Firstly, a huge thank you to Alessandro and Stefano (of Tuscany Photographers) for arranging a wonderful evening of entertainment for their Wedding Showcase event last week. This was to help promote weddings and special celebrations in the beautiful city of Arezzo and in the nearby mediaeval Castello di Valenzano in Subbiano.
We met up with various wedding and event planners just outside the city centre, and were then driven to the main square (Piazza Grande). A glass of Prosecco and canapés were waiting for us at Ristorante Logge Vasari located under the mediaeval arches. This restaurant, and the nearby La Lancia d’Oro, have a variety of rooms that they use for ceremonies. From the vaulted upstairs room with original hand painted ceiling to the more intimate ground floor rooms in their Rococo style, all overlooking the impressive piazza.
We were then given a private tour of the Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici musuem with its elegant clock tower. This building was used for civil weddings and is now available for private use. Views from the roof terrace over the city, towers and the main square were fabulous as the sun was setting into a tangerine haze.
A short drive through the Tuscan hills brought us to the imposing 10th century Castello di Valenzano. The facade had been illuminated for an impressive firework display and mediaeval flag parade by a local troupe, Il Gruppo Sbandieratori di Arezzo, who are also famous for the displays they provide during the ‘Giostra del Saracino’ which takes place in the city every summer. Inside the castle courtyard a fire-eater completed the evenings entertainment. These were a great examples of the sort of unusual but highly professional and impressive elements that couples could incorporate into their celebrations.
The castle had set up a buffet in the painted ballroom, along with examples of different table settings, so we could see just what was possible for ceremonies. The food was delicious and ranged from the traditional hand-sliced parma ham and carpaccio to more modern tiny pots of savoury creams and perfect little cheese soufflés. Everything, including the bread, focaccia and pasta, is made in-house. We finished the evening with tiny desserts of profiteroles, hazelnuts and chocolate mousse, panna cotta with raspberry sauce and little chocolate muffins.
We were staying overnight as guests of the castle and finally got to bed well past midnight in one of the many guest rooms – the marble bathroom was as big as the bedroom! The clear night skies were stuffed with stars and not a sound could be heard. In the morning, it was possible to see the amazing views from the castle battlements.
After a quick breakfast of coffee with ricotta and pine nut cake, we were collected and taken back down to Arezzo. The rest of the morning was taken up with a visit to the Ivan Bruschi Museum where his eclectic collection of artefacts are housed in one of Arezzo’s oldest palazzi. Our guide, Paola Falsetti, the museum co-ordinator, showed us around the fascinating exhibits, and how the exhibition spaces and wonderful roof terraces could also now be used for private events, such as weddings and other celebrations.
Upstairs, Vestri Chocolates, a small exclusive chocolatier with ethical and organic cocoa plantations in the Dominican Republic, had prepared a tasting of their products. Delicious! They gave us complimentary boxes of chocolates to take away, too.
We took our leave, said goodbye to each other and headed back to our cars. It had been a wonderful opportunity to meet some local wedding planners and they were all so friendly and generous with their advice and contacts. Tuscany has many beautiful locations for weddings and, according to the planners, couples come from as far afield as South Africa and Australia, Great Britain and the US. I hope that now they will add Arezzo as a possible location.
Thanks again to Alessandro and Stefano and to all of the wedding planners and suppliers we met. Thanks for your generosity and for sharing your enthusiasm and I hope that if they need a wedding celebrant, they might think of me!