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the flood, the plague, and the restaurant
real-life can put a damper on wedding plans

by Laura Pazzaglia
(return to the Bride's Diary)

Veranda door of
Ristorante Bardelli
Wedding plans should really be called wedding wishes. Sometimes, no matter how closely you attend to details, unforeseen events can destroy whatever plans you've made. Last summer, for instance, Roberto and I went to Italy to select the restaurant for our reception. Now, eight months later, our original choices have been threatened by both natural disasters and health concerns!

Too big, too small, just right!
"It's too dark," Roberto said, "and besides, the ceilings are really low," he continued in English so that restaurateur wouldn't understand.

I really liked Casa sul Ticino (House on the Ticino). It had a great view of the river, an outside bar, and the front garden had just been finished. Not to mention the fact that it was a hop, skip and a jump from the church where we are to be married.

"Oh, all right, "I conceded. "We'll save this restaurant as a last resort."

My childhood friend, Clara, said that her boyfriend's friend had a beautiful spot just outside of Pavia. It was called Tre Puch, which in Pavese dialect for Tre Pozzange (the Three Puddles). Indeed, all three ponds were connected and floated several swans as well as an old boat. Weeping willows made appearances at the water's edge to add shade and interest. A curved wooden bridge stretched across the thinnest point to the other side of the grounds, which were perfectly manicured lawns with floral bursts here and there. It looked just like´┐Ż. a golf course.

You see, a well-manicured garden is not a surprise here in America, but in Italy, urban growth and lack of space have reduced the most spectacular gardens to terra cotta pots whose contents stretch out to grab the stripe of sun that squeezes between buildings. Yes, there are some public formal gardens that have been pruned to their original Renaissance splendor, but that's about it. Converted from several rice fields, the finely landscaped and sprawling Tre Puch is certainly beautiful and unique - to Italians.

Distressed at still not finding the just the right restaurant, we turned again to Clara in desperation.

"Why don't you try Bardelli?" she suggested. "It's right next to the Ticino and not far from the Ponte Coperto (Covered Bridge).

Bardelli is neatly snuggled between the riverbank and the river. A late Victorian, Liberty-style building erected in 1860, the restaurant had been carefully restored by its owners, Mr. and Mrs. Bardelli.

"The ceilings are nice and tall," noted Roberto.

"We could take our wedding pictures right outside!" I squealed, as visions of us standing hand-in-hand with the bridge as a backdrop danced in my head. The owner proudly explained how not just the metalwork, which is the highlight of the veranda, but the colors as well have been restored to their original beauty. Roberto and I chorused "We'll take it!"

Water, water everywhere
I have a little tip for anyone who intends to hold their reception in a restaurant near a river bank. Ask about flooding.

In the Fall of 2000, unusually high rainfall struck Italy. Mudslides, rushing rivers and floods were common. Roberto and I weren't sure whether we should worry until Simona e-mailed us a picture of the two-story Ristorante Bardelli, which was no longer next to the Ticino River but in it! Note how the glass veranda is almost completely submerged.

The picture accompanied an e-mail stating the Ticino receded soon after the flood and the restaurant actually held a wedding reception on the site the very next weekend! We're now considering giving snorkels and flippers as wedding favors. And what could be more appealing than fish so fresh it swims right onto your plate??

Wet restaurants aside, we have been able to plan the menu virtually (I'm guessing their computer is not in the restaurant, or if it is, it's on the second floor). Fortunately, the restaurant has a Web site and an e-mail address. Here's what we had in mind:


Aperitivo Cocktail
(Aperitif and Cocketails)

Insalata di polpa di granchio, gamberi e rucola
(Crab salad with shrimp and rucola)
Foie gras e fiocco di culatello
(Foie gras with ribbons of culatello cheese)

      Risotto mantecato con punte di asparagi con olio infuso di tartufi      
(Risotto with asparagus tips and truffle oil)
Pasta Paglia e Fieno con Gamberi
(Green and White Tagliatelle with Shrimp)

Cernia al forno con erbe fini con contorno di verdure al vapore
(Baked Cernia fish with fine herbs and steamed vegetables)

Sorbetto Limone
(Lemon Sorbet)
Sella di Vitello al pinot
(Veal with Pinot sauce)
Petto d'anitra agli agrumi con contorni alla moda dello chef
(Breast of duck with chef's choice of side)

Scaglie di grana padana
(Thin Slices of Cheese from the area)

Montature di frutta fresca
(Plate piled with fresh fruit)
Sottobosco con crema di vaniglia
(Berries with vanilla cream)

Dolce nuziale
(Wedding Cake)



Some Beef
Mad Cow Disease popped up in Britain in the last decade, France in the last couple of years and Italy a week ago! Basically, this is a disease that affects the cow's brain and nervous system and kills the cow within months. If the meat of an infected cow is ingested by humans they develop a variant of the same disease which can kill in 5-10 years. When Mad Cow was detected in France Italians imposed a beef import ban, which resulted in a 40% drop in sales of all beef-- no matter where it came from. I can only imagine what the reaction will be, now that infected cows have been found in Italy. If we don't want our guests stumbling around and drooling in a few years, we'll need to substitute the veal!

a bride's
wedding diary

Diary Home
* The Battlefield
* Unintended Surprises
* Hi-tech Catholics
* Location, Location, Location!
*Flood, Plague, and Restaurant
*It's in the mail!
*A Perfect Fit
*The Bomboniera Competition
*Last-minute Tips

Give Wedding

Get Advice for your own Wedding!
Usually, when you plan your wedding, you don't think about how outside influences can present new challenges. A heavy rainfall season left our restaurant a little damp and a newly detected bovine disease forces us to be creative with the menu choices. I'm finding out that the best way to handle these little "surprises" is to laugh at them first, and then apply keen Italian ingenuity to find a solution to the problem. After all -- the show must go on!


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