The idea of starting an event center was nothing we had planned to do from the start. We heard the idea from a couple who ran their own reception hall. They said it was a very rewarding business and that we should consider it ourselves. It sounded very intriguing but we had our hands full with our own photography business, so we really didn’t think much about it. Where things really started to get interesting was one evening while talking over dinner with John’s sister and husband, we shared with them about what we’d heard and we started tossing the idea around almost as a joke due to how busy we already were. We were very surprised when they told us that “we can do this”. That dinner started the three year process of bringing Bella Terre to life. From that night on, we were off and running.
Because of our love for Italy, we had always dreamed of planting a vineyard on our property. That sparked the idea of creating an Italian-style villa on 8 acres of vines. The original design concept and creation are very personal to us because we wanted our photography to be the main inspiration. So we modeled the interior after an Italian village based on our imagery. Elements, such as the balconies and windows that ornately decorate the upper walls were sculpted after the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence, a doorway taken in Cortona, an awning from a well known restaurant in Portofino, as well as colors, textures, and hidden words and phrases are all brought to life from an image that we photographed in Italy as well as our own personal connections. The vineyard represents the beloved Chianti region of Tuscany; one of our favorite spots. And, of course, the gates that overlook the valley come from a garden that rests on Lake Como. Between these intricately romantic gates, the wedding ceremonies take place.
After much deliberation the name “Bella Terre” was created. It is Italian for “beautiful lands”; where one beautiful land meets the other; Italy and Iowa. Both are unique in their own way but they come together to enhance the natural beauty of the Iowa countryside where Bella Terre is nestled.
We can only hope that the images that have inspired us in this adventure also inspire others who visit Bella Terre. After all, you can see Italy from here!