Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

If you know that a bellicose North African chap by the name of Hannibal has the distinction of being the only person in recorded history to have entered Rome on the back of an elephant, you probably also know that there are many more comfortable, though less grand, ways of entering the eternal city. Why then, we hear you cry, does this blog does not have any posts about Rome, Milan, Florence, or really any of the major Italian cities? Do its authors not think wedding guests will be interested in visiting these cities? Indeed, does this big-headed wedding blog think itself so superior as to willfully ignore such monumental and famous places? The very cheek of it!

The truth is, of course, quite the opposite. In acknowledging their limitations both in time and ability, the blog authors deliberately decided not to write anything about Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin, Florence or Venice for fear that such posts would be nothing but a gloss — barely scratching the surface of these complex and storied cities. After all, hefty books have been written about them, and it is not our intention to try to compete. But do not let yourselves be discouraged by the weight of literature in the same way as your weak-minded authors! We encourage you to check out as many of these places as you have the time and energy for.

We know that many of you are arriving in Rome as your first port of call in Italy, and while, like every guidebook, we highly recommend you visit the pantheon, the forum, the colosseum, campo di fiori, the Vatican City, etc, we also suggest you take a couple of hours to check out the monumental ruins of the Baths of Caracalla.

In their heyday, they were able to accommodate several thousand bathers at once and the sheer scale of the complex is staggering even today. Perhaps more amazing is that these leisure facilities were just one of several in the environs of ancient Rome, offering an insight into the size of the population of the center of the Roman Empire. For more information about the baths and the fascinating (seriously) engineering that allowed hot and cold running water in the second century AD, click here.

For a more general guide to Rome that offers advice on what to do and see in Rome in 48 or 96 hour stays, visit the official Rome tourist board website.

A Recurring Theme
A post on this website would hardly be complete without a reference to locally-available comestibles, so it is fortunate that Rome is a superb city for eating — one of our favorites, in fact. Trastevere is an excellent quarter of the city for authentic Roman restaurants, as is the Jewish Ghetto on the opposite bank of the River Tiber. Indeed, good food can be found in almost every neighborhood but, as in all cities that are on the tourist map, you can get very over-priced bad meals too, so you ought to show discretion about what you eat and where, especially if you find yourself with a hunger in the immediate vicinity of any of the major sights. However, Rome is a surprisingly small and compact city with a maze of intertwining streets, so within two minutes walk you can be completely off the beaten-track and seated at a neighborhood trattoria, paying locals prices.

For more details about Roman restaurants click here and for tips on typical Roman dishes to look out for, click here. Buongustaio!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Apropos of Nothing, A Show of Human Kindness

Warning: this post has nothing whatsoever to do with weddings or Italy, so feel free to ignore it if that’s all you care about.

Very clearly, though, it’s not all everyone cares about, and we were awakened from our own navel-gazing and hand-wringing over our wedding plans with a jolt this last weekend, when a very kind gentleman helped us out of tight spot just because he felt like it.

Our car was dead and wouldn’t be resurrected in spite of applying jump leads and high voltage, so we headed down to PepBoys Auto to see what could be done. Knowing the sum total of bugger all about cars between us, we were inquiring about a battery-powered jump-starting kit we’d seen on the internet, when another customer — a stocky guy with gold front teeth — suggested a way we could check to see if the battery was at the root of the problem, or if it was something more sinister. Moreover, when we told him that there was little chance of us being able to successfully perform said test, he told us that was no problem, he’d come and do it for us.

Pulling out a socket-set and a pair of gloves, Claude, for that was his name, set about testing our battery, and confirmed that it, and not the alternator, was at fault. He then told us we should buy a new one and he’d wait there and fit it for us when we returned with it.

Staggered by this selfless show of kindness, we at once felt hugely grateful and rather embarrassed that we had to rely on the charity of a total stranger to help us out. It did, however, confirm our belief in the innate good of humankind, especially when, as we thanked him profusely, Claude told us he was happy to help, saying, “If I wasn’t doing this, I’d just be at home arguing with my wife.”

