Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Wedding in Rome!

Sonia and Tiziano with the parents of the groom, Marco and Marvi.

One of the highlights of my short stay in Rome was to attend the wedding of Tiziano and Sonia. Tiziano is the son of my friends Marco and Marvi from Modena. I'd met Tiziano several times while visiting his folks in Modena. Sonia is from Rome, and also happens to be a famous rock singer in Europe, the lead singer in a heavy metal gothic rock band. But the wedding was pretty low-key, elegant and traditional, in contrast to Sonia's usually dramatic stage presence.

La Chiasetta: Santa Maria in Tempulo

The wedding was a civil ceremony in a deconsecrated church, so it only lasted a few minutes, and we were quickly ushered out of the building to make way for the next couple. It seems they schedule many weddings a few evenings a week, only 30 minutes apart. As usual, the elegant attire of the Romans made me feel dowdy in comparison. Most of the women wore dresses suitable for a prom  or evening gown. I wanted to at least get photos of some of the amazing 4-inch heels that were prominent that day, but restrained myself from acting like a tourist.

Sonia with one of her attendants
Sonia and Tiziano with members of her band

The wedding "carriage"
After the wedding, we made our way out of the city, only to find ourselves in gridlock during the usual Friday evening traffic chaos as Romans headed out of town for the weekend. And then we got lost, even though there was a GPS thingy in the car. What should have taken 30 minutes stretched into 90, but we finally made it to an elegant hotel in the Alban Hills in Marino, Italy, across the lake from Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence.

A view of Lake Albano from the hotel.
The wedding cena is really the main event of the Italian wedding, and it goes on for hours. Another Italian friend shared the details when planning the menu and cost of his wedding cena, and all the headaches that went along with it. First, there's the aperitivi, which at this wedding was a buffet of numerous dishes, every one of them elegant and exquisitely delicious. Carpaccio of salmon, swordfish and tuna; marinated anchovies; grilled zucchine and stuffed squash flowers; a salad of shrimp and other shellfish;  meats wrapped around cheese; and tiny sandwiches with melt-in-your-mouth fillings. And of course, Prosecco (sparkling wine) and Verdicchio (a white wine) were flowing in abundance to accompany the appetizers.

Aperitivi buffet tables: fish and vegetables
Nearly two hours later, we were asked to sit down for the main courses: risotto with scampi, ravioli with pears and taleggio cheese, and baked branzino (sea bass) fillet. And two hours after that, there was the wedding cake to cut and another buffet, this time with fruit and pastries. OH MY! Somehow, I managed to taste a little of a lot of things and never got really stuffed.

My place setting at the cena: they even spelled my name right!
Brindisi! Toasting i sposi
Things started winding down about midnight, and I waited with a number of other guests to ride back to Rome in a shuttle. We waited and waited and waited, and it finally showed up about 1 a.m. From the hotel where the shuttle stopped, I caught a taxi across town to Termini with a couple headed in the same direction, and made it back to my hotel about 2 a.m. I still had to pack for my 9 a.m. train to Naples in the morning, so I didn't get much sleep that night. But I had an unforgettable experience, and feel honored that I was included in this special event.

Last of all, every guest recieves a bomboniere, or wedding favor. Here's what they looked like:

Bombonieri usually include Jordan almonds, known in Italian as confetti. Though it looks sweet and all, you have to literally rip the thing open to get to the almonds, in a small bag underneath a mound of linen and stuffing. So perhaps the confetti is merely a gesture, and the favor is to be kept unopened, as a memento of the wedding. My gift to the couple? Since the honeymoon will involve travels to New York, San Francisco, and Hawaii, I bought them a travel guide for each destination. Other guests gave money to pay for the trip.

How about this? Those are Swarovski crystals decorating these beauties!
A parting shot: as were waiting for the shuttle back to Rome, I asked one of the women if I could take photos of her shoes, which I had been admiring all evening. They were truly works of art, and I can only imagine how much they cost. But she explained that they were a gift, worn at her son's wedding three years ago, and they are very comfortable. Who knew?

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