we were thrilled about the possibilities of coming to visit her for the duration of her stay there. Little did we guess she would meet and marry a wonderful Italian guy, and stay and raise her family in Italy, and that we would get to visit as often as we have.

When Gretchen needed help with a website and social media, I offered to assist where I could. I had been recruiting volunteers to tutor and mentor middle schoolers for many years and was happy to use some of the same skills to “recruit” visitors to Poggio Verde. I joined the inaugural “Be Charmed” group as photographer and blogger and general assistant and look forward helping with future trips, as well as planning custom trips for visitors to Poggio Verde and Northern Italy.

Mark and I and our daughters (and now their husbands and children) have many fond memories of Poggio Verde over the years with our “adopted” Italian family, and more recently with friends who’ve joined us there. The opportunity to support Gretchen and Luigi in a small way as they open their villa to others warms our hearts a great deal.