by Melinda Gallo

Matrimonio civile al Palazzo Vecchio

The last time I attended a matrimonio civile (civil wedding) at the Palazzo Vecchio was about ten years ago when my friends Tom and Erica came to Florence to get married. I was one of their testimoni (witnesses) because at the time, they were living in Paris and I had just moved to Florence only a month prior.

Living in Florence :: Matrimonio civile al Palazzo Vecchio

When we arrived at the Palazzo Vecchio this morning, we were ushered through the metal detectors at the side entrance. We walked up to the room where at least a hundred people were waiting for their matrimonio civile to take place. It seems that many people wanted to get married on the 7th day of the 7th month of the 7th year.

When it was Alessandro's friends' turn to get married, we walked into the sala rossa (red room) where the ceremonia (ceremony) takes place and sat down. It was as beautiful as I remembered it the last time.

The ceremonia was conducted by someone below the vicesindaco (vice-mayor), and it was fairly brief lasting less about half an hour. He said that he was doing about 20 ceremonie today. The ufficiale (official) spoke a little bit about what matrimonio (mariage) means for people who have already been married and are maturi (mature/older). The marito (husband) is a friend of Alessandro's and is about 50 while his moglie (wife) is about 40. They have been together for many years and decided to get married on this day.

After the ceremonia, we went to Rivoire for an aperitivo (apéritif). I had a glass of spumante (sparkling wine) along with everyone else and we abbiamo fatto un brindisi (toasted) the sposi (newlyweds).

The festa (party) was taking place at around 6PM, so we said goodbye to everyone. I went for lunch with friends and Alessandro went home. They told me not to eat much because there will be a lot of food at the festa, but I didn't heed their advice and I should have.

We were probably the last ones to arrive at the festa. Everyone was already sitting in the large corte (courtyard) that was decorated with flowers all around and white veils draped overhead. It was really beautiful and romantic.

It was a little early to eat dinner, but the food looked and smelled wonderful. I picked up a plate and piled on some panzanella (a Tuscan bread, tomato, cucumber, and onion salad). There was prosciutto wrapped around grissini (breadsticks), formaggi (cheeses), pizze, and a variety of stuzzichini (appetizers). I was so happy with the panzanella that I had a second serving.

After about an hour, some verdure fritte (fried vegetables) arrived and I made some room for those too. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, the fiori fritti (fried zucchini flowers) were gone.

When they were clearing the table, I saw how much food was left over. There were probably 60 of us, but there was enough food for at least 10 to 20 more people.

Instead of a cake, they ordered a large crostata (tart) in the shape of a heart with different kinds of berries, like fragole (strawberries), mirtilli (blueberries), lamponi (raspberries), and fragole dei boschi (wild strawberries). Even though the crostata was quite large, there wasn't much avanzato (left over)

Almost everyone left the festa after the dolce (dessert). Many people had children, and it also got dark outside. I said goodbye to more people than I said hello to, but that seems to be pretty normal. It's a lot less risky to say goodbye than it is to say hello.

We were the last to leave the festa, but before we did, we had a final drink. Alessandro's friend served us a small glass of rum and a glass of succo di pera (pear juice). We drank the rum alla goccia (in one shot) and sipped the succo while we talked some more.

The sposi had already gone back to their apartment by the time we left. They aren't leaving for their luna di miele (honeymoon) for a few more months. We didn't get to wish them off to a new life since they already live together, but the festa was a lot of fun, and we at least celebrated their union.

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