ROME, ITALY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2003 -- A small quiet wedding in Italy? Yes, we did it. We left the friends and relatives in America for a small civil ceremony in Rome. And yes, it was worth it!
After months of planning at home, and a week of visits to various offices in Rome, we completed, on Friday, September 26, the paperwork. We relaxed Saturday with a day-trip to Frascati, home of the local vino bianco and summer resort for Romans since the days of the ancient Roman republic. Cicero had a country villa in Frascati when the town was known by its Latin name, Tusculum.
Saturday evening all Rome celebrated with an all-night party, the first of what is planned as an annual event, the Notte Bianca, or "White Night." Shops stayed open all night, museums charged no entrance fee, and all-night street festivals were encouraged. Young designers, architects, and employees of the fashionable shops off the Via Nazionale near our hotel joyously welcomed the American couple marrying in Rome. The drinks were on the house all night -- or rather until the lights went out at 3:30 a.m.
It just figures. I had been in New York City the week before and the week after, but had missed the big blackout of 2003. We come to Rome in time for the biggest power outage in Italian history. The "White Night" was followed by the "Black Day" as the entire city --the entire country-- was without electricity.
Only at the Pantheon, where we attended Mary's Roman Catholic Mass, did the blackout not interrupt the usual course, as the Pantheon is still lit, as it was when built as a pagan temple in A.D. 120, through its great oculus or "eye" to the sky. At the Anglican Mass at St. Paul's Within the Wall I noted that, for the first time in more than a century, the candles were for more than symbolic light.
Laura, another Roman friend, called mid-morning. She had a battery-powered radio -- our first source of news! The blackout was due to storm-downed lines between here and France, source of a significant part of Italy's electricity. Repairs will take a few hours, but should be done well in time for our wedding in the morning. Central Rome lit up again about 11:30 a.m. and, over the next several hours, so did the rest of Italy.
Monday, September 29, 2003, at noon, we wed in the Complesso di Vignola Mattei with our friend Dora as interpreter and her brother Carlo and daughter-in-law Kim as witnesses. Then off to take photos in front of all our favorite sights in Rome. Later, relaxing in Piazza della Republica with a glass of Spumante I call Steven, my best friend back in Boston tell him I'm married in the Republic of Italy, but I'm still a free man in America. The next morning we return to the Ufficio Legalizzazioni of the Prefettura of Rome to get the Apostille attached to the marriage certificate, making it legal in the U.S.A.