After an exhilarating night at St. Francis in Assisi, it was back to an early wakeup so we could load all our luggage and start out on the way to Rome!
We stopped along the way for an early lunch at a highway rest stop. Now, in U.S. terms, that would not sound like a positive thing. Over here the restaurant/convenient store/deli counter stretches over the highway and has all the great food you could want. My students got paninis, pasta, salads and all other sorts of lunches. I ended up getting farfalle (butterfly noodles) with pancetta cream sauce, and a fruit tart. Not quite like stopping at Caseys on the way to the Branson, but it will have to do!
Today we were scheduled to sing at the Rome International School. Since they are limited on space and we have so many people, we let the bus full of non-chaperone adults skip this concert and head right to downtown Rome for some sightseeing and free time. We wouldn't meet up with them again until after dinner. I don't have any idea what the actually did, so you'll have to ask them.
We arrived at the school and found there is pretty heavy security. At the entrance was an officer from Interpol. It turns our there are many children of foreign diplomats and very important Italian people attending there. The grandchildren of the Fiat people are students at RIS (I found out later that the school needed copies of all our passports a month ago to do background checks).
When we walked into the school, they took us right down to the cafeteria and gave us a snack of little sandwiches and juice boxes. I couldn't imagine eating an hour after a big lunch, but they are teenagers and it was free food, so they chowed down. Soon after, they sent several students to escort us to the gym, where we laid down our stuff and started mixing with them. They had given their 12th and 13th grade kids (the equivalent of juniors and seniors) the option of staying in class or coming to meet us. It turns out that getting out of class for any reason is a universal teenage desire, so very quickly there were 50 RIS kids with us in the gym. At first it looked like a seventh grade dance where all the kids stand in their cliques and stare at each other, but after about five minutes, everyone was intermingled and talking and laughing. It turns out that the entire school is an International Baccalaureate School, so our IB kids definitely had some things in common. The curriculum is taught almost all in English and there are 70 countries represented at the school. After about 20 minutes Mixing, we needed to go the auditorium to get the logistics for the concert. It was a small stage so we piled in as best we could. Then the entire room of about 250 seats filled up with kids from middle school to high school. I have been saying very little at our other concerts, because I only have a few Italian phrases that I got from our wonderful tour director Lisa. Things like "Welcome to our concert", "We're so happy to be in Italy", Our next song is" and "We have one more song for you". Since this school teaches in English, I had much more opportunity to tell them about our songs. There was a nice interaction and our kids sang really well in a very hot room. We were received very well and it was a wonderful overall experience. When we were done we grabbed our stuff and tried to leave quickly so we could have some time to go see the Trevi Fountain
(we all threw our coins in and got pictures), The Pantheon
(an amazing round Roman temple built by Hadrian in 113 AD that is still more sturdy than my 10 year old house!) and have small amount of free time to get a gelato (this seems to be the most important part of any day!)
We met back up and walked about ten minutes to our restaurant which is called "Opera". It it the same place we ate 6 years ago, so I could honestly say "I eat here every time I come to Rome".
After dinner we went and checked in to our very swanky hotel. Unfortunately, our wonderful coach drivers had to leave us tonight and we're getting new ones tomorrow. So we gave them our traditional bus driver gift, an SME Lancer Soccer Scarf. Soccer scarves are extremely popular in Europe and the old Columbia Blue, Black and White always goes over big!
We dropped our bags in our rooms and came back down for a meeting to discuss our Roman adventures tomorrow. Then it was off to the rooms for bed checks and hopefully a good night's sleep.
My turn now!