Folake, Sidney and I just returned from a 6-day vacation to see Mark and Francesca get married in Padernello which is west of Treviso and north of Venice, Italy. We flew out Tuesday, arrived Wednesday, and it seemed like the party started rather immediately. We all went out for dinner the first night at a nice little restaurant in Treviso, and had our first Italian pizza. I’ve always heard people say how much better (and thinner) the pizzas are in Italy, but had no idea they’d be that tasty. I was quite excited about the fact that you can finish an entire pizza without really stuffing yourself; very, very thin crust.
After a nice, long sleep, Sidney, Mark, Erica (Mark’s sister), Brian (her fiance), Megan (her best friend), Peter, Paul, Ben, and I jumped on the train and took a day in and around Venice. We seemed to have picked the hottest week of the year to visit, as the temperature tipped around the century mark and combined itself with the 90% humidity to really echo the weather in Thailand. Folake didn’t even test it, thank God, and just stayed in and around the hotel to avoid the heat.
Venice was pretty incredible. You can feel the history as you walk through the old town, a steady mixture of old and renovated buildings, but all renovations made with keen awareness of the historical significance of old Venetian style. The canals are pretty dirty and filled with debris, though I suppose not as bad as I anticipated. Mark actually found himself swimming in the canals a couple of weeks back, due to a lack of proper facilities – 5 hours on a boat with no “water closet” and a night filled with drinking would put me in the canals for a “swim” as well – and has found no real ill effect from the swim.
After a fantastic lunch at a little spot across from the train station in Venice, we headed back up to Treviso to unwind before heading out for the evening. The train ride back to Treviso was unbearable; an hour in a sun soaked, poorly ventilated carriage was enough to put all 9 of us out. I was afraid we were going to have to carry Sidney back to the hotel, which wasn’t far, but in the heat would’ve felt like 5 miles.
We spent the next day, Friday, just kinda relaxing and waiting until the rehearsal dinner in the evening. Sidney was all up in arms about the forced grounding for the day, but we all needed the rest. To support our decision, and you can actually seem some of this if you go through all of our pictures, Sidney was just sleeping everywhere we went. He set new records for the amount of places and positions in which one can fall asleep. Let’s see, he fell asleep with his airplane snack pack and drink as a head-rest on the way to Treviso, slept at every single dinner table we ate at, and actually ate dinner asleep on Thursday night. He slept in cabs, on trains, in lobbies, at gelatto cafes, and if I wouldn’t have arrived so quickly, I caught him dosing with standing with the support of one arm on a street sign. And of course, he slept powerfully each night. If only he could’ve slept past 7am each morning, I might’ve been able to catch a few more needed z’s each night.
The wedding itself was just a fairytale wedding, dotted with extreme bouts of overheating (and overeating…keep reading). We started out the day with a “small continental breakfast“, or that’s at least how it was described to be in our briefing at the rehearsal dinner. But what unfolded on Francesca’s front porch was far larger than anything small, and enough to keep us satiated until the afternoon meal. This was the warm-up.
Then we jumped back on the bus and traveled a short distance to the church and enjoyed the full mass wedding, complete with choir singing hymns and songs, though without ventilation or air-conditioning. The church, adorned with frescoes, sculpture and various relics hearkened back to a time much older than the priest’s white robes and suggested that these ceremonies had been performed in this exact location for hundreds of years. The priests, the faces in the crowd, the clothing, and hair styles come and go, but the church seemed to have endured generation after generation of Padernello citizens. In a town 2000 strong, there’s a pretty good chance that many of the locals ancestors walked through the streets and performed similar ceremonies. It was inspiring, and definitely lent a sense of history and importance to the rituals and proceedings.
After a good deal of rice, confetti, and mad applause, the tears, hugs and photos took over. Little did anyone know, the food was probably cooking already.
When we arrived at the first reception, the food started immediately while we waited outside on the patio surrounding the hall. Fried shrimps, caviar, and other various appetizers attempted to break the fast endured through the mass. What should’ve been told to us, was that shortly after arriving upstairs in the reception hall we would be seated and served food continuously for nearly 5 hours. I lost track, but I believe we were served 18 courses. Italians definitely know how to cook and surely laid waste to anything put on the plate. They painstakingly lay out course after course, and carefully group them as appetizers (five, to start), first courses (of which there were five), and second meals (which are basically the meats, and again, there are five), and then a small and nearly rude display of dessert by only delivering us two full each (this, of course, is sarcasm). I have to tell you, I have never eaten that much in my life. I also have to tell you how proud I am of myself and my man Pat for finishing all of the food set in front of us. I believe that we were the only Americans and/or non-Italians to accomplish that feat.
There really isn’t much else to tell beyond that. There was a second reception, and some really hilarious rituals, but I think I’ve said enough for now. It was an amazing experience, and I trust the bride and groom enjoyed their day as much as could be. I hope them nothing but the best, and will continue to enjoy all the time our families spend together.
Man, has it been a busy couple of months. It feels like we’ve barely been home, as this trip followed close after our honeymoon in Thailand, our wedding and festivities in Gaithersburg, Maryland in the middle of last month, and Chris and Isela’s wedding in Cherry Valley which began the streak of weddings back at the end of May. Three best friends and our ladies are now three happily married couples; and it’s so cool that all of our ladies love spending time with each other, and it was never forced upon them. I think we’re a pretty blessed bunch. I know I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried.