Our special day
It was several years ago on a very warm sunny day in Torre del Benaco on the banks of Lago Garda that I took my vows for ever and a day to my beloved husband.
Set in the courtyard gardens of a beautiful old castle I tripped in as light as a fairy to the stately notes of the the triumphal march from Aida played so passionately by the violinist and key board player of the Verona Opera Orchestra .AS the music reached its crescendo I crossed the rickety old moat bridge and entered into a magical world perfumed by the intoxicating scents of the orange and lemon blossom trees
I tiptoed towards my patiently waiting Italian prince (ok with a Scottish accent) and beamed towards the Sindaco proudly waiting in his regal attire to carry out this important duty.
It was at that moment that I heard the evocative chords of “O Mio Bambino Caro” the music was haunting and beautiful. Unfortunately it was just all too much for my Latin blooded beloved. The moments emotion just whelmed up inside him and the tears were rolling down his face he pushed an outstretched hand towards me and smiled weakly,
I turned to acknowledge the guests and to my amazement I found everyone crying, sobbing literally bawling.
“Hey wait a minute” this is a wedding, I thought, I have been to funerals with far less tears.
But that moment, the beauty, the passion, the romance and intoxicating atmosphere was just overwhelming.
The mayor proceeded on with the ceremony somewhat mystified and by the time we lit our candles and drank our toast the smiles had returned.
The Sindaco thankfully sighed with relief, happy he had not caused two people years of oncoming grief.
The day was amazing, wedding in a castle, a walk through the streets to applauding Italians to a lakeside restaurant were we sat through 12 courses of delicious food washed down with bubbly pink prosecco and excellent wines. Wedding cake and spumante sitting on motor boats on the lake as the sun slowly set in the sky. A speed boat race just out of a James Bond film across the shadowy waters to the hotel where they were waiting to serve us a wonderful supper of fresh fish with pasta and risotto and we danced until sunrise to old Italian music in the beautiful lakeside gardens under the stars.
What a start to our married life my only wish that I could have been a guest at my own wedding I can honestly say it was the best day of my life and well enjoyed by all who were there.
With that in mind each year on may 21 we have celebrated in style always something special, opera, exotic places, gardens etc etc
So this year when my friend Doreen said to me rather appealingly I would like to invite all our friends to my house for a Scottish night but I just don’t have the room to accommodate everyone, it just seemed natural that I should say use our newly renovated cantina it is the perfect venue for a party. In fact it is just waiting for such an event and of course it must be May 21 we have something to celebrate ( god sometimes I can feel my brain trying to stop my mouth opening but by then the words were out )
Within moments everybody was in full swing planning the big event but me where do I start after all I am not Scottish I am Welsh and quite honestly this whole Robbie burns thing has me completely perplexed and the thought of finding haggis never mind cooking it. Oh my god
But my friends were not phased they took over the organisation.
Haggis and even black pudding was bought and carried carefully from Scotland, salmon was smoked in an old wooden wardrobe in a friends back garden giving a wonderful woody taste , local wine purchased along with Scottish Blantyre whisky.
Specially designed haggis invites were sent and 17 acceptances were received what a great night this was to be. Even more of a celebration because of the work we had to do to get to this point ( previous story the cantina)
All that I had to do was to find tables, chairs, make shortbread and a pasta for the less daring guests to eat. Those who could not quite master the art of eating sheep’s inerds or blood rich pudding.
Saturday morning was spent begging and borrowing tables, umbrellas seats etc from our neighbours which were duly delivered on the back of Antonio’s little green ape.
We created a long table, sited down the centre decorated with white, red and green cloths for our Italian association and little blue and white Saltire flags for the few Scottish in attendance. Little vases of clove scented pinks perfumed the air.
The head chef John brought his keyboard and the scene was set.
All enthusiastically arrived chattering eagerly outside amongst the roses. My neighbours happily escorted the guests about relating anecdotes of how the house used to be.
Then they were all invited into the cantina piped in by the music of bag pipes from Doreens tablet sited discreetly in the entrance.
We all sat down to a hilarious night, great food, wine and crazy entertainment even Robert Burns rewritten. Litres of wine ,beer and toddies of whisky were consumed and by the early hours we all ended up trying to do the Saint Bernard waltz and gay Gordon crashing about in complete disorientation. Causing great amusement to all our Italian friends..
This was certainly an anniversary not to be forgotten.
The following day utterly exhausted from the previous evening we chose to spend a quiet few hours strolling around the rose festival in Govone just a few kilometres from our house, as we ambled around the ancient castle walls we were aroused by the haunting sounds of the high notes of a violin, we followed the music and entered the stunning formal rose gardens set high above the rolling hills,carpeted by vineyards and hazel groves.
Standing close to an ancient water fountain of Neptune was a waif like girl dressed in a scarlet evening gown passionately playing “o mio bambino caro ” the perfumed air from the many roses enshrouded me bringing back so many memories. I went to say, but the words would just not come out the tears were soaking my face and the emotion had frozen my tongue. This time it was me who was crying I looked around and saw the many relaxed faces of the Italian young and old listening attentively in the warm spring sunshine.
what a place this is, Italy gets into your heart, into your soul , there is always something waiting around the corner to surprise you and today it was something so simple but yet so beautiful and special.
Happy anniversary My darling Prince.