Wedding of the year

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This Saturday Barga Vecchia was assailed by hundreds of people all eager to to join in what was already being dubbed “the wedding of the year”. Sally Li He from Qingdao, China and Riccardi Negri from Barga. For only the second week in March, with a long wedding season in front of us, then Saturday’s wedding must have been something special….. and it was. Regular readers of barganews have been kept up with this story right from day one – back in June of last year.

On the 6th June 2009 Barga welcomed the world famous tenor Dennis O’Neill back to the city. He was here for the 3rd year with the Cardiff International Academy of Voice running a series of masterclasses for budding professional singers with the potential to embark on a career in opera. (article here)

Two weeks later they performed a concert of music by Handel, Mozart, Vivaldi and Bach in the Annunziata church in Barga Vecchia. Singing that evening were; Mary-Jean O’Doherty, Clair Egan, Catrin Aur Davies, Ione Cumming, Renee Martin, Noel Hernandez, Carlos Osuna, Rhys Jenkins, Philip Rhodes, Bulelani Madikizela, Hyun Tae Kim, Julia Lezhneva, Courtney Mills and the soprano Sally He Li.

The Cardiff International Academy of Voice masterclass finished soon after and the singers returned to their respective countries but one remained, captured by Barga and above all by the charms of a certain Riccardo Negri, the proprieter of the L’Osteria in Piazza Angelio – yes, the soprano Sally He Li.

Things then moved very quickly with Sally being voted “woman of the piazza”  (article here) and shortly after she was proudly showing to one and all an enormous ring announcing her engagement to be married to Riccardo.  As we then published  – wedding bells were expected in January 2010.

In fact, there were a number of bureaucratic problems to be ironed out but on Saturday all came to fruition as Sally and Riccardo were married in the Palazzo Pancrazi in front of a huge crowd of friends , family and well wishers.

Click on the link to hear the ceremony : wedding_barga_sally_riccardo_13march2020

Many more were outside the Palazzo unable to join in the ceremony due to the limited space but they were also outside the prepare a surprise for the newly weds once the ceremony was over.

Musicians from Barga and Lucca joined forces to provide a musical backdrop for a special event organised by friends of the couple: a game of Backgammon – the game That Sally and Riccardo have been playing non stop most of the year. This time there was a slightly different look to the game.

The history of Backgammon goes back approximately 5,000 years.

Board games have existed for millenia in Ancient Egypt and Southwest Asia. The ancient Egyptian game senet ,was excavated, along with illustrations, from ancient Egyptian royal tombs. The Royal Game of Ur, played in ancient Mesopotamia, may also be an ancestor of modern day table games. Excavations at Shahr-e Sokhteh in Iran have shown that a similar game existed there around 3000 BC. The artifacts include two dice and 60 checkers, and the set is believed to be 100 to 200 years older than the sets found in Ur. The ancient Romans played a number of games remarkably similar to backgammon. Ludus duodecim scriptorum (“Game of twelve lines”) used a board with three rows of 12 points each, and the checkers were moved across all three rows according to the roll of dice. Little specific text about the gameplay has survived. Tabula, meaning “table” or “board”, was a game mentioned in an epigram of Byzantine Emperor Zeno (AD 476–481). It was similar to modern backgammon in that the object of the game was to be the first to bear off all of one’s checkers. Players threw three dice and moved their checkers in opposing directions on a board of 24 points.

Instead of using checkers to mark out the progress of the board, guests from the wedding stood in line and were moved around the board according to the throw of the supersized dice.

The party then moved onto Piazza Angelio which had been decorated with Chinese lanterns and red fabrics and with tables and chairs filling most of the piazza as the serious business of the day got underway – eating.

Due to the large numbers of guests the staff of the L’Osteria were stretched to the limit of their capacities … instead of a normal day with 30 -40 people seated, today they had more like 300-400 hungry souls clamouring for attention but all were served in the end and what could have been better than to relax in the piazza with the first of the spring sunshine and live musicians to keep you company ?

Later on that afternoon was the cake cutting (again in the piazza) and then the tables were cleared as everybody moved down into the Hot Club for the concert from the Manolo Strimpelli Night Orchestra. The Orchestra seems to be gradually making Piazza Angelio their home as well . Their last concert during the summer can be seen  here.

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Not only the most memorable wedding in recent Barga history — the food, the music, the glorious sun — but also the best wedding photos any bride and groom could hope for. Auguri to laopo Li He and laogong Riccardo, and complimenti to O'Connor.


Wow! Did I miss a great time! Congratulations and toasts to Riccardo and Sally! I look forward to toasting you both in person very soon!
I agree with Monacu…. the photography is incredible.


Fantastico! (Is that proper Italiano?) Congratulations to the happy couple, and yes thank you, O'Connor.