Two daughters. Two weddings.

we did two major Italian weddings in 36 hours. In two different towns in two different provinces, even.

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Well, yes. But then again, no. Yes, in the sense that both of “our Italian daughters” did visit us and we did go to two Italian weddings that same week, but no in the sense that neither of our daughters got married during that week. Not that we know of.

But still, we did two major Italian weddings in 36 hours. In two different towns–in two different provinces, even. Yes we can. And yes we did.

SIENA, Tuscany. We had a lovely cup of coffee with our Italian daughter from Torino, Roberta, and her boyfriend, Stefano. Then they took off for a day cruise of Lago Trasimeno and the islands. And Midge and I fooled around in the garden and did laundry in the hot sun and the next thing we knew OMG it’s time to leave for the long awaited wedding at Spannocchia. Our friend Erin Cinelli is the director of the foundation there and we’ve known her since she was Only This Tall.

They started this wedding right, with an awning over tables of Prosecco. Then a beautiful sunset ceremony at one end of the rose covered villa. The bride and groom said their vows and strolled through their friends and family as newlyweds and the wine began to flow and the food too. Very fun food. They had an almost happy carnival like device that fried every kind of fresh vegetable, zucchini blossoms on down. They were served in paper cones for your walking and talking pleasure.

I said sunset didn’t I? But somehow it was really more than that. This was a nuclear powered sunset. Must have been something in the air this particular week because once again on this trip we were brushed an unreal shade of gold. Literally living in a gilded age. The perfect end to a perfect day. But wait. There’s more? A sit-down dinner in the lemonaia and white tents stretched out around it. The tables were set up in white linen and a sort of tan tapestry brocade on the chairs. But the luxury of this was wonderfully broken by the skirt under the linen flowing down to the ground. It was made of burlap. Just the right textural touch. This IS a working farm. Sure it’s a farm with villa and chapel and towers from the 11th century, but make no mistake, Spannocchia is a working farm. Texture was a knockout. And so was the infinity of food and good company.

Wedding dinner in tuscan limonaia complete with swallows. In the air. Not on the menu.
Wedding dinner in tuscan limonaia complete with swallows. In the air. Not on the menu.


We happily shared the gastronomic moment with resident swallows who flitted in and out the whole night like they owned the place. Which they really do. After all, they are here saving the world from bugs one mosquito at a time, every day of the year. I’ve given up mouth-open dives off castle heights hoping to catch fresh nutrients on the wing. You can be in the same room with them. They aren’t like gulls. We really don’t compete for the same food. So they were just lovely visual ornaments for a dinner that needed none at all.

The bad news was we had to duck out early, pre-dessert even. Being Italy, that meant about 10:30 or 11. About that time we decided that if we really were going to go to another wedding that started first thing in the morning – in another province, we’d better get going.

Working our way across the lawn we came up a set of stone stairs to the door of the villa, whose hallways we’d follow out and to our car. My hand touched the massive studded doors and I said to Midge, “Oh, we have to stop a moment. Look at this. Look where we are.” A sky full of lucky stars. Cypress in full moonlight. White roses reaching almost to the top of the villa’s roof bathed in the light. The musicians were just out of sight around a corner of the tent, we could see their silhouettes through the white canvas and could hear the squeak of the accordian and the whine of the violins tuning up for the dancing on the lawn that was about to start. And that we’d be missing. Drink it in, lap up as much as we can. Appreciate every moment.

Now lets get in that car and get back to Panicale before the next wedding starts. Like most of our “rest and relax” times in Italy, we’re having fun as fast as we can. Stay tuned. Wedding Two is the next blog.

In Breaking News from Bar Gallo . . .

When we are in Italy you can usually find us there on Via del Filatoio. Our end of the street is quiet, reserved, great views, but it is mainly “four cats” and us. But the other end of the street – that is where the action picks up.

PANICALE, Umbria, Italy – The wheel turns. Another revolution. And a new generation comes to town. To our favorite town in Umbria, Panicale. I have to admit it is not only our favorite but it is also our “home town”. When we are in Italy you can usually find us there on Via del Filatoio. Our end of the street is quiet, reserved, great views, but it is mainly “four cats” and us. But the other end of the street – that is where the action picks up. We often find ourselves referring to the piazza as if it were an extension of the long standing village café/bar. This bar is the first place open in the morning and the last place to crank up its awning and stack up its chairs every night. We say, “Lets go to Aldo’s” and we sort of mean lets go down to the piazza. But have a cup of coffee first. All the stores, restaurants, the hairdressers, are right there. So is leaning against a sun-warmed stone wall or licking a gelati sitting on the fountain’s steps waiting for friends to come by. Just part of the texture of the place. And the focus here, as in many villages, is the village café by the gate to the city.

In the winter months, the bar closes one day a week. Monday. And it is a Blue Monday when that happens. Lost souls sit in the sunshine in plastic chairs in front of the locked metal doors looking for all the world like there has been a death in the family. I suppose I am exaggerating a bit, but people do know when Bar Gallo is closed, and the piazza seems a bit quiet, off balance, disoriented. I can promise I am all of those things and more.

love is in the air in Umbria, italyThe café is often just called “Aldo’s” (a photo of it is captioned like that on an internationally published calendar we bought here in Maine), but its true name is Bar Gallo. And it really is a Gallo family affair. Aldo and his bright, shiny penny of a wife Daniela seem to have been there smartly dressed six, and more often, seven days a week for more years than we’ve been coming to town. They were legends when we washed up on these shores ten years ago. Sister-in-law Leyda comes mid-afternoons and gives them a break. And more and more the last couple years, Aldo and Daniela’s son, Simone, has been swept up into the business. Building us our lifesaving morning cappucchinos, noonday proseccos, late afternoon gelatis and our after dinner, after theater, after whatever, night caps. Bailey’s and Orzo and Goodnight, Goodnight. Sogni d’Oro indeed.


And what is this? Simone’s found a honey. Look at that rascally smile on his face. Is that the cat that ate the canary or what? It looks to be young love in full bloom. Young and wired. And not just from the high test cappucchino. We may all be way up on top of a hill in Umbria but we’ve got broadband. And that is where Simone met his lovely Siciliana Lorena. On the internet. Isn’t technology grand? If you saw Simone in June you knew there was a Lorena countdown. At the bar, every morning. “Only five days.” “Will you be here Tuesday?” “ Four days. She’s coming Tuesday, you know”. And the next thing we knew, there she was behind the bar, dishing gelati and local gossip with the best of us – like she’d been here forever.

If a medieval village of brick and stone can be said to have a heart, it is surely its piazza. And the heart of Panicale’s piazza is right there under its striped canvas awning, right between its ancient marble fountain and the old town gate where the drawbridge used to be. And now Bar Gallo not only has a great family history, it also has new blood. The beat goes on.

Complimenti, complimenti pure. And happy congrats to Simone and Lorena and Aldo and Daniela and everyone sitting in the sunshine of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.

See you in Bar Gallo,