This time last year I had the pleasure of dining in the restaurant at Hotel il Giardino over a week, for the days before and after, and during our wedding. So you could say that this review is not strictly a restaurant review, but also a wedding review. Tomorrow, 31st of May 2009 will be the first year anniversary of our wedding in Italy where our reception was held at Hotel il Giardino. Our wedding was a very small affair, we had just less than 90 guests, so it was a very initmate atmosphere where people were able to get to know each other and have a lot of fun. Many of our wedding guests travelled from New Zealand, New York, Singapore and England as well as throughout Italy to attend our wedding. So it was a very multi-cultural affair. Our overseas guests stayed with us at the Hotel il Giardino. I am eternally grateful to my wonderful wedding guests, who supplied me with photos from my wedding, which you can see below.
I had fabulous feedback from our guests on the hotel, with ravings about the excellent service, scrumptious food, gorgeous sea views and central location. I was very taken with their buffet breakfast. To this day I have not stopped comparing every croissant I ever taste with the croissant I ate for breakfast at the hotel. Nothing has been able to come up to the standards of the hotel. The croissant was freshly cooked, and perfect in every respect. It was stiff enough, without being too stiff nor soft. It was not too oily or rich like some croissants can be. Their croissants were also very high, with a great texture. It was so good that you could happily eat it alone with coffee, or with just butter. The restaurant also provided you with a selection of fruit jams and honey. I would usually start breakfast with some refreshingly cold yoghurt first, and a little cereal with milk. The coffee machine in the restaurant was fun to play with, so much so that I insisted I simply must be in charge of getting the drinks for our table. Hot chocolate and caffe latte’s were the most popular choice.
The hotel is surrounded in a beautifully landscaped garden. There are olive trees and other native plants, shrubs and rocks in the grounds, along with tennis courts, marquees for outside functions and dancing lessons, and a large swimming pool. We also found some gorgeous little lizards sunbathing outside.
The hotel is next to the beach and in walking distance to the seaside village of Scario. The h0tel is spread over many floors accessible by lifts and stairs.
Scario (Cilento, Italy)
The rooms offer views over the sea, either directly in front of the hotel, or to the side of the hotel overlooking the town of Scario. Scario is well known for their fantastic celebrations on New Years Eve, with bands, dancing, and other musical entertainment and fireworks. Having missed the opportunity to celebrate New Years for the past few years due to being at an airport or on a plane, or simply asleep due to jetlag, then we decided this year we will plan to celebrate in style at Scario.
Scario is full of beautiful boutique shops, pizzerias, cafes and restaurants. It has clothing boutiques, a pharmacy, salon and make up store, and most importantly more than one ice cream shop. There is a gorgeous church in Scario that is tall and has a beautiful spire. The shopping centre is located on the marine, and one of the restaurants has even spread onto a decking over the water, a most splendid atmosphere to enjoy your cocktails with their background music, and the movement of the waves crashing against the sand beneath your table. The marina is full of yachts and small fishing boats, and there always seems to be something going on to entertain you.
Scario is close to Torre Orsaia, Policastro, Palinuro, and Sapri, which are all in the Cilento region. The Cilento region (land) is a UNESCO World Heritage, and the marine area in Cilento is a marine national park.
An Italian Wedding
I was in Queenstown, New Zealand looking for a new book to read, when I came across a title called ‘The Italian Wedding’. It immediately caught my attention, and I suddenly thought, oh, did someone write a book about my wedding? He he. It is funny how self centred we can be isn’t it? Still, I had to check inside the book to see for myself that there was no connection between the plot and my wedding. Yes I was relieved when I read that there were no similarities. It did make me think though, that perhaps I should write a novel about our wedding? Well, we shall see. In the meantime, here are some simple facts about our wedding. The date was Saturday 31st of May 2008. The location choices were New Zealand, Tonga, Italy, or England. After much debate, New Zealand, Tonga, and England lost the location battle for various reasons. So, it was decided we would marry in Italy, in town of the parents of my husband (to be).
Torre Orsaia (Cilento, Italy)
We were married in a beautiful little church in Torre Orsaia up in the mountains, it had beautiful views of the sea. To get there, we arranged a coach to collect our guests from Scario and take them up to Torre Orsaia. It was a very early start that day for everyone concerned, because the ceremony started at 11am. I was more used to services starting at 3pm or 4pm, but 11am was apparently the usual timing for weddings in Italy. We also had guests travelling from other towns, and so they could not stay out too late as they need to drive home afterwards.
The florist we used was just down the road from my in-law’s house in the next sea side village. She was very helpful and patient too. I still could not speak any Italian, so my husband translated between us. The florist had a lot of beautiful books and magazines for me to look through to choose my selection. For my flowers I decided to keep some consistency between the bridal bouquet and the flowers in the church, on the pews, and in the reception room. For the bouquet I chose a soft peach coloured rose to be mixed with cream roses and another little white flower. For all other flowers I added in the Gypsophila paniculata, and some dark green foliage. The florist’s details are: Compagnia delle Indie, Policastro Bussentino, Italy.
