It’s been a little over a week-and-a-half since our wedding, but the planning for the big day and surrounding events have been in the works since our engagement in February. Looking back, 7 months isn’t really that long to plan a wedding in Italy. But when it comes to organising, Mountaineering Man and I are both total planning nerds!
We also chose to have a much smaller wedding than the norm, with only 28 guests, which helped. And on Thursday, the 27th of September, we all arrived to the Villa Vistarenni in Tuscany (via a private coach from Bologna airport; we didn’t realise under after booking our venue that there are no direct flights from Dublin to Florence, the closest airport to Tuscany!). The villa has enough rooms to accommodate all our guests, and so we booked it for four days for a nice, long weekend. Considering some were travelling from the United States, we wanted to give people a real holiday – not just a wedding vacation!
Villa Vistarenni is a truly magical place with a rich history and beautifully preserved features. Built in the 17th century, it was owned by the family of Prince Feridnando Strozzi originally, and then by the family of Baron Giorgio Sonnino. It is now owned by a woman named Elisabetta, who rents it out for weddings and other events, and runs it as a B&B when the Villa is not being rented out by one party. The Villa sits atop a hill, from which you can see the tiny village of Radda. Villa Vistarenni produces its own wine, a beautiful and very drinkable Chianti – appropriate, considering it sits in the middle of the Chianti region.
It’s hard to believe, but just two-and-a-half years after moving to Ireland as a single girl, I got married in a dream wedding in Tuscany to my Mountaineering Man. For those of you who started reading this blog from the early days, you’ve shared the journey with me and for that I am very grateful. It’s been such a fun, crazy, sometimes scary trip and having you along for the ride has been a wonderful source of support.
And because this is a blog about my transition to life in Ireland, I promise to post more details and photos on all our wedding festivities, which started with a welcome dinner at our rented Tuscan villa and finished with a fantastic honeymoon on the Amalfi coast.
But for now I will leave you with a photo from our special day and a reading that was chosen by MM himself and read at our ceremony by one of his best mates, Kieran. It is part of a longer reading written by the late great David Foster Wallace, and for us sums up the true meaning of marriage and partnership.
This is Water
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how’s the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"
If you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The immediate point of the fish story is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about […]
Our own present culture has […] yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying.
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom.
The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the "rat race" – the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital-T Truth is about life before death […] It is about simple awareness – awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: "This is water, this is water."