Sunday, August 29, 2010

i now pronounce you marito e moglie

remember how i started this but then didn't finish it? i wanted to add pictures but had to wait until wedding no. 2 so i didn't ruin the dress surprise. well, the second wedding is done and dusted so, here 'tis: italia: part uno.

okay, okay, okay. italy.

oh italy.

we've been back almost a week* now but, god, it already feels like so long ago. sigh.

i don't know where to start. the obvious choice would be at the beginning but i can't do that.

why? because i have to save the best till last and we kick started italy in the most amazing place i have ever been.

well, how about the point of the trip, the wedding? good idea.

set in what i have been calling regional tuscany (because it's easier that way), the wedding of fiona and alfredo was always going to be a special experience.

we (the boy, ange, clare and i) were staying in a bed and breakfast about 10 minutes drive away from the wedding venue. a bed and breakfast i cannot recommend highly enough. casa monte cucco was more than we ever could have hoped for, although things started a little ominously.

we arrived about three hours later than we should have after a 90-minute wait for a pre-booked hire car and a nightmare of a time trying to get out of rome. "all roads might lead to rome but none of them freakin' get you out" said the mister at one point. still, when you turn left one block too soon and end up circling the colleseum for the third time, it's hard not to laugh.

we followed the directions to our b&b but, as it turned out, those directions only get you so far. we could not, for the life of us, work out where to turn off the main road. we knew we were close but we lapped that street three or four times looking for a sign, any sign. in the end, cucco was about five more turns and 10 minutes completely off the beaten track. this, in the end, was part of its appeal but a little heads up would have been great.

all was forgiven when we pulled up. italian homestead much? the house was gorgeous, the rooms were gorgeous, the setting was gorgeous, the hosts were so, so, so gorgeous. plus, in a huge bonus, we discovered were staying in the same place as the lovely pablo and elodie - a french couple who were also wedding guests.

we spent much of our time in the pool and slash or jacuzzi. surrounded by 360 degrees of rolling green hills and olive trees. seriously. we swam, we lazed, we....

yeh, we pretty much entertained ourselves in this very fashion for 90 per cent of the stay. all we really needed was a tennis ball and it would have been australia's favourite sport, 'classic catches', on tour. next time.

anyway, i am meant to be writing about the wedding of fiona and alfredo which was, in a nutshell, fantastico! the bride was stunning. yes, she my friend and of course i would say that but she truly, truly was. the groom, of course, was very handsome. and the two of them? tear jerkers! i think it was alf who shed the first tear...that promoted fi to do the same and then pretty much everyone else followed suit.

you may now wipe your tears and kiss the bride
given half the guests spoke english and no italian and the other half spoke italian and no english (with a couple of exceptions) the ceremony was conducted in both languages. such a unique experience which i think we will all cherish.

the food and wine, as you might imagine given our location, was delicious. unlike your average australian wedding, there were eleventy six courses. we started with aperitif (pre-dinner drinks with nibblies in oz speak), then antipasto (ahhh, favourite!!) which i assumed was entree but, no.

entree was spinach and ricotta ravioli with sage and butter sauce. drooling? yeh, it was glorious. if only we were warned there were two entrees the boy might not have said yes when the waitress offered seconds. and he probably wouldn't have said yes when she offered thirds (ps: were were warned. he swears he didn't hear).

entree two? wild boar pappardelle. ahhh, yum! i had no idea i was eating boar for the first time but i'm a carnivore so that's okay.

mains involved rare beef and amazing roasted vegetables followed by pork and delish roasted potatoes. or was it the other way around? can't remember. the wine was too good.

because we'd been served many small meals, i had time to realise i was full and (those who know me won't believe it) could not eat dessert. i was so disappointed to because it was fruit flan which i freakin' love. sorbet cocktails were also served and i did manage to squeeze one of those in.

but seriously, there was more to this wedding than food. let's start with a little game we like to call 'photo geek'.

why not play along at home? simply nominate one person to be the photo geek and while they pose as if they've never been so excited to be in a photo, the rest of the gang should react with appropriate disdain.

anyway...the speeches, like the ceremony, were beautifully touching. all translated into english or italian by a bilingual groomsman. although we didn't understand most of it, listening to the italian speeches was somehow just as wonderful as hearing the english versions. both the father of the groom and the bride spoke and the bond between them was quite obvious. since they'd only met a week earlier, and neither could speak the other's language, watching them together was really quite special.

having already whet our appetite with a spontaneous conga line earlier in the evening, the night wrapped up on the dance floor. this is kind of my favourite place. ever.
weddings always seem to go so fast. i guess because i am usually having so much fun. it was definitely disappointing when the music died - i can't imagine how that would feel when (if) i am the bride one day. although perhaps i'll be so exhausted, i'll welcome it.

and here's something special. the bride ever so kindly sent me a few of her most favourite pics from the professional photographer. she just recieved them. all 1800 of them. here are four. 

okay, so, turns out i had a lot to say about the wedding. this whole italy thang might have to be a two-parter.

