Saturday we had the honor of being guests at our good friends Erin and Francesco’s wedding. The morning of the wedding was cloudy and… Ciao! Ciao! Va bene? Si! Si! Ciao! Sorry. Where was I? Oh, yes. Cloudy and overcast.
We scrambled around the apartment getting ready, but ended up having plenty of time for a Champagne toast before Francesco’s friend arrived with the bridal car. No limos for these Europeans, but the tradition is still to show up in the coolest car possible, decked out in flowers, ribbons, and, in the case of this silvery-white 1972 convertible VW Bug, the Italian and U.S. flags.
Ciao! Ciao, bella! Si! Bellisima! Grazie! Ciao! Ciao!
I seem to have gotten off track again. Oh, yes, driving to the wedding. The wedding was presided over by the mayor of the village of Morbello, which is way up in the mountains, so far up that by the time we reached it the sky was sunny and clear. The crowd, including a nervous but beaming Francesco, waited outside the town hall (municipio, in Italian) exchanging greetings, kissing each other on the cheek and lighting one another’s cigarettes.
When Erin’s car came up over the hill and down toward the guests (with the top down, of course), a hush fell over the crowd and all the cameras came out. Erin’s very handsome Italian driver jumped out to open the door for her, and her fiancé approached, presenting her with a kiss and her bouquet. Erin and Francesco proceeded into the building and up the stairs followed by the rest of us, who crowded into the little room where the ceremony was held.
Ciao! Ciao! Va bene? Bellisima, no? Si! Doppo, doppo! Ciao!
Whoops. Sorry about that.
After a brief speech, in which the mayor lauded the virtues of Erin’s homeland, he expressed his appreciation that they would be making their home in Italy instead of moving to the States, which is the more common arrangement amongst international couples. The mayor’s daughter then read a little poem and presented the bride with a bouquet of flowers, which made everyone, even those who didn’t completely understand everything being said in Italian, a little misty. After the exchange of rings and kisses, it was back down the stairs, for a Champagne toast and the ceremonial tossing of rice, which the couple was picking out of their hair and clothing for the remainder of the day.
Then a select few of us were invited to a very swish lunch at the posh Grand Hotel in Acqui Terme. What a lunch! If I hadn’t saved the menu, there’s no way I could have remembered all the courses. 1. Plate of proscuitto and other varieties of thinly sliced smoked meats. 2. Slice of smoked cod in citrus sauce garnished with sliced grapefruit. 3. Seafood salad featuring calamari, shrimp and baby octopus. 4. Mushroom torte with a creamy cheese sauce. 5. Artichoke risotto. 6. Gnocchi with shrimp and tomato sauce. 7. Thinly sliced roast beef with roasted potatoes and spinach. 8. The most delicious wedding cake I have ever had.
At this point, everyone needed a nap. Not just because of the quantity of food that was consumed, but also because most of us were a bit impaired from the evening before when family and close friends spent a very bacchanalian night out on the town.
Ciao! Ciao, bella! Deliziosi, no? Molto bene! Si! Si! Basta, basta! Grazie mille!
Wow. There I go again. After a brief rest, it was time to party once more. Erin and Francesco rented a large and beautiful room at the Grand Hotel where there was a huge buffet, cocktails and champagne, and plenty of room for dancing. A few of the female guests made some timid attempts to get the dancing started, but it wasn’t until Francesco’s friend, nicknamed “Poupi,” got out on the dance floor that things really started to rock. Poupi was clearly a graduate of the Blues Brothers’ School of Dance, and I can only hope that someone got his wacky antics on video. The bar and the dance floor were hopping until around three in the morning, after which, even the most die-hard guests had to call it quits for the night.
I suppose I should explain about all these interruptions in Italian. It’s just that, after spending a week in Italy, I’ve become accustomed to being constantly distracted by Italians saying hello, kissing me on the cheek, offering me drinks, giving me gifts, telling me I look great or trying to talk me into eating more of whatever’s on the table. I’m weaning myself off their hospitality slowly, I guess. It’s not going to be easy.
Congratulazioni, Erin and Francesco!