Part II: Verona, Italy September 24, 2019 (2 yrs in the making!) – The Story of Jana, Lorna, & Rose Marie…

Ok folks, here’s Part II:

And the adventure continues….we got up early and walked a few blocks to the nearest McDonald’s.  Was interesting for me, as we had to order through a kiosk and then pick up our order and drinks on the other side there.  Just after we got there, I guess the student tour entered and it was filled with “kids!”  Older teenagers I guess, maybe college-aged… we had a nice breakfast and had some time to stop for some souvenirs of Verona after, at a little store.  Bought a few postcards, magnets, and a mug for my neighbor who was taking care of my cat.  We managed to find our way back and decided we needed to pack up and get to the train station.  It was a sunny/cloudy day, so far.  We had wanted the owner to call us a cab, but for some reason, I still do not understand, he said he couldn’t.  I was afraid my limited Italian would be fruitless, so they said to just wait down by the taxi stand.  Ok, I was ready first, so I went down to make sure I could get a taxi and wait for the girls.

(I realized through this whole ordeal, I did not take any pictures!!)

Remember this was a Wednesday morning, about 9a or so.  Lots of traffic around and lots of taxis.  The taxi stand was just the other side of the Arena di Verona.  There were several people standing there waiting for a taxi.  The girls finally made it, the others were starting to give up, as no taxis were in sight!  Everyone left except for us and it was getting late.  There was this one poor guy from the middle east who had lost his passport and he needed to get to an embassy or something, we felt bad for him.  We waited a bit longer and then we finally gave up.  It was getting late and we were going to miss our train, if we stayed much longer.  I got out my trusty Google Maps again.  It seemed the train station was not too far away, so we decided to walk.  We did not have much choice.  Unfortunately, we did get turned around a few times and everyone we passed, we asked about a taxi and the few people I saw, kept saying the closest taxi was the train station, which is where we were headed!  As we walked, and walked, we realized we were definitely going to miss our train.  I contacted Daniela in a crisis mode, but she said she could not come and get us.  So, we kept trudging along.  I felt bad for Lorna, as she was hanging behind both Rose and I.  Every so often, we had to stop and wait for her to catch up.  After some more twists and turns, we finally made it to the train station – I swear we were walking for over an hour or more.  We were so exhausted by the time we got there!  We had definitely missed the train.  The only positive thing was that the train to Desenzano was like a commuter train and it left every half hour or so.  I had contacted Daniela and was concerned our pick-up time had changed, thinking we were going to be on a later train now.  Ok, THIS is bizarre…. As much as I had most everything planned down to the last detail, I somehow had sent Daniela the “wrong” time to pick us up from the train – or so I thought!!  Ironically, I had sent her the “right” information, so she had already planned to come and pick us up at the “later” time of our arrival!  So, all in all, it worked out well. Was it fate we missed the first train??

 

I was still not feeling all that well and was still taking it quite easy.  I was walking slow and Lorna, even slower.  It was a pleasure to finally meet Daniela and she helped us with the bags, etc. and she took us to our hotel.  Desenzano is a beautiful city.   The sun had come out and it was a gorgeous day.  I’ve already decided, if I ever go back to Italy again, I’d love to spend a few days around Lake Garda and maybe go around the perimeter of the lake in a few hotels.

Our hotel was very nice, although the room was not all that big.  The bathroom was almost as big as our room!  Daniela took Rose and I up to the roof view – very spectacular, although there was a slight haze over the lake.  Lorna was completely exhausted by the time we got to the room and just plopped in the bed and did not move.  I think Daniela had some bigger plans for us when we got there, but I was not feeling well and Lorna was stuck in the room, so instead, we had lunch at a restaurant next door to the hotel, and then walked up and down the boardwalk of the lake for a few hours.  Lunch was very nice, had pasta, salad, and wine.

Much to our surprise, Daniela’s English was very good!  She kept telling us she really did not speak English very well.  Let me tell you, her English was WAY better than our Italian!!  We got by pretty well and I threw in a bit of Spanish, which she also understood.  Every so often there would be a word she did not know, so Google Translate to the rescue!  We were out there for several hours and then stopped off at the little store where they sold gelato and bought a few snacks, to go along with our gelato.  We ate that, and went back upstairs to join Lorna.  We had also brought her back our leftovers.  She ate a little and her gelato and cappuccino we had brought back for her.  We were pretty tired after that, so we said our goodbyes to Daniela and she left, as she had to get back to Brescia, which was about an hour from there.  We wished we could have seen more of the city and surrounding areas, but things don’t always go according to plan – even as good as mine were!  Haha!

 

Our nap lasted til quite late and we really never ate any dinner and just snacked on the chips, etc. we had brought back to the room.  Later that night, I was feeling really, really, bad.  So bad so, that I was looking to see how I could leave early and go back home.  Unfortunately, there was no logistical way I could get back to any city to catch a plane and head back home early, so I just took it easy.  I almost went to an urgent care there!  I managed to have breakfast.  Rose had called Daniela and Daniela called the hotel and told them I was not feeling well and they might need to call a taxi to a hospital.  Luckily, there was one not too far away.  One funny little thing, the concierge person came over to me, not realizing I was the one that was sick and asked me about me – lol!  I told him I was the one not feeling well.  They were very nice.  I managed to have breakfast and a bit later Rose and Lorna came down to join me.  We sat there for a while, until I felt confident enough that I felt ok and did not want to go to the hospital.  Again, it was a beautiful day and a bit of the haze had lifted and I was able to get in a few more good shots of the lake. I was sorely disappointed in the weather though.  Although gorgeous, it was still hazy and you could not see the beautiful mountains, I knew were there!  (Luckily, Daniela had checked out the Hotel Aurora for us earlier and took some beautiful pictures – so I have included them as well!)

We had called the taxi and it was there to take us to the train station.  Very small little train station area.  We got a snack for later and then waited for the train.  Of course, the train was late…. But was glad when it finally got there and we were on our way back to Verona.  We had a few delays along the way there, also, but had nowhere to get to, so no big deal.

It was after 1p or so by the time we got back to Verona and we had a few hours to kill.  The Verona station is nice, so we ate at the little café and I bought some chocolate bars and had a glass of wine.  It was finally time for our train to arrive. It was nice to finally get on the train and relax a little, on the way back to Rome.  The last few days had been exhausting for both Lorna and I.  Rose, many years older than the two of us, was in much better shape!

It was late afternoon by the time we got back to Rome and our last hotel.  We had been so exhausted after the last walking tour, we had cancelled the last tour I had planned for Friday.  This last hotel was a bit strange, as it was encased in this grotto of sorts.  You had to go through this big gate with this security code and they hadn’t given it to us.  Luckily, someone was coming out and we got in.  They were a bit wary of us as we didn’t know the code, but I guess we looked harmless. Lol!  After a bit of confusion, this lady finally came down and took us up to the hotel, which we later found out, really only had like 4 or 5 rooms.  They had expanded and taken over this other area, also another hotel.  When we finally reached our room, it was really small.  It had a queen size bed and a twin size rollaway.  So nice Rose didn’t mind the twin bed!  We did kind of have a balcony, but it was dark inside the covered grotto area.  Not the best design.  We left the heavy drapes closed for most of the time we were there.  Again, a really nice bathroom.  Tiny fridge and coffee maker.

The room was kind decorated in an art deco style with mirrors and gold, and a diamond-like mirrored light fixture.

After a short rest, we went down for dinner at the little restaurant recommended and down the street from the hotel.  We ate outside. Had a nice dinner, then walked across the street to a gelato place.  Believe it or not, I was too stuffed to even have any gelato!  ☹

I think we turned out the lights shortly after that!

Next morning, breakfast was at 7a and we were up shortly after that to get ready, as it was only served until 9a, which I thought was not very long… for once, we got to enjoy breakfast and not have to run for a train!  Lol!  Breakfast consisted of a grouping of sunny side up eggs, lots of breads/sweets, rolls, of course cappuccino, various juices, some fresh fruit, etc.  It was pretty tasty.  We got there on the late side, but others were coming in after us!

It was a beautiful day, so we decided to explore the city!  I was so glad I had cancelled that other tour.  You always want to pack in as much as you can, so you can see everything… but this was really the only day we had of “had to ourselves” to explore what we wanted, without any other obligations – trains or tours!

