Need to get married? Call the CarabinieriBy
The Carabinieri — like the firemen — are always on hand whenever something hideous has occurred. Wrecks, suicides, etc. are always dealt with by this remarkable corps; think of them as the Police Who Must be Obeyed. (Not like all the other police around, or at least so it seems.) The Carabinieri are serious, get-it-done officers, and never mind all the jokes at their expense. (Example: Why do carabinieri always go on patrol in pairs? Because one is the one who knows how to read, and the other is the one who knows how to write. Ba-dum.) Let me add, before anyone else does, that they are a serious military entity on serious military duty in several places in the world, such as Iraq.
But let’s imagine — actually, you don’t need to imagine it, because it happened a few days ago — that you are a couple who has just arrived, as per months-in-the-planning, to get married at the Villa Giustinian Morosini in Mirano, a lovely 18th-century villa in a smallish settlement along the Brenta river between Venice and Padova. Friends — check. Family — check. Ring, flowers, photographer, check. Celebrant? Celebrant? Official marryer-type person? Hello?
The minutes tick by, and while I suppose somebody might have ventured a jest about at least the bride being on time, the mood could not have been what I would call festive. The groom especially was not amused. Because while it appears that in a civil ceremony you don’t get to choose your celebrant, you know there’s supposed to be somebody standing in front of you asking you a batch of questions and then signing some papers.
The absence of the expected official quickly passed “annoying” and was on a straight trajectory toward “insane.” Minutes were ticking by with no sign of anybody prepared to marry these two crazy kids. And the kids were getting crazier.
So the groom calls the Carabinieri. I love this guy! Because while I suppose that if he had been feeling slightly less tense, he might have called the firemen (my celebrant is stuck up a tree and I can’t get married), he knew that the Carabinieri are implacable. They are both civil and military police, and Lino has told me that the humblest carabiniere outranks a four-star general and an admiral of the fleet.
The Carabinieri take this seriously as any other official infraction, immediately contacting the vice-mayor to ask what’s going on. (I’m thinking about how amused he was to get a call from the Carabinieri.) He doesn’t know what’s going on, but he checks the list of who’s on duty that day as the mayor’s representative. It turns out that it’s a town councilor named Luigi Coro’, and the problem isn’t him, it’s the person who was on duty the day before.
Because while the bride and groom have been tapping their toes, and their watches, Mr. Coro’ has been wildly searching the municipal offices for the “wedding packet” which contains all the necessary documents, and the official register, and the tricolor sash (red, white and green, the colors of the Italian flag) which he has to drape across his chest to signify his official status as representative of the government of Italy. No packet, no wedding.
So why can’t he find it? (I imagine him emptying wastebaskets, checking the refrigerator.) Because the person who was on duty the day before forgot to tell anybody where he put it. I know — let that sink in for a minute. “Oh, just put it down anywhere…” And then, as I say, he forgot to notify anyone. Just…. forgot. Quittin’ time!
Meanwhile, the vice-mayor himself has arrived — the Carabinieri do tend to get your attention — to try to keep everyone calm and the tarps on the lifeboats, and ready to step in as celebrant if Mr. Coro’ doesn’t manage to show up. (The vice-mayor can do it without any of the accessories, evidently, or can produce his own, or something.)
Forty-five minutes after the appointed time, which must have seemed much longer, Mr. Coro’ shows up with all his accessories, and the ceremony proceeds. The vows are exchanged, the deed is done, and the two lovebirds can finally get on with the rest of their lives, starting with the reception and continuing on to the honeymoon and having kids and grandkids and trial separations and hip replacements and so on.
The town government was very nice about it. They not only sent the couple a telegram, they also gave them a 50% discount on the use of the room.
I’d like to think that the Carabinieri got some kind of acknowledgment — maybe even a thank-you — though probably they don’t expect it. “Just all in a day’s work, sir.”
Or maybe one of them caught the bouquet. The one who knows how to read.