Bespolka Home Page   Summer 2002
Danny's Wedding   Tuscany, Italy

 

The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Chris and Georgie's Wedding in Lucca,

Tuscany, Italy -  21-24 May, 2002

 

21 May, 2002:  Arrival in Lucca

22 May, 2002:  The Wedding

23 May, 2002:  The Recovery

24 May, 2002:  The Return Home

 

 

Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny and hot.  Cool at night.

 

 

Chris, a former colleague of Lars', and Georgie were kind enough to invite us to their wedding at, of all places, a beautiful villa in the hills overlooking Lucca in Tuscany, Italy.  As Jacqui was still busy with the post wedding formalities of her brother's recent betrothal, she unfortunately could not come.  Lars was the sole representative from the Far East.  So, having just finished off one wedding, Lars gets on a plane to attend another one.

 

21 May, 2002 - Arrival in Lucca

After the long overnight flight from Singapore to Rome on Singapore Airlines, Lars had to take a number of trains to get to Lucca.  First the train from the airport to the central train station in Rome. From there, after about an hours wait, it was another train to Florence.  Once in Florence, Lars was lucky to be able to catch an immediate connection to Lucca.  The only problem, the trains to Lucca are the local, mail trains. They stop at virtually every station and it is starting to get hot in the train.  But we finally arrive in Lucca just before 2 PM - now time to find a taxi.  As Lars had forgotten to bring with him the name and address of the villa, it was quite a mess trying to get the taxi drivers to understand where he wanted to go.  In the end, we all agreed that it must be Villa Rossi (the taxi drivers said they do not normally take guests, but they do hold weddings).  That sounded like the place, so off we went.  It is a quick ride out of the city, across the train tracks and highway, through the fields and up a winding hill to the villa, entering on a stone, tree-lined lane.  Arrival time:  2:15 PM - six and a half hours after landing in Rome.

 

No one is to be found.  After wandering around and, by eventually following his nose, finds the kitchen and someone preparing food, Lars is directed to a nearby building where many of the guests are staying.  There, he is warmly welcomed by Georgie, the bride to be, and introduced to some of the other guests.  The rest of the afternoon is spent relaxing, going for a run and taking a dip in the pool.  Chris, Lars' friend and former colleague and groom to be, shows up after running some of the many last minute errands required of any wedding.

 

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A dinner has been put together for the whole bridal party.  It is a great way to have a wedding - small with all the guests staying at the same place.  Many people have not had a chance to meet, so the wedding eve dinner is a great chance for everyone to mingle and to break the ice.  As with any Italian meal, the food is wonderful and plentiful.  We sit outside in the open area in front of the old villa building, scattered amongst several tables.  The group is great - everyone is relaxed and we all drift from one table and group to another.

 

22 May, 2002 - The Wedding

The big wedding day!!!  But the formalities do not begin until mid-afternoon, so we have the morning to relax.  We offer to help out in getting things ready, but it seems that they have things under control.  Anyway, we would probably get in the way of the last minute frantic activities.  So, we start off the morning with a walk.  Chris' parents have come by and they are heading out for a stroll, so Lars joins them.  This really is a wonderful spot.  We walk along the narrow country paths with fields and forests on either side.  every once in a while, we are rewarded with a view over the plains below.

 

Back at the villa, the rest of the morning is spent relaxing by the pool.  The weather is great and we take advantage of it.  Just before 2 PM it is time to start to get ready.  As there are only two bathrooms in this villa building (and one of the bathrooms is reserved for the bride and groom), it takes a bit of juggling and sharing, but we are all able to get ready on time.  In fact, we have a bit of time to spare and sit down and have a drink.

 

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The wedding is taking place in a small chapel on the grounds of the villa.  It is a charming place, just a bit small.  The full wedding party will not be able to squeeze in, but we shall make do.  The guests and nervous groom await the bride (we understand that she has been delayed as the hairdresser arrived late).

