I began my love affair with Italy in my teenage years. I'm not sure exactly where it began. I suspect E.M. Forster and Merchant Ivory had something to do with it. I can remember sitting in my friend Maya's room watching "A Room with a View." I think many of my romantic sensibilities were formed in that moment. Maya and I believed that the only worthwhile films were foreign ones. So, we limited ourselves to movies in the "Foreign Film" section at the video store. (English films counted, of course) We went through every Merchant Ivory film that we could find. Julian Sands, Kenneth Branagh, and Hugh Grant were two of our favorite actors. But there was something about "A Room with a View" in particular. Finding true love in a field of barley and poppies on a hillside outside of Florence. And then came Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing." My favorite of all Shakespeare's plays. I saw myself as Beatrice and wondered when I would find my Benedick. And it was set in Italy. Maya and I eventually headed to Italy when we were eighteen. In Florence, we acted out the scene from "A Room with View" in Santa Croce. And we pretended to fling postcards into the Arno. And we saw lots of barley and sunflower fields. But no Julian Sands-like love interest.
Well, many years later, I am returning to Italy. My wedding was inspired by the wedding scene in "Much Ado About Nothing." Full of sunflowers and ribbons and attempts to recreate Italian countryside. And I've finally found my Benedick. Who loves to engage me in a battle of wits but loves me like no other and allows me to be myself. And he is taking me to Italy for our honeymoon. And we will spend one night in the hotel where "A Room with a View" was filmed. Lucy and George will return to Florence in the guise of Amy and Gary. I can hardly wait.