Colle di Tora – An Italian Wedding

I don’t know why this memory comes back today: it was the day before my friends’ wedding where I was to give the best man’s speech and we all headed down to Colle di Tora, 30 or so K’s north of Rome, and camped up on the lake shore because we all could only afford one night in the hotel in the village. The mayor of the village married the Australian/Polish/English couple and my daughter was a bridesmaid.

Our friends Fabrice (an excellent guitarist) with Karen and daughter Polly turned up from France and he ended up attending the wedding in shorts shirt and tie, all wet, dripping and fresh from a swim in the lake. Ali was a drummer and we all sat by the lake the afternoon before the event and had the most amazing jam in the Italian sun that afternoon. And then there is the story of just who would be coerced into taking Fabrice’s light box back to Bratislava which he (an animator) had cleared out of his mum’s attic in France and brought down in the hire car, and just who’s partner would give them the least grief about agreeing to transport it back from mid holiday for all of us. I won against Ali… temporarily. Fabrice was very persuasive – asking the favour as he attempted to put it, or rather squashed it, into the back of unsuspecting people’s vehicles hidden between camping equipment while their (female) partners were not there. Fab is playing harmonica here below and Ali (broad Scottish accent from the islands where his family were crofters) is on percussion. He played with a band called the Cuban Heels that were taken up by John Peel and had some success for a while.  The groom, talented chef, but crap poker player (ha ha Matt), is in white in the tiny photo below. We all sang.

Matt injured himself swimming for a forfeit at the lakeside stag BBQ/do. My wife had taken intimate photos of various parts of Diana’s body in close-up.  All of them looked like cleavages… or possibly buttocks.  She’s a very good photographer.  Some of the photos were indeed cleavages or buttocks.  I was not invited to the photo shoot.   If Matt couldn’t name the body part, then he had a forfeit to do.  He screwed up on the first one (elbow/upper arm fold).  The forfeit was to swim to the floating pier a short distance out.  Matt should not have dived off the pier on the way back.  It was too shallow.

Ali told stories of how he once gave Ali Farka Toure a lift/boat ride to the Hebrides, the first time the African had been at sea, or even on a boat come to that, and how he put him up in his house prior to the gig, and how Ali Farke Toure asked him if he also was a Muslim, being also called Ali(stair) and laughing in his very deep, melodious Malian voice.

As for the light box, a big, very big, old fashioned animator’s tool like a wooden school desk from the 60’s but glass-topped with a light inside, well it ended up by the side of a road in a beautiful valley north of Rome beside an ailing VW camper, with a Scottish woman yelling at her partner, “What the hell did you let Fabrice do that for – we’ve got two more weeks of camping * * * etc etc…”, only to be rescued by another traveller in a VW on the way back to Slovakia and in the end taken back to Bratislava. But there is also a photo of the jam in the Italian summer sun which tells a whole wealth of stories (rather than being a great photo) which I can only touch on here and is why I love it. We haven’t even got to the time that Fabrice screwed up the birthday cake for Karen so bought a bag of raw potatoes to the joint birthday party (with my 50th) instead… he’s artistic… and French. It also is the time I had to fly back from Italy mid trip to sit and help my Dad in his passing. They mean a lot to me, these photos: friends, music, sun, summer and sadness.

But nevertheless, as Ali put it it, that’s my kind of sh*t-tip. It was just the lakeside, two VW campers and scorching summer heat, a toilet off yonder and the shower block was the lake itself. The mayor came to collect some money every couple of days or three.  A long way from winter in Devon…  We went down to Rome and stayed in Venice on the way.  It was a great wedding.



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