You know those moments where you find yourself completely transported to another place if even for a moment? You hear a sweet RnB groove and start dancing? See an inviting lounge with a huge roaring fireplace and imagine yourself enjoying a glass of Chianti and the company of good friends and laughing so hard your cheeks hurt? Casa Berti is all of the pieces of your dreams seamlessly sewn together in one place. A 17th century Tuscan villa restored to its original charm but with all the modern amenities, and we’re not just talking about wi-fi and luxurious rainfall showers. You will instantly feel the stress of your travels and routine, everyday life melt away the moment you set your bags down. From the tastefully decorated rooms and comfortable beds to the well stocked music and DVD collections, our objective is to put you at ease so you are primed for the artistic breakthroughs to come.
Whether you’re an omnivore, vegan, paleo, or raw food enthusiast Tuscany has something to offer you. We don’t believe in creating ONE menu and then simply fitting your preferences in as an afterthought, we can fully accommodate your culinary needs and all with fresh produce and fruit and ethically treated meat. Italy has some of the most well loved dishes in the world – and rightly so! Relationships are built, wounds are healed, laughs are shared, and secrets revealed – all around the kitchen table. Raise a glass of locally produced wine and toast your health and those of your companions on this journey. Simply let us know your food preferences or allergies and let us use that information to ensure you are taken care of from the inside out.
You’ve come along for the ride to offer moral support, but don’t forget about yourself too! If some of the activities around the villa don’t make your heart soar – why not enjoy a few additional experiences? We will provide a shuttle to the train station in Lucca where you could take any number of independent “Catalyst Itinerary” day trips to Florence, the Cinque Terre, Portovenere, Siena, Volterra, or San Gimignano, or we can arrange modestly priced guided tours. Perhaps you’d like to try your hand at making your own pasta, pastries, or bread or instead of making it, maybe you might enjoy a foodie tour to sample some of the local dishes at the locales that made them famous. If the time is right, you can even experience harvesting and making your own olive oil which is yours to take home afterwards. You are just as important a part of our retreat as the artist you are supporting. Let us take care of your needs too.
Shannon Milar is a certified printmaker from Il Bisonte per lo Studio dell'Arte Grafica in Florence, Italy and now practices visual art in the United States and Europe. Skilled in collage, assemblage, digital art and design, Shannon is readily available in the studio to mentor in any of these areas. She is grateful to have practiced in artist residencies around the world and brings that experience to Catalyst, working with each artist to understand their own creative vision, and helping them bring that vision to life during their stay.
Skilled “catalyst for change” - Hayley Richardson switches between Product Management & Data Analysis to persuade, coax, negotiate, and sometimes bribe team members to drop the gun and take the cannoli all in the name of better locations, smoother transitions, and tastier food and wine. She doesn’t plan events, she creates experiences.
Alessio Marini is Viareggio’s response to George Clooney – charming and handsome, there is no venue too big nor truffle too small that he can’t find and no deal that he can’t negotiate.
Ben Gooder is an award-winning feature film script writer and documentary film producer. He divides his time between Italy and the UK. He discovered Casa Berti 20 years ago and realized a long held dream when he purchased the property from his family two years ago. Since then he has embarked on a development program to improve the buildings and land. He is proud to have restored Casa Berti and made it a Centre for excellence and self fulfillment. He takes great pleasure in sharing his love of this place with visitors from all over the world.