Good luck to Kate and Will today. Though not much of a royalist, even I will probably be wiping away a tear as the happy couple walk down the aisle.

It all reminds me of the last big royal wedding, in 1981, when Diana and Charles tied the knot. I was living in Capena, which was a very different place in those days. The Capena wine co-op was still in existence and Capena produced its own DOC wine – Bianco di Capena. The economy was much more rural and a lot of my neighbours spent their days tying up vines, grape harvesting, pressing grapes and so on. The cantinas that are now all being bought up as garages or for conversion for various 21st century purposes used to be hives of activity involving barrels and the heady smell of grape must. In those days, you could virtually guarantee being offered a cloudy glass of the local wine whenever you passed by a cantina with an open door.

Two of my closest neighbours were a brother and sister of fairly indeterminate middle age called Elisa and Pepe. Pepe kept an ass and led it off to tend his plot of land at some unearthly hour in the morning and you could hear it clip-clopping up the narrow, winding steps when he came home from lunch. Elisa spent her days keeping house, shopping every day for fresh food to supplement what Pepe brought back from his allotment and washing at the communal wash house (still in operation in 1981), carrying the washing in a huge plastic basin balanced on her head.

A royal wedding must be an event that transcends all cultural differences, though, because Elisa spent that baking day in July 1981 glued to her TV watching the royal wedding in a far-off country with the sounds of the organ in Westminster Abbey floating out of the window as the ass stood outside swishing away the flies with its tail.