So, we asked for some directions and they said we could go either right or left out from the hotel.  We chose left and started our walk up the street.  There were lots of people out, it was a lovely, sunny, Friday morning!  Shortly after our journey started, it seemed to slow down and this HUGE crowd of protesters gathered and were blocking the streets!  I guess you could say it was peaceful.  It mostly consisted of young people, college-aged, likely, holding signs about pollution and being a part of the solution, not the problem, etc.  We had planned on walking to St. Peter’s square, but apparently, that was where the crowd was going.  There were also polizia cars, trying to move the crowd along.  You could barely cross the street!  We finally gave up and did cross the street, as there were shops over there.  OK, we hit a few souvenir shops on our way back and I did a lot of “damage” at this one Murano glass store.  Nice older lady – found out (later when we went back) she was actually Jewish!  Bought 3  little Murano glass clocks, some necklaces, and little pendants.  Then as we made our way back to the hotel, I picked up a scarf, a few t-shirts, a purse, and I think that was it!  Did buy a few Murano glass pendants at the first shop.  😊

We got back, exhausted, but happy.  Rose was in such better shape than Lorna and I.  We had to keep yelling for her to wait for us!  😉  I’m sure we must have eaten something when we got back, but I can’t remember now.  (ok, it HAS been over a year! Lol!)  I do know we just rested and took a little nap.  I’m sure we had a snack of something.  We may have raided the little goodies in the room.  Lol!  After our rest, I kept thinking and thinking about that Murano glass shop.  Lorna was still tired, so Rose and I ventured out again.  When I went back, I bought those other items mentioned and bought myself a large necklace of Murano beads in amber/black.  Gorgeous of course, as well as pricey!  But, I figured, I may never come back here and what is a few more dollars spent!?  We got back and Lorna was still resting.  I think we decided to have an earlyish dinner and ate at a different restaurant down the street.  Inside, this time.  😊  Rose treated Lorna and I.  I had pizza, and I think Rose and Lorna had some kind of pasta.  We also ordered a bottle of Moscato.  I was still not feeling well.  (I had no idea at the time, my affliction was really acid reflux and all the tomato-based stuff I was eating, was what was killing me! – as I just found that out THIS January 2020!)  So, again, after dinner, they went for gelato, and again, I was not feeling too keen and didn’t get any.  I did take some pictures though!  😊  I didn’t even finish my Moscato! ☹

An early departure again, for us.  Again, I think we missed breakfast again, since our flight left about 11a and we had to get to the airport.  Luckily for us, this hotel called us a nice taxi, was more like limo ride, in a older model Mercedes or Lincoln.  Nice, sane driver, even in a suit.  We had no idea, we were so close to the coliseum! We had only gone a few blocks, and around a few corners, when it popped into view!  It was a sight to behold.  So, took my last picture on the way to the airport.  The driver took a bit of a scenic route to the freeway, through a park of sorts.  It was very pretty….

Since Lorna was not feeling well and walking a bit slow, and I was not my best, we requested wheelchairs for when we got back to Detroit.  They asked if we wanted them for Rome, as well, but we said no.  After our at least mile plus walk to get to the terminal, I wish we HAD asked for wheelchairs.  

We finally had a chance to get a bite to eat at a little café area near the gate.  I got a sandwich and a chocolate filled croissant for later, and a bottle of water.

It wasn’t long before we could board the plane.  Rose was not feeling well and wanted to upgrade to first class.  Luckily, I think there were only 2 seats or so left and she was able to get one of them.  So we kind of said goodbye and we boarded the plane.

Ah, finally on our way…. As luck would have it, there was a delay!  Like, an hour delay!  Oh man, I was so miserable.  I was having another attack.  Fortunately, at least the movies were working, so I chose some dumb movie, I don’t even remember what it was.  I was so miserable until we were finally airborne and I was able to get my prosecco!  It’s the oddest thing, they say that carbonated beverages are a trigger for the acid reflux, but the prosecco calms mine down!  So, nearly 2 hours of feeling miserable, I finally got some relief!  We were finally on our way.  Lorna and I were sitting next to each other and Rose was in first class.  Lorna put on a movie and then dozed off.  I did the same, on and off.  It was an extra long flight, with the hour delay on the ground, but I think the pilot made up some time, as I don’t think we were that late coming in.  I think Delta buffers in a lot of extra time, for delays, etc.

Our good friend Chris, picked us up from the airport and dropped us safely to home.  As always, there’s no place like home and I was so glad to get there and see my kitty!

 

All-in-all, we did have a good time and I hope Lorna and Rose Marie, agree!  I just hope, the next time, if there is one, I am a lot healthier!  No surgeries, 6 weeks prior, no acid reflux – trying to control with diet, was on Prilosec for like nearly 6 months, until I was reading and you really are not supposed to be on it for more than 2 weeks!?  And no more blood clots (this past January, so now on coumadin for likely life..).  Seriously, I’m so tired of being sick and doctors and hospitals!  I know I’m not the only one with health issues, but these past few years have been so rough, with my job depression, then the hysterectomy, the acid reflux, the blood clots (found another one in October on TOP of the other one that will never go away), and chronic, intermittent leg aches and pains from the blood clots.  I would just like to be able to go and enjoy myself and be healthy at the same time.  If I go again, I’d of course like to see Sicily, perhaps.  I’d also like to spend more time around the Lake Garda area.  It was so beautiful and the little town we stayed in was so quaint.  Of course Brescia is beautiful and I know Daniela was disappointed she could not show us around her city.  I love meeting my new Italian friends, Daniela, Dani, and Veronica.  Sadly, I missed seeing Veronica this time.  Would love to visit the Adriatic coast again, as well.  I know there are so many beautiful places to see in Italy and you can only do so much in a week or so.  Hopefully, the world will be a better and healthier place in the next few years!!

Thank you, Daniela, for being so gracious and understanding to Lorna and I.  We wished our health had been better and we could have done more while in Desenzano!  But it was lovely to just walk  along the lake and sit in the sunshine!

 

Until, next time???  Ciao a tutti!!  🙂 

 

Jana

Part I: Verona, Italy September 24, 2019 (2 yrs in the making!) – The Story of Jana, Lorna, & Rose Marie…

Yes, so sorry all, it has taken me 2 years to finally put this together.  Hard to believe that 2 years has passed… so much has happened to the 3 and 4 of us and to the world!  Just a little tidbit fact, if you watched Jeopardy a few nights ago, one of the clues/answers was Ennio Morricone!  🙂  Apparently, he had to wait until he was 87 for his first Oscar!


Ok, on with the story…. sit back and relax for a few – this is part I.

It all began, a little over a year ago (ok almost 2.5 years ago now!) – Lorna and I decided to go to the Verona concert in September 2019!  We, along with many others, were so bummed they were not coming to the US last year, so we decided to go to them!  Just about mid-February, we bought our tickets!  (with  many  thanks  and  help  from  my  friend  Veronica!)

Along the way, Rose Marie P. from Ohio, decided she’d like to join us and leave from Detroit, as there were no direct flights out of the Cleveland area.

So, I started making plans for the 3 of us and we were soon on our way.  It seemed so far off this time, compared to my 6-week whirlwind planning in 2016!

Alas, along the way, I misplaced my passport.  I looked and looked for a few months and gave up, thinking I better just get a new one.  As luck would have it and everyone told me, as soon as I got the new one I’d find the old one.  I was sure I’d never see it again.  It was in the apartment somewhere, but was lost to my unfortunate housekeeping skills.  But, like a bad penny, there was this ONE box I did not look in.  It was literally, under another box that I had looked in, but tucked away under a table.  As soon as I saw the box, I knew the passport was in there!  Lo and behold, there it was!  Now I had 2 passports!  😊  Ok, I put the new one in a safe place, until we left!

I decided this was going to be a more relaxing trip this time, not a different city every few days… Besides, we really only had 6 days in Italy this time.  Our itinerary was somewhat packed, but we only went to Rome, Verona, Lake Garda, back to Verona, Rome, and home.  I booked a few walking tours, and did the Vatican museums, as we kind of missed that last time.  Lol!

As a few of you know, I had some somewhat serious health issues plague me last year, with major surgery just 6 weeks before our plane departed!  The doc cleared me for takeoff, just 5 days before we left.

We managed to find and meet Rose Marie at Metro airport and we quickly found the Delta Sky Miles lounge to eat, drink, and chat before our flight left.  We had about 3 hours to kill or so.  We thought it would never get there.  Finally, we were airborne and it was serving time.  Prosecco, por favore!  😊  Yep, had 2 on the way over – got the last one the 2nd time around!  Dozed here and there and watched a movie or 2.  Rain was predicted in Rome, so that was a concern.  But by the time we had landed, the rain had stopped; it was cool and a bit humid.

The Rome airport was a nightmare.   They had changed it a lot since the last time we were there, although, we only flew out of Rome last time.  We finally made it to the customs area, and were then herded like cattle through the maze of security passages.  I swear it took us over an hour to get through after our plane landed.  We found transportation and made it to our first hotel.  I was pretty good on timing and had estimated pretty well.  Our rooms weren’t quite ready yet, so we relaxed a bit in the lobby for not quite an hour – it was just a bit after noon, or so.  We could hear the nearby church bells ringing.

Our room was quite small and had 3 beds.  After thinking about it, the beds were almost like the 3 Bears!  One was hard, one was harder, and one was almost just right – lol.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I ended up with the hardest mattress, Rose Marie had the 2nd hardest and Lorna had the softest one.  Of course, hers was a couple of softer cushions, thrown onto almost a cot-like surface.  We did not realize all the beds were different until the 2nd day we were there.  First order of business was a slight nap.  When we woke up, we were hungry.  Lorna was still out, so Rose and I went in search of food and brought Lorna our leftovers.  We found a nice little place just around the block from our hotel.  We shared some pasta and a pizza.  Food was really good.  Many places weren’t open, maybe because it was Sunday and mid-afternoon.  We seemed to have started a rush, as shortly after sitting down, the place became very crowded.

