Katie and I departed for Italy Tuesday, May 3, arriving Wednesday morning. I had contacted Continental customer service months ago to see if they would do anything special for a couple on its way to be married, hoping to surprise Katie with a shout-out or something similar. The generic "no" response I received was disappointing but wasn't a big deal. However, when the flight attendant saw Katie's hanging bag, she guessed at our impending nuptials and did make an announcement, which was a surprise and a lot of fun. She even called us Mr. and Mrs. Barrett, which may be closer to the mark than she intended! As always, Continental's good people came through, even when their systems and processes didn't.
We arrived in Rome, picked up Chris, Kelly, and Mike (Katie's father, sister, and sister's boyfriend - I usually try to anonymize other people in my blog entries but it just won't be possible in the ones about the wedding!), and set off for Castello di Montalto. Instead of heading straight to Castelnuovo Berardenga, though, we detoured through Montepulciano for some sightseeing and a late lunch. The weather was overcast but it already felt great to be re-immersed in the rolling green hills of bella Toscana!
Katie - now my co-author-for-life - insists that I elaborate a bit more on the food. At lunch many of us had Pici, the local handmade pasta (kind of like very fat spaghetti noodles) in various forms (mine with extra garlic naturally). To cleanse our palettes afterward, we walked back to our car with some fig and ricotta gelato that was out of this world!
When we arrived at the Castello late Wednesday afternoon, some of our guests had already checked in and the weather was already clearing up. For the rest of our stay, the weather remained perfect for castle life: sunny with highs in the low 20s C (low 70s F) and lows around 10 C (~50 F). We were greeted upon arrival by the Count and Countess (who reside in the main building of the castle) and by Leo, their noble German Shepherd, who demanded tummy rubs as hommage.
One of the villas in the hamlet - the one with a large balcony and a gorgeous view, naturally - quickly emerged as the "party suite." Most of our guests arrived Wednesday evening so we picked up 30 pizzas from a local pizzeria and served them up (along with plenty of vino!) in the party suite. This was a fantastic event as people from our various worlds began connecting. Family met coworkers, coworkers met friends, friends of one side met friends of the other side, etc. We only had ~40 guests all-in-all but all of the chapters of both of our lives were represented. We made merry until pretty late and then called it a night to deal with jet lag.