It was at a baseball field in Imola, Italy after baseball practice that Manuela Ela Weidner asked then- professional baseball player, coach and former Dalton resident, Steve Weidner, if she could take his photograph.
I didn't know him at the time, said Manuela. I was waiting with my daughter to take this photo… We were waiting and waiting and it was getting dark. Finally, when I was able to take the picture, Steve said, ‘I don't know. It's getting dark. Maybe we can do the picture another time.' I didn't want to wait. I had waited a long time.
Steve joked, She's Italian. She's impatient.
I wanted to take this photo, she said. That was an excuse, joked 36-year-old Italian born Manuela. I planned everything (the photo – so I could meet him).
She took the photo and it was the beginning of a six-year relationship that culminated at their wedding in Imola, Italy March 4, 2012, and relocation to the United States in late August. They are currently living with family at the Weidner homestead in Dalton.
She wanted to take a picture of me with her daughter and another Canadian coach, said Steve. She gave me her number. I called her, we went out for a date and that was it.
Manuela added, I remember one of our first conversations before the photo. He was wondering if I was Italian. I thought he was interesting and I wanted to get to know him… They enjoyed their first date at a German-style pub.
Steve continued their story, We got along well and a week or so after, we went on another date, he said. I saw that she was friendly and always had a smile on her face. A nice personality…
Manuela said people described Steve as ‘as a good person who is good with kids… She said, But not everybody is able to do this. I remember after the first date, he asked me to call him to be sure everything was OK… And there were nice messages following subsequent dates. Manuela said, He used to live his life dating. He was alone at the time. It was a completely different life.
Steve described himself as very relaxed and laid back.
That was 2005 and after five months of dating, the Dalton resident had to return to the United States. The two were apart for three months. Upon his return to Italy, he signed a contract with another team in Tuscany, launching a longterm and long- distance relationship from 2006 to 2009 that they agreed wasn't easy.
We were two hours away. She would come down to (Tuscany) to watch my team play. I was coaching and playing at the time, Steve said.
In 2010, he moved closer to Manuela and then after one year, he moved to my house, she said. They decided to tie the knot prior to returning to the states.
We didn't like the traditional notion of marriage. We thought, we want to stay together and there are opportunities for the kids to move back to the area. Let's have a symbolic celebration and we're married. Manuela has two children: Lorenzo, 8, and Nicole, 18.
They were married in an 8th century Italian palace and celebrated with dinner at restaurant located on the foothills of the Apennine Mountains. They described their wedding as multicultural, with family and friends from around the world in attendance.
I wore a Celtic gown and our rings were purchased through an Irish store. In Celtic mythology, swans symbolize love and beauty, and in our rings you see the union of two swans which means ‘for eternity.' An outdoor celebration for family and friends who could not attend their Italian wedding is planned for spring.
Manuela is teaching private Italian lessons and exploring business opportunities and Steve plans to work in the financial industry. Their mutual interests include activities centered on the children, travel, reading and aperitivo, a pre-meal drink and an Italian tradition said to stimulate the appetite.
While they can communicate in Italian and English, they also speak the language of love and romance.
If you look at life in a romantic way, everything is romantic… said Steve.
And for Manuela, Love can be many things. It's following the same path, having the same goals and at the same time having the respect of each individual person's goals.
To have your love story or special anniversary considered for a feature in an upcoming edition of The Abington Journal, send name, contact info, anniversary date and details to Editor Kristie Ceruti, kgrier@theabington journal.com, call 585.1604, visit the Abington Journal, 211 S. State Street, Clarks Summit, PA 18411.