I had booked a walking wine tour for us that evening.  We met at this bus terminal area and waited for our guide.  We were led to this bohemian district of Rome.  Lucky for us, it had just stopped raining.  We were really lucky with the weather, as it was supposed to rain the first two days we were there and it had been pouring just about half an hour, before we had to leave.  It was a great tour, just the 3 of us and the guide. We walked a short distance to this little wine bar.  It was very quaint.  We sampled 6 different wines and had some meats, cheeses, bread, oil, etc.  It was after 9p when it was all done, so we asked our guide to find us a taxi to take us back to our hotel.

The next day, was our Vatican museum tour.  Rose had been before, so it was just Lorna and I.  I had picked the skip the line tour, however, so did 5,000 other people!  Ok, I may have been exaggerating, but not by much!  The skip the line part was that you got in at 8a, instead of 9a, with the rest of the public.  We had to stand there for nearly an hour, before we were let in.  We didn’t have time for breakfast before we went, so we were able to grab a snack from the vending machines.  I guess we missed the guide’s speech about the stairs vs. the elevators.  She asked us which we wanted to do.  I looked over to the stairway and it didn’t look too bad, so we took the stairs.  And we went up, and up, and up, and up…. Walked some, up some more stairs, …. OMG, I was already exhausted.  We finally made it to one of the rooftop areas and outside where we could see the Vatican.  I sat on the first stone bench I saw and did not move until it was time.  Remember, I had just had surgery 6 weeks prior!  I could walk ok, but the stairs were killing me.  Then it was time to go up this steep 5-level ramp.  I thought we were never going to reach the top.  By the time we got to the museums, we just didn’t care anymore.  It had been raining that morning, so it was not so much hot, as it was humid.  There was a slight breeze, but not enough.  As we trudged through the maps, mosaics, tapestries, statues, etc., all I could think of was “is it over yet?”  Ok, on to the Sistine Chapel.  Then we went DOWN more stairs…. At least those were easier, but I was still exhausted.  When we finally got there, we had about 15 minutes or so to take a look around, and then we were to meet on the other side.  We quickly looked up and made a beeline for our meeting spot, and was able to find a place to sit.  We were planted there until it was time to leave. There were lots of people!  Ok, we looked up and there were paintings on the ceiling.  We didn’t care, we wanted out.  I hate to say it, but I was a bit underwhelmed.  There were so many people in there, we were herded like cattle up until that point.  I wonder if the lines were less after 9a?  After that, we made our way out into the somewhat fresh air again, to St. Peter’s Basilica.  There was some special pilgrimage group ahead of us, so we had to go outside for a bit.  I took a few pictures, and then we headed back inside.  I have to say, I was impressed with St. Peter’s.  It was absolutely gorgeous. We walked around there a bit and we had had enough.  Of course, there is always the one person that asks the dumb question… “aren’t we supposed to see such and such?”  I never did figure out what she was asking about, but Lorna and I took one look at each other and said “where’s the door?”  I guess the rest of the group did that other thing and we were out of there.  We were so tired.  I swear, it was another mile walk across the piazza to get to the taxi stand.  We practically fell into the taxi and back to our rooms.  We collapsed on the bed and slept for several hours.  I think we walked about 5000 steps!

After our nap, we decided we should walk around a bit and get a late lunch.  I had another walking dinner tour booked for that night – not realizing how exhausting the Vatican would have been (ok, of all the various people I talked to, no one warned us of all of the stairs??)

This tour, all 10 of the group showed up, although the tour company initial guide, never showed?  She did a count, we were all there, so we took off.  Before the tour, in a different part of the city, we were able to do a little shopping before it started.  Lorna bought a few pieces of jewelry.  They had some nice shops with reasonable prices.

This tour was supposed to be a sampling of typical street food of Rome and ended with dinner at a restaurant.  Ok, I’m a bit of a fussy eater…. The first stop was for some “white” pizza, which was basically a bologna and cheese sandwich on some flatbread, a glass of very strong red wine, and these little biscuit type cookies.  Edible, not bad.  Second stop was for some freshly fried cod (I don’t eat fish), so I passed on that, but Rose and Lorna said it was very good.  I had some white wine instead and we were able to sit down for a short while.  Next stop was the actual restaurant.  Ok, we started walking again.  It was starting to get dark.  The tour didn’t start until 7p.  And we walked, and walked, and walked some more.  We passed over the bridge with a beautiful night view of the lit-up Vatican over the Tiber (I think one of my favorite pics, I had a nightlight made out of it from Shutterfly!), of which I got an awesome picture.  Then we walked some more.  It was nearly 8p by then and we were getting pretty tired.  We finally showed up at the restaurant about 8:30p.  We were all hot and tired, again, it was very humid out.  We walk into this tiny place and then walked out again.  Bad news, they never got our reservation!  Uh oh, but good news, the guide was able to find another restaurant – further away!  So again, we walked.  Kinda scary, she was using Google maps to find the place.  Down dark alley-ways, twists and turns we went.  It was very dark by the time we finally arrived, 30 minutes later, about 9p at the other restaurant.  Again, hot and thirsty, we made our way into the restaurant.  Down the stairs and my first trip was to the bathroom.  The water in there was blessedly cool, as I washed my hands.

I got to the table and there was already wine, bread, and cheese.  They said the cheese was really strange, so I skipped the cheese and had some wine and bread.  We were able to meet and chat with a few of the folks.  There were some from England, Australia and Hawaii.  The first course was red and white pasta.  That was excellent.  The red pasta being rigatoni with tomato sauce and guarchelli? Apparently, the inside cheeks of a sheep?  The white pasta was linguini with a white cheesy sauce, on the dry side, but both were very good.  Had we known what the main course was, we would have eaten all of it.  The main course turned out to be veal ossobuco?  Bummer, none of us would eat veal!  Lorna and I passed on other suggestions.  Oddly, they had no chicken?  Rose had eggplant parm, which she said was very good.  It was nearing 10p by then.  Lorna and I had, had it, after walking the Vatican tour in the morning.  I could not walk another step.  After we left that restaurant, they were walking for gelato for dessert.  Uh, taxi!?  We asked our guide to call us a taxi.  It took her like 3 tries to finally find one.  Don’t know what it is about taxis and Italy, certainly not like New York!  There is certainly no hailing of cabs, there!

We finally made it back to our hotel, once again, but we still wanted some gelato.  We had passed an American-like restaurant with a huge menu that was still open and it included a nice gelato bar.  It was nearly 10:30p, but we strode in and we each had some.  It was pretty good.  We also decided we’d come back there for breakfast the next morning, as we had to get to our train before our hotel would be serving breakfast.  We spent our last night on our hard beds and got up early for breakfast.  It was an “American” breakfast of sorts – lol.  Orange scrambled eggs, a sausage, that looked like a hot dog, some toast, and I think some ham or bacon.  Cappuccinos were good!  😊

We made it to Roma Termini.  Last time we were there, was to get the rental car to take to Silvi!  Luckily, we did not rent any vehicles this time!  The Roma terminal was huge.  We were almost scammed by this young girl that tried to get us to buy tickets, that we already had!  Good thing for the nice policia!  They must have had an eye on her, as next we knew, he was escorting her out!  FYI… beware of very helpful people in Rome!  We finally made our way to the schedule board.  There was NO PLACE to sit down – no chairs, benches anything!  It was awful.  Of course, we were there in plenty of time, but were standing there, waiting for our train to get listed.  We waited, and waited, and waited, until I could not wait any longer.  I had to start walking.  So, I told Rose and Lorna I was going to take a walk.  I thought they would follow me, but they didn’t.  I took off and walked the perimeter of the station area.  Lots of shops, etc.  I came around to where we had been standing, and no Lorna or Rose!  Uh, where did they go?  Our train was finally listed, but no track number.  It was leaving shortly!  Before we left, I had created this full, beautiful, color, itinerary for all of us, listing all of the details of everything, including all of our train vouchers, etc.  I texted and called, but no one answered.  Ok, it was getting late, so I went through the gate and was able to find someone to ask which track our train was on.  I found the track and I waited.  I texted and called some more, and still no response.  The train arrived and I got on and found our seats.  Panic mode was setting in.  Where were they?  I finally got a text from Rose – they went to McDonald’s for coffee!  We tried to make calls, but they weren’t going through.  I’m frantically trying to contact them, telling them I’m on the train.  The train was literally supposed to leave in minutes. I’m hanging outside the train door, looking for them down the platform – no one running for the train.  By this time, I’m in between really angry and total panic for them.  Well, I thought, they have all of the info, it’s their own fault if they don’t make it.  I sat down and the train started to take off.  Finally, I see them coming down the aisle.  I started yelling at them!!  I was so upset!   Ok, they finally made it.  Prosecco, por favore?!  Verona, here we come!

About 3 hours later, we arrived in Verona.  When we got there, we had to find the bookstore to buy our copies of the Fan Book put together by Patrizia Ciava.  We found that and the elevator was not working in the store and the books were on the 2nd floor!  Ok, great – more stairs!   I picked up the books and we were on our way.  We got turned around several times, but finally made it to the outside.  We found a taxi and made it to our hotel for the night.  As many know, I was not feeling well.  I think the panic of Lorna and Rose almost missing the train, etc., had put me on edge, and I was not feeling too good by the time we finally made it to our room.

