Irene Berni of Valdirose on hospitality and style

Irene Berni of Valdirose on hospitality and style

Beauty is in the detail for Irene Berni and her family-run B&B.

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Tue 27 Feb 2024 5:02 PM

Irene Berni, author of two cookbooks, founder and manager of @valdirose, a family-run B&B in a 19th-century palazzo, documents her lifestyle, travel, recipes, photography, videography and flowers via her social channels and blog. Her calm energy comes across the screen with dreamy and romantic posts that communicate the rich moments to be had when you focus on the beauty of the small details. We speak to Irene to learn more about her unique take on life and the comfort she finds in curating her own special space.  

Tell us about the beginning of Valdirose.

Valdirose was born out of necessity. It was actually my father’s idea in 2007. To fund restructuring and maintenance works, he decided to make the house into a B&B. It was always a very welcoming home. We often hosted friends and relatives, sharing our everyday lives with others. With no one living there anymore, it was really sad to see a house that had always been so “alive” left empty. But the project was very ambitious. As much as I loved it, when everything started, I would never have believed I could actually make it into a job. At the time, I had a decorations shop that I didn’t want to let go of, but month after month I found myself overwhelmed by work. I started to help my father, firstly with the decor, then in the management of the online promotion, and then at the reception.

What’s the most important element of Valdirose for you?

Our vision: we have always aimed to attract clients that are similar to ourselves in our values and aesthetics. People who love our lifestyle. We succeeded by working only through self-promotion, without ever being signed to a sales website. The result is that we only work with people that we love, and clients find themselves sharing the house with people very similar to them.

How did you meet Mr. Valdirose? What’s it like working together?

Paolo was my neighbour. We have been together since I was 15 years old. We were friends before becoming a couple, then a family, and finally colleagues. He’s a very patient man and a phenomenal worker who never gives up. But above all, he knows how to manage accounts and has a more rational view of things, which is what was missing in a passionate family like mine.

Where do you find inspiration for your style and how would you describe your style?

It might seem very predictable, but I find inspiration in art and in nature. What isn’t predictable is that I am inspired by all nature and by the simplest details: a shrine in the countryside, a small frame by an unknown artist found in a market, the natural flowers that grow along the side of the road; things like this. As a result, my style is very relaxed, simple, not over the top. Over the years, I haven’t found the right terms to describe it. I call it the “Valdirose style”!

What’s your advice for simple living?

Decluttering. Elimination is the key. Every year, I get rid of everything I don’t love anymore (I sell or gift things), and I leave only what inspires me. I find satisfaction in everyday actions using things that I love, like beating eggs in a favourite bowl, folding the linen that I like, etc.

How would you describe your approach to work and the world?

I tend towards happiness and well-being. I try to make people feel good by doing what makes me feel good: by bringing them into my world. I also try to be polite, both in real life and on social media. All of this leads me to approach work and life with serenity. Of course, I’m excited by large collaborations for professional growth and for the amazing things that have happened for me (writing books and articles for well-known newspapers, or creating content for large brands), but it’s no less exciting that I wake up every day to go and do something that I love. I live in the present.

What’s your favourite season? And your favourite flower?

Spring, for sure. There are wonderful scents in the air and nothing compares to the first afternoon of finally warming yourself in the sun. I could never pick just one flower: roses, peonies, dahlias, flowers with lots of petals in general, and wild flowers that bring some lightness to floral arrangements.

What does spring mean for you?

Hope and rebirth. In the spring, the world seems to tell you that everything will be okay and that beauty always returns, no matter what difficulties you’ve endured.

What does cooking mean to you?

In my house, cooking was something that only the adults did. Actually, in both my mother’s and my mother-in-law’s house, I’m still not allowed to tinker in the kitchen! Cooking makes me feel “grown-up” because it means taking care of others. It also makes me feel creative because, to compete with so many good cooks, I have to invent exciting new recipes.

What does your future and the future of Valdirose hold?

Over these past 18 years, so many beautiful and unexpected things have happened at Valdirose that I can’t even imagine its future. I embrace whatever extraordinary things arrive. Regarding myself, in the future, I expect to grow and to be more informed. I want to have a future like that of Valdirose: prosperous, surrounded by like-minded people, motivated by enthusiasm and by creativity, full of opportunities and love. I feel like I’m on the right track, and I’m content with that.

The spring table

valdirose-colazione-orizzontale

There’s never a shortage of fresh flowers on my tables. When I don’t have any, I use aromatic herbs as place cards or to flavour the water. A shoot of rosemary or sage is easily found in any market or garden. You can use kitchen jars or recycled glass containers of various sizes: the height of the compositions should not obstruct the diner’s view. To decorate, I use cutting boards ready to accommodate the serving trays, and even the bread baskets. Repetition can help create a lovely effect of continuity. I always use my Terre de fer dishes, a collection I have been nurturing for some time. The pattern and colour differ from brown and forest green to peacock blue, but the background of the plates is always the same shade of white. A table should express the passions of those who are hosting, so I recommend showing off your most loved pieces, perhaps collected over time from your travels or artisanal objects discovered in workshops or flea markets.

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