“Hitched in Italy” is an organisation managed by Lisa Redgrave which offers personalised wedding services in exceptionally beautiful locations, mainly in Italy. One of these locations is Bagni di Lucca.
In September 2011 I was invited to contribute to a wedding taking place in Mayor Betti’s Pian di Fiume agriturismo. I have never been asked to celebrate a wedding before, let alone a same-sex one, and felt a little nervous about it but the day went swimmingly, thanks to Lisa’s organizational skills, and all present had a wonderful time filled with unforgettable memories.
I was again asked to celebrate another wedding for Lisa yesterday : on this occasion it was a more conventional set of partners and the number of family and friends was much smaller and more intimate, so the location chosen was La Torre agriturismo magnificently situated on a comanding hill between Ponte a Serraglio and Fornoli.
This time I was only nervous about the weather since this June has been a very odd month (indeed the whole year so far has been very odd in Italy) with sudden violent storms arising in the afternoon. Fortunately, the rain cleared in time and the happy gathering enjoyed glorious sunshine for the ceremony.
Of course, I have no legal or religious basis to validate weddings and only celebrate, not legalise, marriages which, in Bagni di Lucca are formalised in the local registry office by qualified officers. Furthermore, it is not possible to have a church wedding in the area if you are not a Roman catholic. The former English church has been the local library for many years and it is doubtful if a protestant liturgy could be allowed in any of the local churches, even for a local wedding. Certainly, the situation is different in places like Florence which abound in non-Catholic religious buildings. There was talk at one time to restore the chapel at Refubbri and use it for non RC christian celebrations but, to dat, nothing has come of this.
This is where Lisa’s organisation comes in. The registrar’s procedure is fine, of course, but it lacks the show and flair of a traditional wedding. The ceremony at la Torre supplied this in a form which pleased all those present including the entry of the bride in flowing white wedding dress. My job was to present a script to the happy couple which they could use as a basis for their own preferences – to be “master of ceremonies”, if you like.
For more information about “Hitched in Italy” click on http://www.hitchedinitaly.com/
La Torre has an interesting history. Originally built in the sixteenth century it was eventually bought by the Clarke sisters from the USA in the last century when, chancing across Bagni di Lucca in horse and carriage, they fell so much love with the area that they decided to live there. The Clarke sisters contributed much to the social and health welfare of the local people – a fact which is remembered in Bagni’s health centre’s dedication to them.
When the last of the two sisters died in 1969 she bequeathed her estate to Bologna University for the benefit of research students studying botany and natural sciences. Until the mid 1990’s La Torre was used for this purpose then (presumably because of funding problems) it was abandoned by the university and fell into rack and ruin until the present owners rescued it in 2000 and turned into the splendid place it now is.
Quite apart from wedding receptions La Torre makes a superb holiday location for those wishing to enjoy complete relaxation and outdoor activities including horse riding and trekking. See http://www.agriturismolatorre.it/ for more details.