Most people in their 30s put their life savings and last bit of youthful energy into buying a house or having kids but not Aussie Italian Benedetta Venturini.
Three years ago, the event manager threw her pennies into launching a music, wine and food festival in her native Tuscany. The three-day glamping event serves beats and traditional cuisine all in the shadow of a medieval castle. An immersive postcard of sorts. Certainly a one-of-kind initiative for Italy.
Two successful festivals later and countless 18-hour days to prepare for this year’s event in May and Venturini was just breaking even.
And then coronavirus happened.
Italy has recorded more than 29,000 coronavirus-linked deaths, the third highest tally in the world and has remained under strict lockdown since March. For the safety of her staff, artists and vendors Venturini postponed her beloved FLASH Festival until next year.
“We went through that unexpected rollercoaster of emotions, planning ahead for so many different scenarios,” Venturini said of that dark and uncertain time during the early days of the outbreak.
“But the situation has become bigger than us, our home is suffering.”
Venturini had to think quickly, cut her losses and adapt.
She will give fans a virtual experience of Tuscany.
What is usually a gathering of food and wine lovers soaking up the spring-time sun in the medieval town of Castiglion Fiorentino will become a live stream to our homes.
Sure, it’s not the lush glamping tents and how-to-make-fresh-pasta lessons set against the Val Di Chiana Valley (yes, that’s the one painted by Leonardo Da Vinci) but FLASH has partnered with independent wine bars and restaurants in major cities to bring the smells and tastes of the Tuscan regions to quarantine.
Venturini and her partner Karl Schussig, originally from far North Queensland, have handpicked bottles of red and natural wines for their FLASH in a Box concept and will live stream a group wine-tasting, a live performance act and two DJ sets (lineup dropping soon) connecting people in iso to the music and tastes of Tuscany.
When Venturini started FLASH in 2017, it was her dream to link people from around the world to share the nature, style and cuisine of where she grew up. After living in Sydney and London, it was her home region of Tuscany that she wanted the world to see through her eyes.
“Instead of getting married, having kids and buying a house, we started a festival,” she said.
“No sponsors, no partners, solely independent, we worked for three years building an authentic brand and giving our all to produce a music, food and wine experience in Tuscany. For this reason, we remain fully committed to fighting for FLASH Festival and its ethos throughout this gap year of 2020.”
In what could possibly be the largest wine-tasting event attempted – wine and music fans from Italy to the UK, Copenhagen to California and, of course, Australia will be sharing notes on a cheeky bottle of Sangiovese and Natural wine on Saturday May 16. And it’s free if you RSVP.
The live stream will feature wine makers educating us about fine Italian drops - including one from Pomaio, a green winery in Tuscany.
Now, this is how you enjoy Tuscany in the age of coronavirus.
Australia: 19:00 – 23:00 (AEST)
Rest of the world: 19:00 – 23:00 (BST)
You can get Flash in a Box to your door here.