As soon as I became engaged, I knew I wanted to
have my wedding in Tuscany, my favorite place in the world. But family members said,
"You can't get married
there, it's too far away." And our friends said, "You can't get married
there, you're not Catholic." But my fiancÚ, Dave, encouraged me to go on
an investigative trip to my beloved city anyway. So I did.
I paid many visits to the marriage office in
Florence's town hall, as well as to the American consulate, in attempts to
understand the civil documentation process. Both places gave me
mind-boggling lists of appointments, oaths, certificates, witnesses,
stamps and sworn statements.
Typically, the two offices contradicted each
other in their respective rules and regulations. I also spent a week
searching for a priest and a church, encountering plenty of obstacles.
Then I made two discoveries that paved the way.
One day while sharing a biting espresso with
my Italian friend Cinzia in her little apartment, she asked, "Didn't you
say David was Catholic?"
"Well, yes," I replied. "He was brought up
"I think it might be solved then!" said
Cinzia, explaining that a "mixed ceremony" was possible if one of the
sposi was Catholic. What Dave needed to prove was his batesimo and cresima.
I phoned my fiancÚ:
"Are you a certified Catholic?" I asked him. "Can you prove
"I don't know, I suppose so. Have you found a
priest and a church?"
"No I haven't," I said, tearing at a
fingernail. "Look, this is important. Call your mom and find out if
you've got baptism and cresima certificates."
"Oh," I groaned. "How do you say cresima in
English? You know, that rite-of-passage thing Catholics do!"
The next day I got the good news. Dave was a
certified Catholic with papers to prove it. That night Cinzia took me
scouting for a wedding dinner location. Chasing up a narrow country road
on the south side of the city, she took a wrong turn and stopped in what
happened to be a little church's driveway.
"Oh, by the way," she said, "that's a sweet
I got out and peered through the darkness. We
were on the crest of a hill. Ancient stone walls hugged the quiet via;
cypress and Mediterranean pines rested against one another in slumber.
I curiously entered the shadowy courtyard,
noticing the unadorned simplicity of the small church's stone facade. On
the other side of a low wall I sensed a Renaissance landscape through the