Sherine and Pieter just returned to Castello di Meleto for them first wedding anniversary

Pieter & Sherine

June 30, 2013

My husband and I have just returned to Meleto for our first wedding anniversary. This is one of those places you will want to return to every year; the magic of Tuscany, and of the Castle, seeps into your veins very quickly.  As we drove up the Castle’s winding path, all of the warmth, love and centuries-old history of the place felt alive, infused now with our own history that is a part of Meleto, and a very big part of us.

We could remember the phone calls this time last year, of friends wandering through the winding hills, searching for the castle. Directions were given, GPS coordinated punched in. Throughout the day, people were collected from a wide range of places – on street corners and train stations, airports and parking lots; 5 cypress trees up the hill. Messages were sent, signs posted on doors. Every few hours, someone would depart for an errand and return towing a pair of weary travelers, relieved couples freshly recovered from navigational arguments.

By Friday night – two days before our wedding day – our small Vignanova villa was full, bursting with people from every part of our life: from our days in New York where we first met over a decade ago; New Jersey and Holland, where we grew up, Egypt, where my extended family lives, Bologna, where I attended grad school, the Maldives and Chennai where we began our long distance relationship; New Delhi, where we worked together for two years. Our guests came from 26 countries, and on this day, it felt like the world was gathered in Tuscany to celebrate our love.

My large – and loud – Egyptian family was a sharp contrast to his composed Dutch family of 6. On my side of the castle, kids were running through the courtyard, food spread across multiple levels of Orazio throughout the day, clothes strewn across beds and modeled through the halls, caravans of transport mapped out on scraps of paper. In the Dutch quarters, coffee was sipped in the garden, flowers admired from deck chairs while pacing quietly through novels.

The day before our wedding, rain threatened to pour down, and the carefully selected 1965 Giuletta we were supposed to ride happily ever after in broke down. The church rehearsal that most people completed in one hour took over 2 with our unwieldy clan. This was largely due to the ring-bearer and flower girl refusing to share the limelight with one another, and my family filling their time waiting for us to arrive by attempting to unilaterally change critical parts of the ceremony. Katia came expertly to the rescue; helping us to find another (even better!) car, negotiating contingency rain plans with irritable caterers, and skillfully mediating between a very confused Priest, an over-zealous bridal family and bewildered in-laws. She even arranged for the sun to shine in full force the next day!

Throughout a year of wedding planning, it’s impossible not to build expectations for your wedding day. Will it be magical or stressful? You imagine the castle bathed in sun-light, the joy you will feel surrounded by friends and family, the look on your husband’s face as you walk down the aisle. You vacillate from picturing perfection to anticipating disaster. Generally it’s been the visions of disaster that drove us hardest to obsessive planning.

Our wedding day was nothing like we’d imagined. None of the anticipated disasters happened; instead we were presented with special misfortunes we could never have anticipated. In hindsight, they were not nearly as dramatic as we feared, and we overcame them together, with an arsenal of people standing beside us ready to help. And all of the beautiful expectations we’d built over the year paled in comparison to the reality.  We could not have imagined, for example, how gorgeous Mist’ere d’Amour would be sung in Castagnoli Church. Or how breathtaking the Castle would look draped in flowers and filled with laughter. How the hills and the vineyards would look like a rainbow of green as we drove through them after the Ceremony. Or how wonderful it would feel to have everyone you love in one place, sitting alongside us at one big table, like one big family.

Our anniversary weekend is over, and once again we will carry this history with us until the next year. I have a feeling this is just the beginning of our story in Chianti.


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