Once again I am in Partina, near Arezzo in Italy. It is the occasion of Claire and Roberto’s younger son’s Baptism, in the 16th century church in the small village where Roberto grew up.
Roberto, Claire, Marco (age 3 1/2) and Lorenzo (age 1 1/2) arrived to the joy of Roberto’s family. Burt, (Lorenzo’s USA grandfather) and Donna also made the trip. As is customary, we gathered at the restaurant, Il Casentino on the grounds of the 12th century Poppi Castle, for a lovely dinner. This included Roberto, Claire, Marco and Lorenzo; Claire’s father, Burt, and wife, Donna; Roberto’s sister, Roberta and husband Paolo and children Matteo and Martina; Roberto’s father, Vivaldo; and me.
All preparations were made for Lorenzo’s Baptism, which had actually been scheduled for the previous summer, when he was six months old, but Claire had been suddenly laid off in the proverbial ‘down-sizing’ so the trip to Italy had to wait until she was gainfully employed once again.
There was a new priest in Partina, as their much-loved former priest had died suddenly, leaving the congregation in mourning. Another priest had been assigned, but due to the shortage of priests, this poor man had to serve three congregations, miles apart! Because of his many commitments he suggested having the Baptism on a Saturday, but that wouldn’t have been ideal, as Lorenzo’s grandpa Burt and Donna were due to arrive on Saturday afternoon and would have missed the ceremony. The word about this got around town, and the ladies who were cleaning the church (with Roberta present) were suggesting that the new priest was not meeting their needs. As one of the women was especially critical (right there in church!) she turned to the statue of the Virgin Mary, put her hands together in a prayerful pose and said, “Perdona, Madonna!” The Baptism was rescheduled to happen during Mass on Sunday so all could be present.
Sunday, Baptism Day came. Roberta and Paolo were the
sponsors; parents and godparents with Lorenzo were asked to come forward during the Mass, and, while it was a bit awkward for an 18-month old ‘baby’ to recline as the Baptismal water was being poured on him, all went smoothly! Lorenzo seemed to enjoy the whole ceremony.
The family gathered for a lovely dinner, again at Il Casentino Restaurant, and this time also included were Roberto’s sister, Luigina and her husband
Giovanni; their children, Lucia and Giampaolo, and Roberta’s parents-in-law, Renata and Bruno.
Bruna and Natale live right across the street from the church, and were happy to pose for pictures with two very active little boys and their mother, Claire. We all were treated to a wonderful many-course dinner afterwards, eating outside in the lovely Tuscan sunshine.
Alas, immediately after dinner, I had to be driven by Roberto to Arezzo to catch a train to Rome, as my ‘High School Friends’ were arriving a day later and I needed to be on hand in Rome to greet them. What a lovely family set of events, with all present to celebrate Lorenzo’s Baptism and Giampaolo’s First Communion!