Archive for Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wedding fever fills Italian town

Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes expected to exchange vows today

November 18, 2006

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— This lakeside town was busy Friday sprucing up its medieval facade with a touch of Hollywood flair on the eve of Tom Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes, naming restaurant menus after the actors' most famous movies and filling shop windows with well-wishing messages.

Streets were cleaned, the grass cut and weeds pulled. Road signs outside Bracciano warned drivers that the center of town would be closed to traffic all of today to free the area around the 15th-century Odescalchi Castle - the likely venue for the celebrity wedding.

By early afternoon, town workers began setting up barriers on the street leading to one of the castle's entrances. The historic town's narrow streets teemed with journalists and camera crews, while locals made their own preparations.

"We are all participating a little in this wedding," said Simona Palazzini, a restaurant owner in the square next to the castle. "And we are quite happy to do so."

At the Il Ristorantino dining spot Palazzini offered a "Top Gun" menu that included fettuccine with seafood called "Mission Impossible" and apple pie with cream and hot chocolate named after Suri, the couple's daughter. At the nearby Trattoria del Castello, guests could order a "Tom e Kat" - a basket of parmesan cheese with truffles and mushrooms.

 An aerial view taken Friday shows the Orsini Odescalchi castle in the town of Bracciano. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are expected to marry in the castle today.

An aerial view taken Friday shows the Orsini Odescalchi castle in the town of Bracciano. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are expected to marry in the castle today.

"Congratulations Tom and Katie," said a sticker on the window of a clothing store, whose two other windows sported a wedding dress with a photograph of the couple, and a "Top Gun" theme with aviation outfits and jackets, and a poster of Cruise as Maverick, the pilot he played in the movie.

"This is good for the town. It's a beautiful thing that will make Bracciano known to the whole world," said Iolanda Barbarani, who owns a hardware store.

Lidia Sabbatini, who owns a flower shop, said residents were beside themselves with excitement.

"Everybody is so enthusiastic. ... it's not an everyday thing to have a Hollywood star as a guest," Sabbatini said. "That's all anyone is talking about. Wherever you go, they're talking about it. People aren't even taking the time to buy bread!"

On Friday evening, Cruise and Holmes left the Hassler hotel where they have been staying in Rome to take part in a reception at a villa on a hill overlooking the Italian capital.

On Thursday, Bracciano Mayor Patrizia Riccioni said the celebrity couple would likely wed today in a Scientology ceremony at the castle.

While she stopped short of confirming the actual date of the wedding, the town's Web site had a picture of Cruise and Holmes under the headline, "The wedding of the year in Bracciano, Saturday, 18 November 2006."

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, holding their daughter, Suri, became engaged in June 2005 and are expected to wed in Italy today.

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, holding their daughter, Suri, became engaged in June 2005 and are expected to wed in Italy today.

Riccioni, who met with the couple Wednesday at an undisclosed location and gave them a gift, said Friday she had received a large bouquet of white flowers, including roses, from the couple.

Scientology ceremonies contain many elements of traditional weddings - rings, procession, vows, etc. But they also include certain Scientology fundamentals, including vowing to never to go to bed without communicating about any differences. They also stress the Scientology tenet known as ARC - A for affinity, the closeness between a couple; R for reality, what a couple agrees on; C for communication, the exchange of ideas and thoughts.

A spokesman for the Church of Scientology for Rome, Fabrizio D'Agostino, said an exchange of vows with a Scientology rite was not legally recognized in Italy and would have to be preceded or followed by a civil union.

Cruise and Holmes have been staying this week at the luxury hotel near the Spanish Steps in Rome. They dined out Thursday night with about 50 guests at a small, nearby restaurant.

Those spotted coming and going into the restaurant included "Mission Impossible III" director J.J. Abrams, Brooke Shields and Jennifer Lopez and Lopez's husband, singer Marc Anthony.

Meanwhile, more VIP guests flew into Rome on Friday. Will Smith arrived at the city's small Ciampino airport in the late morning, and soccer star David Beckham and his pop-star wife, Victoria, arrived in the afternoon.

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