Amazingly, I was awake by 9 this morning feeling better than I had any right to, having just gone to sleep a few hours before. I read for a while, ordered up an espresso and croissant and got myself out into this beautiful city of Verona. We are staying in a hotel that's centrally located to the old cathedrals, hip shops, open air markets and a hundred little sidewalk cafes with umbrellas, caffe and very delicious food. I wandered around for a couple of hours taking in the sights and sounds, shoe shops, sausage and cheese markets, wine stores and even a cool dress shop with the unlikely name of Nashville. I stopped in The Cathedral of Verona for a while and simply enjoyed sitting in the silence and beautiful surroundings. The cathedral was begun in 362 A.D. and has gone through many re-constructions and additions, a major renovation taking place between the 15th and 16th centuries. I always enjoy entering these places of worship for their aesthetics, cool, dark and quiet.
The above paragraph represents the sane part of today. Everything that followed was complete madness. We flew into Naples late in the afternoon and were greeted by 6 Mercedes and a police escort to take us through a city that was gridlocked with traffic. Traffic is always congested and the drivers insane, coupled with the end of the day and the all the people going to the Festivalbar, which is the event we were playing. I don't think I can describe the half hour that followed. Polizi on motorbikes with sirens blaring, trying to clear a tiny path in the congestion for the fleet of Mercs to tear through, which they did at 80 mph or more, then slamming on their brakes at the last minute. They didn't keep any distance between vehicles for fear of some other car sneaking in. Matt described it best, saying it felt like he was in Grand Theft Auto. Harrowing. We were deposited at the large piazza in Naples where the event was taking place. A live outdoor music show with many bands, mostly Italian but a few national artists as well, and 150,000+ fans. The festival travels to different host cities in Italy through the summer, taped and shown on TV. We did a quick run through on stage for the cameras with Emmy and Mark singing live to the studio track and us up there miming what we'd played on the record. From there it was off to the Hotel Grand Parker's, which was anything but grand, for an hour and a half trying to luxuriate but failing. As it was Napoli we were all desperate for pizza and since we didn't have enough time to go out and eat, pizza was ordered in to the hotel, about 20 of them. The lot of us gathered in Paul Crockford's room, sitting on the bed, floor, standing around anywhere you could find a space and inhaled these delicious things. Very thin crust of beautiful tasting dough, fresh and tangy pomodoro sauce and lovely mozzarella. Some were topped with mushrooms, ham, anchovies etc. and others were simply plain. Everybody's diets went out the window and we couldn't stop shovelling this stuff in. Brilliant.
As we were about to burst from all this pizza, it was time to go back to Festivalbar. When we arrived we were ushered through what seemed to be a large government building on the plaza, room after room of make-up people, other bands wandering around, tables of food being catered for the event, cameramen, paparazzi and hangers on. The focus was young rock bands and though I only heard a few of them, they were very generic. Still, I wondered what in the world we were doing there and how the song This Is Us was ever going to fit. Well, it doesn't matter. We took the stage when it was our turn, mimed the song while Mark and Emmy sang it live, got off the stage and back into the Mercedes fleet for another insane ride to the airport. All the while I'm thinking that when I get on that plane I am going to have the world's largest and coldest gin and tonic with loads of fresh squeezed lime. The stewardesses had failed to get any ice for the plane! No mixed drinks and even the bottled and canned beverages were warm. I know I go on a bit about the luxury aspect of this tour and I don't want to convey the impression that we throw tantrums, but c'mon, ice is a basic.
We arrived back at our hotel in Verona a little past midnight. It was a very late night last night and a long day today. Very tempting to finally get that large g&t here at the bar, but opted to have a quiet and early night of it. We fly to Zurich tomorrow afternoon for a real show in the evening and I'm really looking forward to getting in front of our audience again.