Rome, Italy 12 November, 2011
A record breaking day, the longest of this or any other tour.
It began at 10 o'clock in Firenze with a pot of coffee and another visit to the fab gym at The Four Seasons. Apart from the coffee, I'd not eaten anything since dinner at last night's show and by the time I'd finished my work I was pretty hungry. Still, there was only time to have a shower and get ready to leave. One thing you can count on when staying at a palatial hotel like this is an equally royal bill for incidentals. Over the course of the two days, we'd all bought a round or two at the very comfortable and seductive lounge/bar. My bill on check out came to just under $200.00! The only thing that made me feel better was knowing everybody had a tab that serious or more to settle. It had been worth every penny. We bid fond arrivederci to this magnificent city of Florence and the Four Seasons hoping someday to return.
It was the train to Roma this afternoon as the tour buses were already there having gone directly from Padova. Several cars delivered us to the Firenze train station with 20 minutes to spare before boarding and now I'm absolutely famished. Mike and I spotted a stand selling freshly baked pizza and got a slice the size of a quarter pie each, sat down and inhaled it along with a caffe latte. In Italy even food and coffee in the train station is delicious. We boarded our train and settled down for a comfortable 90 minute journey south to Roma. There we were met by one car and a large passenger van. After much delay and some confusion between the drivers, we were off to the venue, the very funky PalaLottomatica... a real mouthful. We played this venue at least once before on the 2008 tour. After Bob's extended sound check we had less than 10 minutes to check our sound before the doors opened. We had a quick dinner in catering, got dressed then stepped in front of a stand up crowd of Romans for tonight's show. There is absolutely nothing like Italian audiences, appreciative and vocal to no end, and this crowd was no exception. Our tour itinerary says the venue holds a capacity of just under 8,000 but looking out on the sea of faces it could have been much more, though I certainly wasn't counting heads at that point. As always our 70 minutes was over in a flash with loads of great playing all round. 25 minutes later, Mark was on stage for a few tunes with Bob after which we boarded the band buses for the lengthy and final part of this day, a seven hour drive back north to Milan.
As mentioned before, the Italian shows don't begin until 9 p.m. so it was nearly midnight before we were rolling. A delicious snack of veal marsala, chicken picatta, lettuce, tomato and tuna salad, as well as sliced tomatoes with mozzarella and fresh basil got us on our way. Jim gave us a further glimpse into his wondrously twisted and cool record collection for another couple hours. By then everyone had drifted off to the bunks and gone to sleep. I'm not one for crawling in those things, a little too claustrophobic, so opted to hang in the upstairs lounge and watch the Italian country side fly by in darkness. I went downstairs for a while, riding shot gun with our great driver Carl Mackenzie, talking and drinking cups of tea. I drifted off once or twice for twenty minutes, but that was all the sleep I got. As the sky began to show signs of light, we arrived in Milan, pulled up to the hotel and checked in. It was just past 7 and had been a very long 21 hour day covering three cities, a train journey, a show and a 350 mile bus ride. I walked into my room and before I could even complain about the sickening, sweet smell of so much room freshener that it gagged, I was in bed asleep.