Marriage At The Municipio: Part II

June 10, 2010 — Wedding Day!

When they walk back up, they'll be married

The Walk Down

We were in high spirits as we swept through the upper part of Praiano in our finery. People stared, then smiled. Gianni, Donatella, and Nakita met us halfway down. They had been parking their car higher up the hill.

Don't put these on just yet

We still have to make it down these steps…
and more

Almost there -- now you can put on the sparkly shoes

As we approached the Municipio, Anna zoomed past on her motorino. She would be there to make sure all went well.

Anna, our wedding planner, arrives on her motorino

The sound of another scooter came from behind and we made room on the road as it passed. A man all decked out in a pale blue suit and dark blue tie was driving. It was Angelo! He had come, just as promised!

Angelo won’t be late for the wedding…
the groom is right there!

The bride heading into the Municipio

The room in which the wedding would take place was one floor up. Not wanting to risk any turned ankles in high heels, Nichole and Kris decided to take the elevator. Before the door snapped shut, Angelo stepped in with them for the ride. As they rose to the second floor, he burst out in spontaneous song, a melodic ode to the wedding couple: “That’s Amore!”

Yes, it was.


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Marriage At The Municipio: Part I

June 10, 2010 — Wedding Day!

A perfect day for a wedding on La Costa Amalfitana

Getting Ready

Understandably, everyone was up early. Allie had thoughtfully put together a wedding-morning breakfast for the couple. After a knock on their bedroom door, she whisked in with a tray of sweets and colorful espresso cups filled with strong coffee.

After a nibble and a sip, the groom-to-be was nudged out and the bride’s bedroom became a hubbub of activity.

It helps when your best friend is also a hairdresser

Candace works her magic while Chris records history

A quick touch up

Gorgeous!

The shoes are pretty, too!

And they have a secret message. Do you see it? I do.

But it’s not all about the bride…there’s a groom, too.

He still doesn't look nervous.

He's even cracking jokes to Gino

How do I look?

Pretty good, I'd say

King Kris

The civil ceremony at the Municipio was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. It was time to leave. Gianni, Donatella, and Nakita hadn’t yet shown up, but we knew we’d meet them along the way.

Chris and Candace are ready to go

And so is the wedding couple

As Nichole descended the villa steps, she saw a single white butterfly flit past her. During all the days we had been at the villa, none of us had seen any white butterfly. It was a lucky omen, and maybe also a clandestine blessing sent by absent parents from a place unknown. It was a magical morning, and on such days, magical things can happen.

Mangiamo!

Grab a plate. It's time to eat!

Dan brings out the vino

Gathering around the long table on the lower deck, we relished not only the delicious food, but just being together. We sealed the feeling with a toast to ourselves and to the wedding couple with glasses of that magical white wine. Eros Ramazzotti and Georgia blasted from the stereo, providing the perfect touch of contemporary Italian life to our happy scene.

We're a happy, hungry, exuberant group!

Donatella serves up the spaghetti

As we finished eating, Donatella scraped the last dribbles from the pan into Chris’s plate. He gobbled them up, not wanting to waste a taste.

Chris refuels for more handstands

After dinner, Gianni, Donatella, and Nakita presented their wedding gift to the just-about-bride-and-groom. We pulled close around the table to watch them open it, oohing and ahhing as a gleaming Alessi serving set emerged. We were all duly dazzled.

The cousins’ present to the newlyweds:
a stunning stainless steel serving set made by Alessi,
renowned Italian designer

As the evening wound down, the cousins left to spend the night in their camper parked in the hills behind, but promised to return the next morning in time for the legal wedding at the Municipio.

The rest of us also turned in fairly early. We wanted to be in prime shape for the big event tomorrow.  But before we all said goodnight, Allie had a little surprise for Tony and me. She presented us with “Father of the Bride” and “Mother of the Groom” crying handkerchiefs. I already knew I’d be needing mine.

Elegant embroidered handkerchiefs for parents shedding tears

As we said buona notte, we were hardly able to believe it was finally here…WEDDING DAY!  We were excited and happy, and no one seemed to be nervous.

Even the groom

Cooking Cousins

After all that swimming, hiking, and pool splashing, we were starving. We were ecstatic to find out that Gianni, Donatella, and Nakita had brought all the fixins’ to make a spaghetti dinner.

Meet the cooks, cousins Nakita and Donatella.
These two women can cook up a storm.

Donatella and Nakita started preparing their famous sauce.  Tony stood close by, observing the process.