It was actually the nicest, and biggest room, we stayed in for the trip.  It was huge, with a king-sized bed and 2 twins.  And lots of room to move with a huge bathroom and shower as well.  Of course, as soon as we got there, about 3:30p or so, we had to get ready to buy our tickets for the US tour concerts!  Whoever decided to put the tickets on sale, the same day as the Verona concert, when many US persons were going to be in Verona and the sound check at 4p, was not too smart!  I was in a clear panic – we had our trusted designee, Emilia, with my credit card, trying to buy 8 front row seats for the Detroit concert.  We were all waiting for the special code.  I was texting with Donna, and Emilia, and Daniela.  Finally, Daniela was able to get the code and I texted it back to Emilia.  Emilia was still having trouble getting through.  Ok, I tried to get on ticketmaster and I was having issues, also.  I was totally stressing out, yelling at Rose and Lorna, barking orders at them, and telling them I did not feel good.  It was awful. We also had to make a connection with Veronica, who had our tickets for the Verona concert.  I barked orders to them, to go down to meet Veronica to pay her and get the tickets.  I so wanted to see Veronica, after so long, but I was so stressed out, that I just laid on the bed and rested until they got back.  In the meantime, by some miracle, Emilia was able to secure 8 tickets.  Four front row and four second row.  Ok, that will have to do!  I was pretty much passed out on the king size bed when the girls came back.  They said they decided I should have the big bed after what I had been going through.  Grazie mille!  Ok, it was time for Rose to get her exclusive VIP tickets and go to the sound check.  Lorna and I had already decided we didn’t want to go to the sound check, as we would have been trapped there until the concert.  I was very disappointed though, that I was not able to meet up with several persons I had promised to meet, but in my current condition, I was just praying I would be ok for the concert that night!  I was able to rest and relax for a few hours before I had to get up and get ready.

It was time to go and we made our way down to get a bite to eat, and to the concert.  Prior to this, Rose had gone down to get her tickets, but then SHE was trapped there for the sound check.  She also had low battery on her phone, and our room key!  So, Lorna and I had a quick dinner at one of the restaurants near the arena and then made our way to the concert.  Our seats were in the 6th row on the left, behind the orch pit area.  Not bad for viewing, but not good for pictures.  We were, however, right in front of the big screen, which is where most of my pictures came from.

THE CONCERT!

As many of you know, the guys had this lady playing the piano as a bit of a warm-up, I guess.  She was ok, but most didn’t see the need.  The guys came out and it was pure magic until the last note had been sung! Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring my jacket with me, and Lorna and I were freezing for most of the concert!  It was like in the 60s with a light breeze. Beautiful, but chilly!  We huddled under her light wrap for most of the concert.  Of course Alessandro Quarta was amazing.  To see him in person is just incredible.  The concert lasted just over 2 hours or so.  I was so glad when Grande Amore was over – I had to go to the ladies room!!  Ok, like salmon swimming upstream, we were able to fight our way to the bathrooms.  The way back, was another story – try fighting a crowd of people going out of a concert and you trying to make it back to the front row! Well, I grabbed Lorna’s hand, and I “mi scusi’d” my way, all the way to the front.  It was almost like the Red Sea parting at times.  I have to say, most people were pretty nice and didn’t mind me shoving my way forward!  In our haste, we even passed by Fabio Ingrassia! 😊

We finally made it back to our seats, after I realized I had dropped our tickets on the floor.  However, I don’t recall them making it home again…. We were finally in line for the meet and greet crowd.  In the midst of people, several people came up to me and asked how I was.  Which was so nice, as Rose told them I wasn’t feeling well.  I also ran into Jeannette and Deborah – also a nice surprise!  There was also this other lady who was very nice with a short gray bob and glasses, that was talking to me like she knew me.  I admit, I’m horrid with names and faces.  I was of course, friendly, but I had no idea who she was….

We were still trying to find Rose, as she had our only room key, so we had to try to stick together.  We didn’t find her until we were just about in the herding line for the meet and greet. We kind of pushed our way to near the front of the line, as we were looking for her.  We went through the doorway, left of the stage area, and were ushered to stand in front of the roped-off area. Rose caught up with us, but then saw her friends from Greece and went to talk to them.  We kept trying to get her to come back to us, but she ended up staying with them. Ok, just me and Lorna.  We saw this entourage come through that seemed to be getting the VIP treatment and someone was making sure they were on some “list?”  I didn’t realize it at the time, but among the group, was Francesca and some other friends and relatives, of the guys.  Yeah, guess they were VIPs – lol.  A short time later, we saw the guys come strolling through – just a few feet away from us, actually.  All in all, the wait was not too bad. We were among the first twenty or so to go through the line.  We saw Mr. Boschetto, and a few others walking by.

We finally made it in and of course, there were those that were just hanging on the guys and didn’t want to let go.  It was the normal rush, but did not feel quite as harried as they usually are.  I did notice the parents to the other side of the room.  It was a pretty small area – just longish rectangle, maybe 10 feet by 20 feet?  I gave all the guys a hug, with Gian being first.  He was very gracious.  I think, maybe, they are starting to recognize me?  Lol, at least he sort of had the look of recognition on his face.  Maybe he remembered seeing me at PBS just a few weeks before?  I told him they should bring Alessandro to the US tour, but he didn’t seem to understand.  Igna was next and I again told him he was my favorite,  I also told him he was the best of the group.  He immediately said, “no, no, no, all 3 of us…”  I said yes, you are all great together, but you are still the best!  I wasn’t thinking at the time, I’m sure Piero must have heard, as he was next.  Gave him his hug and I thanked him for saying hi to all of the PBS volunteers, as he was the only one.  He smiled at that.  Then, of course it was time for the picture, snap, it was over.  We had to wait outside for Rose to come through.  They tried to make us leave, but we stood our ground and said we were waiting for someone.  That lady was out there again, with a few others.  We were chatting and she was giving me complements on how I always took a good picture.  I was really flattered and then I finally had to ask.  I said, I don’t mean to be rude, but who are you?  Joanie! She said!  Oh, of course, Joanie Greenspan!  I hadn’t seen her since Vegas 2016 and her hair was dark then.  Yes, she let it go gray.  Ok, mystery solved!  Rose finally came out and we made our way back to our hotel.  It was really late, nearly 1am, but we were hungry. There were a few places still open, so we ducked into this one little café to get something sweet, along with some coffee.  I had the last piece of this triple chocolate fudge torte thing.  It was awesome!  It had to be close to 2am by the time we finally fell asleep.  The next morning was our little side trip to Lake Garda – Desenzano/Sirmione train station.

