Monday, June 23, 2008

Italy Tour 2008, Remembered

Travel Remember: Waiting for your bags in Roma, that were already on their way to Palermo. The looks on the faces of the people from Air One as they tried to book everyone on a flight that had been boarding for half an hour. The faces on the plane when we finally boarded for Palermo. Majken, David, and Trevor saying, “Where’s mine?” The barking drug dog and Kyle Rodgers’ “night in hell.” Bus one and two. Meeting Elisabetta and Mauro for the first time. Palermo Remember: Singing a concert in a large classroom. The example set by the University of Palermo Choir on maintaining proper vocal health through smoking. The light fixture that sounded like a trapped bird during O magnum mysterium. The applause and the standing ovation. The walking tour of the city and your first Gelato Siciliano. The Hotel Jolly and the walk by the ocean. Agrigento Remember: The Valley of the Temples. The sun, the heat, the view of the valley, the olive and almond trees. The town of Agrigento perched on the hills over the valley. The Mediterranean Sea in the distance. The beach and the cool breeze at lunch. Playing in the Mediterranean and the spotted lizards running by the boardwalk. Mauro and his collection of partially consumed wine bottles. Monreale Remember: The gold and the mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale. The wonderful performance, including the group that just had to have a closer look at the altar during Caritas et amor. Dr J locked in the sacristy after everyone had left. Ferry to Napoli Remember: The beauty of Palermo fading in the mist. Your spacious cabins on the SNAV ferry line. The sea gulls trailing the ship. All the group and individual pictures. The disco and people sleeping under the tables. The early port call and sunrise over Napoli. The garbage in Napoli. Pompeii Remember: The size of an entire Roman city frozen in time with Vesuvius in the distance. The plaster molds of the victims left behind to protect the homes of the rich. The villas and their open spaces. The bus ride along the Amalfi coast and the narrow roads. The first view of Sorrento from the cliff. Sorrento Remember: The Hotel Michelangelo and the size of the rooms. Shopping in the narrow streets off the main road. The casino featuring “Texas Hold Them” and the disco. The Primavera Gelato shop with fifty flavors available. Kris Dahlen’s Scooter Repair Shop and Driving School opens in August. David, Majken and Trevor finally receive their luggage - “clean clothes and they’re mine!” Isle of Capri Remember: The steps down the gorge to the harbor. The boat ride to the island. The sun and Dr J’s Indiana Jones hat. The flowers in the garden. The views of the harbor and the homes perched on the cliffs. The ride to Anacapri that was supposed to take fifteen minutes, done in six. Trying to get a picture out the window while speeding around cliffs roads with a one thousand foot drop off. Walking two miles to the performance at Santa Sophia, after Mauro told us it was “just off the main square.” The pictures outside Santa Sophia with the sculptor. Singing Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit and Va, Pensiero in the square before the concert. The concert where people just kept coming in and listening. The book of the history of Santa Sophia given by the priest at the end of the performance. The water donated by the local restaurant. Getting lost among the winding streets of Capri and Anacapri. The boat ride back and the view coming into the port of Saorrento. The steps back up the gorge from the harbor. Sorrento again Remember: Walking in your robes through town on the way to San Francesco. The smell of the convent library. The beautiful court of the convent. The view from the cliffs outside the convent - Vesuvius and the Bay of Napoli. The priest opening the large doors at the back of the cathedral and seeing the statue of S. Francis and the flying bird. The crazy photographer from California. The lady screaming out, “Is this Sim shalom now?” The standing room only audience and the standing ovations. The sound in San Francesco. Singing in the court yard of the convent after the performance. Assisi Remember: The ride through the coutryside and into Umbria. The stop at the Tenuta di Pietra Porzia Winery in Frescati. The boxes of wine marked ALTO. The medieval streets of Assisi. Waiting in the sacristy of the Basilica of San Francesco for over twenty minutes wondering if anyone will come out in the rain at 20:30 hours on a Friday evening to hear a Lutheran choir from South Dakota, while Mauro kept saying, “Just a few more minutes, more people keep coming.” Walking out for the performance and seeing a standing room only audience in the Basilica. The Cardinal Monsignor in the third row of the audience, along with so many of the Franciscan brothers. Singing the Trilogy in the Tau formation in St. Francis’ own Basilica. The tears and the spirit of St. Francis with us all. The repeated standing ovations. Running through the rain to the buses and being “with robe” again. The Monsignor pulling me over out of the rain into a medieval doorway to present me with crucifixes blessed by Pope John Paul II to be given to the soloists as recognition of the mission of the entire Augustana Choir. Roma Remember: Entering the Eternal City of Roma and arriving at the Hotel Mediterraneo. Metal detectors to get into church - okay, so St. Peters Basilica is a little different than First Lutheran. Squeezing into the choir loft of St. Peters to sing High Mass. Singing Va, Pensiero in St. Peters square with the Swiss Guard ready to pounce and carry us off to wherever they punish Lutheran choirs - thanks Mauro, Great idea…. Singing Sunday Mass at the “American Church,” Santa Susanna - in English. The Gay Pride Parade and Elisabetta reluctance to tell everyone that it was going on. The gypsy demonstrations outside the Colesium. Group one’s guide, Gabriella - the voice from six years ago. Sunday evening, the Hardrock CafĂ©, Roma; oh yes, it does rain in Roma!!!!! The Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel - SILENZIO! Our final concert in Santa Maria de Trastevere; the man blowing out the altar candles during Praise to the Lord. The tears on the Litany and the Trilogy. Barely being able to get through Va, Pensiero, knowing it was our last song in our final concert on what was a truly magnificent tour. The pictures, laughter and joy of our Farewell dinner at La Piazzetta Restaurant. Following Andrew Kightlinger with Alyssa’s pink suitcase on his head as he led us on our final excursion through the streets of Roma. Staying up all night if you were in the 3:00 departure group. Elisabetta Amadi from Venitia, and Mauro Tonelli from Roma, the BEST tour guides in all Italia.

Always remember that: “Wherever you go, however long you are away, you are always a part of The Augustana Choir. God be with you till we meet again. By his counsels guide, uphold you, with his sheep securely fold you. When life’s perils thick confound you, put his arms unfailing round you; God be with you till we meet again.” -Dr. J.