*actually, much, much longer than that now. sob.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

what would beyonce say?

before italy, the boy got asked a bunch of times whether this trip would be proposal time. some people didn't even bother asking, they just told him: "you'll get engaged over there".

no one said anything to me...until we got back.

"so, are you engaged?"..."where's the ring?"..."did he pop the question?"

i just find it odd. and it kind of makes me feel odd too. i mean, firstly, if i get engaged, i'm going to tell you, trust me. but secondly...i don't know...being asked kind of makes me feel like i am, in some way, falling short of some universal expectation.

and hey, i totally understand why people were guessing we'd return engaged. and there's nothing wrong with that. but must they ask?

even worse, those (and, in my experience they are aaaaalways 50-plus) who, once informed that no, we did not get engaged, proceed to hit the boy up about when he plans to pop the question, even suggesting (in jest, i understand) he's dragging the chain...while i am right there!

i can deal with it. we can deal with it. we are happy and content and that's what matters. it just surprises me that people think it's within the rules of courtesy to probe.

reasonable line of questioning or a social faux pas?
your thoughts?

Friday, August 20, 2010

you spin me right 'round, baby

so, australia votes tomorrow, hey? should be interesting. and exceptionally close i would imagine.

here's a secret (which is about to be, in no way a secret): i'll be voting for jules.

and here's the disclaimer: NO, i am not voting for julia gillard because i am a woman. but you can damn well be sure that's a significant part of the reason i would never vote for tony abbott. what a tool.

have fun at the polls. hope you score a sausage sizzle!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

cosmic love

one week ago, i was watching this amazing woman be completely and utterly amazing. ah-maze-ing. florence welch. florence and the machine to be precise. if you haven't heard of them, check it. if you have, let's gush together.

ps: this photo is pretty special, huh? well, i can't take credit. but i will give it to my mate peta. kudos matey.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

book club time

i read an amazing book during my holiday. this. was. not. it.

in fact, my sister's keeper was kind of lame. i read it after said amazing book since i still had plenty of holiday left. the storyline (daughter sues parents for medical emancipation after years undergoing operations to help keep her dying sister alive) is a good one but the implementation was a 400-page cliche.

disclaimer: if i knew how to churn out novels which appealed to the masses and made me squillions, i would totally do it. but that doesn't mean i have to enjoy reading such work.

my sister's keeper kind of reminded me of james patterson's stuff of the last five-odd years. james patterson and all his mates that is. it feels formulaic. like the author didn't really bother thinking about it but just filled in the gaps. ticked all the boxes.

to be fair, i picked up my sister's keeper less than 24 hours after i put down one of the best books i have ever read so it was a hard-act-to-follow sitch. which brings me to:

i have not stopped thinking about we need to talk about kevin since i put it down. it's one of those rare books i feel i need to read again immediately. author lionel shriver (a woman by the way) has an exquisite way with words and, in this case, she uses them to illustrate a powerful, emotional and provocative story.

the ultimate debate is nature versus nurture. was kevin born evil? or was it his upbringing (essentially a distant mother and over-eager father) that urged him to kill nine people in a high school massacre at age 15?

but this book isn't about a high school shooting. it's about the path towards it. we pick up post-massacre but look back to pre-crime with a series of letters written by kevin's mum to his dad. as she tries to come to terms with her son's crime, eva examines her life, her choices in an effort to understand how things went so very, very wrong.

read it. seriously. and, if you're feeling as though it starts a little slowly, persevere. the intricate platform is key to getting involved in the debate you'll be dying to have post-read.

have you read 'kevin'? what did you think?

and where do you stand on nature v nurture?

