The town of Mondovi in northern Italy, is barely mentioned in most guide books.
But we went there to see our good friends Giovanna and Antonio get married in a small mountain village near the town.
The couple had opened a restaurant, Ezzelino, a bright, splash of color and light in this unspoiled, Medieval town set high on a hill top.
It’s a hidden destination of sorts where few tourists come to see the 15th and 16th century plazas, faded frescoes and quiet spaces that embrace the traveler with a timeless, if faded elegance.
About an hour south of Turino and maybe an hour and a half north of Genoa, Mondovi is in the heart of in Italy’s less-visited Piedmont, the northwest crescent of fertile wine and fruit valleys and foothills curling at the feet of the nearby French/Italian Alps.
We crowded into a freshly scrubbed church, no bigger than a living room in an American home.
But it was a sweet, innocent church with a portable organ that managed a surprisingly courageous voice.
Next to the church was a simple, granite marker naming the handful men who died in the two world wars.
Most had the same last name, and died as fathers and sons; brothers and cousins.
And here came the bride, Giovanna, dressed in a modest white suit, radiant as a bride should be.
Then the groom, Antonio, ever the joker, in red pants.
And then the guests crowding into the church or listening from outside.
The guests ranged from infants to families who probably never left the village for close to a century.
The wedding lasted for three or so days, and it felt very much like a Fellini movie.
The wedding party moved to another mountain village Vicoforte, for the reception, in the courtyard of an impressive cathedral.
It looked like a painting: a huge open courtyard surrounded on all four sides by arched colonnades, beneath which tables were covered with bottles of wine and gleaming dinnerware.
There were piles of delicious, spicy meats and a cheese table with maybe twenty or so regional kinds of cheeses, robust, deep and very complex.
Another table held fresh figs still moist from the evening dew. There were melons, bright oranges and rich kiwis.
We ate, talked, laughed.
A few people danced in the open courtyard.
The conversations were in German, Italian, French, English but soon blended together in a happy but progressively sleepy wedding party of the caring.
For the next three days we picnicked in an Alpine lodge, wandered together along the Ligurian Coast, waded in the water, stopped for coffee, forming and dissolving into smaller groups of conversations and camaraderie.
And then, a morning cappuccino on the last day.
Tearful good by’s.
Embraces among people who arrived as strangers and who were leaving Mondovi as partners in an event that’s the stuff of memories.
Kindly, it rained that day.