Friday many of our guests went out exploring on their own. Some went to Florence, some to Lake Trasimeno, some to Cortona, and some just drove around. Katie and I stayed at the castle to enjoy the estate a bit and make any final preparations for the big day.
Castello di Montalto is on 700 hectares (~1600 acres) of contiguous land so we spent a lot of time just walking around the fields and forests, where we saw horses, deer, pheasants, wild boar, porcupines, and innumerable birds, lizards, bugs, and the like. Some of us went for runs some mornings along the gravel road which, despite the rocks, was fine in my Vibrams.
Friday afternoon was devoted to sport. My "groomsmen" (We didn't actually have a wedding party but, if we had, these were certainly guys who would have been part of it!) and I played grass volleyball, tennis, and football - a perfect way to spend my waning hours as a bachelor!
Friday evening, once nearly everyone, including my Italian cousins, had arrived, we held an outdoor BBQ to foster more "connectivity" between and among our various "constituencies." This dinner might usually be termed a "rehearsal dinner," but that was not the case for us - as there was no rehearsal! Katie and I really wanted the festivities to play out organically with minimal planning/controlling/stressing and that is exactly what happened - mission accomplished!
Toward the end of dinner, a good friend of the family, David, took over and delivered a scathing, hilarious roast. David has known me since I was 1 so he had accumulated plenty of roast material! Throughout dinner, though, he and some accomplices had also enticed people to write down wishes for Katie and me on little slips of paper. As he finished his roast, all the wishes were loaded onto little flying lanterns that were lit and then set free to carry the wishes up to the heavens. The effect was magical: an ascending "staircase" of balls of light in the night sky. As they floated upward some people called out the wishes they had made for us - some common themes were laughter and adventure, wishes that I am certain will come true! Some other wishes, such as fielding an entire football team with our children, well . . . we'll just have to see about that! Finally, by late Friday night, all 43 of us had arrived, ready for the big day.