Crashing a wedding

Trip Start Mar 04, 2007
1
8
Trip End Mar 19, 2007


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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Thursday, March 8, 2007

We had called Ben Singleton the man who coordinated our wedding 5 years ago to let him know that we were going to be in town and that we would love to take him and his wife out to dinner. He was fully booked but he made us an offer. He had a wedding on the 8th of March of two people that didn't have witnesses. He asked if Cory and I would like to be witnesses at a wedding. We jumped on it. So today we are going to be witnesses for a wedding.

We had a lovely breakfast at the hotel Lombardi and then headed out to Santa Maria Novella. It is one of the churches that we didn't have a chance to see in 2002. We didn't have a lot of time before we were to meet Ben and the wedding couple. The church fit nicely into our plans.

After exploring the beautiful church we trekked across Florence to the Palazzo Vecchio where we were to meet Ben. I found myself more intrigued by the tourist than by the architecture or the artwork. I have been to Florence two other times. The first time I was awestruck with the architecture and art. The second time I noticed the details of the artwork. This time it was the people that captured my interest. People from all over the world being floored by some of the greatest artwork of all time. I found myself trying to capture moments in time on my camera. Strangers in motion.

Across the Piazza I saw Ben waiting on us and Cory and I made a beeline in his direction. He smiled broadly and gave us both a hug. It was so good to see him again. He explained that the couple that we would be meeting was from California. They were in Italy alone and needed witnesses.

Barbara and Roger soon arrived. It was great getting to get a different perspective on the Italian Wedding. It was great when we found out that Stephano was the photographer. He was our photographer 5 years ago. We were able to sit in the witness chairs this time around. It gave us a chance to reflect on our own wedding 5 years before.
As Stephano took pictures we caught up with Ben. We even slipped away for a quick espresso. It was lovely to get to visit for a little bit. After leaving Ben we headed out to finish our day.

Today is Festa della Donna (International Women's Day)  March 8 was one of the first of the springtime festae, a day sacred to Ariadne, whom Thesius had abandoned on the Island of Naxos after promising to marry her if she helped him slay her father's pet Minotaur.  Seduced and abandoned, she was a prototype for ancient Mediterranean womanhood.  She later married Bacchus, but that was a whole new adventure. Before the Second World War, Women's Day had been celebrated on different days in early March in several Italian cities. In 1945, the Union of Italian Women decided to hold all celebrations and commemorations on March 8. However appropriate it would have been, they didn't have Ariadne in mind. In fact they were memorializing two events outside of Italy: a March 8, 1857, strike by women garment workers in New York, which led to the formation two years later of the first women's union in the United States, and a strike by Russian women calling for "bread and peace" on March 8, 1917 (February 23 on the old Russian calendar but March 8 in the rest of the world.)
Authorities don't agree how or why, but the custom started in Italy -- some sources say in Rome in 1946 -- of men giving their wives, mothers, daughters, and other women friends sprigs of bright yellow Mimosa flowers on March 8. Women have since also started to give Mimosa to each other. The flowers are intended as a sign of respect for the women and also an expression of solidarity with the women in their support for oppressed women worldwide. Not only do the Italians celebrate with mimosa flowers but the government gives women free admission to some museums and historical sights. We decided to take advantage of this and visit some of the more expensive sights.

After a short walk across the famous Ponte Vecchio we headed to the Palazzo Pitti. This palace was once owned by Luca Pitti but the wife of Cosimo I bought the palace from a great grandson of Luca. The Palace is full of art that the Medici collected. Rafael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, all of the great masters of the Renaissance is housed in their palace.

Our first stop was the Galleria Palatina and Galleria d'Arte Moderna. The artwork was fantastic. It was such a gorgeous day that we couldn't stand to be inside any longer.

I love the Boboli Gardens so we headed outside. We started exploring the gardens. We were trying to set up our tripod to take a couple of pictures of us together when we were approached by an American couple. We had such a lovely conversation. It was their first trip abroad. They had come to Italy to visit their daughter who was studying in Florence. We talked about how we were there for some strangers wedding and then explained how we had been married there 5 years earlier. 

My favorite part of the Boboli Gardens is the Grotto. It is a man made cave with reproductions of Michelangelos statues. It has this feel of an underground cavern. The figures have a look of coral. Perfectly lovely. Just a few feet from the Grotto stands the famous guy riding a turtle, Valerio Cioli's 1560 statue. It shows Pietro Barbino, Cosimo I's court dwarf, as Bacchus. While we were there we admiring the statue we had a good laugh at some other tourists posing on each others backs as if they were riding their own turtle.
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