Post by Mary Awad, January 10, 2014
Today was one of the best days of my life. You must think I'm over exaggerating or joking. Or maybe I'm just trying to make this sound amazing to keep my readers (thanks for reading by the way). But you would be wrong because this genuinely was one of the best ever, and I am so excited to share this experience with you. So sit back and enjoy.
We started at the Vatican (good way to start an awesome day), and we spent most the morning and early afternoon there. We toured the grounds and saw St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. I actually lost my tour group because I was staring at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for too long. There's just something about it; you get lost in it. There's so much to look at and understand and digest. It can (quite literally) get you lost (I eventually found my tour, don't worry). You may think this was the best part, seeing some of the most famous art in the world and being unable to look away. But you'd be wrong. There's more. Much more.
After we got some free time and we were able to walk around, get food and see the country (since the Vatican is its own country after all). My friends and I got a big table in some restaurant, and we had awesome pasta and bread. Then we walked around and went in some shops and took pictures in front of the dome. Maybe that's the best part, having a great time with friends in a foreign, exciting place. Wrong again, ladies and gents. But it's coming, just be patient (look at me being all cool and creating suspense (it's a literary technique).
Then we were off to Faleria! On the bus to meet our friends in the local band. We actually met them at the Columbus Day Parade in NYC last October and Keith kept in touch with the conductor and they decided to host us for our second and final show. Yay for having connections! Anyway it was a forty minute bus ride until we arrived at the cutest little town. It was basically what you imagine of a little Italian village, cobblestone streets, small apartments stacked up on hills with flower boxes in the window. Faleria was beautiful and the people were wonderful.
And now prepare for the best part of the day which made this day one of the bests of my nineteen year old life.
We pull into the town square and the whole town is there. The band is lined up, the color guard is dancing, and all the village's children were waving American flags. How absolutely amazing is that! People, from a different country, had a wonderful welcome for us where they honor us and our country! We were all in shock. I was told to calm down so many times because I was screaming. We get off the bus and we are all taking pictures. They're cheering and Keith is talking to the mayor. I felt like I was in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics! Then the band started playing our national anthem. It's an amazing once in a life time experience, having people from another country play your national anthem for you. My adrenaline was pumping and two things were going through my mind: (1) this is amazing and it will probably never happen again, and I need to save this moment in my mind for the rest of my life and (2) we have to play the best we ever played in our lives. We have to rock it. We need to give these people a show! After all they are doing for us, the least we can do for them is leave everything on the stage and play like we never have before.
And we did.
We played in their church during a celebration for San Guiliano, the town's patron saint, and we killed it. We destroyed! Total domination over the music. We played ten times better than yesterday. It was great. They really liked it too. It was all perfect.
We walked with the candle lit procession through the town, another tradition during the feast. The square was lit up with beautiful lights as their band played. They even had fireworks! It was absolutely incredible! I felt Italian. I felt like dancing. I felt so many emotions all at once I didn't know what do to with them.
And then we were welcomed into one of the townspeople's homes for a reception. They fed us and we were able to mingle with each other and others in the town. The food was great! And they had homemade wine that was absolutely delicious!
And then we left. We said goodbye, got on the bus, and went back to the hotel. I'm sorry. I'm apologizing because I know I didn't explain it well enough. There's no way to explain anything like that. It's indescribable! We were able to have such an amazing experience and it's all thanks to music. Music really does bring us together and this whole experience in Italy shows it. It was absolutely wonderful, incredible, amazing and unique (I need to get more adjectives).
And we still have one more full day! Tomorrow it's off to Florence. What could be better! I've been there before and I absolutely adore that city! The fun never stops here apparently and I wish this trip would never end!
Thank you for everything Rome! Now it's off to Florence!
~Mary, blessed beyond belief, giddy with happiness and grateful for music, friends, and adventure
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