|Italia Winter 08|
I began this blog in Cuneo – Writing as we wrap our Italian trip. . . and begin Belgium. . . Enjoy!
As I type this evening, the snow is falling rapidly and gently all around us. We are in rural Italy in a village tucked in the mountains an hour west of the Mediterranean Sea. This is only our second gig, but our fourth day of travel. . . so I will begin with the journey from the beginning. . .
Chad and I drove to Houston, hitched a ride to the airport and hit the skies on Wed afternoon CST. . . We discovered in Houston that our lovely friend (and badass musician), John Pointer was on the same flight and we hopped the pond . .
Well, Air France did not take into account that our arrival time and departure times from Paris were 35 min apart. . . and required passport checking and re-entering a security area (different terminals? BRILLIANT) so we missed our plane to Milan. AAAAANNNND. . . subsequently did not get there in time to get to our first gig in Parma. SO SORRY PARMA!
The Road to Albenga
We made arrangements from Paris, thanks to the help of the amazing Ginger Leigh – who is not only a great performer and singer, but a fluent Italian speaker as well. She made calls to Parma with apologies. We made it to Milan and rented a car. Our very first international rental EEK!!!!!! It is a big car for Italy, but for 3 musicians traveling lightly it is still quite a cramp. We traveled to Albenga, where we were going to play the following night. We got to the city, found the festival (thanks to John’s Italian) and napped backstage until we could get to a hotel. Man! Were we tired. I guess we were up about 38 hours before we got to a bed. WHEW!
Amazing Italian lunch followed by International Songwriters in the Round
The following morning we awoke and met our host, Davide, and the cast of performers from the festival the previous evening for lunch. We had a beautiful Mediterranean lunch complete with all kinds of treasures from the Sea, red wine, sparkling water and afterward a songswap around the table over espresso! We got to share songs from Jack Harris from Wales,Gustav Haggren from Sweden, and Andrea Parodi from Italy.
Our Festival show in Albenga was a BLAST! John & Ginger Joined us on stage for a few songs! Eventually we will have some video. The venue was a large theater in the OLD city center – 300 seats and big heavy curtains the works. classy and fun!
Cuneo, Carlos & Condorito, AKA Enchilladas in Italy???
The next day, we were off to the Alps to play a show in rural Cuneo, sorta near France. Chad and I had our first adventure driving in Italy without a translator! Luckily we only had to ask directions once and we were less than 100 meters away from the venue. Condorito was AWESOME! Carlos, the proprietor was awesome! We arrived at the beginning of a snowstorm which lasted through our whole gig. The building was awesome. The bottom, underground floor was the home of Carlos’ parents. The 2nd story was his mother’s spa (we used the sauna and steam shower the next morning ya!!) and the 3rd story was the venue- A beautiful space for dining and entertainment. They cook thematic meals for the audience that correspond geographically with the artists’ origins. We got “Enchillada Night” Ha! Carlos said, for a NZ songwriter who wrote a vegetarian cookbook, they made vegetarian, for us Tex-Mex and for Sweedish performers, they make Italian. . . I guess Sweedish cooking is not that great- maybe that’s the answer to the mystery of the Sweedish Chef on The Muppetts??? I DIGRESS. . . The gig was fun. The venue was charming and the snow was just awesome. The sauna was a welcome reprise.
Viaregio, 10 million dollar yachts, parties & RAIN! on the sea .
We then left for a trip back to the sea. . This time on the OTHER side of the Mediterranean in a village called Viareggio. . . Apparently this week Italy is seeing record breaking weather in the North (where we are). Beautiful Venice is flooding, The mountains are getting more snow in one dump than in 10 years. . . The rain is sideways and filling up every available crevice. . . so, we arrived in Viareggio for our impromptu gig. We met Ginger and Jane on the fancy pants yacht on which they were staying and dodged the rain to get to the venue. Viareggio had dozens of really amazing fancy yachts and apparently there’s a whole yacht crew culture of the captains and engineers and household managers of the big boats. So, there was a birthday party that began at 2pm who were waiting for us at the pub when we showed up for our gig. Lots of seamen from all over the world partying at the highest frequency. We played an impromptu show at the pub and then again later at the yacht, Elena. . . till about 4am. Yawn. .
The next morning we were a bit slow to get going, but we had to drive 5 hours north to Bolzano. A GORGEOUS city nestled in the Alps near Austria and Switzerland. The culture there is half Italian, half German meaning that you can get a great gnocci or penne pasta dish or a kickass schnitzel or goulash. The drive was a bit perilous as the Italians drive at all speeds no matter what the weather. We made it in time to hurry to sound check at Carombolage, a beautiful black box theater in the center of this exquisite city. The show was totally AWESOME! Ginger was amazing and our show was pretty sweet! The ciy looked like a christmas village- the ones you assemble in your living room complete with mountains oversized lamps, vegetable, meat and cheese stands under the snow, a gorgeous tile roofed cathedral surrounded by cute people ambling about. . . truly picturesque. We had the best meals at this great restaurant, Nadaba. YA!!!!
After lunch we retired to the beautiful Sheraton (thanks to Phil) for a day of rest and work.
Last Stop, Milano
The next morning, we departed for Milan. Driving through the Alps southward was like driving through the sky. The clouds hugged and draped the mountainsides and all of the earth was covered in vineyards covered again with a blanket of snow as far as the eye could see. Around every corner when we thought we were in the tallest mountains, we would gaze one way or another and see another bigger, more majestic one peeking between and behind the ones in the foreground. breathtaking!
We landed in Milano and took a nap in Phil, Ginger & Jane’s room and were then off to the Nidaba Theater. A cute little pub tucked in a bustling neighborhood. Ginger and I had played here on our last show last tour. We were greeted warmly by the proprietor Max and finished our last bottle of Barbara wine from Asti. It was a gift from the folks in Bolzano. YUMMY! Then the show was on! We had a great time, but man was my body and voice tired. . . and Chad and I were sitting on the front end of an all nighter that would find us in Belgium the next morning. . . We began driving to the airport to drop our rental, get gas (we had to find a station and put bills in the pumps till it was filled up. . . strange!) find out how to get to the other terminal. . . and get our guitar properly checked and accounted for (every bag over 1/person costs $23 to check on these flights) and get checked in at 4:30am. EEK!
Needless to say, we arrived in Belgium totally exhausted.