Let me take you on a journey, where the land is carpeted with cypress-studded hills, the sky is as blue as a lark, and a golden sun shines over vineyards and wineries, mansions and ancient castles. This is Tuscany, home to fabulous cities like Florence and Pisa.
Last weekend we took off to Pisa
for a cousin’s wedding, and travelled along the central coast of Tuscany to the
province of Livorno. Our hotel, the
Grand Palazzo, was only a short stroll from the church of San Jacopo in
Acquaviva, a papal vision in pale peach melba topped by a huge bell waiting to
ring out un matrimonio. The church dates back to the
twelfth century and dominates a corner plot exposed to both wind and sea. In June, with soaring temperatures, the sea
breezes are most welcome, although on this particular wedding day it scooped my
hair into a vertical ‘Jedward’ arrangement, and caused chaos with ladies’ hemlines.
Stepping inside the church’s cool interior, we
slipped silently into the farthest pew.
I wanted to capture the bride’s entrance and had my iPad at the ready. Moments later she was there, standing
nervously in the huge open doorway on the arm of her proud father. Heads turned, eyes strained, and there was a
collective gasp that moved around the church like a sigh.
‘Ah, beautiful,’ I said to my
husband. That was my last coherent
sentence before the music kicked in, so sweet and haunting that the hair on my
head seemed to rise up without any help of outside sea breezes. As the choir burst forth into an Italian
version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah
my face was suddenly awash with tears.
It dawned on me that if I could get into such a state at an Italian
cousin’s nuptials, I was going to be in serious trouble if and when my own
children one day marry. But I digress,
that is all in the future. The here and
the now was a bride sweeping regally down the aisle in a dress that screamed both
elegance and class, whilst a long veil wafted around her like early morning
mist. Her awaiting bridegroom looked
suitably gobsmacked at this ethereal vision who was soon to become his wife.
I’d barely finished trumpeting
into my tissue when another was hastily required. The bridegroom recited his vows with perfect fluidity. Then it was the bride’s turn. She started well, but faltered half way
through, her eyes brimming…which set me off for a second time.
‘Pass me those tissues,’ I said
to Mr V. But it turned out he was busy
patting his own eyes.
‘Eyelash,’ he hastily informed
Which reminds me. Girl to
fiancé: ‘When we’re married, I want you
to share with me all your worries and troubles.’ Fiancé:
‘But I don’t have any worries and troubles.’ Girl:
‘I know, but we’re not married yet…’