Monday morning. We awoke to another picture-perfect day. Good thing, since today was bureaucracy day.
Months earlier, Nichole had made an appointment for 10:00 a.m. at the American Embassy in Napoli to obtain legal paperwork necessary for their wedding that would take place on Thursday. We had prearranged for Easy Coast/Ravello Tourismo to meet us with a van in front of Hotel Margherita at 8:00 a.m. to cart us there and back.
Anna Sorrentino (firstname.lastname@example.org), our wedding planner, had assisted in the arrangements, advising that our driver would not only take us to the embassy, but also to the Italian Prefettura directly afterwards, where we were to sign and notarize more paperwork. Our driver, she had informed us, would also serve as our translator at the government office.
The Prefettura is the equivalent of a county government in the U.S.A. We were required to have documents legalized there, much as we would do at our County Recorder’s office in the States.
En route, we were supposed to stop at a tabbachaio (a small shop that sells stamps, tobacco, newspapers, bus tickets, etc.) to buy two special stamps, called marca da bollo, that must be given to the Prefettura. A marca da bollo is a revenue stamp used as payment for validating notarial acts, passports, and public documents, such as marriage documentation.
We soon learned, however, that ever-efficient Anna had already purchased the stamps for us and our driver had them in hand.
We left the villa early, wanting to make sure we had time for our morning cappuccini before embarking on the long day ahead of us. As we approached Hotel Margherita, we were surprised to see a van, obviously ours, already parked in front.
The driver was standing beside it, waiting for us. He was in his early to mid-40’s, balding, with a slender build and a snappy suit. He looked friendly. We walked over to introduce ourselves, meeting for the first time, Andrea. Over the next few days, Andrea would become more than just our driver. He would become a friend.
We were relieved when Andrea assured us we had time to grab our caffé, although he declined our offer to join us. Not wanting to spend too much time, we hurriedly ate some pastries, gulped a cappuch, and boarded the van.
The van was quite large and comfortable. It could easily accommodate the ten of us with seats leftover. I sat towards the front, and Allie sat in front of me. Everyone else was spread out with room to spare. We chatted with Andrea, who was very relaxed and personable, yet still attentive to the road.
I didn’t think twice about Andrea’s driving abilities as he maneuvered this oversized vehicle along the tortuous Amalfi Coast road, pointing out sights and cracking jokes, as we clipped along towards Naples.