On a sunny and warm day in Rome, I headed out to Lake Bracciano, reported location of the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes wedding this weekend. The town of Bracciano is an hour by train from Rome’s Ostiense Station. It sits on a lake formed by a volcanic crater and is a favorite weekend getaway for Romans, mostly during the summer. Nearly all of the people who visit this small town are Italian, so clearly the townspeople haven’t seen the likes of the paparazzi invasion that is just starting to descend upon them.
At first arrival, the town doesn’t seem like much. On the short walk from the train station, we happened up on a lovely piazza housing the town hall. One worker was painting offer some graffiti on a wall of a building — a sure sign that important people are coming to town? There’s a tourist information point in the piazza but that was closed. My guess is that it is only open in the summer. We spotted a sign for “lago” and followed it, coming upon a beautiful panoramic view of the lake and a British man (paparazzo) and Italian woman coming up a steep path. They said this was the way to the lake and that we would be able to see the town’s castle from this vantage point. When I refer to we, I mean me and my mother, who is my frequent travel companion and fellow adventurer and on this day, assistant paparazzo. Her presence came in handy as you will soon see.
We walked carefully down this steep path, not seeing another soul until we reached the pleasant and quiet lakeside where a few restaurants were open and a few people were enjoying the warm and sunny day by dining al fresco. We stopped for a gelato and asked our waitress about the goings on. She said she heard the nuptials will definitely be at Odescalchi Castle this weekend and that’s the only topic the townspeople were discussing. Interestingly, she said she had not had any other journalists visit the restaurant. We would soon realize that they are keeping close to the castle. After a snack of chocolate semifreddo and a Coca-Cola, we headed back up the steep road/path towards the center of town and castle.
You should have seen how steep this path was and by the time we climbed back up a few hours may have passed and one of us may have had heart palpitations, so we two blond crazy women decided to hitch-hike of sorts. We watched a car or two go by without summoning up the nerve to wave one of them down. Then we saw a white car with a nice (read: harmless) older-looking man behind the wheel. My mother waved and he waved back –maybe he thought he knew her? But he stopped and we giggled and I explained our situation and he drove us right to the front of the castle. God bless you Domenico!
We knew we were on the right track when we saw two satellite trucks sitting in the small piazza in front of the castle. The ticket office to the left of the gate was closed and a sign said that it would be closed for the entire month of November. I started talking to a producer for Associated Press Television News and he told me there was an entrance on the other side and the latest was that Cruise’s private jet just landed at Rome’s Ciampino Airport. We strolled around to the other side of the castle. I filmed more video. (I am writing about Bracciano and shooting video for a major Internet side and will pass along the link to my story when it is up.)
On the way back up to the train station, we stopped at the main town piazza again and saw several film crews entering and exiting the town hall (my guess is they need permits to film) and discussed the whole situation with the lovely woman who owns the piazza’s newstand. Oh and we noticed, all of that graffiti was covered over….
(P.S. – I have great photos of all the goings on and will post them when I can find the write cable here in Florence, where I am now. Long day.)