Part II to come on Saturday!  🙂 

DA GRANDE by Daniela

The time has also come for the new show on RAI1: DA GRANDE, hosted by Alessandro Cattelan.
I must tell you right away that you will see Il Volo in an unusual guise. Together with Alessandro, they will re-propose the hits of the most famous boy bands. There will also be disguises.
It will all be in a very fun way. You will see.
But let’s go in order.
Cattelan’s show aims to propose something different from what is generally expected, a new format of two episodes and Il Volo is one of the guests of the first episode.
Cattelan has been a presenter for 20 years, but it is his first show on RAI 1, the most important Italian national television.
Of course, no one thinks that Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca can propose themselves in such a different way, so this is the news, so forget to hear their beautiful voices as you usually hear them, and try to understand the purpose of this participation.
The day after the show, Cattelan posted this comment:
Thanks to the guys from @ilvolomusic… because it takes guts to listen to me!
And here is the entire performance of the evening:
CATTELAN = I would like to start my evening, DA GRANDE, by retracing the history of boy bands.
To do this, I would like to ask for the help, as well as yours, of the greatest Italian boy band ever, give a big round of applause to Il Volo!
I come to meet you too !! (Hugs )
PIERO = A little foam.
CATTELAN = I still have a little foam on my head but isn’t it soap. (shortly before, he was sprinkled with fake foam snow).
IGNAZIO = Yes, we took it off.
P + I + G = Good.
CATTELAN: IL VOLO
PIERO = Hello everyone.
GIANLUCA = How are you?
CATTELAN = So, guys, how am I doing? Still do not know.
IGNAZIO =  Well then, good evening. (and he starts to leave, even Piero and Gian signal to follow him)
CATTELAN = I need your help, come here !!
GIANLUCA = We thought we were greeting “on the fly” (they joke about the pun with their name)
CATTELAN = No, no, I clearly need you now, to tell the story of boy bands to the whole world. You asked me how I am, how you want me to be, it’s my first time …..
Cattelan and IL VOLO speaking on stage
IGNAZIO = Ah, it’s your first time on RAI.
CATTELAN = Yes, yes, thanks for being here.
GIAN = Are you excited?
CATTELAN = Yes, you can see it !!
GIAN = But you are number one !!
CATTELAN = You guys too, thank you very much, grazie mille!
So obviously when you have the friendship of a group like Il Volo available, you have to sing, okay?
IGNAZIO = Absolutely.
CATTELAN = So we sing, we retrace the history of boy bands, together with you, we do them, as they come to us, as they come to us …
PIERO = Natural
CATTELAN. Naturally, as it comes to us …
GIAN = With humility
CATTELAN = With the humility that distinguishes us, ok? Let’s just make a path ….
PIERO = And with dignity!
CATTELAN = Hopefully.
Let’s take a path, let’s start with the first great boy band in history, which were, I think it’s not offensive to say, THE BEATLES.
Cattelan and IL VOLO speaking on stage
IGNAZIO = Absolutely.
CATTELAN = The Beatles were the first great boy band in history, we took this cover of HELP as a reference, we put 4 trunks on stage, inside these trunks there are some changes, it will be our task, to try to get into the shoes ….
IGNAZIO = To resemble us a little, that is to lower ourselves a little in the part.
CATTELAN = Yes, try to get into the role of The Beatles.
GIAN = Something amazing is happening, people here at home, they don’t realize yet …
CATTELAN = What are you about to see …
GIAN = I don’t know if you are ready.
CATTELAN = So, let’s start the gearbox, guys !!
IGNAZIO = Go! Let’s go let’s go. (and they go to the trunks for the first change of clothes)
CATTELAN = (from behind the trunk) Here we are, then guys, let’s all go out together.
GIAN = I am there.
IGNAZIO = Not me, wait.
PIERO = Hello, but sorry guys …..
CATTELAN = Don’t go out, don’t go out Piero, wait.
PIERO = But like that, they don’t let me go home anymore.
GIAN = Are you ready to see the four sexiest men on earth? We are almost there.
CATTELAN = The longest is me guys, wait, wait.
PIERO = Can we go straight out the back guys? (he wants to escape) I’m not going there.
CATTELAN = We have to go out guys, let’s count to three: One, two, three, good evening (and they come out disguised as the Beatles)
Cattelan and IL VOLO dressed in blue Beatles outfits
PIERO = Good evening! Hello, hello, thank you very much.
GIAN = It’s good to see you, good evening everyone.
CATTELAN = Sorry, I’m so in the part that I forgot the microphone behind. You are John? (to Gian)
GIAN = I am Paul.
CATTELAN = I’m Paul, because I speak English tight, tight.
So, guys, we are clearly the fab four, we are disarmingly beautiful, I think you are seeing it with your own eyes.
PIERO = Sorry mom! It won’t happen again.
IGNAZIO = You know that he looks a lot like his mother! (laughs)😁😁
PIERO = Sorry, I’m not going home anymore.
CATTELAN = What is the name of Piero’s mother?
IGNAZIO = Eleonora
CATTELAN = So guys, if you want you are ready, let’s start with the first piece that characterized the history of boy bands, okay?
Street (the band), are you ready? When you want, we are ready.
(they start singing HELP).
Cattelan and IL VOLO dressed in blue Beatles outfits
CATTELAN = This was beautiful.
IGNAZIO = Do you know who I look like?
CATTELAN = Willy Wonka
IGNAZIO = No, do you remember Jumanji (movie), that hunter always with a rifle who wanted to kill everyone?
CATTELAN = Actually, a little bit, yes, you remember him.
If that’s okay with you, I would quit the role of The Beatles, to go to the next step, to the next boy band that broke hearts ….
PIERO = It would be home, the next step.
CATTELAN = We should, but maybe we won’t have one anymore, as you said before, Piero.
The next step in the history of boy bands is Take That, they are already more of our era, of our generation … change
(from behind the trunks) if you don’t mind, if you don’t mind guys, I’d wear the fake rabbit hat.
IGNAZIO = Can I keep the wig ??
CATTELAN = That’s your choice, you can decide.
IGNAZIO = I take it off.
PIERO = (he is ready and comes out of the trunk) This is cool, I would also wear this to go out.
CATTELAN = So you can also go out, you are a fairy tale. Who are you?
PIERO = Mark, no Gary (two components from Take That)

