It’s our fourth day on tour. Rome seems like that dream that you can’t quite remember—its food, its tourists…not to mention the ageless cobblestoned streets, where our craned necks, strained from basking in art, arches, and a bygone era, found refuge. The hills of Tuscany, which I call home, now roll past the Plexiglas window of The Roma Bus. I wonder if Mercedes knew when they built it how much this glorified chassis could do for us. Since first climbing its steps at the airport on Tuesday, it’s become our newfound home on wheels—the vehicle that allows us to see an incredible part of the world.
After a short nap, I wake up in Florence. For me, Florence is not the fashion capital others know it as, nor is it simply the home of the Duomo. It is also not just an unnerving collection of Selfie Sticks (though they seem to be quite prevalent here these days). Instead, it’s the city where I was born, and where I spent my childhood.
It’s raining, but the rain only makes the sidewalks glimmer, proclaiming a renewed quiet over the birthplace of the Renaissance. We meander past Ponte Vecchio, with its gold-filled display windows and its scenic views of the river Arno, making our way toward Trattoria Bordino. This little family-owned restaurant has been around since the Great War. When my dad used to run from office to office along the river, there wasn’t a day complete without their famous Florentine steak, or Meringue pie. Now I am sitting inside, with my three favorite fellow clubbers, toasting to what’s in front of us: a proper Italian meal, as well as twenty two more days of travel into some of the world’s most influential cradles of civilization. With full stomachs, many shaken hands and countless spoken ‘mille grazie,’ we cross Piazza della Repubblica, past its carousel and famous meeting pillar, where just last summer I anxiously awaited reunion with my childhood friends.
Soon, it’s nighttime. CD boxes in hand, we set off towards Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi. Our black uniforms blending with the wet cobblestones, we become part of Florence’s narrow streets. Before entering the nearly 800 year-old church, the green, open-air cloister greets us. There it hits me. Through these same steps, the nuns of my kindergarten would lead us to church. This church, and these stones, contained my first experience of seeing and understanding the significance of the host, the body of Christ.
As I was addressing the audience (which included my half-brother, schoolmates, cousin, and family friends) in Italian about which piece we were going to perform, whether polyphonic or spiritual, it dawned on me how small the world really is, and how blessed we are to recognize it. Never would I have conceived that moving to America, attending Notre Dame, and joining Glee Club would lead me right back to here, standing behind a podium inside this church, accompanied by some of my best friends and family—the Glee Club—to share the universal gift of prayer in song (and, of course, a couple of spirituals).
Francesco Tassi is a rising sophomore, majoring in International Economics and Peace Studies. A native of Florence who moved to the United States midway through his childhood, his fluent Italian was invaluable during the first three stops of Tour. Francesco serves as one of Glee Club’s Recordings Managers. If you’d like to connect with Francesco, you can email him at Francesco.Tassi.firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the second post in a twelve part series chronicling the Glee Club’s recent tour of Europe. Read the next post, Paul Kearney’s account of the Glee Club’s stay in Bologna!
Check out these and more photos from Florence on our Flickr page!