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Postcard - The Italian Wedding

Georgia Munsell

We recently attended our second wedding in our village of San Quirico d'Orcia. The first was about four years ago when a couple from Atlanta we met the night before were the first Americans to be married in the town. Presiding at that ceremony that morning were the mayor and Roberto Rappuoli, a town councilman who spoke English and could therefore translate the Italian ceremony. Since that time, we have become good friends with Roberto.

Roberto, who has a PHD in Chemistry, is a tall, handsome man about 34 years old with a gentle, very caring personality. I've been trying to get him married practically since we met. This summer we heard he had a girlfriend and then this fall he announced that he was getting married ... finally. We were thrilled to be invited to his wedding, our first Italian wedding.

Sunday when we arrived at the church a few minutes before the 10:30 AM time designated on the invitation, we found everyone outside waiting. Since mass was at 11 AM anyway, the priest had decided to combine the two events. So, it turned out an invitation wasn't really necessary to attend the ceremony. Although we understood very little of the Italian spoken, there was a four page program so we could follow along in Italian. One different practice from my experience in churches in the States was that during the wedding ceremony, the audience clapped three different times.

After the service, everyone waited outside the church while they took wedding photos inside which is, of course, the same in the States. However, when the newly married couple walked out of the church, instead of making a mad dash to the waiting car, they just stood there and got pelted with rice and pasta. Yes, "pelted" because guests brought boxes of large, uncooked pasta and threw the pasta at them. Roberto and his bride didn't make a run for it because instead of greeting everyone at the reception, they took everyone's good wishes there outside at the church.

Although this event culminated about 12:30 PM, the reception in a nearby hotel didn't start until 1:30 PM. Like good, prompt Americans, we arrived at 1:30PM to find practically no one there. However, guests did eventually arrive to partake in the apperativos. But it was 2:30 PM before everyone was seated at the tables and the first course of the dinner was served.

We sat at a table with probably the three most important men in town: the priest, the mayor and Mr. Simonelli, the man who owns the most property in town. Fortunately, Mr. Simonelli speaks fluent English and he took us under his wing introducing us and talking to us throughout the meal. He was a very charming man.

For the dinner, the wait staff brought each course separately. Fortunately the waiters did serve from a platter which allowed you to control the amount of food you were served. And we did have the menu which allowed for some advance planning as well as anticipation. These were all important factors in determining how much to eat since as you will see from the menu below, this wedding feast could be cause for severe overeating.

Antipasti

  • platters of mixed crostini with mushrooms and pureed vegetables
  • platters of mixed cold Tuscan meats like proscuitto

Primi

  • first a lasagna that had been baked in the oven
  • next tagliatelle with wild mushrooms
  • finally pasta in a chicken broth (very different and good)

Secondi

  • chicken rolled and stuffed and sliced like a pate
  • mixed roasted meats - rabbit, chicken, pigeon, sausage

Contorni

  • souffl of zucchini, roasted potatoes
  • mixed salad

Desert

  • all kinds of sweet Italian pastries
  • the wedding cake - which was the best I ever had (puff pastry type crust, vanilla custard center, whipped cream topped with shaved white chocolate)

Wine

For wines, first we started with a Rossa di Montalcino, followed by the more expensive Brunello di Montalcino, then Vinsanto and finally Asti Spumante.

The dinner wrapped up about 6:30 PM. Although we said our goodbyes about 7 PM, many people stayed for the dancing that followed.

All in all, our first Italian wedding was quite an experience as well as a wonderful, very memorable celebration.


Georgia Munsell owns the vacation rental Bella Casa, in San Quirico d'Orcia. www.munsells.com/italy/

© Georgia Munsell, 2004

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