By Renata Terrazzan
Spring break was incredibly eventful for WLC and WLW Choirs, as they took on Italy as their next concert hall. They traveled to three majors cities – Rome, Florence and Venice – to perform in amazing cathedrals and churches including the most celebrated one – the Vatican.
In the works since last February, this trip was well planned and filled to the brim with once-in-a- lifetime experiences for these choir members. Each of the ten days contained a never-ending itinerary.
Straight off the nine-hour flight, the day began bright and early at 8 am for these travelers. After a quick outfit change in the airport bathroom, the choir kids immediately hit the city for an in-depth tour of Rome. They first walked around in the modern part of the city where they grabbed a quick lunch, and next they were transported back in time to thousands of years ago into Ancient Rome. Here, they had a private tour and got to see beautiful remains from ancient monuments like the Roman Forum, the House of Vestal Virgins, the Basilica of Constantine, and one of the seven wonders of the world – the Colosseum – which were made even more stunning by the bright sun that shone the entire day. “It was a lot bigger than I thought,” said sophomore Isabelle Lundin.”It’s so special to actually see the stuff you learn about in person, it’s so much better.” When the day came to an end, they got set up in their new hotel, where they had the opportunity to visit an authentic Italian supermarket and an Italian dinner.
This day entailed perhaps the most exciting performance of their lifetime, singing at the Vatican Mass. The day began with a beautiful tour of the monuments in Vatican City, including the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms and St. Peter’s Basilica and Square. Each one contained a series of beautifully crafted artworks and paintings, including some of the most famous ever created like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which was painted by the one and only Michelangelo. After viewing this ancient art, they split up into smaller groups to experience the city, where they could eat authentic foods like gelato and pizza.
Then came the performance of a lifetime. “Visiting the Vatican was a dream I had since a child, but being able to sing at the main altar was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my entire life,” said senior Amy Al-Abawi. The choir got to perform four acapella songs during the mass, performing as the main and only choir. Videos of the performance are found in the link below.
Their last day in Rome contained another unforgettable performance, but this time this had not to do with the place they performed, but the people they performed with. The traveled to the center of Rome to perform with an Italian high school choir. Each school prepared a series of six songs for each other for a “friendship concert,” and ended by singing “Total Praise” together. “Singing with students in Rome opened my eyes to something new and proved to me that no matter where you are in the world, we are one,” said senior Ariana Schweymaier about the performance.
After performing together they headed out to do some basic sight-seeing like the Pantheon and the famous Trevi Fountain, which many of the girls were particularly excited for because of its special appearance in the Lizzie McGuire Movie, when she takes on Rome. Then it was time for another performance, this time at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which was quickly followed by dinner at an authentic Italian pizzeria.
The next day was a bit of a breather, starting off with a four-hour bus ride as the choir kids moved on to the next city – Florence. Upon arrival, the travelers got to see a real representation of old and new, as the city is built surrounding three beautiful medieval monuments the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery, and Giotto’s Campanile. “It was so different to see all the Europeans and the thing I mainly remember was shopping, shopping, and more shopping,” said junior Jack Gibson. After basking in the glory of the architecture, they got several hours of free-time where they were left to explore the city – including lots of shopping and eating. After making their way outside of the main city to their hotel and settling in, they got to explore the local town, where luckily a ferris wheel had been set up, on which they were able to see from a bird’s eye-view the city at night.
This day, they travelled to the small town of Pisa, containing the well-known Leaning Tower of Pisa. After spending a few hours getting the basic tourist pictures leaning against the tower, or pushing it over (or whatever else they could think of), they were off to the picturesque ancient city of Lucca. Here they could go chaperone-free (in groups of four), and truly explore the life of real Italians. “I loved riding bikes around the entire city and the no chaperones,” said junior Scott McMillan. After hours of enjoying a true European experience, they had another “friendship concert” with the people of Lucca.
Their last day in Florence was filled with art, including visiting the Accademia Gallery to see the David and a variety of ancient sculptures. “I was caught by surprise, I had no idea that the David would be that tall!,” said Senior Emma Ogline. Then they headed to the Uffizi Gallery to visit famous works from artists like Botticelli, da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Then, they were free to explore the city some more, inside and out. This included going up the winding 463 steps of Florence’s Cathedral Dome, which were built over 700 years ago and are still standing. The day ended with a traditional Tuscan dinner to complete their time in Florence.
Next up was the one and only City of Water – Venice. After another long bus ride and a shorter ferry ride, they were finally in the picture-perfect city, which indeed held true, for the best pictures of the trip were taken here as they enjoyed their few hours of touring. “It was the cutest city and we all were dressed really cute,” said senior Alissa Yenglin. “It was also smaller than I thought and pretty chilly.” Then, they got to be on the other side of the theatre as they watched an interactive performance of the Opera Il Barbiere di Siviglia in a historic Venetian house, which brought them late into the night.
Their last day in the country ended the same way it started off, with a performance. This one was at the morning mass of the oldest church they had been to yet, the St. Mark’s Basilica, built in the 9th century and decorated solely with mosaics. After their last performance, which many performed teary eyed, they were free to explore the city once again. They reconvened mid-afternoon for the unmissable gondola ride through the river roads of the city. According to Senior Christian Bashi, “we gathered in the streets of Venice on the final day not only as foreigners, but as a family of foreigners. The Italian lifestyle definitely brought the group together – from eating our meals together, to showing off our European-inspired outfits on the italian pavement to performing in one last mass. Our trip to Italy was definitely one we will be blessed to tell our children about.”
This day could perhaps be an extended day eight, starting at 3:45 a.m. “We probably fell asleep an hour and a half before we had to wake back up and honestly I’m still surprised we didn’t leave anything by accident,” said Ogline about packing bags all night with her roommate senior Renata Terrazzan. While still dark, they headed to the airport for their first flight of the day, taking them back home at 7 p.m. (1 p.m. American time), bringing a close to their trip.
The trip was an experience of a lifetime for all that went, not only were they able to spend nine days in one of the most beautiful and historical countries in the world, but they were able to make music with their choir friends in places that they would never have been able to sing at before.
Here is the official link to the website, filled with pictures of the trip and videos from the performances:
Sophomore Josh Thomas made a vlog about the trip, “it was the most exhilarating, breathtaking, and adventurous vacation of spring break! I made the vlog for others to see the experience through our eyes,” said Thomas. Here is the link: