Entry 3: June 22, 2011
Music in Italy
Over the course of this trip, I have attended several music concerts in Sansepolcro and Milan. I have learned that Italian music and concerts are very different from music in America. Along with attending local concerts, I have been studying classical music such as Vivaldi, Puccini, Beethoven, Mozart and many others. I have learned that early classical composers from Europe have made such an impact on American composers in the 20th century. When I traveled to Venice, I saw many advertisements and a large variety of souvenirs that were related to Vivaldi. It made me really excited because I knew who Vivaldi was and why he was important in Italy! It makes me feel good to be able to make the connection of things I learn in school. If I would have had enough time, I would have attended a Vivaldi concerto. But I was fortunate to hear a string quartet play some classical music in the Piazza San Marco in Venice while eating dinner one night. Also, I was able to attend two local concerts in Sansepolcro and listen to Meredith College's Sinfonietta.
I attended the Concerto 'Borsisti' on Saturday, May 28 at 5:00pm in Auditorium di S.Chiara. It was held at one of Sansepolcro's beautiful, old churches and was a classical concert given by younger children ranging from around 5 to 17 years of age. The concert lasted for over an hour and kept a steady pace once it started. One of the first differences that I noticed at this concert compared to concerts held in America was the punctuality of the start of the performance. The concert did not begin on time and ended up starting 15 minutes after schedule. This was unusual for me, because I am used to arriving early to concerts and shows starting on time. I quickly learned that this was not unusual in Italy; they were just on Italian time. Another difference I noticed was that intermission only lasted for 5 minutes compared to 15 minutes in the States.
The concert was categorized by the students' professor and each professor had three to eight pieces each. The skill levels ranged in each piece and even in each age group. The students used a variety of instruments that included the piano, flute, clarinet, violin, saxophone, drum, trumpet, tuba, and percussion players. In some of the pieces, mostly younger students, the students were accompanied by their professor on another instrument such as the piano.
The majority of the concert was performed in Italian music, and I was not familiar with these pieces. I was actually surprised to find that there were a large variety of English songs played. Some of the songs I recognized were "Rock a bye Baby," "Join the Band," "Smoke gets in your eyes," "Yesterday," "Secret," and "The Blue Band." My favorite two pieces performed were "Don't stop believin'" and "Let it be", and they were performed on a piano, guitar, and drum set. I enjoyed these two pieces the most, because they're familiar songs and they were entertaining. These pieces were performed by older children who performed with confidence.
During the performance, there were several distractions that took away from the performance. There were children out of their seats running around, cell phones ringing, and talking during and between each piece. I was very surprised by the audience's behavior, because at formal concerts in America these things do not usually occur. Children are normally taken out of the audience if they are misbehaving and adults have more manners. I found the behavior to be rude and distracting while watching the performance.
The other concert I attended in Sansepolcro was on May 17th given by the Nova Music School. It was held outside in the Piazza Torre di Berta at 10:00pm. This concert was given by a local music school in Sansepolcro. The concert lasted around two hours and had a large audience. There were people of all ages, but mostly families that came out to support their children. I was surprised to find a large number of older adults there since the concert was held so late. I noticed many young adults that were out enjoying the concert and socializing with friends. This was more of an informal concert, because it was in a more relaxed environment and people were walking around having conversations.
There were a variety of songs performed some were vocal and others played an instrument. The performers were mostly young adults ranging from 13 to 25 years of age. Most of the performances were solos, but there were several duets and the last performance was given by a band. The band consisted of a drummer, 3 guitarists and one lead singer who was the only girl. The concert had an array of genres that included rock, pop, Italian and alternative music.
The first performance was given on an electric guitar by a young boy, probably around 16 years old. This was my least favorite piece. It was a rock song and he also sang along. It sounded like heavy metal and he was screaming the words. I also thought that the music too loud the entire concert. I noticed that there was a karaoke track playing along in the background. Another song was performed by a young boy on the accordion. This song sounded very interesting, because it sounded like Arabian music. It was very cool to listen to and very entertaining. It was an allegro and upbeat song.
One of my favorite pieces was performed by a young girl probably around 18 years old. She sang a popular song by Norah Jones titled "Don't Know Why." She was one of the only students that performed an English song. She did a very good job performing this song and it was easy to understand the words. This song made me feel good and reminded me of home. Another song was performed by an older man who sang an Italian song. It was difficult to understand his words, and I could tell that he was off key. At certain times it was almost painful to hear him sing. The notes were too high for him to reach. But he was very expressive, and I could see his emotions through his face. I noticed that some people were laughing while he performed and others left the audience. I thought that it was very disrespectful, and it is not something you see in America.
My favorite piece from the performance was the band at the end of the show. Some of the performers were teachers from the music school and were professional musicians. The members of the band performed several songs that were classified as rock music. The leader singer was a younger woman who had a very pretty voice. She gave a great performance and was very expressive. She was dancing and clapping her hands to get the audience engaged in the performance. This was a true Italian performance, and I really enjoyed hearing this band play!
Overall, I really enjoyed both of these performances in Sansepolcro. It was fun to hear Italian music and English songs performed by Italians. It amazes me how well Italians can sing English music, and how fast they can pick up our songs even if they have no idea what they are singing about. Looking back over our entire trip, I feel like I heard more English music in restaurants and shopping stores than I heard Italian music. I am glad I had the opportunity to not just learn about music in Italy, but to experience it firsthand. When I'm out at a café now and I hear classical music playing in the background, I have a much greater appreciation for it. Before, I never really thought about the artist, how a piece of music makes me feel, how it changes my mood and what the message in each song is saying. Learning about the music in Italy has made me really think about all the sounds and types of music I hear on a daily bases. I do not think I could ever look at music the same way.
Entry 2: June 7, 2011
On my first travel break, I traveled to Rome where my group stayed for the entire break. Rome is the largest and most populated city in Italy. After arriving in Rome on Monday, we had a nice Italian dinner and gelato after checking into our hotel. I tired Nutella gelato for the first time, which is a hazelnut spread that originated in Italy and is not as popular in the US. It was delicious! My group the headed to bed after watching some Italian news and was ready for a busy Tuesday. Television is something we all miss from home.
On Tuesday, we started the day off by visiting the Vatican, the Vatican museums, St. Peter's, the Sistine chapel and later the Trevi Fountain. The Sistine Chapel was prettier than I had ever imagined. The Sistine Chapel is the pope's private chapel and is painted by several important painters of the Renaissance. The frescos on the ceiling were absolutely amazing, after we made it into the chapel we were able to sit in the chapel of a while and admire Michelangelo's most famous work. I could have sat there all day and looked at all the little details of the frescos. The room was very crowded at the time but none of that matter because I was in my own world. I have seen so many pictures and never thought I would actually get to come to the Sistine Chapel.
This was a busy day but enjoyed every minute of it. Then we made it to the Trevi fountain after the lights were turned on and it was absolutely beautiful. The Trevi Fountain is a Baroque fountain with water following over large statues and rocks (Andrews, 650). This fountain is one of the most famous in the world today. It was the perfect way to end a long day by relaxing in front of the fountain! Before leaving, I was able to toss a coin and make a wish!
On Wednesday, we had tickets in advance to see the pope give his speech. We had great seats and had a good view of the podium where the pope was sitting. This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Rome. The service lasted almost two hours and then we headed across the city to visit the Collosseum and the Roman Forum. We finished out the night by visiting the Spanish Steps and doing some more shopping. I was a little disappointed in the Spanish Steps because of all the paintings and pictures I had seen. But it did have a great view from the top.
On our way out of Rome on Thursday morning we stopped at the Pantheon. The Pantheon was built in 125 AD by Emperor Hadrian and was originally a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome. The outside of the building has huge granite Corinthian columns and the building is circular. The inside was gorgeous with lots of detailed sculptures and columns made out of beautiful marble. The most interesting part for me was the opening to the sky called the oculus where light shined through the ceiling (Andrews, 636). I have never seen anything like this before and it was very fascinating to me. After eating a delicious calzone for lunch, we made our way back to Sansepolcro for a few days of class.
