It’s choir trip time again! This year, we went to Italy and stayed in a lovely hotel in Verona, near to Lake Garda.
After a 28 hour coach journey and a 90 minute ferry, during which many films were watched and numerous service stations were visited, we arrived at out hotel on Saturday, and spent the afternoon by the hotel pool before a lovely buffet tea and a rehearsal.
On Sunday, we visited the Gardaland Theme Park which had many huge roller coasters, which none of my group were particularly interested in, as well as some entertaining Jungle Rapids, two log flumes, a pirate boat and more. After the theme park, we performed Faure’s Requiem in the lovely San Zeno Basillica, Verona.
I think Monday was the best day of the trip, despite the 2 1/2 hour drive plus boat to the wonderful city of Venice. We arrived about 11 AM and had a few hours of free time before we had to leave, so we headed straight for the gondola rides and managed to fit our group of 6 in one boat! We were very scared about the gondola tipping over but were reassured by our well-spoken gondolier that they are very hard to tip over. He took us to all of the landmarks in Venice, including St. Marks Cathedral, the Campanille (bell tower), the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and the Golden Island. The 45 minute ride was €20 each, but there is a 30 minutes one for €80 in total, so the more people there are, the cheaper it will be!
We found it so easy to get lost around all the alleyways and streets that looked so much alike, but we didn’t mind too much because every time we turned a corner we found another little shop to delve into and a new gellateria to discover. We stopped at a reasonably-priced restaurant overlooking the water for lunch and ordered some pizzas to share (because you can’t go to Italy and not order pizza, can you?!)
That night, we performed an outdoor concert beside Lake Garda, with a surprisingly large turnout for 9 PM on a Monday night.
On Tuesday we took a 3 hour drive to visit Milan. Before heading to the city centre, we stopped at the Santa Maria delle Grazie church to see the Last Supper fresco by Leonardo Da Vinci in the adjoining museum. It was bigger than I thought it’d be, as it took up almost the whole wall of the museum, and was surrounded by air locks to protect the painting from damage due to changes in the atmosphere or pollution.
We arrived in the main square of Milan, which houses the Duomo di Milano, or Milan Cathedral, and had four hours of free time to wander around the streets nearby. We immediately headed to the shopping centre, not only to get out of the rain, but to find somewhere for lunch that wasn’t asking for €80 for salmon pasta. However, when we saw not one, but two huge Prada stores opposite each other, we knew that would be tricky. We eventually found a restaurant our wallets liked, and despite being charged €4 each just to sit down and then being told that we had to order at least 4 pizzas for the 6 of us, it only ended up costing €15-18 per person.
We found many expensive boutiques, being Milan, but only had to walk a few streets away to get to more affordable shops, including a Disney store! There were at least three of every shop scattered down different streets. We had half an hour left, so we got some more ice cream (the lemon flavour is very good) and were kept entertained by observing the failed attempts of courtship behaviour between pigeons, who were nowhere near as timid around people as British pigeons.
On Wednesday, we had to load up the coaches with our suitcases before heading off for a morning in Verona, visiting the Casa di Giulietta to see the famous Juliet’s Balcony and statue. We also saw the Roman arena and visited the market stalls where we managed to buy pizza for lunch for just €3. This was followed by some more ice cream and yet another visit to a Disney Store. They had Star Wars towels on sale reduced from €15 to €12 but I didn’t buy one as I am still holding out for a better price.
At 2.30 PM, we set off for home, saying goodbye to one of the best choir trips ever. I recommend Italy to everyone, especially Venice, because everything was lovely and wonderful and I would definitely love to revisit in the future.
Have you ever been to Italy? Which was your favourite city?