© 2019 by Geoffrey Clarfileld.

OUT OF ITALY: FEASTING ON 1000 YEARS OF ITALIAN MUSIC IN 12 DAYS - OCTOBER 18-29, 2019

A Geoffrey's Journeys Tour

How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night, like softest music to attending ears.
Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

Come with me to Italy!

Italy gave birth to the classical music of Western Europe and ultimately North America. When we speak of the history and development of classical music, we are really speaking about the music of Italy, and in a sense those composers in northern Europe and the Americas who were later influenced by Italian classical music.  For example, Mozart, although a native German speaker, wrote Italian operas and so did German speaking Handel, who penned Italian style operas in London.

 

American musicals and even Broadway, have been influenced by Italian music. Frank Sinatra brought melodies from Calabria and mixed them with American Jazz. Pavarotti and Andre Bocelli are just the latest musical scions of a society which is possessed by unstoppable artistic creativity and whose Italian songs have conquered North American audiences.

 

Join me on a 12-day exploration of one thousand years of Italian music, from the Gregorian Chant of the early middle ages to the opera of the 19th century opera. We may not live in Italy, but Italian music lives in all of us.

 

Geoffrey Clarfield

 

INITIAL ITINERARY - October 18-29, 2019

DAY ONE - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2019

DEPARTURE FOR ITALY

Depart from home on an overnight flight to Rome, Italy.

DAY TWO - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2019

ROME OVERNIGHT: ROME

Upon arrival at Rome Fiumicino International Airport (FCO), you will be met and driven to our hotel. Be prepared to enjoy a welcome dinner at a Roman restaurant followed by a walking tour of the illuminated city.

DAY THREE - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2019

FROM PAGAN TO CHRISTIAN IN ANCIENT ROME

One of the most monumental historical and musical transformations occurred in Italy when the city of Rome, and the citizens of its empire, turned their back on paganism and embraced Christianity. Everything changed—relations between men and women, masters and slaves, rulers and ruled and so did the music.

Gregorian plain chant emerged in early Christian Rome. It drew on many musical sources from across the Mediterranean and the near east, but it was in Rome where it became the foundation of the music of the Catholic Church and ever so slowly, provided the basis for the entire range of Western Classical Music from the 8th century to the dawn of the 20th century.

 

We will, therefore, start our day in Rome in the ancient neighbourhood of Trastevere where we will enter the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Secilia. There we will hear Benedictine monks sing Gregorian Chants as part of their daily liturgy.

 

We will then walk to nearby Testaccio for a street food lunch and then visit the Coliseum, a pagan Roman amphitheatre built with the gold that the Romans seized when they destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; a place of Gladiators and the later persecution of Christian martyrs and, a symbol of Roman might and extravagance.

 

We will then hear the echoes of this bygone Pagan Roman extravagance when we enter what was once the pagan temple of Antonius and Faustina, erected in AD 141 later turned into the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda. Here, we will meet an Italian expert on the music of ancient Rome followed by a private concert of musicians who specialize in its recreation.

DAY FOUR - MONDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2019

TO ASSISI, BIRTHPLACE OF ST. FRANCIS

We will take a morning drive and stop for lunch at a local farmhouse. After checking into our accommodation downtown, we will tour this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the hometown of St. Francis, the man who renounced all his worldly possessions in order to devote his life to helping the poor. Then, we will attend the sacred music Pax Mundi Festival closing concert, held in the Basilica built in St. Francis’ honour.

The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi (St. Francis), the Franciscan monastery, Il Sacro Convento, and the lower and upper church (Italian: Basilica inferiore and Basilica superiore) were begun immediately after his canonization in 1228, and completed in 1253. The lower church has frescoes by the late-medieval artists Cimabue and Giotto. The upper church houses frescoes of scenes from the life of St. Francis previously ascribed to Giotto, but now thought to be by artists of the circle of Pietro Cavallini from Rome.

 

Saint Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in Catholic history.

 

He was also the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. In 1224, two years before his death, he embarked on a journey to Mount La Verna for a forty-day fast. One morning a six-winged angel reportedly appeared to Francis while he prayed. As the angel approached, Francis could see that the angel was crucified. When the angel departed, Francis was purportedly left with wounds in his hands, feet, and side as if caused by the same lance that pierced Christ’s side.