For my wedding dress I was privileged to have it made by Atelier Mario Russi in Caserta, Italy. It was my future sister in law that lives in Caserta who introduced me to Mario Russi, as her Aunt is a close friend of his. I had not been able to find a single dress I liked as ‘perfect’, until I walked into the showroom of Mario Russi. I tried on a whole rack of dresses. Then, Mario came down and brought out from the back of the studio a single dress, and I fell in love with it at first sight. I tried it on, and that was that for me. The dress consisted of many different layers, each of which was a different kind of silk, for example, silk chiffon, silk satin, and so on. The top layer of the dress had tiny little pearls sewn onto it. I also wore a long veil with the dress. The designer’s details are: Atelier Mario Russi, Via C. Battisti, 11/13, 81100 Caserta, Tel. +39 (0) 823 321 315.
The church choir sang the hymns and songs for us during the service and the signing of the register. The choir consisted of young children, who were so adorable, and possessing the most angelic voices. The service was conducted all in Italian. However, for the vows, we read them out in Italian first, and then again in English. Part way through the service, the Priest called my husband up to the front and asked him to translate into English what he was saying to our English speaking guests. That was a surprise to me, and a very lovely gesture. For the bible readings, my brother in law’s fiance read in Italian, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Love Is. My Mother read the same verses, but in Tongan. My friend Nancy read the same verse in English.
After the ceremony, as we were leaving the church, we were bombed with what I was told was wedding confetti, but seemed to me more like an attack of sticks and stones. Well, not actually, but they were rather hard, we hard rice (uncooked) and sugar coated almonds thrown at us. I know it is tradition, and I had specifically asked not to have that thrown at us. But oh well, things happen. My bridal bouquet came in very handy on that occasion as I hid my face underneath the flowers for protection.
When this display of love and affection was over, I peered out over my flowers, to see a police man walking towards me. Another shock. I wondered then, since he was here, should I ask him to arrest all those guests of ours who threw rice and hard almonds at me? Perhaps he could do them for battery? Just kidding! I discovered that the policeman was there for a reason. Because the church steps go directly into the main road, the police was there to direct traffic and prevent accidents due to the influx of pedestrians on the road from our wedding! I thought it was lovely, and so unexpected, and brings back fond memories.
The first part of our wedding reception involved a cruise along the coast that was organised by the Hotel. On the cruise we enjoyed antipastos, and champagne. Below deck the music was playing and we had a lot of fun dancing together! As we went along the coast we spotted some caves. These caves are rumoured to have been a home. People were said to have been living there, at some time in space.
After the cruise we returned to the hotel for our main meal.
Well, it turned out to be more than one meal, we had seven courses in total. The food was too much for many of our guests who were still consequently suffering jet lag. So during the meal we lost one or two guests as they went outside for a breather, or to rest in the rooms upstairs. The quality of the food was superb, we really were very spoilt. We started off with mozzarella and ham, then moved onto various dishes of seafood, and ended with steak.
We chose our favours from a pretty little bonboniere shop in the village a few months ago and picked them up a box of them the day before our wedding. They were cream in colour and had pretty little edges that reminded me of crotchet. I thought they were simple and elegant, just pefect for the occasion.
For dessert we moved outside for speeches and the wedding cake. Our cake was in keeping with traditional Italian style, and was a soft sponge cake filled with a cream made up with lemon and strawberries. Did I say before that it was a very long day? Well it was, but it was also a tremendous amount of fun. After speeches and the wedding cake, we danced with the band outside under the trees next to the swimming pool. The cake came from a local pastisserie in the village. It turned out to be larger than what we had expected, but that’s never a bad thing. We were so busy we mingling with guests that my husband and I didn’t get a chance to eat more than a single bite of the cake. However I did learn from our guests that the cake was extremely delicious and went down a treat. The details of the pastisserie are: Policastro Bussentino, Pasticceria Chiara, Italy.
My husbands grandmother who is 98 did fabulously, dancing all through the night, and so did the other members of our family. It was very enjoyable. We were fortunate that the weather wasn’t too hot. It was very sunny and warm, but there was also a gentle breeze that was refreshing. We lost guests throughout the day as they went up to their rooms and fell asleep. I somehow managed to make it to about 12pm and then retired. My Mother, my Cousin, and my husband’s best friend had other ideas though, as they changed into the swimsuits and had cool dip in the pool. What a perfect end to the evening.
The owners and staff at the hotel went out of their way to please us. All of us were unaminous in our appreciation and awe at the high level of service we received. When we had guests arriving at all times of the day and night, midnight, 1am, 4am, 5am, they were there on hand to take phone calls and organise taxi’s from the train station to the hotel. Everyone was very friendly, and made us feel so welcome as if we were at our own home. The day came when it was finally time for us to leave the hotel and go home, and it was very sad. Each of us had enjoyed spending time with the staff at the hotel, and the beautiful rooms and the whole place, so we didn’t really want to leave. But as they say, all good things come to an end. We have some fabulous memories from our time at the Hotel il Giardino, and highly recommend this hotel to anyone contemplating a trip to Italy.
To get to the hotel you can get a taxi from Sapri train station to the hotel in Scario will take about 25 minutes over 16.1 kilometres. So to get there you can fly directly to Rome, and catch the fast train (Eurostar) from Rome direct to Sapri that will take five hours. If you are flying into Naples, then you can drive to Scario in 2.5 hours, or you can get a train from Naples to Sapri that takes less than two hours (1.7 hours). To book your room you can send an email from their website. In case you were wondering, yes they do speak English at the Hotel il Giardino.
|Parking:||Yes, free private car park on site.|
|Hotel ‘il Giardino,||Via Giardino – 84070 Scario (Sa) Italy +39 97 498 6113|
Photography is copyright to © Alice’s Wedding Guests 2008-9. All rights reserved.