The hotel we are staying in dates back to the 1500's, was the residence of a wealthy land baron and through the years has always been used for hosting people. It's very imposing, grand, ornate and at times uncomfortable, but the staff is good and they bring a lovely tray of caffe, yoghurts, blood orange juice and croissants to the room every morning. What the hotel doesn't have is a gym, so I met our road manager Tim Hook and Emmylou in the lobby at 10 and we all marched off to the Fitness First Centre, six or seven blocks away. A mega gym that seems to be owned by the Phillips Corporation, with anything you could possibly want and a loads of it. It's always tricky getting used to different facilities and equipment, it still takes me a minute to do the math conversion from pounds to kilos. Most hotels that don't have their own gym usually do a tie in with one nearby for guests to use gratis. Not the case here, so after 90 minutes I left the Fitness First Centre 16 Euros and a couple of pounds lighter. Walked back to the hotel and devoured everything left on my breakfast tray! Fully intended to get a shower and find a quiet cafe for some coffee and lunch. Laid down to read a few pages of the Alec Guinness bio, fell asleep until past 4! A quick shower then down the the Arena di Verona for soundcheck and gig.
And what a gig it was. The Arena di Verona, one of the earliest surviving Roman amphitheatres. As early as the 1600s, Verona had elected a commitee for the preservation of the Arena. Opera, rock groups and theatre are all part of the entertainment that is presented in the Arena. We played several ancient amphitheatres on the Sailing To Philadelphia tour in 2001, but none on the Shangri-La tour and it was great to perform in that atmosphere again. Everybody enjoying themselves to no end and the view from the stage is spectacular. A really great show tonight on many levels, Mark and Emmy, the vibe, the band's performance etc. all came together for a special night for all who were in the Arena, especially us.
Our good friends, Marco and Francesca Caviglia, Valerio and Letizia Barbantini and Rudy Pensa are here with us in Verona as well as Tim Meyer and Steve Rayment. Tim, who was my guitar tech and Steve the road manager of last year's Shangri-La tour, are in town with Roger Waters who plays the arena tomorrow night. Also a surprise visit from Susi Russell our never to be equalled flight attendant from last year's tour. Great seeing old friends, lots of hugs and laughs all round. Day off in Verona tomorrow.