Shoes, gondolas, and men
Italy: Shoes, gondolas, and men... and of course, music! During our time in Italy many experiences were had. The girls, including myself, were gushing over the shoes (and definitely the men) and many of us rode the gondolas in Venice. As a group, we were fortunate enough to travel the Italian cities and sing in some incredible places. It was an amazing experience and I am very thankful for living it. Ciao!
Mary Cameron '06
Kiss a handsome Italian man
Italy is fabulous. The choir and I have had the incredible opportunity to sing at the Vatican, see Michelangelo's "David," and DaVinci's "The Last Supper," kiss a handsome Italian man named Fabio, and explore the wonders of Italy. I am so excited to be here with the Eckerd Choir and Bell Ringers and I am so grateful to all of our donors and supporters.
Kathy Peacock '06
Playing hackey sack in Italy
Italy is an amazing place with an amazing history. Over the past week we have experienced quite a lot of it. We have stood in the huge roman Coliseum and sung in St. Peter's Basilica. We have eaten delicious food, and we have been on many guided tours, but one thing will remain in my heart forever: playing hackey sack in as much of Italy as we could. Thank you!
Ben Head '08
Once in a lifetime experience
This trip of Italy was amazing. I truly enjoyed this once in a lifetime experience; from seeing ancient Roman ruins, Communion in the Vatican, visiting medieval towns, and a gondola ride in Venice. It was a fun adventure. My favorite city was Venice, followed by Siena. I most definitely have to come back. Ciao!
Tara Leigh Sands '05
The music itself was incredibly moving
Touring Italy has been fascinating and enjoyable, but having the opportunity to hear the Eckerd College Choirs has added a whole other dimension to our visit. To listen to the audiences respond enthusiastically to every concert was such a thrill, and of course the music itself was incredibly moving. Being typical parents we are very proud of our child and his friends, and the image they have projected throughout Italy. Even though we are parents, Eckerd students have been very welcoming to us and we feel they really appreciate seeing us in the audience. In turn, we're going to be bragging about them for a long time.
Mr. and Mrs. Calderwood, parents of Garrett Calderwood
What an amazing experience it was for us to follow the Eckerd Choir on their tour through Italy! Dr. Smith granted us the privilege of being honorary "groupies." From High Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, to historic Florence, to romantic Venice, the music of the Eckerd Choir and Ringers impressed all who heard them. Thanks for allowing us to be a part of the international culture of Eckerd.
Jeff and Chris Vaught, parents of Morgan Vaught
Venice and Concert at St. Caterina in Treviso
Italy has a ton of dogs! Most of the people walk their dogs on these beautiful leather leashes which I think are totally unique to any thing I've seen in the States. When we went to the leather factory yesterday I asked the shopkeeper for the name of a good pet shop that would sell leather leashes. She told me the name but when I went to the shop it was closed! I had an hour break today so Stephanie and I raced over to the pet shop while passing huge statures on all sides of us. To my great excitement the pet shop was open! We went in and there was the leash I wanted: black leather with all these clips and metal rings. I am not sure what they are all used for but it looks cool. When Brecken, my faithful Flat-Coated Retreiver, and I graduate on May 22nd she will be wearing the leather leash I bought in Florence with pride!
Gwyneth Watrous '05
From Atop the Tower
Today in Florence, my tiger and I climbed the tower in front of the Duomo. It took us about ten minutes to climb all four hundred and fourteen stairs to the very top. The view of Florence from atop the tower was unbelievable. Even though Tiger passed out face first on the very last step before the top, we had a great time. The dome of the Duomo was very large and an anomaly. Next time I come to Florence with Tiger we are going to climb to the top of the Duomo dome.
Sienna was a great city to go to. I love the small cities of Italy. They feel more down to earth and not overwhelming. Chris and Garrett decided they were dragons, and I am a wolf. These animals represent twelve districts in the city of Sienna. They tried to make me a porcupine but I overruled them. SIENNA ROCKS!!!
Jonathan Speiser '06
Florence is such a beautiful place. The scenery was gorgeous and the moon could be seen during the day, which is an unusual and rare sight. When we walked the streets during the tours it was difficult not to stray from the crowd down the cobblestone streets. It was truly an amazing and inspiring experience. The St. Stephano chapel was an amazing place to sing in and personally I think it was our best concert so far. I cannot wait to roam the streets of Venice and breathe in all the beautiful sights.
Katie Castonguay '07
Mass at Siena Duomo
Italy is beautiful and singing in such beautiful churches and basilicas is wonderful. Singing in Saint Peter's Basilica was an amazing experience that I will treasure my whole lifetime. Yesterday, we participated in Palm Sunday Mass at Siena Duomo, a gorgeous church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Following the gospel reading and service in Italian was challenging, though Italian is very similar to Spanish and I can therefore usually figure out what people are saying in Italian. Siena was quaint, rustic, and all together breathtaking.
