Off and running for a Thursday. It is now early Friday morning and I am heading for bed. Today was jammed packed with walking and rehearsals.

The Pantheon Performance
Our tour of Rome began around 9.30 am with our tour guide Angela. We started at the Trevi fountain and what I remember of this time at the Trevi was the lack of people at 9.30 in the morning. One could actually get to the fountain. The last time I was there was in ’92 it was crowded and hot and muggy and the kids weren’t interested. Today there were few tourists and our kids were delighted to hang there, taking pictures and stuff.

We continued past the parliament building where there was a group chanting something. I was told that protests in front of the building was a common occurrence. From there we went to the Pantheon building, and ancient relic to the gods of Rome. Like most pagan buildings, it was turned into a church…go figure. But it was in this building with it’s tourists that we did our magic. The group got together and sang two impromptu songs to the applause of those in the building. It was pretty cool to see S.I. kids singing to entertain the masses. I hope we do more of this kind of impromptu singing. Maybe tomorrow (Friday) when we visit the Jesuit churches and Ignatius’ rooms at the Curia.

We then walked to the Piazza Navona for lunch and to check out St. Agnes church where the first formal concert will be held Friday nit. By the way posters announcing the groups performances were on a number of street corners and in churches. It was cool to see the “St Ignatius Chamber Singers” faces on these posters. A lot of Piazzas and a lot of pizzas filled out the first part of the day. We are staying away from chain stores for food and sampling the local cuisine.

After lunch we hopped on the bus to be driven out into the boondocks so that all 4 choirs could rehearse. I still don’t know where we were but I’m guessing it was a retreat house with a huge modern church overshadowing a smaller Sanctuary of Our Lady of Divine Love built around the 13th century. It evidently is a place for miracles.
The kids rehearsed for about 4 hours in the auditorium underneath the new church. Since it was out in the middle of nowhere, I didn’t have places to go and things to see. There was a shop that sold drinks and pizza on the grounds so I spent some time hanging out there while the choirs learned how to sing with one another. One side item, I set off the alarm when I walked up on the altar to get a closer look. Damn Americans, they think they can go anywhere.

There are 4 choirs, Loyola-Marymount from L.A., a Christian (Monte Vista) school from Watsonville, a choir group from Australia and us. I would guess there are about 200 in the entire group. By the end of the session they sounded great. They should blow the lid off St. Peter’s on Saturday night.

Tonite for something completely different we went far out from the city into the mountains to have dinner at a farm. From across the valley and a lake below is Castle Gondolfo, the Pope’s summer palace. I didn’t know it was so close to the Eternal City. From my vantage point of the place on a far hill I thought it odd that the Pope to get away from the heat of Rome would go to place who’s view is of Rome in the far distance and the dome of St. Peter’s where he lives. Wouldn’t you want to get far far away for a vacation? But I digress. We cranked up “Volare” on the bus ride to the farm.

Anyway the dinner for all of us consisted of 5 courses all grown or baked at the farm. It was so healthy that I think my body will react to it. Three of the four groups sang for their supper. It was nice.

Tomorrow it is the Ignatian tour in Rome followed by lunch and another marathon rehearsal for Saturday. Tomorrow nit two choirs will sing at St Agnes, us and Monte Vista. We will sing separately and dazzle the throngs.