DAY FIVE - TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2019

TO FLORENCE - BIRTHPLACE OF THE RENAISSANCE; OVERNIGHT: FLORENCE

Once we arrive in Florence, the city of the Medici, we will set out on a walking tour of this birthplace of Italian Renaissance, and then enjoy a typical Tuscan lunch at a local trattoria. In the afternoon we will attend a private lecture on how pre-Renaissance and Renaissance music developed here in Florence and take the rest of the day at leisure.

As the art and architecture of Florence lives in the minds of all of us, there are a number of places to visit on foot. These include but are not limited to, Florence Cathedral, Giotto's Campanile, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Baptistery of St. John. Source, the Uffizi Palace and Gallery and the Basilica di San Lorenzo, or, you can wander and get lost in one of the most beautiful cities of Italy.

DAY SIX - WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2019

FLORENCE OVERNIGHT: FLORENCE

This morning you can marvel at Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze (Gallery of the Academy of Florence) and stroll through the Museum of Musical Instruments, which includes a collection of 50 remarkable pieces, including a one-of-a-kind tenor viola made by Antonio Stradivari in 1690.

 

After lunch at your leisure you can delve into the beauty of the Medici Chapels, masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and sculpture.  We will early evening t a local Florentine family for  a home-hosted dinner, followed by a private concert by a local Florentine music ensemble.

DAY SEVEN - THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2019

TO VENICE, HOME OF VIVALDI, COMPOSER OF THE BAROQUE MASTERPIECE, "THE FOUR SEASONS"

We will take a super-modern high speed train from Florence to Venice, a city known as "La Dominante", "La Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals". 

The city is a treasure trove of the arts and has a distinguished musical history. It is the birthplace Antonio Vivaldi whose Four Seasons has entered the pop culture of the 20th and 21st century.

 

We will take a private walking tour of the surrounding promenades and canals, and step into the iconic Basilica di San Marco. We will then enjoy a light lunch at a local wine bar serving cicchetti, small snacks unique to Venice, and then trace Vivaldi’s life in Venice, paying a visit to the Church of San Giovanni in Bragora. Then we will visit the Museum of Music. There will be short evening concert featuring the music of Vivaldi.

DAY EIGHT - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2019

VENICE OVERNIGHT

In the morning we will visit the Conservatory. We will meet with faculty to discuss admission standards for music programs. Next, we will talk to music students about their careers. After lunch we will visit the Jewish Ghetto, its Museum and old synagogues. This is the city where Salomone Rossi, Jewish Renaissance composer and colleague of Monteverdi, published his Songs of Solomon.

Though it was home to a large number of Jews, the population living in the Venetian Ghetto never assimilated to form a distinct, "Venetian Jewish" ethnicity. Four of the five synagogues were clearly divided according to ethnic identity: separate synagogues existed for the German (the Scuola Grande Tedesca), Italian (the Scuola Italiana), Spanish and Portuguese (the Scuola Spagnola), and Levantine Sephardi communities (The Scola Levantina). The fifth, the Scuola Canton, was built as a private synagogue for the four families, one of them the Fano family, who funded its construction and also served the Venetian Ashkenazi community.

DAY NINE - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2019

MILAN OVERNIGHT

The construction of the cathedral was commissioned by Bishop Antonio da Saluzzo in 1385. He was supported by the first duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, who envisioned the creation of the world's largest church. He gave access to his marble quarries, granted tax exemptions and invited architects from across Europe. Construction commenced in 1386, but the work dragged on for centuries! When the cathedral was consecrated in 1418, construction of the nave had only just started. Construction would continue until 1813, and final finishes were applied as late as in 1965.

 

In the afternoon we will meet a member of the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra and enjoy a private visit to the Teatro, including its museum and historical archives Most of Italy's greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world, have appeared at La Scala. The theatre is regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and is home to the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Theatre Ballet and La Scala Theatre Orchestra.

 

The theatre also has an associate school, known as the La Scala Theatre Academy (Italian: Accademia Teatro alla Scala), which offers professional training in music, dance, stage craft and stage management.

 

During this period of the counter reformation, when the Inquisition was at its height  Italians rebelled with Opera—all about love, death, betrayal and sex! Welcome to La Scala.

DAY TEN - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2019

PARMA; MILAN OVERNIGHT

Parma is a city in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its architecture, music, art, prosciutto (ham), cheese and surrounding countryside. It is home to the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world.

Parma's Etruscan name was adapted by Romans to describe the round shield called Parma.