The ancient ruins of Rome were awesome. Rome has great and interesting history. European history in general I think is quite interesting in that it covers such a long period. For example, Sunday we saw a bank in Siena founded in 1472 -- 20 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.
Overall, it is wonderful to have such an exciting, interesting, awe-inspiring experience. Italy is a beautiful country that offers everything from wine tasting to history to sight seeing.
Scott Hale '08
Everything I Expected and More
Well Italy is great. It is everything I expected and more! Yesterday we went to Sienna and into wine and olive oil country. It was very hilly, not flat like Florida. The buildings were all from the med-evil times and before. We went on a tour a saw some really interesting things. In one of the churches we went to there was a skull and thumb of St. Catherine. The rest of the body is in Rome because the Pope didn't want to move it all since she was such a popular saint. It was kinda weird but I can see why they want it there. After the tour we went to the big square in the city and we got some free time. Some other students and I bought some wine from a local store that Anna Maria recommended. I then bought my favorite thing, chocolate GILATO!!! People say I am a G.A., short for Gelato Addict. They make jokes that I am going to go through withdrawal when we get back to the states. We then sang a concert in another gorgeous church. During one part of the mass the head religious leader went on a 20 minute talk about Jesus in Jerusalem. At least that's what I think because it was in Italian. We then walked back to the bus. I managed to sit on a chocolate cookie which left a giant white spot that wouldn't come out of my pants. It was fun trying to get that out. I really can't wait to see what Florence has to offer. Aribaderchi!
Ryan Appold '08
I have never been out of North America before this trip, and now I prize our dirty public bathrooms more than ever. There are no seats on the public toilets!!! Girls are expected to squat or stand and aim just like men. I am thoroughly impressed with their ability to do so. And you have to pay to use most of them. Like I am going to pay 1 euro to squat over a hole, do my business, and have a limited amount of toilet paper and water to clean up. I don't think so. I will be holding it until the hotel from now on.
Italy is beautiful. It reminds me of home. Montana and Italy have actual mountains, the humidity is about the same and the countryside is natural, still beautiful and full of farmland. I am still a little frustrated that we are rushing everywhere and don't have a chance to shop and take in all the city. The experience of Rome was short lived. However, yesterday, at the square, there was a really cool protest to get the troops out of Iraq. I wanted to protest too, but Marion stated that we would not engage in any "political conversation" with anyone. I was upset, but now I am thinking that it was a good idea because I spotted some protestors holding a huge banner with the Grim Reaper on it and he had the American Flag over his shoulder. Some people don't like America. I wanted to buy a rainbow flag that said "Pace" or Peace on it. Never got the chance because the polizia had the streets blocked off. I will find one before we leave.
As far as the food goes, some meals are good, and some are not. We always start with bread and pasta and have a meat dish and dessert. Italian Desserts: PERFECTION. Gellato will be my financial downfall.
We are on the way to Venice. Anna Maria is doing a great job. She is quite funny. She knows about all the good things to buy. Peace.
Krista Purcell '08
On the Road to Siena From Rome
We are now on the road to Siena from Rome. I am kind of glad to be leaving Rome. The Roman ruins are impressive, but I was somewhat unsettled by how the ruins and the city buildings were all intertwined. I like cities that are neat and orderly, and Rome is anything but orderly. Many of the "newer" buildings are built on ruins, and some even incorporate the pillars and walls of ruins into their own. I say "newer" because, as Anna Maria informed us, "new" in Italy means it was built in the last 100 to 200 years. How different it would be to live on land that has been home to civilization for centuries.
I love the countryside, however. All around us now there are rolling hills. Often the steeper ones are toped by villages of old stone and brick houses piled on top of each other so that they look like a fortress. There were even a couple of little castles a ways back. On the hillsides there are rows of grape vines and olive trees. Anna Maria, our tour guide, tells us that this area makes some of the best wine and olive oil.
Samantha Symon '07
Chiesa di Sant Andrea della Valle
Paper airplane through the Pope's window
Someone had the great idea to send a paper airplane through the Pope's window to personally invite him to come see us sing. We didnít send the letter for fear of the Swiss Guard's uzis. Quite a privledge for us to sing in the highest of all Roman Catholic churches especially at this time of year. It was neat as we came down from singing. Strangers were taking our pictures and shaking our hands as though we were famous. I only charged 5 Euros for my autograph. Must be that inflation rising again.
