From the heart of – Gail Kerstetter, Director of the University Singers
Upon landing in Rome we found ourselves 6 hours ahead of our Eastern Stand Time in the good ole’ USA! We made our way through customs and were then met by an Italian tour guide who helped us navigate to our bus. We met Fabio, who was to be our bus driver for the next 7 days. His Italian – perfecto! His English – not so much-o! Haha!
After loading most of the equipment and luggage onto the bus, Anthony discovered that he had left his camera on the airplane! Rebecca, affectionately referred to as “Miss Becky,” accompanied Anthony back into the airport to the lost and found department and they were able to retrieve the camera! Whew! First catastrophe avoided!!
We had a 4 hour drive to Florence where we settled into our very first Italian hotel! The elevators in the hotel could hold 1 person with their luggage. Needless to say that took a while. Some of us just opted for the steps with luggage in tow. Our sound equipment was given it’s own special room by the desk.
The next morning we drove to the beautiful city of Florence (or “Firenze” in Italian) and visited the Accademia Gallery where many amazing sculptures were on display by famous artists.
However, we were really there to see one man – Michelangelo’s “David.” It was so fun watching the faces of the students seeing this amazing sculpture for the first time! The city of Florence holds many treasures and we were taken on a city tour to behold the high lights, such as The Cathedral Of Santa Maria del Fiore, or “II Duomo di Firenze,” as it was originally called, and the Pointe Vecchio Bridge which is now called the “Gold District,” but originally was occupied by butchers. Being over the water they could dispose of unwanted waste.
Now Florence is known for it’s leather, and our students were anxious to do a little shopping in this town.
They bought a variety of leather items which I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing once we get back.
We did not sing this day. We strategically planned it that way so our team would have a day to acclimate to our new time zone and surroundings. Trust when I say that was a GOOD plan!! We were able to enjoy some fresh air and stroll through this great city and by the way, many of us had the best PIZZA for lunch ever! At this point we are very excited for the next day and actually getting to sing to our deployed service members.
Some of the new Italian discoveries: you have to put your room key in a slot to make the lights work in the room. Italians do not love air conditioning or electricity working all the time, so they make a way for all that to rest. They drive small cars, if they own cars. They ride bikes through the cities and they walk everywhere. They have a great sense of fashion. They make amazing bread and gelato (ice cream). If your bill comes to 12 Euro – they don’t want you to pay with 50 Euro so they have to make change. You have to pay to use the restroom – which is important to keep change on you at all times. The coffee here is … well … to die for!!
And there was morning and evening of the second day.