The Colosseum was my favorite part of my trip to Rome. I was able to walk around the entire Colosseum and climb each floor. I have always wanted to visit this amazing structure and was in disbelief when I finally made it to the Colosseum. I could not believe how enormous the structure actually was and how it has survived two thousand years. It has made it through fires, earthquakes, riots and wars. For the most part, the structure still remains intact and located in the center of Rome. I found it hard to believe that the amphitheatre could hold up to 50,000 people because that would be a lot of people today. It also puzzles me how they constructed something this large. The Roman Forum also fascinated me because I was able to use my imagination to visualize the ancient Rome and how people lived back then.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience in Rome. My group was able to cover a lot ground in three days. But looking back, I would not change anything about our trip. I was able to see everything I wanted to see and take my time exploring the city. If I ever return to Rome, I would like to visit the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, the Baths of Caracalla, the Capitoline Museum and the Tivoli. I feel like I could stay a month and not see everything!
Entry 1: May 3, 2011
Excursion to Florence
During our first week in Italy, we took a group excursion for the day to Florence, which is located in Tuscany. After an hour bus ride to Arezzo and an hour train ride we arrived in Florence midmorning. We spent the day touring the beautiful city and exploring the Duomo. The first part of the day was spent walking around the city and we were able to see an incredible view of Florence from the top of a hill. It was a gorgeous view of the entire city and we captured lots of amazing pictures. We also, walked over the Ponte Vecchio Bridge which overlooks the Arno River.
After breaking away from the group, I enjoyed a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant where I had one of my first Italian dishes, lasagna, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I quickly realized the differences in a real Italian meal and dinner from Olive Garden in the United States. I immediately fell in love with Italian food and was eager to try all kinds of new things. This was the perfect day to sit outside and enjoy a nice lunch with new friends.
After lunch, my group headed to the market and a few leather shops to look around. I learned that Florence is known for their leather products. My group then made our way to the Duomo, where we climbed to the top. 464 steps later we reached the top where we saw an amazing view of the city. This was my favorite part of Florence and I captured lots of pictures. The weather was perfect and we were able to enjoy the scenery. Once we reached the bottom of the Duomo everyone was exhausted. We rewarded ourselves with a cone of gelato! Then we headed back to Sansepolcro on the train.
The best part of Florence was visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria del Flore. The Duomo is located in the Piazza del Duomo and the construction began in 1296. The basilica was finally finished in 1436 and was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. During this time, it was the largest duomo to ever be constructed. The basilica is a Gothic style. The outside is made with panels of marble that are mainly white stone from Carrara with red stone from Maremma and green stone from Prato. This church still remains one of the largest churches in Italy and can be seen from miles away. Along with the basilica, there are two other buildings located in Pizza del Duomo, the Campanile, which is a bell tower and the Baptistry, which is the oldest building in Florence. The dome was still missing after a hundred years of construction and was not finished until the 15th century. During the Renaissance, Florence was the most active city and remains the most populous city in Tuscany. Florence is the capital of Tuscany (Andrews, 430).
Since we were limited on time, my group chose to explore the dome only. Climbing to the top was challenging for me, because it was very hot, there were crowded stairways and uneven, narrow steps. I stopped to ask myself several times why I was climbing to the top, and if it was going to be worth it. I soon found out that it was totally worth all the sweat, energy and time because it was one of the most amazing views I have ever seen. My travel guide described Florence as the most beautiful city in Italy, and I would have to agree that it is the most beautiful city I have seen so far on my trip (Andrews, 430). This view was unlike any other view I have ever seen, because I was able to see all of Florence from every angle. This included the beautiful cathedrals throughout the city, the terracotta rooftops, the bell tower that is located beside the duomo and the green mountains in the background.
When I reached the top, it hit me for the first time that I was actually in Italy, studying abroad. I had been so busy with exams and my internship that I had not taken to the time to prepare for this trip as much as I would have liked to. I was able to stop and realize what an awesome experience I had ahead of me. From then on, I was in the right mindset and ready for the rest of the summer. I was able to relax for a few minutes to take in all the views and it was really calming. It was incredible to be in a city that was built in the 16th century, but hard for me to understand exactly how old everything was and how people lived back in 59 BC.
I wish I would have had the chance to stay longer. Hopefully, I will get the chance to visit again someday and visit more cathedrals, the Baptistery, climb the bell tower, and visit Michelangelo's David. One day in Florence was not sufficient, but I enjoyed touring the wonderful city of Florence.