First, let me apologize for the delay in posting the last couple of days' web pages. I had been warned that Internet access from Europe could be somewhat flaky, and I was in fact unable to connect to the Florence dial-in number from my hotel in Montecatini Terme. Oh, well, since you're seeing this page somewhat on time, it means that I have successfully connected from Venice.
This morning after we checked out of our hotels in Montecatini Terme we rode in the buses to Florence again, this time to participate in High Mass at noon at the church of Santa Maria del Fiore, pictured above in the afternoon sun. Mass was held in a chapel to the side of the main altar; we sang an introit, an offertory, and two anthems during communion. The service was, of course, in Italian, but the priest delivering the homily summarized its main focus for us in English at the end, quoting Zechariah 9:9 concerning the humility with which Christ came to us, and with which we should come to Him.
We had almost no time to prepare, as they had service right after service and we couldn't get in until about five minutes before noon; we formed up during the prelude (played by their regular organist) and just waded right in with Cantate Domino. I might point out that our accompanist, MBCC organist Lee Lasseter, did a fine job of setting and playing the unfamiliar organ with zero time to experiment beforehand! We had been scheduled to sing informally for 20-30 minutes after the Mass, but since we needed to warm up anyway we sang on the front steps beforehand instead. This photo (taken by Nick Gonzales using my camera--thanks!) shows us just before we started, and gathered a pretty good crowd of passersby; the scale indicates how we were dwarfed by the enormous structure, but I think we gave a pretty good account of ourselves, both before and during Mass. The reverberations inside after the last note of Non Nobis Domine were thrilling!
While we were warming up, some of the "band wives" (actually, mostly husbands) scattered to do some more sightseeing and shopping; I wish I had a photo to post of Judy Hatlie, who apparently made quite an entrance when she returned with JC Edwards from the shop wearing her new leather coat and skirt! Then after Mass we had another hour or so to get lunch and have one last chance to sightsee and shop; I ended up buying an appropriate souvenir for myself. No, not a mousepad, though there were plenty of those available in the stands--a CD-ROM virtual multilingual tour of the city. Then we got on the buses for the drive (about four hours) to Venice.
Actually, we didn't take the buses all the way to our hotel in Venice; it is not possible to get cars and trucks into the canal-laced city, and indeed in Venice I didn't even see any of the hordes of scooters that threaded the Roman and Florentine streets and alleys. Instead, we loaded our luggage onto a barge (shown above, about to capsize under the load!) and walked to the hotel while it took the heavy stuff along the canals. Actually we had expected to take a "Vaporetto", or water taxi, to the hotel ourselves, but we had trouble making the connection and most of us ended up walking the relatively short distance.
I say "relatively" short because we have been doing a lot of walking lately; tomorrow we will have most of the day to walk around Venice. I have tried to keep this website "upbeat", and indeed we have had a lot of enjoyable experiences, but I have to report that some people are having trouble with all the heat and trekking. I'm lucky in that I grew up in Missouri, where 90/90 days (90 plus degrees and 90 plus percent humidity) are routine, but a significant number of us are suffering difficulties ranging from heat rash to heat exhaustion. Some of us also have scratchy throats (or more), perhaps due to having the cold blast from the room air conditioners on us all night because otherwise it gets so hot many folks can't sleep. Well, we don't have to sing again until Thursday, and we have our first chance in awhile to turn in relatively early tonight (not that I expect many in this crowd to take advantage of it!), so we should have a chance to recover.
new 4 July 1999, updated 13 July 1999