Thursday, June 21, 2012

A report from Assisi, then on to Siena

The morning after their concert at Assisi, the Market Square Singers returned there -- to bask in the smashing success of their Italian debut, no doubt  -- and did some sightseeing, too. We saw some pictures in yesterday's entry. This morning (it's almost 8:00 a.m. in Harrisburg on Thursday morning as I write this), Lee Gayman has provided another delightful narrative about what he and the other singers are seeing and doing:

Lee Gayman writes:

"This is my first European experience, so I'm learning much. Learning to use Euros is a fairly easy transition, except that Euro users carry many more coins than we do in the states. The difference in coins is subtle, both in size and appearance, and both 1 euro and 2 euro coins are commonplace. As near as I can tell, the other coins are 10, 20 and 50 cent coins.

"The Italians have been quite friendly, and I think many of the "being a foreigner" worries I came with have proven to be unfounded.

"Most of us have become quite fond of the Italian gelato (ice cream). It comes in a large assortment of flavors, and I've yet to try one I didn't enjoy! Dan Asmus has told me it is his intent to have at least one gelato daily, and I think I shall join him in that endeavor. We have an Italian guide, a very knowledgeable young man, Louigi, who says we must try local goat cheese dipped in honey. I'll keep an eye out for that.

"Agriculture is a big industry in Italy. There are acres and acres of olive groves and also fields of grains. Today I saw a grain combine harvesting wheat (I think) just like back home. The straw is baled into large, round bales, just like back home. We also passed a whole field of  blooming sunflowers. Apparently they make both olive oil and sunflower oil here. At tonight's dinner at a very nice restaurant with nine others of our group, I was served probably the best fresh cantaloupe I have ever eaten!

"Temps here are apparently higher than those you are experiencing back home. It was 97 yesterday and at least 100 today. We find ourselves buying lots of bottles of water to stay hydrated. The joy of being here is so great that even hot weather fails to deter it! This is such a wonderful experience!"

Readers, I hope you are feeling the delight that I am in knowing that Lee and the others are having such a marvelous experience.

Bob Miller, one of the non-singers traveling with the group, has provided two great photos from Assisi.

The Basilica of St. Francis by night. (RM)
The Market Square Singers in performance at Assisi. (RM)
Thank you, Bob and Lee, for sharing your experience with us.

Today the Market Square Singers are in Siena, a classic medieval hill town in Tuscany famous for its large fan-shaped piazza. Piazza del Campo is the heart of the town and is the home to the famous summer horse-race, known as Il Palio. Siena is one of Italy's prettiest medieval towns. Its peak was about 1260-1348, when it was one of Europe's wealthiest cities. Many of its buildings and art works originate from that time.

Siena is about 124 miles north of Rome and 37 miles south of Florence, near the center of the Tuscany region. Between it and Florence lies the Chianti wine region.

Siena (Internet)
After visiting the city today, the Singers head to Pistoia for a concert at 9:00 p.m. Here is a picture of the crowds waiting to buy tickets for the concert. (Well, darn it, they should be!)

"Stop pushing! I want to hear the Market Square Singers, too!" (Internet)



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