Monday, August 2, 2010

a moment in time

favourite holiday snap. yes mum, i'll send you a copy.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

i was in italy. i'm not anymore.

you're getting part two of the italy story first. is that okay?

i started writing part one yesterday but the word count started to creep up and little so i decided to keep it wedding specific. to break up the words, i'd like to include photos. but, mr and mrs cerboneschi are having wedding: take II in a few weeks' time (this one's in oz) and we don't want to spoil the dress surprise for anyone now do we? no.

so, that post is sitting in drafts. this post is not. der.

bookending the lovely tuscan wedding of fiona and alfredo was three-plus weeks of italian bliss. it started on the amalfi coast, finished in the nation's capital and included a new addition to my top five all-time favourite destinations. in fact, while my current top five was written in no particular order, this spectacular location can go straight to the head of the class.

congratulations...drum roll please...positano.

look, there are probably photos which better depict this glorious destination but this is an absolute fave. it's damn hard to get a six ft six guy and a five ft nothing girl in a self portrait while sufficiently capturing the backdrop. this is stupid and i like it.

anyway, positano. camelshoes' number one travel destination. why? it's gorgeous. it's charming. it's ocean adjacent. i just fell in love. while there are certainly a lot of tourists, i didn't find it 'touristy' or crowded...and we were there in the middle of their summer.

our stay here also included time in amalfi, sorrento (formally of top-five standard, now bumped for its neighbour), pompeii and capri island.

i won't go into those or we'll be here forever. but worth a mention is the ricotta and pear flavoured gelati we gobbled in sorrento. best. flavour. ever. (until venice).

there's a little hole in the story here which takes in the three days we spent in 'wedding ville'. i'll pick up in florence.

firenze was so pretty and bolstered by the company. we had a couple of friends still with us from the wedding and a couple more waiting in florence. mike's sis and a friend of a friend also met us on day two. good times. a highlight of florence was the cooking course a few of us took which yielded fantastic bruschetta, scrumptious pasta and delish tiramisu.

the cooking was fun. the eating was better.

next stop siena and it was just the boy and i once more. we had three nights booked here which quite a few people had implied would be a long time for such a small place. but, in hindsight, i would not have wanted to do it differently. siena was beautiful. yep, absolutely, it was small. but for me, travel is much more about wandering, discovering, eating, drinking, soaking up atmosphere and i reckon you can do that anywhere.

one of the best things we did was hire a scooter and zip around tuscany for a couple of days. still based in siena we visited a heap of small towns and wineries - places off the beaten track. perfecto.

zoom zoom.

then it was off to venice. i luuuuuurved venice. to me, it's the epitome of italy. those quaint canals dotted with cute dingys winding around charming homes - it was postcard stuff. and forget pear and ricotta ice cream. i got a hankering for a scoop one particularly hot day and, sticking to our 'never-order-the-same-flavour-twice' mantra, i opted for something i had never seen before. it was, hands down, the best flavour i've ever tried. the problem is, i don't remember what it was. all i can tell you is that i am pretty sure coconuts and hazelnuts were involved.

one of a glut of venetian selfies.

from venice to milan. italy's fashion capital, apparently. we never expected milan to compare, visually, to those places we'd already been and, save the duomo, it didn't. but, my oh my, that duomo.

right in the heart of milan, it definitely the most impressive building i have ever seen. so much detail. i could have sat on that roof all day. but, places to see, cocktails to drink. lakes to visit. lake como to be precise. beautiful. tranquil. a day trip for us but definitely somewhere i would happily stay longer. plus, the chances of seeing george clooney are pretty good.

the climax of our four weeks was the cinque terre. on the coast of the italian riveria, cinque terre was, ahhh, good. lovely. beautiful in fact. but ever so slightly disappointing. and it's not cinque terre's fault. it's mine. me and my silly expectations. i though ct would blow me away. it did not. positano did but not the chink.

we got 'the walk' under out belt, because that's what you do in ct. 12km long, the track takes you from monterosso to riomaggiore via vernazza (below), corniglia and manarola. or vice versa. these are the '5 lands'. we were warned against tackling the walk since we didn't bring trainers but, in all honesty, we completely killed it in thongs (flip flops, jandals) so i am glad we went for it.

the highlight of ct was lunch at locanda lorena. we had been given step by step instructions by the father of the bride at the wedding. so, we jumped on the ferry to portovenere, found the courtesy speedboat to palmaria island and sat down to one of the most glorious meals of the trip. such a wonderful day. thanks paul.

the train from cinque terre to rome was sad. not because the end was nigh but because we had the pleasure of sitting next to halitosis woman. now, i truly don't mean to be cruel but one, she's not reading and two, it was unbearable. as soon as she stepped into the six-seat carriage, mike and i looked at each other in fear. we had a good couple of hours with this woman and it was impossible. every time she spoke, and she was with family so she spoke often, a thick fog of yuck swept over the rest of us. it's hard to be polite when you're gagging but we survived and made it safely, albeit traumatised, in rome.

we'd both been to rome before so didn't feel the need to see the sights. we had a few presents to pick up and, of course, wanted to indulge in some final italian foodie moments but it was effectively arrivederci to ialty and our amazing holiday.

a week later it feels like a lifetime away. that's what reality will do to you i guess. but we have fantastic memories, great photos and a freakin' super tan!
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