So, thank you again, Claude. You were a real gentleman and a great help to us. We wish we could thank you properly but we’re sure you’ll get your just reward one day.

Another upshot of this situation was that we both know how to change a car battery now. So, it seems good things happen to good people, right? Right...?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dancing Under the Stars

Vicky Pollard showing us all how it's done...
Many of us dream, we're sure, of whirling around a highly polished dance floor with aplomb, completely in step with a partner who is fleet of foot, erect of posture and minty of breath. Indeed, if you're like us, this may only ever be a dream, as the likelihood of straining knee or ankle ligaments, and/or head butting ones partner in the face, is far greater than the chance of successfully completing even the briefest of waltzes.

This should not dissuade you from shaking a leg come June 28th - quite the opposite in fact. For not only are all styles and ability levels welcome on the parquet, they are demanded. In submitting a request to have your fave tunes played at the reception, you, perhaps unwittingly, entered into an unwritten contract, committing yourself to abandoning any normal sense of decency and inhibition you might feel when bad music is playing. Maybe we should have made that clear when asking you for musical suggestions, but we didn't.

Some of you may be interested then, in working on your fancy footwork ahead of time and for those who do, we humbly submit this remarkable piece of footage for your consideration. We suggest you study this child's moves, they will come in handy should the music of a certain recently-divorced, serial-flasher, Louisiana-native, mother of two ring out during the reception...

You have been warned.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Yo Mamma Didn't Raise No Fool!

It's a dust-bunny... get it?

Congratulations to those among our wedding guests who have done themselves and their parents proud by paying the remaining balance for their accommodation on time (by May 1st). You are all at the top of the class, though given your obvious time-management and scheduling ability, that may not be an unusual feeling.

For those of you still furtively groping down the back of the sofa in search of spare change, we hope that you come up clutching something shiny and not something sticky and/or hairy. We also hope that in due course you will send us a check/cheque for the balance. The sooner we have all your money in, the easier it is for us to get that squared away with Lupinari ahead of the wedding, making it much more relaxing for you and us as the event draws near.

Once again, our thanks to those calendar-conscious over-achievers, and our encouragements to the bottom-feeding, ne'er-do-wells, amongst you. We're very much looking forward to seeing you all in less than two months!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Cheese by Any Other Name is Still Formaggio

Believe me, you will dance to this...

Yes, indeed wedding blog readers, when you ask a stupid question, you are bound to get a stupid answer. So when we recently invited our wedding guests to tell us their favorite wedding reception tunes, we were unsurprised to be deluged with more cheesy requests than a DJ at a college formal. We were surprised though, just how seriously you took our invitation, and so we expect you all front and center when the dancing starts.

This post, as much as it might want to, is not about to name and shame you for your cringe-worthy selections, instead we thought it might amuse you to find out some of the aural delights your fellow guests put forward. There's quite a variety of formaggio... Enjoy!

Ice, Ice, Baby - Vanilla Ice
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
Annie's Song - John Denver
Club Tropicana - Wham
Hit Me Baby One More Time - Britney
It Only Takes a Minute Girl - Take That
Livin' On A Prayer - Bon Jovi
Brick House - The Commodores

and, though we won't name names, (you know who you are Tim Hind) - Cotton-Eyed Joe by The Rednecks

Should you find that you're not as familiar as you should be with some of these "classics," you might decide to visit the toe-curlingly fabulous Am I where you can enter the lyrics you've been singing in the shower and find out what they really are.

Please note: that in asking you to submit your fave tunes, we understand that you'll be expecting to hear them. However, we feel it's important to add that some requests (Chaz & Dave, for example) were quite beyond the pale, and have been rejected for fear of reducing a fun-filled celebration to a groan-inducing headache.