 

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And then she appears - she is gorgeous.  She looks fantastic in her long, flowing silver dress carrying a large bouquet of flowers.  She is followed by her charming bridesmaids as they approach the chapel up the stone path.  The wedding party is silenced by their approach and then welcomes them with a loud round of applause.

 

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The priest, a Professor Maselli, is already in the chapel and the bride and groom head inside.  They are followed by the bridesmaid and the best man.  Then as many of the wedding party as possible squeeze inside for a view.  The rest are outside, squeezing around the door.  It is a small and intimate affair.

 

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The priest gives a wonderful wedding service - the only problem is that it is in Italian, with just a few scattered words of English.  But we all very clearly understand his message of love, affection and commitment.  The service is brief, but very moving, and finishes off with a kiss.

 

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Once the service is over, we all squeeze our way out of the chapel to the lawn outside.  The bride and groom are congratulated and wished all the best for the future.  We also all sing a special hymn - "Lord of the Dance".  After the many blessings and good wishes, we slowly make our way over to the main building of the villa.

 

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For the next two hours, there is a cocktail reception in the villa. While the bride and groom have there wedding photos taken, the rest of the wedding party has a drink or two, mingles and has a good time. The photographer keeps the bridal pair and their family and the bridesmaids and best man very busy with all the photos.  He seems to find an endless number of settings and poses.

 

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Then it is finally time for dinner.  And what a wonderful spot to have dinner.  A long table has been set up outside on the covered terrace.  We have a few over the lawn to the plains below.  Flowers are everywhere.  The place setting is magnificent.  And above us on the ceiling of the terrace there is a beautiful fresco.  Even the weather is cooperating - the heat of the day is giving way to the coolness of the evening.  What a magical spot and moment.

 

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And what a meal that was served.  We had course after course of home cooked food that we washed down with local house wine.  And this was accompanied by delightful conversation - everyone at the wedding had something interesting, funny or insightful to share with other people.  Things were relaxed enough that we even moved around, shifting our seats, so that everyone had the chance to talk to someone else.

 

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After the dinner, we had the obligatory speeches and toasts.  They were held inside in what must be called the living room.  A huge room filled with overstuffed chairs and side tables with various nick-knacks and lamps.  Everyone had the chance to say their piece - and it was great.  None of the speeches was too long and they were all funny and interesting.

 

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In less than an hour, we were ready to move onto to coffee and cake, which required us to move upstairs to the ballroom.  Now this was stunning - a huge room with high vaulted ceilings.  Frescoes on the walls and ceiling.  An amazing place.  As part of the wedding we were getting a full tour of the historical villa.  We had traditional Italian cake, which was served with coffee.

 

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Holding our cake and coffee, we mingled and chatted in a grand room that must have held countless other wonderful functions like this one we were participating in today.

 

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We, of course, took the opportunity to take a number of pictures.

 

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And then the real party started.  We moved back down to the terrace, where the tables had been cleared and replaced with a disc jockey and music.  We cranked the tunes and got to partying.  The bar was open and flowing and the mood was good.  There was plenty of dancing and laughing and singing.

 

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We all had a great time there, but at around midnight, due to some local regulations (this is Italy, after all), the music had to come to an end.  But while the party ended on the terrace, we did grab a number of bottles and the younger generation moved back to their villa to continue the party.  We lit up a few cigars, opened a few more bottles of wine and carried on.  In fact, we carried on until 5 in the morning.  As the morning light from the rising sun began to peak over hills, we decided it was time to go to bed.

 

What a great wedding.

 

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23 May, 2002 - The Recovery

Well, we were a bit slow getting up this morning and the sight that awaited us was not too pleasant.  The downstairs tables were strewn with the bottles, glasses, half finished cigars and the other vestiges and wreckage of a good party.  After a futile attempt to clear our heads, we set about the task of cleaning up, or at least trying to make it look a bit more pleasant.  Otherwise not much else is accomplished this morning.

