Up early for our first full day in Venice. The hotel the group stayed at was very nice in a good way. Jet-lag wake up at odd hours. One lad woke up thinking it was time to get up, jumped out of bed, took a shower and got dressed before he looked at the clock. It was only 11 p.m. He’d been asleep an hour. Such is the craziness of long air flights. You probably have your own jet-laggy stories. Breakfast was good and surprisingly everyone was on time.
Time for the Venetian walking tour. Humidity was high but not oppressive. Arriving by ferry to our meeting point with our morning guide, Mateo, we needed to drop the formal performance clothes + recording equipment and music on the other side of the city about a half hour walk away. Over bridges, down alley ways and around corners with a quick €1.50 stop at the W.C. before we made it to our “pocket church” (San Giovanni Elemosinario) dating back 500 years or so. They’re churches all over the place. Once that chore was done, then we began our walking tour with a visit to our first Ignatian site, Santa Maria della Salute, a church promised to honor the Virgin if she would save Venice from the plague in the 1600s. Although the real estate it sits on is pretty eye-catching it isn’t a Jesuit church. You can see it from St. Mark’s square on the other side of the lagoon. The reason we stopped there was to give me a chance to recount the story of Ignatius, who was waiting for a boat to take him to the Holy Land. He worked as an orderly at the hospital that used to be on the same spot on which the church now sits. Once done we made our way via water bus to St. Mark’s Square and the thousands of our close personal friends from all over the world. All along the way, Mateo was giving us story after story of what happened in this and that building we passed.
We visited the Doges palace and jail complex connected, ironically, by the Bridge of Sighs a romantic name for a passageway that took prisoners from the courtroom to their cells, awaiting execution. It is amazing to imagine what Venice was like when it was one of the biggest sea powers in the area. The highlight of the day, besides the free concert in the Church of San Giovanni Elemosinario was of course, singing in the Basilica of St. Mark in, yes you guessed it, St. Mark’s square. It’s always good to ask and we did, although our guide said that the answer would be no we couldn’t sing and no we wouldn’t be able to take pictures. Well golly gee, we did and we did. People streaming past on tours of the old church just stopped in their tracks and listened to our kids. By the third song the long line to get into St. Mark’s had stopped completely so we were kindly asked if we could end right there with the third song. The applause was terrific…it was a great experience to sing in the ancient church…woo-woo.
The concert in the late afternoon was splendid at San Giovanni. The kids started in the street out side the church and drummed up an audience for the free gig. It worked. A French couple came up to me for Chad’s email address and while chatting the wife said she got chills on her arms listening to our kids. Quite frankly, so did I.
I know I am behind a couple of days so I will post Day 3 in an hour or so today so we can all be on the same page…This ends with boarding the Paris night train in Venice for the 14 hour trip to the city of lights. Oh, and one more thing, pictures will be appearing soon on Flickr and Facebook…if and when I can get a fast connection…
and so we sing…