Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm Just Sayin'...

So, while I typically try and keep this blog light and entertaining, I'm going to go ahead and vent to the masses for a moment.

We had dress rehearsal for our final concert that's tomorrow in Lucca. The gala, if you will. And at this dress rehearsal I played 4 pieces for the first time with the singers. That would be fine if they were standard arias or lieder, but fear not. They weren't. Needless to say, it wasn't the best "dress rehearsal" and we're having another tomorrow morning. Who wouldn't want to do several dress rehearsals of a concert? I mean, really? I'm just sayin' that I think this could have been organized a little better. Maybe add some rehearsals with the singers to my schedule? Or start the music more than a week before the concert?

So...really, it's not such a big deal. Last week's concert experience went about the same except it was a thousand times more intense. And it came off fine. As will tomorrow's. Actually it will be more than fine, it will be exceptional. It's all in the attitude, right?

And that's all. Just a little bit of venting to diversify my blog. :)

This is me at a piano. Not an unusual sight. But this just happens to be the same piano on which Madame Butterfly was composed. Puccini anyone? Basically, if you're not a music nerd this means absolutely nothing. But it's going to be in a frame on my wall when I get home. Next to the massive Madame Butterfly poster I bought and Puccini's picture. Call it a shrine if you will.

This picture was taken last Friday night in Celle de Puccini, the summer residence of the Puccini family. I Solisti, the group of singers I play for gave an evening concert out in the gardens and it was absolutely beautiful. And really just one of those "how cool is my life" moments. How many people get to give a concert, singing/playing Puccini arias in the exact place where many of them were written?

As if things couldn't be any better, the concert was followed by an amazing home-cooked Italian meal that took 3 hours to eat!!! Loved it! We had two rounds of appetizers, then two different pasta courses followed by a main course of roast and potatoes and topped off with some amazing sweets---a lemon tart type of dessert and another that was layers of chocolate mousse in a tart. Big fan. Not only was the food an amazing cultural experience, but I also happened to sit at the end of a table with two of the native Italian speakers and ended up speaking Italian for most of the 3 hours! If you can think of a better way to spend an evening in Italy, let me know, because this seemed pretty much ideal---the complete cultural package!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

On Nutella

I'm going to go ahead and say that Nutella should be the 6th of the 5 food groups. I'm pretty sure it can hold its own against the others. What are grains, vegetables, or meat when considered next to the sweetness of such an amazing spread? The importance of proteins pales in comparison to the necessity of Nutella. I could envision a whole day in which Nutella played a significant role in each meal. Good thing I have a bike...

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

By Request: Cinque Terre

This post is officially dedicated to those of you who noticed the recent "pausa." Here are some more of my profound writings. :)

Based on several of my rose-tinted blogs, you might think that my life in Europe is perfect. And 99.9% of the time, it is. Saturday was an ideal illustration of absolute perfection! I woke up early so that I could catch an 8:30 bus to Cinque Terre, which consists of 5 small towns along the Ligurian Sea that are connected by a hiking trail. A group of my friends from the Lucca program decided to take on the 5-hour hike between the cities, and it was one of the best things I've done in Italy!

The first stretch from Monterrosso to Vernazza and the second, from Vernazza to Corniglia, were by far the most difficult. The weather was gorgeous--around 85 degrees with a nice ocean breeze and every other step there was another "postcard-perfect" view . We took some downtime in Vernazza and my friend Christy and I took a dip in the ocean as a refresher for the next hike. Needless to say, it was fantastic. We were in a small, cove-like area that opens up to the city and it officially qualified as a surreal moment.

We stopped for lunch in Corniglia and I treated myself to a Caprese focaccia, a little ravioli, and OF COURSE, gelato. Excellent all the way around. I have absolutely no complaints about my eating experiences in Italy. Not that I typically have complaints against eating, but...

One of the highlights of the hike for me was our second ocean swim. Just before we reached the 4th town, Manarola, we stopped to cool off in the ocean. To get down to the rocks---no beach, just free-stylin' it like the natives---you had to climb down a long set of stairs that ended with a rope that helped you get down to the rocks. And by rocks I mean massive boulders. We spent about an hour just soaking in the sun and swimming in the Ligurian Sea. I don't often find that I'm a "carefree" individual, but that makes carefree moments all the more worthwhile. Our rock/beach stop, and actually most of our Cinque Terre experience, I had not a care in the world.

Insomma, Cinque Terre era bellissimo. Good company, great food, fantastic scenery, perfect weather, and hiking! And then add the fact that they're all in Italy. Could there be a better combination?

Cinque Terre Weekend
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