GIAN = I am Gary.
CATTELAN = Now let’s not fight over who Gary is!
E from Russia:
IGNAZIO = Hi everyone, I’m Robbie Williams from Moscow. (laughs) 😁😁
Ignazio lauging in a brown fur coat
CATTELAN = The Russian version of Robbie Williams. I can’t tell you what’s sweating to me, right now. (he has a fur hat)
Let’s try Take That.
Guys (to the band), whenever you want! (music starts) This is intense, this one makes you fall in love. Wait, wait (stop the band). This music is difficult and you (at Il Volo) who are familiar with falsetto (singing with an altered high voice).
PIERO = Do as when you have a stomach ache. Perfect.
IGNAZIO = When you do that part do this movement, it helps you !! (he makes a movement with his leg)
CATTELAN = Ok, let’s get started.
GIAN = This is romantic, this one makes you fall in love. (Back for Good by Take That begins)
Cattelan and IL VOLO dressed in winter coats
CATTELAN = Mamma mia, exceptional!
IGNAZIO = Now who is there, how many other boy bands are there?
CATTELAN = Now everything is easier. Let’s see what the next boy band is. (to audience) How are these going, do you like them?
PIERO = I’m not worried about the song, I’m worried about looking like them.
CATTELAN = Who would you like to be?
PIERO = The second on the left, doesn’t it look like Lewis Hamilton, the Formula 1 driver?
CATTELAN = Yes, a little yes.
I would like by right in law, I have already ridiculed myself before showing my photo, (before Il Volo arrived, he showed his photo at 16 and he had a blonde bob hairstyle), I would like to be that blonde with the parting in the middle, also to have a moment of revival.
Okay, Nick Carter, (he is the blond singer) to feel young again.
Are we going to change? (and they go after the trunks)
IGNAZIO = But it’s hot !!
PIERO = I have a good assistant.
CATTELAN = Open or closed jacket?
IGNAZIO = Open.
Cattelan and IL VOLO dressed all in white jackets with black pants
PIERO = The lady (he points in the audience) wants a pistachio and strawberry ice cream, then she wants chocolate (he jokes because they are dressed like ice cream makers).
CATTELAN = We bring it to him. Sooner or later we’ll bring it to you lady.
He waits for us to do something we tried during rehearsals (he and Gian flip up the microphone and catch it) Mouth-watering stuff. (Idiom, when one thing is okay).
So, Backstreet Boys, all easy, all right, we can try to do it. (Ignazio and Piero talk to each other)
GIAN = They’re jealous because we did the microphone one.
Closeup of Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero dressed in the white jackets
CATTELAN = Come on, try it too, if you can ….
IGNAZIO = I do it to you with the triple  jump …
PIERO = Do you want to see? Can you prepare a spare microphone?
(Ignazio and Piero also successfully launch the microphone).
GIAN = Better to sing.
CATTELAN = (He pretends to throw the microphone very high). So, are we there? Go, Backstreet Boys, let’s do it. (Begins I WANT IT THAT WAY by Backstreet Boys, sung with the names of Il Volo)
IGNAZIO = No, I don’t like it
PIERO = Was I wrong?
IGNAZIO = No, it’s just that I wanted to make it a little more romantic (and so repeat the ending)
Cattelan and IL VOLO dressed in black pants and white jackets
CATTELAN = Incredibles. I’ve never felt so good as with Il Volo, guys.
IGNAZIO = And I’ve never seen a man uglier than you (referring to Cattelan who has a blonde wig, laughter).😁😁
CATTELAN =  Because we didn’t know us when I was 15, otherwise it would have been a dejavu. Do not worry.
Another change, but let’s go back to Italy. If I tell you Italian boy band who comes to your mind?
IGNAZIO = Il Volo
CATTELAN = Apart from Il Volo, you are the present.
GIAN = Modest aside, of course.
CATTELAN = Who comes to your mind, Italian boy band.
IGNAZIO = I CAMALEONTI (an Italian group from the 70s)
CATTELAN = The DIK DIK? (other Italian group) No.
GIAN = There are many
CATTELAN = Not even the I RAGAZZI ITALIANI (Italian group)
GIAN = I POOH (Italian group)
CATTELAN = They too could have ….
GIAN = I CUGINI DI CAMPAGNA (Italian group)
CATTELAN = NO.
I NERI PER CASO!!! (Italian group that sang without instruments, imitating sounds with their mouths)  Another exchange, it won’t be difficult. (And they go to change clothes again.)
Left to right: Cattelan in long black wig, Gianluca, Ignazio in gold wig and Piero
GIAN = How we entered before. The same.
PIERO = Excuse me, take a close-up of the two of us, (he and Gian) kindly, don’t frame Alessandro, don’t frame him. Please, first floor: I must finally apologize to all the people who are watching this program right now, for what will happen in 10 seconds, can you please frame Alessandro Cattelan now?
GIAN = Only Alessandro Cattelan can do this !! Only Ale can do it.
PIERO = (to the audience) I humbly ask your forgiveness.
CATTELAN = (from behind the trunk), Guys, please can you say: “Gonzalo, where are you?”
GIAN = Gonzalo donde estas, hermano! (Cattelan comes out with a long black wig. One of the members of I Neri Per Caso had long black hair, his name is Gonzalo).
CATTELAN = Here I am, here I am. I think I’m Gonzalo, I wouldn’t want to be disrespectful but it seems to me that his name was Gonzalo, (he turns to look at Ignazio) well, you look great Igna, you are really very well.
Ignazio in a gold wig
PIERO = Do you know who it looks like? The hair is by Orietta Berti (good Italian singer today she is 78 and still sings with great success).
CATTELAN = Yes, the short cut maybe.
IGNAZIO = But do you know that it doesn’t hurt me? Can you show me? Give me a close up ………… that’s cool !!
CATTELAN = You mean you wouldn’t think about it, as a hypothetical new look?
So, NERI PER CASO, also their winners of Sanremo, in short, great success, let’s do their highlight!
IGNAZIO = Do you start?
CATTELAN = Yes, GO!  (the song begins: Le ragazze, by NERI PER CASO.)
Cattelan on left with long black wig with Gianluca, Ignazio with gold wig and Piero all singing
(at the end Ignazio holds a long note)
CATTELAN = Mamma mia, what lungs you guys have, you are putting me in trouble.
Ok, NERI PER CASO, facts, let’s see what the next boy band is, there are still a couple left: ONE DIRECTION.
Let’s go to the exchange.
Let’s go there, they (One Direction) are the youngest of all, they are the coolest.
IGNAZIO = (from the back of the trunk) I can leave the wig.
CATTELAN = The wig is always a choice. It depends on how you are. I just tell you that I am going here almost bare-chested.
Here we are? One Direction, they dare, they dare, they are young, they are not afraid of judgments, they are young.
PIERO = (referring to Cattelan) You do Harry, how nice. (Harry Styles, singer)
CATTELAN = Maybe I have a button fastened too many, I don’t know you tell me.
IGNAZIO = No, you are fine.
CATTELAN = I don’t know if Harry has chest hair, I don’t know, I’ve never checked.
Cattelan and IL VOLO dressed in casual clothes on stage
PIERO = I don’t know, but he is less sweaty than you. 😁😁
CATTELAN = I have ointments coming out of my pores.
GIAN = (lifts the right sleeve of Ignazio’s shirt and shows the last big tattoo) Look how wild he is, look!
Cattelan and IL VOLO on stage with Gianluca lifting Ignazio's sleeve to show his tatoo
CATTELAN = Mamma mia, guys, you are really bad boys. (Ignazio covers the tattoo).
So, do we propose with these ONE DIRECTION? But how many boy bands are there? Aren’t there a little too many?
IGNAZIO = I don’t insure anything here. (Live While We’re Young by ONE DIRECTION begins)
CATTELAN = I know what you are thinking, which is the ending.
No way!! We still have some, it was not the end even for a joke, we apologize to Harry Styles (throws his hat) ….. camera in full, 2000 euros of damage, okay !!
Cattelan lying on a luggage rack with IL VOLO standing on and near the rack
So, let’s see the next one, now we have arrived at the present day, now we are, let’s see the last boy band: BTS (a very famous Korean boy band), other space hotties.
PIERO = Forgive me, we are on RAI 1 ……
IGNAZIO = Your first time on RAI 1…….
CATTELAN = Yes, by the way, thanks again.
PIERO = Fantastic audience.
CATTELAN = Yes
PIERO = Transversal, everyone looks at it, of all ages, but I was wondering …… my aunt, looking at BTS wonders: “BTS, what are they?” ☺
CATTELAN = So, you have to explain, that’s right.
IGNAZIO = I would explain it ….. you know when you see unicorns? Here are BTS.
CATTELAN = All a little adorable, all beautifully colored, they are unicorns. Right now they are the biggest boy band on the planet.
Thousands of views, they are very good, they are young, modern.
IGNAZIO = They are the most famous mash mallons in the world.
CATTELAN = Yes, they are the most famous in the world, do you feel like imitating them?
PIERO = Let’s get dressed first. (and they go after the trunks)
CATTELAN = (looks at Ignazio) Pippo, Pippo doesn’t know, but when he passes by, the whole city laughs (it’s a phrase from a well-known Italian song and is used to say that everyone laughs at you).
Cattelan and IL VOLO dressed in brightly colored jackets and sweatshirts.
GIAN = It is coordinated.
CATTELAN = Yes, right
IGNAZIO = It’s a new fashion, shorts over trousers.
CATTELAN = I was thinking now of something, you rightly said that there is a small problem, your aunt at home and maybe even my grandmother, who is watching me, they don’t really know who BTS is.
There is also another theme, now I ask you, because it is you who have a world career, when I leave Piedmont (the  Italian region where Cattelan lives), nobody recognizes me, but it is you who go around the world, go to Asia ….. maybe there is a problem of cultural appropriation, that is, you know, they are Asian, we are not, so a certain school of thought thinks that we shouldn’t do this exhibition. (of course he’s kidding)
PIERO = Sorry, let’s talk for a moment between us.
CATTELAN = Then if we don’t do it it’s worse. That is, for us it is a tribute, they are very cool.
GIAN = Sorry, let’s Italianize BTS at this point.
CATTELAN = That is, we make them, but keeping our culture?
GIAN = Yes, our diction, our culture (they gather in a circle to decide ….. of course it’s all a joke)
(He ask the band to do the chorus of the BTS song)
Let’s improvise !!
CATTELAN = Let’s see what happens.
IGNAZIO = Let’s get Piero to do the rap part 😁
CATTELAN = So, okay, BTS, without getting into controversy, OK?
GIAN = We have found the solution.
CATTELAN = It is not cultural appropriation, we do it by maintaining our culture which at the moment is mainly Abruzzo.
GIAN = Absolutely.
PIERO = What did he say??? 😁
IGNAZIO = I sincerely like “arrosticini” ☺ (they are typical meat sticks from Abruzzo)
GIAN = We do it in the Abruzzese language.
PIERO = And the text? …..
CATTELAN =  All new !! Okay, BTS, the way we do it. Guys whenever you want, I follow you, because I have no idea where you are going. (the music of the BTS song begins but performed with the words of Grande Amore, and finally , they connect the chorus of Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees with the words in the Abruzzese language.)
Cattelan and IL VOLO dressed in brightly colored jackets and sweatshirts.
CATTELAN = Ladies and gentlemen, give a big round of applause for Il Volo !!
GIAN = What sweaty guys.
PIERO = We wanted to wish a very big good luck to the great Alessandro Cattelan, a great friend.
GIAN = Great Ale!
CATTELAN = Thanks guys !!
PIERO = Welcome Alessandro, we will leave you in good hands.
IGNAZIO = I wanted to make a serious speech. (To the band) Stop it, you’ve been playing up to now, stop it, just a minute. I wanted to make a serious speech, we have been following Alessandro for many years, Alessandro is a wonderful guy, one of the best professionals, presenters in Italy, and we are honored to be here tonight to celebrate your first time in RAI. Thanks for inviting us. Thank you very much.
CATTELAN = Thanks guys, I love you, again a big round of applause at Il Volo !! (hugs and final gags)
More photos of the show
Left to right: Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio in brightly colored jackets and sweatshirt

Gianluca speaking on stage

Ignazio speaking on stage

Gianluca in a black Beatles wig

Ignazio and Piero dressed in blue Beatles outfits

Left to right: Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio in brightly colored jackets and sweatshirt

My comment is this:
I appreciated that Il Volo really put a lot on the line for this show.
It wasn’t they who were supposed to shine, but the new presenter, and so they acted as a “shoulder”, I don’t know how many singers at the level of Il Volo, would have agreed to do this.
The live show showed great sound problems, at the beginning during the Beatles, the voice of Piero Ignazio and Gianluca, could not be heard ….. in the video it was improved, but the top is expected from RAI, even in technical matters.
I noted with pleasure, a great interaction and a sincere friendship between Il Volo and Cattelan and I believe that Cattelan did not know them before, and had never spoken about them, so, as usual, those who know them, then appreciate them a lot. .
I also noticed that Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca had a lot of fun on this show, a very different thing from what they usually do, and this makes me happy.
Now I await your opinions.

Daniela

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

Two Phone Calls and a Competition

I know it’s an old story but, watching the guys on Da Grande and also seeing Antonella Clerici brought back great memories of Ti Lascio una Canzone.
In the beginning there were three amazing teenagers who stole our hearts and here we are 12 years later still in love with them.