 

We will drive to Parma, and embark on a guided walking tour of its city center with entrance to the amazing Duomo and Baptistry. We will lunch over a Parma ham selection tasting at a local trattoria. On our way back, we will stop at a Parmesan Cheese dairy, to learn about cheese making and taste different types of cured parmesan.

 

We will return to Milan in the evening for a concert of 19th century Italian music.

DAY ELEVEN - MONDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2019

MILAN OVERNIGHT

We will visit Toscanini’s and Puccini tombs at Milan’s Cemetery. A chain smoker of Toscano cigars and cigarettes, Puccini began to complain of chronic sore throats towards the end of 1923.

Puccini died in Brussels on 29 November 1924, aged 65. In the hyper emotional style of his life and art  news of his death reached Rome during a performance of La Bohème. The opera was immediately stopped, and the orchestra played Chopin's Funeral March for the stunned audience.

 

Puccini was buried in Milan, in Toscanini's family tomb, but that was only intended as a temporary measure. In 1926 his son arranged for the transfer of his father's remains to a specially created chapel inside the Puccini villa at Torre del Lago. After our visit to these sombre sepulchres, we will take in the inspiring views of Milan’s rooves, sipping a typical Martini aperitivo and enjoying a final afternoon at leisure before a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. 

DAY TWELVE - TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2019

DEPARTURE

Some may rise early and some may linger at the hotel until we all transfer to Milan Malpensa airport for the return flights home, having feasted on one thousand years of Italian music.

 

My Musical Journey

 

Although I have made my adult living as an applied anthropologist, from the age of 5-14 I studied classical singing at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. I was quickly inducted into the Children’s Chorus of the Canadian National Opera singing in operas like Carmen, Hansel and Gretel, La Boheme and Mozart’s Magic Flute. This led to a busy career on radio, TV and the stage culminating in an invitation to join British composer Lionel Bart’s famous musical Oliver when it reached Broadway.

 

Instead, I stayed in Canada, became interested in world music, and played the Turkish lute with Gypsy orchestras. Despite my ethnomusicological explorations I continue to listen to and follow the world of classical music and especially the music of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque. You can take the kid out of the conservatory but you cannot take the conservatory out of the kid! Join me on this musical journey!

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

Hotels have been chosen for their comfort and proximity to attractions in our itinerary. They are all exceptional 4-star properties offering the best amenities and service. 

Rome (2 overnights): 4-star Hotel Capo D’Africa (Superior Rooms – 260 sq.feet) 

Assisi (1 overnight): 4-star Giotto Hotel (Classic Rooms – 190 square feet) 

Florence (2 overnights): 4-star Gallery Hotel Art (Gallery Rooms – 240 square feet) 

Venice (2 overnights): 4-star NH Rio Novo (Superior Rooms – 215 square feet) 

Milan (3 overnights): 4-star NH Machiavelli (Superior XL Rooms – 240 square feet) 

 

PROGRAM RATE

$6,400 USD in shared accommodations 

$7,740 USD in single accommodations

*Program rate is based on a minimum of 8 travelers. 

 

INCLUSIONS

  • Escorted sightseeing and entrance fees for all included visits 

  • Enrichment program including specially arranged and private visits 

  • Ten nights hotel accommodations at 4-star properties in superior or classic rooms 

  • All road transportation in private luxury Mercedes VITO (or equivalent) mini-vans or comfortable mini-coaches with English speaking driver and water available at all times 

  • First Class local train tickets from Rome to Assisi and from Assisi to Florence 

  • Premium Class Frecciarossa high-speed train tickets from Florence to Venice and from Venice to Milan, 1 Vaporetto Card in Venice (48h) 

  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary with bottled water, coffee/tea, house wine/beer at dinners and most lunches, welcome and farewell receptions 

  • Airport/hotel group transfers for all participants traveling on trip start/end dates 

  • Full-time English-speaking Italian Tour Director 

  • ALL gratuities for full-time tour director, local guides and drivers 

  • Taxes, service charges, baggage handling 

 

NOT INCLUDED

  • International airfare

  • Passport/visa fees

  • Meals not specified

  • Alcoholic beverages other than wine/beer at lunch and dinner

  • Personal items and expenses

  • Airport transfers if arriving/departing on alternative days

  • Trip insurance

  • any item NOT mentioned in Inclusions

 

PAYMENT

$1,600 USD Non-refundable Deposit is due at time of reservation. 

 

Balance will be due by September 1, 2019.

For any further questions about the trip or deposit payment, please contact Geoffrey Clarfield.