Our final full day in Italy was fabulous. We performed at at Mass service close to our hotel, and ran into Fabio Scardocchia ’93 and his son Lorenzo. We were then given some free time to explore around, and buy lunch. Many of us also stopped by in a local pastry shop, and bought eclairs and cream puffs to prepare us for our big concert that evening.
We woke up bright and ready for a performance at the school with the choir from Friday night. We performed our set, and then were toured around the grounds of the school. It was interesting to learn that, like Pomfret, Italian students also go to classes on Saturday.
After the school visit, we drove to Tivoli to visit the town and tour the beautiful Villa D'este. We were enchanted by the sprawling gardens that make the Villa so famous. We took a ton of photos, of us were inspired by the many fountains that highlight the greenery of the setting.
The tickets for our tour of the Vatican had been booked for over a year, and we were so looking forward to touring such a significant landmark. Irene made it very clear as to what we should wear and bring with us, however nothing could've been enough preparation for the crowds of people that were with us from the moment that the bus dropped us off, 'til the moment we were picked up again. Irene told us that it was a "light" day (tourist wise), however we were thoroughly overwhelmed by the hoards of people who wanted to experience the land of the "Papa." It was incredible and scary at the same time.
The Vatican was an experience none of us will ever forget. Irene led us on a thorough tour through the Vatican Museum, where we saw frescoes by Raphael, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. It was awe-inspriring to be in such a landmark, and experience a truly historical and influential place.
After the Vatican, we left Rome and drove back to our hotel where we were given some time to rest, and change into our formal dress-code for our performance that evening in a local church. We performed with the choir of a local school, and then visited their school on Saturday. It was a long, fun, and rewarding day.
After a lovely four days in Florence, we woke up at the crack of dawn to begin our new adventure in Rome, and the surrounding Castelli Romani region. We boarded our standard bus, and drove three hours south to the capital of Italy. Along the way, we were treated to stunning vistas of the Italian countryside, however many of us caught up on some much needed rest after several hectic days in Florence.
We arrived in Rome excited to learn and see the many famous sights that the city has to offer. We unloaded from the bus and were introduced to our tour-guide for the next few days. From the moment we met Irene, she was quick witted, extraordinarily knowledgable, and completely sincere. She was a great fit for our group, and guaranteed that she would make the most of our time in Rome.
Our first day in Rome was long, however one of the most interesting of our trip. We visited the "Wedding Cake" (Altare della Patria), the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Piazza Navona. We stopped for many photos at each of these historical landmarks, and were given some time to get lunch in one of the many cafes and "ristorantes" that border the Piazza Navona.
Later that afternoon, we drove to St. Stephen's School in Rome, and performed a concert for the students there. It also happened that two former Pomfret English teachers, Stephen Morison and Emily Allen, taught here. It was also a nice treat to meet their daughter, Talia who is good friends with Melissa Browne '17. After the performance, we enjoyed refreshments with the students before heading to the Opening Ceremonies of the Peace and Brotherhood Festival. From there, we went to our new hotel, and settled in for a good nights rest before the next day's visit to Vatican City.
We woke up early to another delicious breakfast in our hotel, looking forward to the prospect of driving a a short distance to the walled city of Lucca, and performing for a choir of students our age. The scenery of Tuscany is beautiful, and as we drove through the countryside, we were surrounded by nurseries and vineyards. It certainly set the scene for a true taste of Italy.
In Lucca we were greeted by the director of the Choir, and were quickly ushered into the classically walled school, that was enhanced by a generous courtyard and Juliet balconies. Before we saw the Choir, we heard them. Accompanied by a string quartet, they were massive in size and sound. They performed many traditional Italian songs, which we enjoyed immensely. Afterwards, the Grifftones and Chorus performed our repertoire.
We were all treated to pizza after the performances and we made many friends. We learned that all of the students attended a musically-focused school, and most played multiple instruments. It was inspiring being surrounded by so many serious musicians who were our age.
After lunch, we were given the rest of the afternoon free to enjoy Lucca. Many of us took advantage of the opportunity to rent bicycles and cruise the walls surrounding the city, and get to know it on a more intimate level. Shopping and gelato were also popular, and many of us were given tours by the local students.
In the evening we returned to Florence, and were given the night free to get dinner and have one last night before we made our way to Rome. Most of us met up with the students from our first school performance, and enjoyed a later check-in while making many new memories with our Italian friends.
Adjusted from the jet-lag, we were happy to begin fresh in Firenze. Our day began with a fabulous Italian spread of crossaints and cappuccinos in our hotel. Dressed in "informal" wear, we made our way onto our tourbus and drove 20 minutes outside of downtown Florence to a school where we would perform for local high school students.
We set up all of our equipment in their auditorium and waited several minutes for a stready trickle of students to arrive. Once settled, we performed our set. It was a great success, and spent some time with students our age after our set. A game of soccer quickly ensued (Italians vs. Americans). We made many new friends, and facebook names and phone numbers were exchanged with promises made to see each other again before we left Florence.
We left the school, loaded the bus, and were given some free time on our own for lunch before embarking on a long, and interesting tour of Florence's most famous sights. We were awed by the David statue in the Accademia as well as the architectural wonder "Il Duomo", as well as the Ponte Vecchio.
After our tour, we were given the evening free for dinner and shopping, before checking into our hotel for a goodnight's sleep.
After a long overnight flight across the Atlantic, thirty or so tired griffins arrived in Milano, excited to begin our Italian adventure. In the airport we met out guide, Jessica, who quickly directed us onto our awaiting bus. Once on the road to Florence, the majority of us fell asleep, while others enjoyed the beautiful scenery of north-eastern Italy.
About an hour and a half into the drive, we stopped at an authentic Italian truck stop for some pizza, paninis, and pasta. The lingo of the truckers and the Griffins couldn't have been any more different, however we all managed to order something and navigate our way to the restrooms. It was our first taste of Italy, and was an exciting hint of what was to come once we arrived in Florence.
The distinctive Dome (Il Duomo) could be seen as our bus arrived in Florence. Groggy and excited, we arrived at our hotel and quickly found our room assignments. After unpacking and showering, we took a brief tour of our neighborhood, and then were given some free time to explore the city on our own before dinner.
Our first day in Italy was fabulous, and was capped by a delicious meal prepared for us at a restaurant a block from our Hotel. We were served a traditional 3 course meal (pasta, meat, dessert), and left full and sleepy. We all quickly fell asleep back in our hotel, excited for our first day of singing and Florence.