The Western Reserve Academy in Italy: A Trip to Remember

The Western Reserve Academy travelled through Italy in March 2010. The choir made its way through the beautiful country for 12 day. They performed, enjoyed typical dishes, met locals and had lots of fun. Martha Miller kept the families and friends at home informed about the adventures in Italy via the Incantato Tour blog. Here is an overview about her entries:

Lunch at the Rialto Bridge

The WRA tour group arrived in Venice two days ago, after several hours on three different planes. We met up with our guide, and put our bags in the hotel before beginning our tour of the city of Venice. We walked through the Jewish ghettos and got to have our first lunch at the Rialto Bridge. Afterwards we continued to St. Mark's Square. A large group of us had the wonderful opportunity to go on a gondola, and it really sunk in that we were in Venice! After a delicious dinner we went back to the hotel to collapse into bed.

Celebration time after the concert at St. Mark's Basilica

Our second day was spent mostly in St. Mark's area, taking tours of Doge's Palace and the St. Mark's Basilica. We also visited a Venetian glass factory, where we saw a professional glass-maker make a vase in about five minutes flat right before our eyes! Afterwards we were allowed to wander and visit some of the museums in St. Mark's Square. Finally it was time for our concert inside St. Mark's Basilica for mass. Although the crowd was small, the concert sounded beautiful and we moved off to our celebratory dinner. Finally we went back to the hotel to fall back into our beds.

Welcome to Verona! In the footsteps of Romeo and Juliet

Hello from a bus in the middle of Italy! Not the exact middle, but we are driving from the north more towards the middle part of Italy. We took our two-hour bus drive down to Verona yesterday with our wonderful bus driver and guide, and saw many farms out the window in that time. The bus drive felt oddly short as we pulled up in Verona and began our first adventures in an Italian city with a new added twist - there were cars everywhere! Unlike Venice, we had to be aware of cars and motorbikes driving up and down the streets. We ate lunch inside an old church that had been renovated, St. Matthew's Church. It was there that we really noticed for the first time how long Italian meals are - we ate for almost two and a half hours! After we finished, we met with our local guide and got a beautiful walking tour of Verona, complete with a very deep history of Verona. We started at the Gate of Jupiter and ended inside 'Juliet's House' - the house supposedly of the Capulets from Shakespeare's play. After that we were given some free time to walk around Verona's crowded streets before meeting back by the amphitheatre - yes, Verona has one too but it's not as big as Coliseum in Rome. It's actually the third largest in Italy. We drove to our hotel and got settled in before heading out to Valeggio sul Mincio, a small village beyond Verona's city limits, for dinner. All of the kids went to a pizzeria with our guide and had delicious pizzas while the rest of the adults had some alone time for a nice quiet dinner.

Exploring Montecatini
Although we're staying in the same hotel in Montecatini, (which is gorgeous) we are travelling around to see different cities in the area. Yesterday, after our three and a half hour bus ride, we finally arrived in Montecatini and got settled into our previously-mentioned hotel. We then set out to walk around Montecatini. It's probably one of my favorite cities we've visited so far. Unlike Venice and Verona, it is not as crowded as the other cities we visited, and we arrived right at lunchtime, so the streets were especially open. After eating lunch, we were left to wander the city in groups, some visiting the markets before coming back to the hotel to do a rehearsal for our big concert on Thursday.

Next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa
This morning after breakfast, we took a bus to just outside Pisa, and then took a local bus into the place itself. It was amazing! We saw the Tower while we were standing waiting to get into the Duomo di Pisa. Once inside, we were allowed to perform at the front altar, an amazing experience! Many groups stopped to watch and listen, and seemed to really enjoy the concert, even if we couldn't understand their words. Now we have just arrived in Lucca, where we will have a guided tour and then eat what will undoubtedly be a delicious dinner. Even the most picky of our group have been enjoying meals, and are looking forward to several more days in Italy!