How a wedding location visit turned into an unexpected shopping spree – or: Preparing for a dream wedding in Tuscany with a temperature drop

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How a wedding location visit turned into an unexpected shopping spree – or: Preparing for a dream wedding in Tuscany with a temperature drop

A Wedding Planner for a traditional wedding in Tuscany

photocredit: Liana Stiavelli

One day, late in the morning, a young woman named Manuela called me. She wanted to marry in Tuscany and happened to notice my website. One of my price examples had caught her eye. She contacted me not just because of the attractive value for money offer, but also because of the background image. It showed a bridal couple from behind, hand in hand, walking along a gravel path.

Manuela wanted to know exactly where and what this location was. I told her that this was a so-called borgo. Manuela kindly asked me to explain the term borgo, which she had never heard before.
So I explained to her what these structures used to be.

Getting married in Tuscany, getting married in a borgo

photocredit: Liana Stiavellli

Dictionaries define a borgo as a "small town" or "big village"; the term derives from the Latin burgus and, strictly speaking, means a fortified castle. This is exactly the original meaning of the word: in Roman times, a borgo was actually a small fortified castle. In the early Middle Ages, the term was used in Germanic areas with the same meaning.

Thus the term borgo today still means a fortress, a castle.

Something then changed in Romanesque Europe, where between the 8thand 10th centuries, the term "built-up area" was used to designate both outer suburbs of the cities and a built-up area around a castle or a church without the need for walls or fortifications. Initially, the term was used mainly in the French area, but already in the 9thcentury it spread throughout Italy thanks to an important road: the Via Francigena.

The Via Francigena

The Via Francigena was the road used by pilgrims in the Middle Ages who wanted to reach Rome in order to worship at the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul.

The oldest borghi

The oldest villages of this kind mentioned in the historical sources were situated along this road, such as Borgo S. Donnino that was mentioned at the end of the 9thcentury between Piacenza and Parma and corresponds to today's Fidenza; or Arus Burgus, mentioned in the year 909, that corresponds to the modern day village Acquapendente in northern Lazio.

Towards the end of the 10thcentury, the term was widely used in Northern Italy to refer to the extension of inhabited centres beyond the walls encircling the settlements.

If the distribution of the term "borgo" can be dated to the Middle Ages, this does not mean that all villages of this type are of medieval origin. Many of them have developed as settlements around a castle or a church, others are centres of ancient origins, sometimes small towns founded in pre-Roman times and still inhabited to this day.

This is precisely the main element that characterizes all these villages: their histories, their existence as places that have been continuously inhabited for thousands of years. And they owe their charm to the people who used to dwell there: walking down the alleys of a village means following in the footsteps of women and men who lived there in centuries past.

Even the houses that were built in recent centuries were almost always renovated or restored using local building materials, an element that distinguishes every Italian village, as if each of them had its own colour palette.

The other basic element defining a village is, obviously, its size.

Protection and promotion of the borgo

In Italy, there is no officially prescribed population size that distinguishes a village from a city. The main associations concerned with the protection and promotion of the villages have different criteria: 15,000 inhabitants are the maximum limit for belonging to the Orange Flags of the Italian Touring Club or the "most beautiful villages in Italy", and 30,000 for inclusion in the Network of Authentic Villages.

In addition, almost every major city has its "village", precisely because since the Middle Ages, the new districts have developed outside the old walls; the city of Rome itself has its own village, Borgo Pio, a stone's throw from St. Peter’s Basilica.

If it is not possible to define exactly what makes a borgo a village, we can still say that the villages are small and have a centuries-old history – a story that these places can still tell: the alleys, squares and churches of these inhabited centres are traces of a past that is now in danger of vanishing due to exodus towards the bigger urban centres.

Getting married in a borgo

photocredit: Liana Stiavelli

Indeed, in many villages, a few people, men and women, are the last witnesses to their centuries-old history. Their stories and memories are in turn a fundamental legacy that gets passed on in the stories and traditions of these small communities. An extended visit to these villages is therefore an opportunity to get to know wonderful places off the beaten tourist tracks, and, moreover, an opportunity to contribute to their survival.

Organisation of a Traditional Wedding in Tuscany

The bride had listened attentively. After I finished my unusually long story and thanked her for her attention, the bride explained to me that her co-worker had married in a Medici villa in Tuscany last summer. She, however, preferred the rustic Tuscan charm.

Why marry in Tuscany?

photocredit: pixabay

I was glad to see how passionately she told her stories about how she and her future husband jointly explored little towns and felt welcome everywhere, not to mention the culinary treats they were offered during their voyages of discovery. So, I asked her directly whether she would like to come to my office for a consultation – as well as for Cantucci and Vinsanto, according to the Tuscan custom!

She agreed and I wrote down the key data she gave me, after we briefly talked about her budget expectations.

Wedding Planner in Vienna, specialized in organising weddings in Tuscany with a considerable Portfolio of unique Wedding Locations among others Florence, Siena and the Chianti region

At our meeting, I met a young energetic bride.

We drank coffee and I opened a box of my beloved original Cantucci by Antonio Mattei from Prato. She was astonished...

Well, they exist - even in Vienna!