A younger IL Volo walking in the street

But let’s back up a minute. No not all the way back. Just to those last days before the big decision was made. The guys didn’t know it, but their world was about to be rocked.
Piero needed a break! He was tired. He did all the competitions around Sicily. He was winning but he just needed a break!  The competitions were getting to him. Between the voice lessons, piano lessons and the competitions, he was burned out.  No, he was ready for a break!
Ignazio wanted out of the competitions! All the hard work seemed in vain. Facing one competition after another. After a while the stages change but not the faces. Those who work so hard just to be on that stage and those who walk in and take what rightfully belongs to another. No Ignazio had it. He was done with it. Not with the singing, no that was who he was that was never going away. Singing from morning till night no, that wasn’t going to end. No, it was time to hang up the dreams and walk away from the competitions! Life can be so unfair!
It’s so funny with Piero and Ignazio when we listen to stories about their early teen years, they are always full of lessons and competitions. Maybe a soccer game here and there for Ignazio but no it’s all about the music! But Gianluca no he was different. Very different! Gianluca said, “I only sang because it made me feel good, I was happy.”
Gianluca will tell you I was not like Piero or Ignazio. I never took a singing lesson in my life. Gianluca spent his days on a soccer field. He loved to play! He still does but life seems to get in the way now! Gianluca loved to sing but mostly for his own enjoyment. As a part of the Little Choir of Roses, he traveled around with the choir and enjoyed the moment. There was no competing, no lessons, just a simple happy life.
Then suddenly something happened and, their worlds collided! It all came down to Two Phone Calls and a Competition! And so here I give you the last intricate piece of the equation? How did they all wind up on the same stage?

Piero’s Phone Call
If I have to tell the truth, my project was to become a tenor and a singing teacher. Many opera singers have this double life because, unless you reach a certain level, you cannot always live by only singing!
I, who always thought I would sing alone for the rest of my life, I imagined myself a tenor divided between theater and teaching. But before we got there the road was very long, and it was also in the strict sense of the word. From Naro to Vittoria, where there was the master who had advised me to go to the teacher Bavaglio of Palermo. It was a two hours’ drive in the first leg and as many as the return.
Having to travel to sing was not new to Piero, he always traveled with his dad. Every Saturday his father took him to Agrigento to the rehearsals of the choir of Santa Cecilia. Piero said, “those afternoons were so beautiful. He sacrificed those afternoons to be with me. He could have spent the time at the bar playing cards with his friends but, he chose to take me to Agrigento, a fifteen, twenty-minute drive from Naro.”
Piero continues….
At the first lesson, we arrived in Vittoria and, we go to the house of this baritone. I was all excited to do the vocalizations and comments. The master Bavaglio says, “I expected more from you.” I was demoralized. But the goal was there, I wanted music to become my life and so, despite the disappointment, for four or five months I kept going to him.
Before the baritone of Vittoria, for about two or three months, Piero studied with a soprano from Caltanissetta. He rode to the lessons with his cousin Giuseppe and returned with a boy from Naro who was studying with the same teacher. The boy who gave him a ride lived near his paternal grandmother so, he always left Piero with her and then his father came to pick him up when he finished work. Only that evening, his father was already there and, he was talking on the phone. When he finished his conversation, Piero asked, “Who was that dad?” His father replied, “Wait, let’s go home and I’ll tell you later.”
Piero recalls….
It was strange that he would act so mysteriously, but I always trusted him blindly and if he said ‘after’ he meant that it was okay. I was curious, for sure, but I waited calmly. We finished dinner, and daddy kept his promise and told me. ‘On the phone was a lady, a certain Isabella Abiuso. She is part of the casting for Ti Lascio una Canzone and she was given your name by the Tour Music Fest. Stop all and take a step back, ‘what is the Tour Music Fest? It’s a festival that I did not want to do. It’s not that I was undecided, I wanted to think about it. No, I did not want to do it because I won all these festivals and, I was a little tired. Yet it is a great European festival dedicated to emerging music born in 2003. It has several stages, runs throughout Italy and not just singers, but also bands and musicians participated. The stage closest to us was that of Cosenza. ‘I have to drive,’ dad had told me, ‘we have a comfortable car, you sleep and, I drive, you will not even notice.’ Twenty-four hours to do Naro-Cosenza, Cosenza-Naro. We arrive there, I sing, and they do not give me more news. But they gave it to someone else.
“Isabella Abiuso,” Piero says, “was one of the talent scouts who selected children for the broadcast Ti Lascio una Canzone.” She called the editors of the festival and asked for a name to try someone interesting for that kind of television program. They told Mrs. Abiuso, “Here there is nothing that we can give, apart from a certain Piero Barone, which for us did not work out because it’s not the kind of music that we deal with, but he certainly has an innate talent.”
Piero continues his conversation with his dad…
I was not sixteen yet, it was November 2008. ‘Dad’ I immediately said, ‘this Ti Lascio una Canzone, I’d like to do it. Let’s try, why not?’…. My father thought about it and said: ‘Wait, let’s talk with the maestro in Vittoria.’
‘You are crazy’ was the teacher’s answer. ‘You ruin him with these things because television takes the boys’ heads, it spoils the future.’ Is it possible? Before I was not good enough and, now I could not do the audition because I could ruin the future? My father did not see this anymore. ‘No, I have to make him do it.’
And so it was that Piero auditioned for Ti Lascio una Canzone!

Ignazio’s Competition….
I felt like crap. No, not when they called me to audition, before I felt like crap, so much so that I almost lost it that night when they talked to me for the first time about Ti Lascio una Canzone. The fact is that competition after competition, year after year, perhaps because I grew up and became less naive – now I was fourteen – at a certain point in 2008 I realized that, as wonderful as it was, the music world was starting to give me the first disappointments: people who paid to see their child win, recommendations and various scams.
My problem is that I have always been for healthy competition, getting to the first place because a person really deserves to be rewarded as such. But it was not like that anymore. I did not want to participate anymore in any competition. I began to give up many proposals. I was in a terrible mood when, in September of that year, I was offered a competition in Caltanissetta, which was presented by the great Nico di Gabbiani and had as president of the jury Franco Fasano, author and composer of songs like Ti Lascero,’ who won the Sanremo Festival, and also singer/ songwriter as E Quel Giorno Non Mi Perderai Piu’.
It seems Ignazio began to realize that life isn’t always fair and there are people in life who cheat you out of the things that can give your life meaning! Can you imagine working so hard and knowing you did your best but, someone walks in and takes it away from you for selfish reasons? That’s a hard lesson to learn at such a young age. I think this experience was one of the things that made Ignazio as compassionate as he is. He didn’t care about winning for himself, he cared about the competition being fair.
Let’s continue with Ignazio’s story….
Instinctively I said no. I did not want to take part in any competition that could turn out to be made up. But after so many evenings talking to my family and Liliana, who was always present and always ready to give me some advice, I convinced myself, I am happy to say that there are no recommendations in that competition. I reached third place. But the greatest satisfaction was not the result. At the end of the final evening Franco Fasano took the stage, proposing to do a test in Rome, he did not promise me anything for sure, for a television program that, having seen the great success of the first edition, had reached its second edition.
That program was Ti Lascio Una Canzone!

Gianluca’s Phone Call
I do not know exactly what happened because everything happened very quickly…. If I think of 2009, the year in which I met Piero and Ignazio at Ti Lascio una Canzone, it seems like yesterday. Instead, six years have passed. To tell you the truth, seven years passed from the casting sessions because it was 2008 when my father received a call from Licia Giunco.
It is difficult to explain who Licia Giunco is.  She’s an incredible woman, known throughout Italy for being the creator of an annual event called Sport for life, a great international ice-skating gala.
The reason for Mrs. Giunco’s phone call was Gianluca’s performances with the choir. “We have a great talent here in Roseto, Mrs. Guinco told Mr. Ginoble. I would like to bring him to Rai.”
Gianluca continues….
My father had never thought about it. My parents had never even imagined that I would participate in competitions, let alone send me for an audition for television.
‘Let’s try,’ my father replied to Mrs. Giunco. ‘It would be a great opportunity.’ Dad thought it was just a different experience something that could make me have fun. Mrs. Giunco made available her contacts, we talked to Franco Fasano, whom Licia knew, and he took us to audition with Roberto Cenci for the broadcast of Rai. Maybe this is what I liked, the idea that it was only a life experience to do, an experience that would allow me to sing for a while. My parents, as they had always been until then, did not force me in the least and, as enthusiastic as they were of the idea of what I could do, they completely left the decision to me. I had not the slightest idea of what awaited me, but I decided instinctively, with my belly, that yes, that audition I really wanted to do it.
So, we find Gianluca already with one foot in the door. He was given an amazing opportunity. This woman saw his potential. She knew he would be the perfect competitor. For Piero or Ignazio, they had to wait and see if they would be accepted. But they were used to competition and so they understood how to be patient. 
Each one qualified! Next stop Ti Lascio una Canzone! The rest is history!
12 years later….

Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero on stage

So, I come back to where I started this story on stage with Antonella Clerici and 12 years later, they can relive the moment on Alessandro Cattelan’s program Da Grande. But this is a story   for another day! Instead let’s listen to what the guys have to say about how far they’ve come in the last 12 years.
A short time after the Tribute to Morricone, the guys sat down with Pascal Vicedomini from FELICITÀ.
Pascal was interested to know how the guys got from Ti Lascio una Canzone to the Verona Arena. These are just a few excerpts from that interview.
Pascal: Ignazio, when did you realize that your life was changing?
Ignazio: But maybe we haven’t noticed yet, because fortunately, and I say fortunately, we live things with simplicity, always trying to put music, our passion, in the foreground. It’s normal, there are many responsibilities, we are no longer kids, where there is the novelty of three kids who have important voices, adult voices, so now is the time to work, to develop new ideas. With our manager Michele Torpedine we always try to renew ourselves, we lock ourselves in a room for days to understand what the best thing is and the next step to take.
There was the Arena di Verona, and we are already thinking about another project, so we must never stop.
Gianluca talks about their relationship after 12 years….
Let’s say that, certainly the novelty was that, as Ignazio said, of three children singing pop-lyric, because it was the first time, so let’s say that from this point of view, we have always tried to be unique, and to propose to the public, to the people who follow us, something different.
Then, it is clear that over time, it is necessary to demonstrate and consolidate success, because being the novelty, it is also easy to be a meteor, therefore, as Ignazio said, sorry if I repeat myself, we must renew ourselves, with hard work, with constancy, with sacrifices and always staying on track, this is important. I must say that there is not only a working relationship, but also our friendship has been consolidated over time, and this helps us to be cohesive, strong and to develop ideas that allow us to renew ourselves.
One of the shows the guys really enjoy going on is Red Ronnie. The guys are always so relaxed when they do his show. Let’s listen to what Red Ronnie had to say about the guys….
I want for them, all that is good for the soul, because even if they joined almost by chance, Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca, they have three totally different personalities, who together have a crazy cohesion, so much so that they have invaded the world.
I hope they enjoy the happiness they deserve and are experiencing, because …… because they are still spontaneous, they still have the desire to see with their eyes what happens and, this is important, also with the heart. They are perfect when they are elegant, at the Verona Arena or on an important stage, or when they are like this, a little “discarded” when they come to my program and let themselves go. Because they are three guys, very lucky, and very alive.
Pascal says that Red Ronnie is right, three very different guys, who complement each other on stage, three particular characters, united by their common talent and love for music: Piero the professor, Ignazio the philosopher and Gianluca the seducer, two Sicilians and an Abruzzese.
After all, they are three young people of today with the ancient passion for opera, to be merged with pop, a characteristic that makes them appealing in a transversal way to the different civilizations crossed in their first twelve years of common career in the world.
And where are the journalist today?
…. the journalist and writer Pierangelo Buttafuoco points out….
It is up to the village boy to “take flight”. If that of IL VOLO is the story, or rather the novel, or better still the epic, of those who, like the guys, know how to go away. Because the commandment given to the country guys is always the same, and it is this: “Who goes out, succeeds” (it’s a pun that says whoever leaves the country, succeeds, that is, is successful, in life), and said in Sicilian it becomes: “cu nesci, arriesci”.
The writer/journalist Antonella Boralevi tells us what is special about Il Volo.
….in this name, you already hear it! This name, takes you somewhere else, and then the fact that, we never say Il Volo, but we say “the boys of Il Volo.” I think that the three members of Il Volo group will have to get used to being called “boys” even when they are 70 years old.
But above all I would like to thank them, the guys from Il Volo, because they have the characteristic of giving joy. The guys from Il Volo put you in a good mood. The guys from Il Volo, you look at them and you feel better, you listen to them and, you hum them and, you feel better. So, as they say, go go go, guys from Il Volo and thank you for the joy you give us.
Pascal swings the interview in another direction….

IL VOLO on stage with Plácido Domingo

Pascal: What does it feel like to follow in the footsteps of three legends, who started the history of opera-pop? Tell me the thoughts of Il Volo about this.
Piero: The three tenors, Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras, were the three who cleared opera, classical music, outside the theater and brought it to the general public.
Let’s say that we are trying to follow, humbly, without emulating the three tenors, we are trying not to let this music die, which will never end, because classical music, the classical term, is synonymous with eternal.
We were in Florence, in Piazza Santa Croce, it was not a normal evening, it was a Magic Night, in fact it was the title of that project that we have taken on tour everywhere.
Clearly when we conceive a project, if there is no trust on the part of someone, there is no encouragement. When the idea of doing the Tribute to the Three Tenors was born, there was the foundation of Pavarotti who supported this idea, many messages with Josè Carreras, but the maestro Plácido Domingo did us the honor.
Ignazio: Besides he (Placido Domingo) is a great friend of ours!
Piero: He did us the honor of accepting our invitation, coming to Florence, conducting and singing that repertoire with us, so having his support gave us so much strength.
Gianluca: I would also like to add that we have just done the concert at the Arena di Verona, the Tribute to Morricone, and there too, as Piero said, there was support, and of course it continues to be there for this recording project that will be released soon, by maestro Andrea Morricone and the whole Morricone family.
So, this gives us that encouragement Piero was talking about.

IL VOLO standing on an outdoor stage

The guys have taken us on a journey that joined them and, they showed us how the most important thing to them is to constantly renew themselves.
Well, this last year has certainly showed us how far you can go when you are constantly looking for new ways to approach your music. None more so than the Tribute to Morricone. I think this will probably be one of the best decisions of their lives. This project has sent them in so many different directions. It has opened up a whole new world for them. And it’s not over yet! There is so much more which we haven’t seen or heard yet. Every day we learn something new from the guys!  It’s amazing how they keep moving forward in a world that has chosen to stand still over the last year and a half. They never let the world situation get in their way. They continue to move forward always looking for new projects.  We know there will be an announcement about a new project soon!

What has this story taught us? That success is as close as Two Phone Calls and a Competition away!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Excerpts from Il Volo, Un’avventura straordinaria, La nostra storia.
If you would like to share a story with me, please email:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvolo flightcrw.com.

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

LET’S HAVE FUN by Daniela

A couple of funny and interesting videos of Il Volo have been published a few days ago.
I know you were expecting my translation, so here it is.
The first video was made during rehearsals for Seat Music Awards.
NEK = Ah, here, but I was looking for you! Hello!!
P + I + G = Hi, how are you?
NEK = Well, well.
Happy to find you here at this special called DISCO ESTATE, because we are remembering the summer through music. (Nek during the afternoon of the Seat Music Awards, presented an event called Disco Estate).
In the meantime, congratulations, because you have inaugurated this summer, with the great concert here at the Verona Arena, a tribute to the great Ennio Morricone.
But in addition to singing pieces of classical music, you have a song that you usually sing, perhaps a past summer catchphrase, which you still find yourself singing like this today, even casually.
IGNAZIO = When I’m in a good mood I sing SEPTEMBER of Earth, Wind & Fire.  (he briefly mentions the beautiful song)
NEK = Wow, and when are you in a bad mood ??
THE POTEMKIN ARMOR (it is a joke that is often heard in Italian films to say that it is a heavy thing).
GIANLUCA = You know we have a common passion that are THE POLICE (rock band), by the great STING (frontman of The Police), we were listening to I Am An Englishman in New York, a few hours ago.
(Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero begin singing I Am An Englishman in New York acappella).
NEK = Thank you (send kisses for everyone) Good luck for everything. (in Italian: in the mouth of the wolf)
IGNAZIO = Crepi (is the usual answer to those who say in the mouth of the wolf).
NEK = I recommend it to you. Never give up.

NEK talking with IL VOLO

NEK talking with IL VOLO

The second video, on the other hand, concerns the third clip of a short video-interview made at Il Volo before the concert.
I remind you that these are questions and answers made and assembled in a sincere, but also ironic way!!
In the lower part of the video, some words appear in Italian, which the children have to comment on.
WORD = The most touchy?
GIAN = Me
PIERO = (replies to Gian) NO!
(and he marks Ignazio with his finger, meaning that Ignazio is the most touchy).😉
IGNAZIO = Him (pointing to Gian and tries to motivate but falls silent)😊
GIAN = There is a big difference between the three of us and it is the reaction after the event that we handle differently.
WORD= The most serious?
GIAN = Piero.
PIERO = No, I am not the most serious.😉
GIAN = It depends on the situation. We know how to adapt, we have a spirit of adaptation.
WORD = The most accurate?
GIAN = It’s a good battle between me and Piero.😉
PIERO = Maybe at work …. me.  In life, I am the most accurate.
WORD = The most vain?
GIAN = Me 🤗
PIERO = Why are you asked this extra question?
GIAN = You must know that behind the camera there is a mirror …
IGNAZIO = (says in dialect) He has been looking at himself for half an hour. 😁
GIAN = …. and I, for half an hour, have been taking a look at you and a look in the mirror 😁😁😁
Left to right: Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio
Directly from Radio Italia, this short video was recorded during the Seat Music Awards.
We also received this short but intense amateur video that portrays Ignatius singing the Hallelujah during a wedding, very good Ignazio.
And Arena Live Official, publishes this beautiful photo with this inscription:
Three enchanting voices for an eternal Diva.
At the Seat Music Awards 2021 Il Volo was awarded the Diva – Arena di Verona Official Award for its special relationship with the Arena
Congratulations to @ gianginoble11 @barone_piero and @ignazioboschetto !!!!!!!

Left to right: Gianluca, Piero and Ignaziio with their DIVA award

And the official page of Il Volo reminds us that on Sunday 19th on RAI 1 there will be the new program DA GRANDE, presented by Cattelan.

19 September event advertissement

In short, many good things have happened, and many more to happen, so see you soon !!
Last nice thing, the new Il Volo card arrived today !!  Wonderful. ❤️❤️❤️
Daniela 🤗

IL VOLO membership card

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

Come in and share the love of life, friends and Il Volo!