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Wishing a very Happy Mother’s Day to all of our Mammas, Nonnas, and Zias out there!
Please enjoy this previously printed piece from Myra Robinson. This piece is an edited extract from Myra Robinson’s amusing book “The Best Mud in Italy.” For more information, see www.myrarobinson.info.
It often happens in Italy. You spend a short time in a little place like Monselice, get to know people, and before you know it, you are part of the family and invited to their son’s wedding next spring. For this reason, we found ourselves being driven to the church in Citadella, a perfect walled town 25 miles north of Monselice, by a manic driver from Umbria called Luigi, the uncle of the bride. In all other respects, Luigi is a very amiable man, but like all Italian males, put him behind the wheel of a motor and he imagines he’s driving a Ferrari.
It was Antonio’s wedding, the young man who had originally owned my flat. After all, the family reasoned, he would not have been able to afford to marry if he had not sold his apartment, so we had to be invited.
I, of course, thought long and hard about what I was to wear, and decided, reluctantly, not to wear a hat for this wedding because Italian women never do.
“Oh, but you must wear a hat,” protested Antonio’s parents. “You are our English guest, so you must look the part.” This pleased me, and I made arrangements to borrow a beautiful big hat from my daughter-in-law.
With the precious hat on the back seat next to me, we hurtled off up the autostrada with Luigi casually holding the wheel with one hand while he turned to chat and point out places of interest, shouting over some terrible Italian pop music on the car radio. Juggernauts flashed at us as he swerved from lane to lane, but somehow we arrived intact.
The calm ceremony in the ancient little church soothed my shattered nerves, and I almost greeted Luigi warmly when he ushered us once more into his car to drive us to the reception. The villa was stunning, with a perfect dark green Italian garden, lawns bordered by white statues, and cool fountains at each end of the lake. I stood under the shade of a pergola, patiently sipping my prosecco and waiting while every woman guest tried on my hat, with much merriment, looking for mirrors bigger than handbag size.
As we slowly made our way towards the frescoed dining room, I heard a familiar sound drifting over the lawns. It couldn’t be. It was. “Blaydon Races” was being played on a mouth organ on the other side of the lake. It did not take long to work out that my partner had somehow found a harmonica and was showing off by playing an English folksong to a few guests.
It was not the meal which remained in my memory long after the wedding, wonderful as it was. There were 14 leisurely courses, between which the guests strolled outside through the open French windows and chatted while admiring the giant urns on the terrace, each with abundant white flowers cascading to the stone paving. No, the greatest surprise was the traditional games performed by the bride and groom when the banquet was over.
After dancing and ice cream, at midnight, in a courtyard lit by hundreds of candles, it was time to find Luigi for the dreaded return drive. He had fallen asleep, slumped half under a table.
“Not a good sign,” I thought as I gently shook his shoulder. Luckily, he appeared to be coordinated and coherent, and we zoomed away down, thankfully, empty lanes before turning onto the motorway.