Italy Music Tour 2023

Published 12 July 2023

We are just about coming down from the incredible jubilation of our recent music tour to Italy.  There are such a lot of fabulous memories to take in, it is going to take a while! 

We set off on Sunday 2 July, on two coaches with a trailer full of instruments and equipment. Everyone was very swift in getting ready and we even left ahead of schedule. We were treated to a reasonably smooth ferry crossing and some amazing scenery along the way. Everyone was in good spirits and even though the journey was long, we arrived at the hotel in Montecatini with renewed enthusiasm.  Despite the evening three course meal being a somewhat lengthy affair, we enjoyed time in the hotel to acclimatize to our surroundings and settle in.

The first full day in Italy began with a trip to Florence, to see the beautiful Piti Palace and Boboli gardens.  After lunch, we ventured on foot to the main square (piazza) where everyone could explore more independently and absorb the Italian culture.  The temperature was beginning to climb at this point, but we managed to refresh ourselves very well.  Following an evening meal in the hotel, we subsequently set off for our first concert venue, in order to mark the 140th anniversary of the creation of Pinocchio, in Collodi. The setting upon arrival was breathtaking, and all musicians did very well to begin to learn how to perform outside, and in such a grand establishment. We gained a lot of experience from this, and the photos look fabulous too.  I have never had 100+ roadies to help set down before but we managed in record time, particularly as the drivers were close to their duty hours for the day.

The next day took us to Siena for a walking tour around the city, a tour around the magnificent Duomo, followed by a wonderful lunch in a local restaurant.  Having time to soak up the architecture, history and artifacts really enhanced the whole experience.  This was once more followed by a more local concert in the Montecatini Terme (pictured left).  I am happy to share that upon arrival to this venue, there were a lot of stunned faces, as the setting was simply out of this world. Marble columns, sculpted architecture, and such a prestigious music venue too – all of the Italian great composers, including Verdi and Puccini have written music there. We performed admirably, and St Bart’s musicians certainly rose to the occasion. We were very aptly supported by the staff too, who at one point encouraged the audience to wave their phone lights for the choir numbers which created a memorable pop-concert feel that I don’t think any of us will forget in a hurry.  We spent time after the concert exploring the beautiful grounds of the Terme, particularly as we felt trying to get the students to bed after the concert would be an understandably losing battle.

The third day took us to the Montecatini caves for something different.  Each group, with hard hats firmly in place, explored the stalagmites and stalactites followed by time for Italian style refreshments in the cafe and the grounds. From here, we left for Pisa where we explored the Baptistry, the tower surroundings and even found time for a little shopping, before moving on to Luca for our evening meal and final concert.

The last concert, in the Church of San Paolino (pictured top), had acoustics to die for and such amazing paintings and sculptures, it was quite incredible to perform within.  As we began to play our programme, visitors were drawn to listen and we even had to provide encores! The students supported each other admirably and once again did not want to leave at the end of the evening.

On the final day, we changed our original plans and the staff kindly arranged for everyone to enjoy 122 pizzas in local restaurants after having had time to explore the local town. Many smiles and full tummies later (the pizzas were enormous) we returned to the hotel, packed the coaches and left for home. If you would like to see more- photos of our adventures, please take a moment to see the new Music department Instagram page: stbartsmusic.  A huge thank you to the staff for giving up so much of their time to support this venture. An enormous thank you to the students for being so amazing – everywhere we went they were complimented upon how lovely and well-behaved they were. Good luck to our school leavers with your future music making and life ventures. For now, we look to our next music activities in the Autumn Term – after a lovely summer break that is! Arrivederci

Mrs Robertson