Nakita prepares the perfectly ripe tomatoes for the sauce

Tony keeps an eye on the process

Is that not the best smell ever?

Allie and I dashed down to Tutto Per Tutti to pick up the champagne for the next day’s wedding toast. I was also on the lookout for some salt, since we couldn’t find any at the villa. On the way back, we passed Angelo on his motorino. He beeped and waved. We wondered again if he’d really show up at the wedding tomorrow morning, as he had promised.

Allie cuts fresh veges for the grill

I sneak a piece of prosciutto from the fridge while the cooks aren't looking

In between swims, the guys barbecued chicken and sausage, also purchased from our favorite local store. Sharon whipped up a fresh green salad, we pulled out the salami, prosciutto, and cheese, and we were set.

Verdure, grilled

Pane

Salsiccia

But the queen of the table was indisputably Donatella and Nakita's spaghetti

Now let’s eat! Mangia! And who has the wine?

Party At The Pool

Kris welcomes us back -- in plenty of time for the pool party

After our trek down to the Torre A Mare and Sandulli’s art studio, Donatella and I navigated our way back up all those flights of stone stairways. We arrived at the villa as the pool party was in full swing. We donned our suits and joined the fun.

Candace, Allie, and Nichole in, and at, the watering hole

I'd call this Quadruple Trouble

Gino whoops it up, no doubt at something Kris just said

The other Chris just found out
the cousins will be cooking dinner for us tonight

Donatella and Gianni, soaking up sun

Nichole and Kris, toasting their upcoming wedding day...it's TOMORROW!

That's something to celebrate!

Soon-to-be

Three stunning tropical flowers

The groom doesn’t look nervous to me.
And it has nothing to do with that glass of wine.
All of a sudden, everyone disappeared.
The rumor was out…Donatella and Nakita had started cooking

Inside Paolo Sandulli’s Studio

How would you like to come here to work every day?

Donatella and I approached the Torre A Mare, Paolo Sandulli’s art studio where he creates, displays, and sells his work.  The path leading to the open door was also lined with his fanciful pieces.

Not your usual sculpture

Nor was this, from the front...

Or the back. (Check out that mischievous little goat.)

Maybe this fellow was fashioned after a local?

Inside the tower, the walls were covered with artwork. Shelves and stands were crowded with painted terra cotta pieces of great imagination, including the likenesses of the heads of local inhabitants, many with natural sea sponge for hair. It was chaotic, but in a pleasing sort of way.

The sea behind this sculpture created its own special effect

A circular iron staircase led to an upper level, equally crammed with art. On the lower level, in an arched opening lit by natural light, sat the artist himself, wearing shorts and working on a piece.

Paolo Sandulli, artist in sculpture, pottery, and painting

We greeted Signor Sandulli and Donatella spoke with him a few minutes. We learned that he was born in nearby Avellino, but studied in Naples, Rome, and Paris.  In 1993, he moved to Praiano, making this 800-year-old tower his laboratory and studio.

These faces are of Praiano residents, past and present.
(Notice the terra cotta "artists"?)

This is me on a bad hair day

After admiring his many creations, we emerged from the studio, ready to hike home. The view, however, stopped us in our tracks.

Just outside Sandulli's tower studio, we stopped short at the view to the left

And to the right

It was time to get back to the villa.  We couldn’t stand much more beauty in one day.

Torre A Mare — Tower By The Sea

On our quest for Torre A Mare,
Donatella and I stormed down these steps, and several more

Not following any particular path, Donatella and I nosed downwards and left, knowing we’d eventually come to Torre a Mare — Tower by the Sea — a stone sentinel standing on a rocky promontory at the very edge of the coast.

Once serving as a lookout against invading Saracens, the tower is now home to local artist Paulo Sandulli’s art studio. But Donatella and I didn’t know this yet as we picked our way down the endless steps that wove their way downward.

Along the way, we passed whimsical walls dripping with flowers, a riot of color against the gray stone. Tiny niches carved into the rock held religious icons, iron grating protecting them from straying hands.

Iron bars protected this saint’s niche,
but I reached around them to take only a photo
We had a hard time watching where we stepped —
the walls were too intriguing


Miniature houses cast in terra cotta were set into lilliputian scenes, like toy towns abandoned by elf children.

We arrived at the tower. “Mostra d’Arte — Ingresso Libero” the sign read, announcing Mr. Sandulli’s art studio. Free admittance. The narrow trail leading to the entrance was decorated with pieces of his whimsical art. Once inside, we were dumbstruck.

The Torre A Mare, inspiration to artists and hikers, alike