On The Road: A wedding day the Neapolitan way
Saturday 16 May 2009
My sister Barbara's wedding day starts at a high-rise in Napoli's lawless suburbs and ends with a pop video screened at Villa Soglia, a Bourbon-era mansion on the southern lava fields of Vesuvius. The film Miseria e nobiltà (Poverty and Nobility) starring Totò and Sophia Loren was a matrimonial farce based on class. Today's comedy of manners, with its five-strong media team, is a paean to celebrity culture, Neapolitan style.
At 8am a cameraman and overbearing photographer fuss over a net-swathed Barbara. Neighbours drop in to admire the bride. Then father and bride cut the red ribbon and she leaves her old life in a limo. An hour of vows, tears and prayers ring around the Duomo of Acerra. Luca Giordano's baroque angels offer vacant reverence as the film crew clatter about behind the altar, clicking throughout the benediction. Balloons, joy and shutters are released below Ionic columns and the Mezzogiorno sun.
Our cavalcade's celebratory klaxons bring beaming women outside, carrying trays piled high with bags of confetti (sugared almonds). Champagne corks and coriandoli (confetti) fill the courtyard of the couple's new home.
The reception is a six-hour, 11-course feast, with baby octopus, fennel with oranges and langoustine risotto. Uncle Luciano sings a gravel-gargling "Aye gat you ander my zzkeen". Then it's show time: Barbara and Pietro's big-screen love story. Slow-mo caresses at Positano are interspersed with the day's events, bizarrely set to a speeded-up Muppet Show and Sugababes soundtrack. The film crew, nodding to themselves throughout the half-hour film, take a bow and finally disappear.
Amongst the faff, it is a simple granite drink that distils this Neapolitan celebration. There are bursts of flavour and joy. The waiter reveals the magic ingredient: annurca apples, grown here in Campania. For a revelatory moment the ancient "apple of the underworld", as Pliny the Elder called it, links us with Herculaneum's original Epicureans. Its nuptial rites may have changed but Naples' natural bounty continues to steal the moment – without a flash-bulb in sight.
Footprint Naples & Amalfi Coast is out now (£13.99)
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 iOS 8 apps and features: eight iPhone settings you need to look at after you install the update
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...
Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...