May 2000
Photo: Rostaf of Pino Rostellato, Rome, Italy

I want to get married in Rome. —R.R., Omaha, Nebr.
Hope you and your mate-to-be are patient folks, because a wedding in the Eternal City would test the tolerance of even the calmest couple. First you'll need valid passports, of course, and evidence that neither of you has been married before (if you have, you'll require proof that the previous union is no more — a divorce decree or death certificate will do nicely). Then comes the Roman paperwork. For a civil ceremony, you'll start off with a declaration sworn by each of you that there is no legal roadblock to your marriage. This must be done in person at the American Embassy (and just to make things slightly more aggravating, on any given day there's only a two-hour window of opportunity, and the schedule changes daily). You must then have that declaration legalized at the Prefettura, the office of the chief magistrate of Rome. (Again, you have a small amount of time each day.) Next comes the atto notorio, a document that's basically the same as the declaration you've just obtained, except that it must be signed in front of two witnesses, an interpreter, and an Italian court official.
When you're arranging for the atto notorio, you may have to present a permesso di soggiorno, a residence permit. To get one of these — sure you don't want a simple justice of the peace back in Omaha?— you must file paperwork with the Foreigners Office at the Rome police headquarters, which we suggest you do immediately upon arrival in Italy (or have it done at the Italian Consulate in the United States). Once you have these two documents, head to the city's marriage office, where a clerk will examine your documents and then make an appointment for you to return in two to three days to file a promessa di matrimonio, a declaration of intent to marry. After this form is filled out and approved (you'll need two witnesses and that interpreter again), then you can get married.
For a church wedding, other steps are involved. Catholics must produce baptismal and confirmation certificates. If you're marrying at the Vatican (it's a separate state, therefore different rules), you can skip the atto notorio and the civil rite. For a wedding at a non-Catholic church, religious papers are not required but a previous civil ceremony is.
The best way to avoid all this hassle, in our opinion, is to hire a planner who'll run interference. Two of our favorites: and

I'll be in Munich for a week. Can you recommend a perfect day trip?—L.W., Lake Shawnee, N.J.
Trains depart frequently from Munich for the medieval town of Füssen, 75 miles southwest. Only three miles away from Füssen is the village of Hohenschwangau, where you'll find the whimsical fantasy palace of Neuschwanstein. Built by mad King Ludwig II between 1869 and 1886, the castle is an insane mélange of lavish spires and staircases, many leading nowhere. Take one of the guided tours ($7; many are in English), and you'll discover huge murals depicting Norse legends, a garish yellow throne room with Byzantine-style mosaics, and the king's bedroom with trompe l'oeil wooden panels carved to look like Gothic windows. Peek out the real window for a stunning view of the 150-foot waterfall of Pöllat Gorge, with the Alps in the distance.

I've heard you can get dirt-cheap trips by flying as a courier. But what exactly do you have to do?Is it safe?—D.V.L., Boston, Mass.
You've heard right. If you ferry parcels back and forth between destinations, you can typically save as much as 85 percent on round-trip airfare (one agency offers a $200 trip to Hong Kong, another a free flight to Paris). Freight companies save time and money by using couriers to check packages as luggage. At the airport, you'll be met by a representative who'll check in the company's shipment. You'll ride in coach and can bring along one or two personal carry-ons. Once you arrive, you may be allowed to stay anywhere from a week to three months. Of course, you'll have to travel alone and your preferred destination may not be available exactly when you want to go, but that's a small price to pay for such inexpensive airfare. Check out or

E-mail your questions to, fax them to 800/926-1748, or mail them to: Ask T+L, 1120 Avenue of the Americas, 10th floor, New York, NY 10036. We regret that questions can be answered only in the column.