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22 June 2016

San Settimio

Riserva Privata San Settimio, Arcevia, Italy.
At the wedding of Claire Haugh and Michael Blake, Saturday 18th June, 2016

In the weeks leading up to San Settimio, mysterious names started to appear gradually in the WhatsApp group:  Roisin, Indalecia, Matty, Fedelma, Mercedes, Audrey, Senan, Serendipiti, Nadia, Frances, Dec, Catherine, Vnukova, Maura, names which meant nothing to us, but whose faces would later be revealed.  Questions demanded and patiently answered by Michael and Claire.  And an impressive spreadsheet prepared by Roisin for car sharing.

Then appeared the music requests... amusing, a lengthy list of lively music – lots of excitement and anticipation for the party.

Postings became lively as the day came closer, and at last arrival at our destination. 

We flew from Geneva to Ancona, and spent one night there.  A fairly old-fashioned hotel, a bit shabby like the busy port itself, but with a certain charm.   We climbed up cobble-stoned streets to wander around the old town, and found a tavern for a glass of wine – amply accompanied by olives, miniature pizzas, and some cake….  We still had to eat dinner.
which wasn't great, nothing like San Settimio...

The next day, Thursday, back to the airport to pick up John's cousin Michael Blake and his wife Cathy who had just flown in from Bally Glunin Park in Hamilton, Australia.  Wonderful to see them again – we talked non-stop as we climbed up into the mountains towards Arcevia, admiring villages set perilously on steep faces of the mountain, roof tops stacked on top of one another.  

At Arcevia we tried to get lunch at a bar, but there was a power failure and they could only serve us a glass of wine.  Ha.

Eventually Palazzo, and then San Settimio.   400 hectares of natural beauty high in the
mountains, with stunning views of a patchwork countryside stretching in the far distance to more hills.   In the park old stone farm houses were spaced around the hills, some clumped together around an open area where a not quite infinity swimming pool has been constructed, taking advantage of the magnificent views covering huge distances across the mountains.   Also higher up in this area a special stone circle, with a smaller centre circle of metal and stone – providing an intimate meeting place for the ceremony. 

The many old stone farm houses spotted around the reserve are now apartments for guests at San Settimio, very pleasantly fitted out and very comfortable.   More than 50 guests, old and young, were accommodated in these apartments.  Some were a distance apart, but we happily walked or went by car to gather together for meals, either at the restaurant or near the swimming pool.  Nestling in the bushes a small Buddha, great sculptures, and another Buddha. 

Our companions on the road were wild flowers, trees and grasses and a family of white geese or a family of ducks, who inhabited the lake near where we were staying.

The first evening there were just around 20 of us, with others gradually arriving.  However, the next morning at breakfast, mysterious arrivals during the night meant 50+…  

Our long meals, which included farm produce of olive oil, wine, honey and olives, were convivial, with a great deal of moving around, conversation and laughter.   Gradually getting to know the faces that went with the names….

Many hours were spent around the pool watching the young in action, ball games in the pool and soccer on the grass out of the pool.   Wow, the water was a lot colder than I am used to, I just had one try but it was a very short swim.  
Kieran, Beatrice and Maria.

Perhaps this is Matty?

Is this Kieran???

Michael and Claire, Matty and Laura

I don't know who these feet belong to, but the view is great!

A wonderful smorgasbord lunch was served each day under the pergola near the pool, with many Italian delicacies – hmmm – those grilled aubergines and grilled peppers – delicious, and perhaps some of us were a little greedy.  Time passed pleasantly talking and eating, and before we knew it, siesta time.  

Days drifted by, and then it was the big day.   Hair dos appeared, nails beautifully coloured and polished, and a bit of happy bustling around.

The warp and the weft: Michael and Claire

We were summoned to appear at the special circle at 5.30 to admire each other before the ceremony at 6pm. 

An altar had been set up with huge candles in glass, and a magnificent bowl of flowers in lemon and cream.  How could I have chosen lemon and cream for the table runner I wove for them?  Just perfect, something was connecting there.

A wonderful medley of colour appeared as we gathered around the circle.  Long skirts, short skirts, pants, ties, jackets, open neck shirts, waistcoats, some AMAZING shoes,  (Marlene you beat them all) in character with the wearers.  

We chatted outside the circle, but once inside and seated we were asked to be silent.

Eventually we were all in place and waiting for the bride: Michael and son Robbie very handsome in their smart shirts and waistcoats.   A large gong announced the beginning of the ceremony and first of all the children arrived – all gorgeous and so beautifully dressed.   Then Claire and her father.  What a stunning bride, looking so happy and beautiful.

We were asked to close our eyes and breathe deeply to allow our minds to drift into the atmosphere of the ceremony.    The ceremony conducted by interfaith minister Maura Clesham, included several candle lightings, poems, music and prayer.  Exchanges of vows and rings.  Gentle, warm and loving, emotional - fortunately Claire had provided for all circumstances and had a large handkerchief tucked insider her dress.

The pathway and the wedding party were strewn with rose petals and we posed for lots and lots of photos!!  An occasion to be remembered.

We all piled into cars for the wedding party at the restaurant.  Outside huge tables groaning with antipasto, enough to feed hundreds.   

Michael and Cathy - wondering where to start!

Eventually we went inside to sit down at large round tables, all beautifully decorated with flowers, with the same colour theme of lemon and cream. 

It was a memorable evening, great speeches and topped by Robbie, Claire and Jocelyn singing a Congolese song in harmony – so beautiful. Food was incredible, rack of lamb, crackling pork, salad and so on…All followed by music and dancing, with great cheers to greet Dominic, Beatrice and John who arrived at long last. 

A happy late arrival

Late arrivals - we were very happy to see them.

A novel wedding cake consisting of a stack of rounds of delicious cheese, was cut and distributed.    In the background the Blake flag - brought from Bally Glunin Park, Hamilton, Australia. 

To bed around 2.30am – to get up again at 6am to pack the bags and leave.  What a wonderful few days. 

Thank you for sharing your photographs, here are some to enjoy:

San Settimio is situated at 400 meters above sea level, in a natural setting of great beauty about 30Km from the sea, close to the small medieval village of Palazzo.  With excellent accommodation in separate farmhouses, and a large conference centre, it provides farm activities, horse riding, quad biking, a treatment and beauty centre.

It is owned and run by a very pleasant Italian family, managed by the wonderful Carolina, and we enjoyed the magnificent produce of the farm:  wine, olive oil, olives and honey.

1 comment :

Michael Blake said...

Dear Jean,

Thank you such a beautiful momento for what was a very special day, and a very special gathering of family and friends, in a very special place. Lots of Love Michael & Claire