The weather was warm and delicious when we awoke on Saturday morning, 11th September, 2010. Our beautiful boy, ousted from his regular nest, was with us in our apartment, the four of us crammed and disorganized, everyone trying to shower, to talk, to press the final shirts, work out cuff links, Jake feeling sick as a dog, not sure how much is hangover from a wild night out the night before at Paolo’s bar, and how much is nerves. Sollai is ebullient and in punchy good form and Michael decides to change costume so more floundering at the ironing board. All of a sudden it is 1.00 and we are supposed to be getting going. Mike had cleaned up the vespa for Jake and him to ride up to the church but it was a no go with Jake now looking pretty green. We tumble unceremoniously into our car and Jake begs Mike not to drive fast. We are down to 10 kph and finally he says stop. I need to walk. He is out and half walking up the hill. Very sick and shaky. He is actually hyper ventilating. We think its nerves. Back into the car and we arrive at the Pieve di Monti di Villa carpark, too many guests surrounding him now, we usher him down a little laneway towards our wee cottage. Our friends are staying there. We stop outside and Mike’s brother and sister, both medicos, arrive and fix him with a few pills. He’s feeling really upset and we gently stroke and cuddle him and quietly talk about this special celebration with his friends giving his vows to the girl he loves…slowly he calms. He puts on his jacket and straightens and we take off down the old mule road for the church.
The Pieve church is a really lovely old church, rich in colour and chandeliers and old fashioned grandeur. It stands on the edge of the village looking out over the valleys and mountains, great old pines formalizing the little front yard, ancient old buildings reaching up behind it. It is not the little rustic church in the woods, that was their first choice, but it doesn’t seem to matter, somehow the age of this pristine village and the magnificent unchanged view over the centuries, has its own earthiness.
The bells are ringing, ringing, ringing buoyantly over the valley. All Jake’s friends and family are about him, his face is shining and at last he is laughing and we can see him relaxing. Suddenly there is shouting and everyone is laughing, clapping and waving. Down the old rocky road a pageant is floating. An old tractor has been done up in banana leaves and palm leaves and lots of floating white muslin. In amongst it all, a dark brown arm emerges, cheerily waving back to us all. Jaqueline arrives, unrecognizable under tons of tulle, shrouding her completely. The lovely locals wanted to honour her with a memory of her beautiful Cape Verde, so went to enormous trouble cutting leaves from their precious banana trees. Jake is joyous, leaping forward to lift her down from the tractor tray. The ceremony begins.
Jake is led down the aisle by me and Jaqueline follows with a dear family friend she calls her second father. They are both met by Sollai and Lidua, their best man and bridesmaid. The deacon who says the mass and speaks on their behalf is an old teacher Jaqui was fond of and he was truly a great choice because he spoke of them with knowledge and love and with great consideration to the readings they had chosen. Before we knew it, the bells were ringing joyously again, the veil was flung back and our happy pair were being pelted with rice and confetti……. millions of photos later and prosecco and nibbles from the back of a little Ape truck before we finally depart down the mountain to find the reception.
In file we drive down the valley, past Bagni di Lucca, along the Lima river till we get to a crossing over a suspension bridge. Up a very steep track we climb to an old restored village that has been turned into an agriturisimo. The original terraces have been transformed into gardens and swimming pool and amphitheatre. The setting is gorgeous and we lay about in the late afternoon sun, drinking prosecco and nibbling at a wonderful selection of Tuscan treats. The bridal couple are regaled with operatic love songs from a friend just as the sun sets over the mountains and the air grows cool. We are ushered into a formal Tuscan wedding banquet and for the next few hours we consume copious plates of food. It is joyful and beautiful. It is crowned by Jake who composed a love song on his clarinet and played it to his beloved before us all, many wet eyes before we were lightened by his mate who highjacked a Leonard Cohen song and crooned a few of his own humorous verses in amongst it. Finally a wedding blessing from Sollai, who has eschewed all speeches as was Jake’s wish, and made up a poem of delightful wisdom to accompany them on their life’s journey together.
Its over now. Two weeks later and the last of our guests have left today. Our lovely young kids no longer seem so young and have started their lives together. Its a new era for us and a new steppingstone on the wheel of life.