Garvin Sealy '02
Amazed that we sang in the Vatican
Singing in the Vatican was a fantastic experience! It was interesting to try to sing the choruses in Latin that we had never sung before. I was greatly upset that we were unable to sing Palestrinaís Missa Brevis, but the songs that we were allowed to sing went really well. Our first performance in Italy has definitely made me excited about the remainder of the trip. I am still amazed that we sang and received communion in the Vatican.
Ashley Fenner '08
Performing in St. Peter's Basilica
Listening to our massive sound reverberate
As far as the performance in the Vatican is concerned, I feel that we really put our best effort forth despite the last minute changes. I loved listening to our massive sound reverberate off of the gigantic stonewalls. When we sang Cry Out and Shout, I could feel the energy circulating throughout the entire chorus and felt very proud to be apart of this group. We truly sang our hearts out and it showed in the few selections we were allowed to sing. Even though I wish that we could have sang Timor et Tremor, the piece I truly believe we shine best in, I feel the performance was a smash hit.
Brittany Kimball '07
Vatican City and the Pantheon
A goal of mine since elementary school
Our visit to the Vatican City was amazing. Rome is such a beautiful city. The pine trees, the architecture, the people. It is all so awesome. Seeing the Sistine Chapel has been a goal of mine since elementary school so I was quite enthusiastic to be going through. The one scene of the damned and the heavenly has got to be my favorite. It brought some of the characters of Dante's Inferno to life. I knew from the past how large St. Peter's Basilica was from pictures, but seeing it in person gave me a whole new perspective, not surprising. I can't wait to sing there. I can describe how I feel the best saying I basically swoon at the idea.
Our trip to the Trevi fountain was also pretty cool. We visited a lot of the little shops. Other than the fact that someone tried to pickpocket me it was really nice to just walk around. I was taken aback to find a little old man roasting chestnuts to sell. Another man had a parrot that you could pet and hold for one euro. I think it is kind of cool the types of things people do to try and make some money. There was a very sweet man who had painted his entire body gold to attract people. I suppose you need to be sweet to get people to give you money, but it was still nice. Our impromptu singing at the Pantheon was really cool of Marion to do. The tourists loved it and so did we. Apparently we will be taking in some of the nightlife after dinner. I think a nice walk through the square is the perfect way to round off an already quite eventful day and I am really looking forward to it.
Dana Rose O'Malley '08
Swept away by Vatican City
Today I was swept away by Vatican City. The proportions of St. Peterís Basilica were mind-blowing, the whole building is spectacular and I can't wait to sing there! A special treat for me was seeing the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena in Rome. She's my patron saint so it was special for me. Of course, the Sistine Chapel was spectacular. You never realize what a work of genius it truly is till you see it and you realize how far up it is and what a complicated process it must have been to paint it. I had a wonderful day and can't wait to have a wonderful night!
Katie Millsap '08
Living what I have been learning
This trip could not have come at a more perfect time in my Eckerd career. So far (I know, only one day so far) there has been an enormous number of tie-ins to my classes. I am taking an Ancient Roman History class this semester, and now I am here. I am living what I have been learning for the last 8 weeks. All the stories have come alive in the form of ruins. All these old rocks lying about may not interest some, however as an anthropology (archaeology) and history double major I have thus far been able to experience something that I have wanted to see all my life.
Garrett Calderwood '06
See Garrett flying to Rome
We left on my 21st birthday
The beginning of the trip was rather interesting since we left on my 21st birthday. It was really nice because many of the choir members sang to me, but what a way to spend a birthday. It was hard sleeping on the plane, but I believe we all did very well and we also all received our luggage with no problems. Being in Italy seems surreal and is all very exciting. I'm not much of a history person so today was more made up of pretty sights for me. Although, I am very interested in going to the Vatican tomorrow. The trip has been long so far since we haven't gotten much sleep but I know after a good night's sleep and more fun days to come, days will blow by.
Morgan Vaught '06
People cheering in the stands
It seems to be this time of year that reminds me why I have remained in choir for the past three years. With camera in hand and about an hour of sleep, the sights that we saw today were finally more than just a picture in a book. With tour guides commenting on the Colosseum and the surrounding area, it was as if you could hear the thousands of people cheering in the stands. The ruins were incredible, and I can't even imagine what remains to be seen.
Michele Gauthier '06
The Tour Begins
Final rehearsals have taken place, travel arrangements have been finalized, last minute preparations have used up their last minutes and a group of talented Eckerd College students are ready to board a plane headed for Italy.
With performances in Rome, Sienna, Florence and Treviso, the Eckerd College Choir and Eckerd Ringers return to Europe once again, having toured England in the spring of 2003.
This site will document the tour via journals written by the students themselves and photography uploaded daily. Visit frequently to see the sights and read the tales of their journey across Italy.