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March 3, 2010 > More than a Roman Holiday (Part II)

More than a Roman Holiday (Part II)

High schoolers sing at the Vatican on New Year's Day

By Praveena Raman
Photos By Ron Fong, Rich Henderson, David Cao and Mekala Raman

Recently Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) Band, Orchestra and Chorale had the privilege of touring Italy and participating by invitation in the American Bands in Rome and Frascati festivals. The Chorale students on their maiden tour abroad had the honor of performing together with orchestra at the Vatican on New Year's Day. Besides Rome, Vatican and Frascati they also visited Naples, Pompeii and Florence. This is Part II of the narrative of this adventure (Part I can be found in TCV Feb 24, 2010).


Frascati and Castel Gandolfo (sightseeing and performance):

Our first invitational event was the Frascati Street Festival on December 30, the fourth day of our trip. Frascati, an Italian town, is located on the Alban Hills in the province of Rome. On the way we stopped at Castel Gandolfo the summer residence of the Pope. Overlooking Lake Albano also known as Lake Castel Gandolfo, this beautiful resort town has cobbled streets lined with shops, selling mosaic artifacts, gelatos, sandwiches and tourist souvenirs, leading to the entrance of the castle.

We arrived in Frascati at noon where the initial hour was spent exploring the town, an important historic and artistic center famous for its white wine. The directors Monica Kraft and Anne Riley together with the chaperones were honored by the mayor and gifts exchanged. We were then treated by the community to a traditional Italian lunch followed by delicious freshly baked cookies. After lunch some of us parked ourselves on the steps of the Cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo in the first piazza, sipping the rich Ciocolata Calda, waiting for the parade to begin. Soon the Frascati town band appeared followed by the MSJHS band in crisp white and green uniforms, marching shoulder-to-shoulder up the narrow alley and then marching in place in front of the Cathedral and playing the different Christmas songs. The band then moved on to the next piazza while the chorale and orchestra students and parents got ready to perform at the evening concert attended by the mayor and local people from Frascati. After the concert the exhausted group piled into the coaches and drove back to Rome to have dinner at the Gladiator which had views of the Colosseum.


Naples, Pompeii and New Year's Eve:

The day after Frascati the group left early for a day's trip to Naples and Pompeii. Arriving at Naples, after a three hour drive, we were taken on a guided tour of the Naples National Archaeological Museum which houses many artifacts from Pompeii. It was a wonderful start to an educational visit one that we would recommend to anyone visiting Pompeii. In the museum we saw beautiful frescos with mosaic tiles, marble sculptures, medical instruments, in use even today, cooking utensils and a model of excavated Pompeii. Finally we made our way into Pompeii and toured the excavated part. There we walked on cobble stone roads and saw an amphitheater, houses and shops with marble and mosaic tile artwork, pizza ovens, stoves, and baths all preserved by the ash that had covered it with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. We also saw the use of stepping stones in Pompeii, for people to cross the streets without getting their clothes wet and running water for drinking.

From Pompeii we went back to the hotel where everyone got ready for a New Year Eve's dinner. The dinner consisted of appetizers followed by a 7 course meal that started at 8:30 p.m. and ended at midnight. Just before the clock struck the dawn of the New Year, champagne was poured and after toasting the New Year everyone went on the terrace to see the fireworks from the Vatican and other parts of Rome. Finally after some delicious desserts and photographs we dragged ourselves to bed to rest before the New Year performance at Rome and the Vatican.

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