*I’m kicking off my travel recaps, hopefully you enjoy hearing about our trip! Here we go, first stop- Italy!
We arrived in Rome at about 8:00 am, after a relatively painless direct flight from Newark. Sure we were sweat and pretty tired but the thrill of being in a different country got our adrenaline going and we were ready to take on the day. Off we headed to the little beach town of Rodi Garganico for a college friend’s wedding (she’s American, he’s Italian, could their life be any more
like a romantic comedy?)
Since Pete is kind of a weenie (kidding! Sorta) and refuses to learn to drive a stick shift, it was up to me to maneuver our miniature Panda Fiat through Rome traffic, winding mountain roads and seriously insane drivers. I’m not kidding when I say that while Italians may have mastered the art of pasta and gelato making, they have a long, long way to go with their driving skills.
For example, if the person in front of you is driving too slow, it is perfectly acceptable to tailgait the sh*t out of them, leaving mere inches between the two vehicles while furiously honking one’s horn. There were many, many times where I contemplated slamming my brakes just to teach these Italians a lesson in courteous driving but Pete talked me out of it.
It was an adventure and while we were going on maybe three hours of sleep out of the last 36, we managed to make it to our hotel with only minimal pissing at one another as well as getting very, very lost. We made a pit stop at a rest area on the highway that sold, among other curious objects-
The largest jar of Nutella I have ever seen
Giant Chupa Chups lollipops
Retractable fishing rods (of which I have no photos)
How do I know the rest stop sold retractable fishing rods? Because my fishing-obsessed husband bought one. For 13 Euros. Awesome. We also ate some very acceptable pizza, proving that it really is impossible to have a bad meal in Italy (we certainly did not.)
Finally, about 7 hours after we began, the hotel appeared in front of us and we checked in, eager to jump in the pool and wash the smell of 12+ hours of travel off us.
We stayed at Hotel Parco degli Aranci, which is where the wedding took place.
Alas, literally as I jumped in the pool, ‘BOOM’ went thunder and ‘Yikes’ went I and jumped out as quickly as I had jumped in. Oh well, we consoled ourselves with several bottles of prosecco as everyone gathered in the lobby for the wedding rehearsal.
The pool, post-thunder storm
The storm made for an incredible sunset
College friends (including a few soccer teammates)
*Photo courtesy of Arvind, Master Photographer Extraordinaire
After prosecco and an impromptu photo shoot thanks to the divine light, it was off to the rehearsal dinner!
Oh, the rehearsal dinner.
Truthfully, it’s going to be difficult to convey just how incredible this event was, especially because my photos are not the greatest (luckily, I managed to borrow a few from those with better cameras and photog skillz than I. Namely, our friend Arvind who did an amazing job capturing the weekend and is even more amazingly allowing me to use there here. Thanks, yo!)
Picture every stereotype you’ve ever seen in every fluffy, chick-flick, rom-com about Italy (think Diane Lane in ‘Under The Tuscan Sun‘) and then multiply it by a thousand, only it wasn’t cheesy and stereotypical, it was real. No pretension, just love, happiness and an abundance of incredible food.
*Photo from Arvind
Photo from Arvind
It was held at the groom’s family’s beach house, and included multiple courses, copious amounts of wine, a DJ, the tarantella, a conga line and the groom’s 80-year-old Nonno (grandfather) charming the pants off of all the American guests.
This guy was the life of the part, I’m telling you!
The house had a huge patio with tables and chairs, with plenty more set up outside on the beach as well as on the house’s spacious balcony. You know how sometimes when you’re traveling, you’ll stumble onto a local party scene and rather enviously wish to be a part of it, instead of being an outsider looking in? It was so awesome to actually be a part of this Italian celebration. True to form, the Italians loved to eat, to drink, to dance and to laugh and the rehearsal dinner is still one of my all-time favorite memories from the entire trip.
Photo from Arvind
Such dancing and merriment!
Photo from Arvind
The night ended with a conga line (Italians love their conga lines, this was the second of the night and there were several at the wedding the next night as well- no clue why) down to the beach, where my friend Kristin snapped this shot of the engaged couple.
Can’t you just feel the love?
Things didn’t wind down until well after 1:00 am, at which point Pete and I had been awake for almost two days straight and so we drunkenly piled back into the shuttle bus to head back to the hotel. It was time for some sleep, and based on this party, we knew we had to majorly rest up for the wedding the next night!