 

In the early afternoon, Lars decides to go for another run.  Mad maybe, but it does often help a day after a party.  But he is only able to manage about 20 minutes on the hilly lanes and returns to the villa to rest and wash up.

 

As we have come all the way here to Lucca, it would be a shame not to go into town.  In any case, a train ticket needs to be purchased.  There are a number of bicycles laying around, Lars grabs one and heads into town.  Lars has been to Lucca a number of times - it is a favorite.  When Lars' parents were living in Pisa, we went to visit a number of times.  Lars and Jacqui also came here on their honeymoon.  So, the city is familiar and the focus is not the touristy things, but the more important ones such as tasting the ice cream and buying some wine and fresh pasta.

 

The ride there is pretty straight forward - mainly downhill or flat.  Find the way through some of the side streets was a bit tricky, but was not a problem in the end.  The first stop is the train station to buy the tickets to get back to the airport in Rome tomorrow.  Then to the old city inside the magnificent old city fortress walls which some one was smart enough to preserve.  First things first - some delicious Italian ice cream.  Then a bit of wandering here and there.  Went to check out the huge plaza in the shape of an oval - on the spot where the old coliseum used to be.  Then to some of the wine shops to pick out some great Chianti to take back home.  Final stop - one of the many small delicatessen shops to pick out some fresh pasta to take back home.

 

The bike ride back to the villa was not too bad - while it was uphill, the ice cream acted as a great tonic and the strains of the previous night have been washed away.  Back at the villa, we (the younger generation, that is) all meet up again and wonder what to do for dinner.  We had thought about going out for dinner, but it turns out that all the places nearby are fully booked.  What to do?  What does the younger generation do when it gets into trouble?  Calls on the older generation - the parents.

 

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Well, the parents were better organised and in their villa they were cooking up a multiple course meal.  They must have known that we would get into trouble and they had prepared plenty for all of us.  They kindly invited us over to their villa.  This is the first time Lars has been in their villa, and he is impressed - they got the good villa.  Guess the owner of the place did not trust the kids with the villa with good furniture and frescoes on the walls and ceilings.  Anyway, the balconies may have been dangerous.

 

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We have some pre-dinner drinks (there is always plenty of wine in Italy) while the cooking carries on in the kitchen.  The living room has some very comfortable sofas and chairs and we take advantage of them.  At times, we wander out to the couple of balconies that hang off the side of the villa.  Then dinner is ready.  And they have cooked up a storm and no one goes hungry.  It is a great evening and a nice way to wrap up the wedding.  We are glad that we were not able to find a restaurant that had space left.

 

It is an early night for just about everyone, but especially Lars.  he has to get up before 4 in the morning to catch his train.

 

24 May, 2002 - The Return Home

It is a struggle to get up in the morning.  It is dark and chilly.  Way too early.  But a train is waiting (or rather, the train will not wait).  Chris and Georgie are very kind and give Lars a lift down to the train station - now that was something.  Getting up so early in order to take a guest to the train.  Once at the train station, things start to get a bit worrisome.  The train is late and no one knows what is going on.  Lars has a series of three trains to catch to get to the airport in Rome, so one delay can have a real accordion effect down the line.  The train finally arrives and it seems to move so slowly.  But Lars does make it to Florence with 5 minutes to spare to catch the train to Rome - with a made dash from one platform to another.

 

Changing in Rome, Lars arrives at the airport in time to catch the Singapore Airlines flight back home to Kuala Lumpur via Singapore.  But the adventures do not end there.  While we take off on time, a passenger onboard has a medical emergency and the plane has to make an unscheduled landing in Dubai to offload the passenger so that he can get immediate medical care - hope that things turned out OK.  We landed in Singapore with a couple of hours delay.  But this was not a problem.  Lars will be spending the day in Singapore running some errands, before flying back up to Kuala Lumpur that evening.

 

Danny's Wedding   Tuscany, Italy
Bespolka Home Page   Summer 2002

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