Castello Di Vincigliata - Florence, Italy
This year, I was asked to provide music during the ceremony, entertainment during the wedding breakfast and first dance in the evening for a wedding in Florence, Italy.
This was how my adventure went!
After receiving any enquiry, I try not to commit to inking it in the diary until it has been officially confirmed. On this occasion the clients were so helpful and enthusiastic from the beginning that it was very difficult to not get too excited.
The couple were very helpful in advising the best way to get to the venue and the cost of taxi's etc. After I worked out the total cost, which was thankfully within budget, they went ahead with the booking.
I was going to Italy!
After shopping around for PA hire quote in the local area, I decided that I would invest in a compact system which would fit in my suitcase and fly with my guitar to save my clients a lot of money. As I was to be playing exclusively solo guitar and vocals, I didn't need anything bigger than my usual acoustic set up which worked out perfectly.
As you are probably aware, there is a risk involved with anything valuable going into an airplane hold. As much as I didn't want my expensive equipment launched around by ruff-housing baggage baboons, I took the risk.
I did however give myself a whole day to source any equipment that may have got damaged in transit and made a few contacts in the area in case I needed a guitar in a hurry.
- It turns out that the couple ended up hiring a PA system for speeches and lighting from a company recommended by the venue who were amazingly helpful -
Flying to Pisa
With Florence airport running less frequent flights, it made more sense to fly out to Pisa and catch a train into Florence. Despite my concerns about my guitar ending up in the Congo, we arrived safely on the other side.
I didn't get a lot of time in Pisa unfortunately and didn't get to pretend to hold up Saruman's leany tower. The flights out make it a good stepping off point for a lot of people travelling to Florence so I was able to follow the crowd to the shuttle station.
I must admit I was a little worried about getting in people's way while travelling from Pisa to Florence by train. Especially with my giant suitcase and guitar in tow. I imagined myself getting very confused and sweary but it couldn't have been easier.
One shuttle took me from the airport to Pisa Central station, then a direct train to my stop in Florence.
The train was already there when I walked onto the platform and it was massive. One of those double decker trains and not many passengers luckily.
I sat back and watched the various vineyards and terracotta farm houses pass by the window. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any photos of the beautiful scenery. Just myself looking ever so slightly murderous on the train.
Literally a stone's throw from the main train station in Florence, my hotel was on the 3rd floor of an old Italian building. Access was gained by an old fashioned rickety elevator (Talented Mr Ripley- esque) and I loved it.
The room seemed smaller because of the massive wardrobe but it's charm mostly came from this painting of a hot broad with a unibrow -
After checking my equipment and running through a few songs, it was time to hit the hay.
With all of my equipment surviving the flight, I had a whole day to see some sights, taste some food and explore Florence.
While exploring I found Florence central market which had lots of local produce including a fish stall with the biggest swordfish head I have ever seen.
I stopped off in a restaurant near the Di Vinci museum because I had a list of things to do in Italy, all of which had something to do with eating food. It was a little strange asking for a table for one but I quickly got over that when they brought out my seafood risotto. Followed by tiramisu. I also managed to score some gelato and lot of other wonderful culinary delights which I ate too fast for me to take photographic evidence.
The wedding ceremony was fairly late at 4:00pm. I was at the venue by 11:30 to set up thanks to my super punctual ways and with the help of a lunatic taxi driver, it didn't take me long to get to the venue at all. It wasn't far outside of the city centre., nestled amongst the vineyards in the hills overlooking Florence.
I arrived at the venue as the staff were setting up for the ceremony and was introduced to the sound guys from Alma Project. Once I was set up, I decided to explore the castle grounds. Then sit in the shade with my guitar and look out over Tuscany while I waited for the first guests and the groom to arrive to start the ceremony music.
I provided the music for during the ceremony and accompanied the guests as we all sang a particular request from the bride and groom.
While guests were entering the courtyard to be seated, it had been arranged for ceremonial soldiers to act out a sword fight. I had never seen anything like it before and it was definitely a talking point for the guests and staff. It was a great spectacle and it added a sense of energy to the event.
After the ceremony during the drinks reception, I moved my equipment and set up inside the castle hall where the table was set ready for the meal in a few hours. During this time, a folk trio made up of Violin, Guitar and Accordion serenaded the guests as they mingled and ate a mediterranian buffet. (The Focaccia was amazing!)
After I played my set during the meal, the sun was setting so I climbed to the top of the castle to get some more scenic photos. This is the view from the highest point of the castle.
After the sun had completely set, flame torches were lit all around the castle walls, ambient lighting washed the whole courtyard with tropical colours, a cocktail bar was made up for the evening and the DJ prepared a light-show / projector screen on the side of the castle. It was time for the first dance and my last performance of the day.
I am very lucky to be able to travel with my job and see such beautiful parts of the world. Being asked to play in Italy is a big step forward for my career. I'm very much looking forward to my next destination wedding.
Congratulations Siobhan and Rob.
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