Friday, May 30, 2008

Viva Italia!

Ah, the first day in Italy! Many of the choir members awoke from their travel-induced comas and opened their curtains to discover a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean ocean beyond their balconies. Good morning, right?

After a beautiful breakfast of eggs, yogurt, fresh fruit, cereal, and coffee, the Augie choir left the hotel, bright eyed and bushy tailed for their first experience of la vita Italia (bear with me if that isn't actually Italian...). We took a walking tour of the city and surrounding area in two groups. One of the main places we visited was the "Four Corners," which was an intersection of two streets with statues and fountains on each corner, representing the four seasons. The streets of Italy are something else. They are about 90% composed of mopeds that speed by at forty miles an hour right next to pedestrians. Don't worry though, parents, because they usually either honk or make some other noise (Chapman got a wookie noise warning him) to cause us tourists to jump out of the way.

We walked through open air markets with an impressive array of fruits, vegetables, olives, and meats--the most impressive being the massive swordfish that were chopped in half, displaying their pink meat for sale. We reached the Palazzo dei Normani and went on a guided tour, admiring the architecture from different eras and the incredibly realistic paintings on the walls. We briefly visited a cathedral and then had free time. Many choir members roamed the streets searching for an ATM before enjoying a meal in one of the small shops on the street or buying food from the market. A few groups discovered (not firsthand, don't worry) that the activity of choice at the park by the water was sucking face. The harbor was nice as well if you could ignore the garbage floating by the docked sailboats. Then we all made our way back to the Hotel Jolly to prepare for our concert.

We couldn't decide whether the Sicilians were impressed or alarmed at the massive parade of blue and khaki marching through their streets. We finally reached Palermo University and developed a new appreciation for elevators after marching up four huge flights of stairs to reach our concert venue. The room we sang in (and Sicilian buildings in general) was an interesting mix of medieval and modern architecture, with a few windows, a glass door, some unfinished walls, and artificial lights that flickered and chirped for our entire performance. The Palermo University Choir were good performers and responded positively to us as well. After singing the doxology and marching down those massive stairs again, we continued our color coordinated procession back to the hotel for dinner, which consisted, once again, of a first course of pasta, a second course of meat and vegetables, and an incredible dessert (tiramisu!).

That's all for now; thanks for reading parents and friends. Know that the Augie choir is safe, sane, and having a blast. Danielle Messerschmidt signing off!

Written by: Danielle Messerschmidt '08