Where to begin? On the 17th, I said goodbye to Mike, which was really hard! We only had two weeks together (not even, really), and the time completely flew. It was sad to see him go, but it made me happy to know that we did so much and got through the two weeks with a lot of laughs, food, teamwork, and fun!
I met Derek in Rome and headed up to the mountains of Abruzzo on a bus with many other guests of the wedding. About four hours outside of Rome, the countryside was amazing. The air was about 30 degrees cooler and fresher, and the mountains rose so high that you couldn't even see the peaks because of the fog and clouds. We got to the quaint hotel that would be hosting the wedding reception, and I began to meet everyone. Derek's friends from Italy are wonderful people. Right away, I felt welcomed and at home, and even made some new friends that I know I'll keep in touch with after this trip.
We had a big dinner, at a really long table- the kind that you see in movies about Italian weddings. The food was delicious and the conversation was great. The wedding was a marriage of an American and an Italian, so many of the guests were English-speaking, which was helpful!
The next day (July 18th) was the wedding. Italian weddings are NO JOKE. It was awesome! The bus picked us up from our hotel at 9:30am and the entire group drove up to Gamberale (aka, the most beautiful middle-of-nowhere). The bride's grandfather had grown up there and donated money to keep the church thriving, so they were married in the piazza outside the church. The town of Gamberale has under 50 residents, which meant that our wedding of 60 guests more than doubled the population of the town that day! Unreal.
After the wedding, we want back to the hotel (Villa Danilo) and ate. And ate, and ate, and ate. I have never in my life seen so much food. We had appetizers around the pool at 2. We had a five course dinner at 4. Buffet dessert at 8. I couldn't believe how much was served, and we ate all of it!
I am so happy to have had this experience, and grateful to the family and Derek for being so welcoming this week. Enjoy the pictures of Rome and Abruzzo (uploading overnight, will be posted tomorrow)!