Last weekend we gathered in Rome – well just outside actually- to christen seven-month old Luca. We wanted to christen him Catholic because it was a Catholic agency in Mexico that brought us all together.
Now, I am Italian, and grew up in the madness that is Italy. Sometimes, however, I still forget how they do things over there.
We’d booked an agriturismo, where our international guests could stay and where the reception would be held. We very quickly realised that the entire hotel reception staff appeared to have amnesia as they requested passports two or three times a day, appearing to exhaust themselves as they shuffled them into their little boxes and gave us keys. They never looked really sure of what they were doing and it proved to be so.
It had seemed like a reasonable idea on the morning of the christening to go the beach, as it was not far away. This necessitated a taxi. Friday morning, a taxi in Rome – shouldn’t be difficult? Let’s just say it might have been easier to look for gold. Eventually it arrived and we got to the beach.
We needed to get back as the coach was leaving for the church at 3.15. By 2.15 no taxi was available. Things were getting a bit tight. At this point I had to abandon my usual position of ‘something will turn up, it always does’ and call for backup. It arrived in the form of my brother’s car with all the seats removed as he’d been transporting speakers for the party.
“Paolo where are the car seats?” asked Rick. It was a fair question.
“Rick just get in this is the car for the amplification!” And so it was that 3 year old Gaia, 7 month old Luca, my 1 year old niece Lucia and five adults huddled in the back, like sheep being taken to a new home in a car with only one seat, the one for the driver thankfully. The best part was that nobody was worrying about time (but boy were we cutting it fine) and there was much laughing.
We had little time to get washed and changed but somehow it came together. Meanwhile Lena and Patti who were sharing a room had looked out of their window, to see that the marquee where we’d be having our reception was far from ready. It seemed the Italian workers were working to a different date, perhaps two days from now. They were in no hurry.
There were no irons and when one was brought it killed the electricity so we just threw our dresses on and joined everyone on the coach. Time for an amusing commentary by Rick (in what he thought was Italian accented English) as we passed various tourist sites. With a few minutes to spare everyone headed for - where else – the gelataria.
It was an informal ceremony. I’d written a prayer which I read out in Italian and Rick produced in English. Baby Luca was well behaved considering a strange man wanted to put water on his head. Gaia had her jealous moment as I was reading my prayer, ripping the book out of my hand. At some point in the ceremony a man wandered in from outside. He wasn’t all there but he was in our church. He placed a prayer book down and left. Ten minutes later he returned to retrieve his book. At this point it began to seem like a normal occurrence.
Patti and Lena’s musings about the readiness of the marquee were not totally unfounded. When we arrived one of the workers at the agriturismo had decided it was a really good time to get on the ride on mower and mow the lawn right next to the marquee. A guest, a very good friend of my mother’s pointed out that this was not a very clever idea and he shrugged but took his mower and left.
A drink was what we needed. But this was Italy and it was not simple. At times I thought an Italian version of Basil Fawlty was running the show. At some point a waiter emerged with a bottle of something in each hand. Good start, except we were over a hundred people so Rick and I went to search for the rest.
Everyone was good humoured about it all (after all most of them were Italian and this is how they live) and we ate delicious food, the Mexicans Paco and Lorena who are Luca’s godparents gave warm, tender speeches and there was much laughing. And then it was time to dance. A warm summer night, a beautiful sky, who could ask for more?