The last five days of the European tour were action-packed, as the group made its way to Italy. After settling into the well-situated Romoli Hotel in the country’s capital city, we all headed out for our first meals of pizza and gelato.
The following morning, those interested walked to the site of a Roman Bath. For an hour, the students meandered through the complex trying to grasp the scale of the building and the site itself while imagining what life was like some 2,000 years ago.
The afternoon led to our first performance in Italy, with a joint project at the American Overseas School of Rome. Nestled in a lovely residential area, we were warmly welcomed by the Head of School and invited to a wonderful lunch on the outdoor patio. We joined forces with the school’s music department and performed for an audience of parents and teachers. It was a fantastic afternoon that allowed the students to connect with a few of their counterparts experiencing an international education abroad. A much-needed quiet evening followed, given the agenda for the next day.
An early morning departure for Pompeii and Naples was in store and the day was simply superb. The group split into two groups and students were expertly guided through the ancient ruins of the once-bustling metropolis of Pompeii before being led through the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. It was an immense amount of information to take in and a fantastic experience all around.
Our one full day in central Rome allowed the group to tick off visits to many of the major sites. A tour of the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and some shopping was in store for the four groups that branched off for the day. It was a hot and busy day for all 51 SMUS travellers and so returning to the hotel was a welcome respite from the crowds.
One last effort was in store the following morning, as the group ventured en masse into the tube to transfer to St. Peter’s Square for our last day in Rome. As expected, it was immensely busy but the students managed themselves wonderfully.
Finally, two days of respite at Lago di Bracciano capped off the trip. This is a beautiful setting where the students stayed in small cabins alongside the giant lake. Given its status as a water reservoir, the lake allows no power boats and is quite tranquil. The group performed in a Baroque cathedral in the town of Anguillara on the southern end of the lake. Situated on top of the hill at the crest of the town, the school’s music wafted down over the town to the water’s edge. Renditions of Hallelujah and Sanctus were particularly poignant and will serve as outstanding memories for how well the group came together over the two weeks.
Without question, the trip was a resounding success. New friendships were formed, cultures were explored, history was taken in and, of course, lots of wonderful music was played. No doubt many need to be acknowledged for their part in getting this adventure off the ground, as trips this large in number and ambitious in planning take many hands to arrange. However, a heartfelt thank you on behalf of all the tourists to our lead organizer, translator and tour guide, Peter Butterfield, must be offered.
The first leg of the Spring Break Europe music trip took the SMUS group to Germany. You can read about that experience on the SMUSpaper. The second stop on the trip was in England, which you can read about in this post.