No, joking aside, they exist in delicatessen shops in Vienna, where you can get many of the delightful delicacies from Tuscany, or, if they are not available, simply order them.

photocredit: Angela Lindner 

Organising a Wedding in Tuscany step by step, among others in Florence, Siena and the Chianti area

We discussed the possible location and wedding services.
We developed the following programme:

Organising a Wedding in Tuscany step by step, among others in Florence, Siena and the Chianti area

We discussed the possible location and wedding services.
We developed the following programme:

A traditional Wedding in Tuscany,
a possible schedule with an appealing social programme

Arrival of the guests
Welcome barbecue right in the borgo

Day programme with the entire wedding party
Sightseeing visit to the town, wine tasting
Dinner in the borgo - informal and cosy

Morning at leisure
In the afternoon, symbolic wedding directly in the borgo
Followed by agape and photo shooting with the guests,
then photo shooting with the bridal couple in the golden light of the sunset
Wedding dinner with food stations in the open air: the guests should be allowed to move around freely and eat at different tables and enjoy themselves

Both excellent food as well as excellent accompanying wines were of great importance for the bride. Her father was a cook who ran a successful restaurant in the centre of Vienna for many years.

The wedding cake should be brought out at midnight.

Music was not so important to the bride; she just wanted to be entertained along with her guests and the close family.

After the wedding brunch, guests would head home, while the bride and groom would stay in the borgo to enjoy their honeymoon.

The Wedding in Tuscany,
planning the Location Inspection in Tuscany

photocredit: pixabay

After discussing the calculations with the bride, she accepted the offer and we signed the contract.
As a next step we discussed the joint on-site location inspection.

The bride pulled out her scheduler and I had to laugh!

How sweet – just like me, she still used an old-fashioned pen-and-paper scheduler and had newspaper articles, wedding hairstyles, cooking recipes and much more stuck between the pages.

The bride wanted me to be present for the location visit and also agreed to cover the related costs. That happens very rarely. My team usually accompanies the bridal couple on-site.

We immediately found a suitable appointment date and I was already happy to introduce the bride to the borgo and its owner personally.

Location Inspection in Tuscany

Some ten weeks later, we met each other in the evening at the Florence Airport. I picked up the bride along with my driver.

First we went to the hotel, then we went for one of the best pizzas in the world and discussed the programme for the next day.

We only had one day to accommodate everything.

I said goodbye to the bride in front of her hotel and was looking forward to the next day.

...and then everything changed...

The temperature drop

photocredit: Angela Lindner

Next morning I looked out the window to find a soaking wet Tuscan countryside, wrapped in a heavy curtain of rain, staring back at me.
That was not planned!

Wedding planning in Tuscany,
being prepared for the unpredictable

But OK, there are cars and my driver was at our disposal the whole day anyway. And just then my phone rang and my driver confirmed that he was already waiting. He wanted to say something else, but since I did not want to keep him waiting, I cut him off: “I'm already on my way”. When I stepped outside to get to the car under the protective awning, I shivered – it must have been at least 10° colder than the day before.

My driver looked at me with a nod, he wanted to tell me...

I apologized and changed clothes. I did not want to catch a cold – luckily I had my raincoat, stockings and ballerinas with me... at times like that you really have to be prepared for anything!
We drove off. About five minutes before the scheduled arrival, my phone rang. My bride!
She obviously made the same unpleasant discovery about the weather, but unlike me, she unfortunately had no Plan B clothes. Who expects the temperature to drop suddenly by 15° in July?

Shopping in Tuscany,
a Location Inspection on Detour

Manuela called me because she wanted to take the temperature drop as an opportunity to buy something to wear…

…something very special:

Two months ago, Manuela had accepted an invitation to a themed bachelor party of her best friend from the kindergarten days and wanted to buy something special, namely colourful silk overalls. She had looked in vain both in Vienna and on the Internet, but most overalls were solid colours...
So she interpreted the drop in temperature as a sign and was convinced that she would be able to find this special overall now in Tuscany.
The only question was, whether I knew a business...
At first I was surprised and had to think for a moment.
Then suddenly I remembered the Instagram post of my friend Aurora!
Aurora ran a shop for curvy women's clothing and regularly posted pictures of the newly arrived garments. I remembered seeing a colourful jumpsuit. Immediately, I pulled out my cellphone and looked for Aurora's Instagram post, and there it was - a colourful jumpsuit.

I showed Manuela the post and asked her if that overall was what she had in mind...

photocredit: Aurora Pratelli

She said yes and wanted to drive to Aurora immediately. Not 15 minutes later we were at Aurora’s, our saviour. I had called Aurora immediately when we got in the car.


photocredit: Aurora Pratellli

Aurora founded her business many years ago because she did not find suitable clothing for herself. She wanted to wear high quality, elegant and sporty clothes in plus size.

As we entered the shop, Aurora quickly approached us with her friendly and winning nature. We hugged each other in greeting and Aurora gestured toward the wardrobe with a smile.
To the left of the wardrobe, hanging from a white hook, the colourful overalls smiled back.
Many clothes “leapt” into Manuela’s arms on her way to the dressing room. Aurora's selection includes many different styles and clothing made from various types of fabric. Manuela reached for the colourful sporty-elegant everyday clothing.

photocredit: Aurora Pratelli

photocredit: Aurora Pratelli

photocredit: Aurora Pratelli

When Manuela reached the dressing room, she was already embracing several different outfits. Aurora helped her and put the selected pieces on a large comfortable wingback chair to the left side of the dressing room.
When I saw the mountain of clothes piled up on that wingback chair, I excused myself briefly.
I sent my driver off to warm himself with some coffee but told him to remain available in case I call him. He nodded and checked whether his cellphone was properly charged.

Back in the shop, the garments were piling up.

An hour and a half later, a radiant bride left Aurora's shop promising to come to Poggibonsi at least twice a year to shop.

Although we had a time delay, we still managed our programme very well, thanks to the help from my local partners.

The wedding was beautiful. She was a happy and radiant bride.

The guests were all very satisfied and had gotten to know a new side of Tuscany.

The bride, meanwhile mother of a little girl, travels to Tuscany twice a year!


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