Taking Italy by SongPosted by Paula Paine on April 1, 2014 in "Your OU" All photos courtesy of Matt Harader '97 and Student Body President Michael Jones.
3/25/14 Last Saturday, Nori and I returned from a 10 day trip to Italy. We went on the Ottawa University Choir concert tour to Rome, 3 days Florence, 2 days, Venice, 2 days and Lake Como, one short night before returning home.
The choir sang well and behaved themselves--I think they were so tired from the long trip, it just took the oneryness out of them. They sang 4 times, in Catholic churches, at Lent, in Italian. The crowds got larger each night, so did the venues. The crowd favorite song was Ave Maria--I remember the first night the nun sitting a couple rows in front of me jumping to her feet at the end of the song and clapping. Steve McDonald, our university organist, played the last three concerts. He played a Gregorian chant which was a part of the Catholic worship years ago and isn't heard much apparently anymore. The crowd applauded after he announced what he was going to play and really applauded at the conclusion of the piece.
We also did some serious sightseeing...after arriving Friday morning in Rome on 3/14 at 7 AM, we departed by by bus to tour the Coliseum-way bigger than I thought. Saturday, it was off to see the Vatican and the Sistine chapel--very impressive. Our trip to Florence included seeing "the most famous statue in the world" David by Michaelangelo. That artist was amazing and very venerated in Italy. Nori particularly enjoyed Venice and the gondola ride--we would return there, not so much so to Rome--too busy. The accommodations were modest, the motels had great breakfasts each morning and each room had locks, bathroom items, lights not seen here in the US.
Italy is a very industrialized country--much more commercialization than I expected. The 4 hour bus ride from Venice west to Milan, then up to Lake Como was as busy as any US highway. The Euro is the currency--about $150 US will buy 105 euros...the gasoline is expensive, 1.58 euros per liter--I remember being too tired to do the calculations in my head, but way more expensive than here.
I don't remember seeing a heavy Italian, either sex...they are a trim people. Our guide, Raffiella, was heavier than most women we saw, yet she was strong, kept up with us on our extensive walking and looong days. They don't drink much milk, slice their meat thin and food is expensive...you can easily go through 10 euros each for lunch--we found ourselves eating a robust breakfast and then "not so much" for lunch-the evening meal was either after the 9PM concert or after the last concert and a willingness to get some sleep, we ate at 6:30 at a very nice Italian restaurant.
Outside of Rome, we found few that spoke English--it is frustrating to not communicate in life--it is even more frustrating to have no idea what another human being is saying.
We did have one woman break her lower leg-she and her husband had purchased trip insurance, so her return flight, costing over $10,000, was covered, flying first class and propping up her leg. It was eye opening to see her in an Italian hospital waiting on a gurney in the hallway when Nori and I and our Italian speaking guide showed up--she burst into tears at not being able to communicate with the busy medical staff.
We also had a choir member have her purse stolen, with passport and money, not 2 blocks from the hotel. 3 of the female choir asked if I would accompany them to the store close to where the robbery took place so they could do some shopping. Glad we went, glad we returned, hope you go some day!!! Dave Hale