Written by Donovan Jewell
I can’t believe this trip is over. Months of anticipation and excitement eventually culminated in the trip of a lifetime, and it was easily the best 9 days of my life. This whole trip was an absolute dream, and as I am sitting here on the bus home from Detroit after being up for almost 30 straight hours, I am exhausted, but I can’t help but reminisce about the past 9 days and the absolute wonder they brought.
First, the plane ride home. Holy cannoli, I don’t think I have ever been more stressed. After strategically pulling an all-nighter to minimize the effects of jet lag, the 60 or so Rockford Choir tourists stumbled on to our bus at 3:45 A.M. like a group of zombies bedecked in pajamas and yoga pants. Our amazing tour guide, Ambra (“Wakie wakie!”), said some words of farewell as we pulled into the Rome airport, and we mindlessly crawled through customs and boarded our flight to Frankfurt with plenty of time to spare. So far, so good. When we landed in Frankfurt, however, the airport had not yet set up the stairs to get out of the plane, so we had to wait for a little bit. By the time we all got off the plane, we had about 30 minutes to find our next gate, get through security, and board the plane.
The Rockford Touring Choir took off like the Olympic track team, dashing through the airport and pushing slow tourists out of our way. People were pulled aside for random security checks, further delaying our progress. I swear, we had to go through like 4 security checkpoints, and as the timer ticked down, our stress levels got higher. Tears were shed by many a choir student as we sprinted through the airport; I felt like we were the McAllister family in Home Alone. Miraculously, we were all able to board the plane on time, and have an overall pretty chill flight home.
That’s about all there is to today, so I would like to take this time to do a little recap of the entire trip, remembering my favorite moments from the trip.
I will never forget the first time we all saw the Duomo. I have never experienced a jaw drop quite like that one; my mouth just dropped open – I had no control over it. Also, a group of us got harassed by the infamous Bracelet Guy, who claimed that about 10 people from our choir looked like his sister as he tried to shove bracelets on their wrists and make them pay for them. #isurvivedthebraceletguy
Venice was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. I loved the atmosphere, and our first concert was super fun! One highlight moment was Rachel Cooper and Maddie Christians realizing they had on each other’s dresses seconds before the concert, resulting in a frantic quick change moments before we walked on.
Interruption of the Recap
Oh, guess what? Our bus just broke down and we are stranded at a gas station with a Burger King! Mr. Fix, our “multipurpose chaperone” (direct quote from Mrs. Scott) is attempting to fix our bus. However, it was just revealed that our bus has to be towed back to Rockford. 60 people are cramming into one bus in the beginning of a snowstorm, and are forced to leave our luggage behind and pick it up later. Mr. Scott is laying on the floor. Welcome to Michigan!!!!!! To eloquently quote sophomore Jessica Mottl, “We should have stayed in Italy.”
Resuming the Recap – Bologna
Bologna was a super fun city to roam around! Our tour was quite sketchy, as our earpieces didn’t work and nobody could hear what our tour guide was saying. My chaperone family, the self-proclaimed Finuccis (me, T-Bone, Kendrah, Mel, and Mrs. Rehwoldt), has a lot of fun exploring and finding a very quaint alley. We also saw some very bad breakdancers and got harassed by Peppa Pig.
Florence was a little scary in the best way possible. We saw 2 random Italians that looked EXACTLY like Matt Brown and Jack Fix. Also, the Finucci family and Mason Parker had the best lunch ever: we had giant T-Bone steaks (T-Bone’s first time eating a T-Bone steak) and other delicious entrees. Not only that, but the amazing Eric Liu delivered a stunning performance with some street performers. We also sang with the Florence Gospel Choir, and we had an amazing audience for that concert. We were also given a chocolate easter egg that was bigger than Danny Scott, and with it came perhaps my favorite photo of the entire trip.
This little Italian town captured everyone’s hearts. It was built on the side of the cliff and had the most incredible view of the Italian countryside. I had the opportunity to attend an Easter mass in this town, and it was quite the experience. I can’t decide whether everyone getting up at the same time and running to the front of the church to receive the Eucharist or the ominous organ recessional (it sounded like the beginning to Phantom of the Opera) was the strangest part of the mass. Overall, Orvieto was probably my favorite city, and I would gladly live there.
This was such a spectacular city. The Colosseum was spectacular, and singing Unclouded Day in the middle of those ruins will go down as one of my favorite memories of the trip. However, walking around St. Peter’s Basilica takes the cake for the best moment of the week. Everyone slowly wandered the enormous church with absolute reverence, and nobody could believe that the indescribable beauty of the architecture was actually crafted by human hands. The experience was truly enlightening and special. The next day, we toured the Vatican Museum, which made the crowds of Times Square seem like the crowd of a cute third-grade birthday party. There were way too many people there. I can proudly say that I survived the Vatican Museum.
This trip exceeded all of my expectations; I felt like I was living in a dream for the past 9 days. The beauty of Italy will remain with me for the rest of my life. Thank you to everyone who has supported the Rockford Choirs. Thank you to the Scotts and Mrs. Vande Wege for making this trip possible. Thank you to everyone on the trip who made the experience so enjoyable. It was truly a life-changing experience.