Monday, March 29, 2010

Welcome Home - now share your favorite moments via your blog

Benvenuti a casa, welcome home dear members of the WRA 2010 Performance Tour to Italy. We sure hope you get some rest now, but also encourage you to send us your favorite pictures to so we can add them to the blog for everyone else to see and enjoy. You can also add them directly and will be receiving an invite to contribute to the blog shortly (assuming we have your email address). We look forward to hearing from you soon. Arriverderci, Sandra & Team

Sunday, March 28, 2010

WRA Incantato Highlight Concert in Calvi: Stabat Mater I

WRA Incantato Highlight Concert in Calvi: Keep your lamps

All aboard - WRA is homeward bound

Arriverderci! We hope to see you again! Incantato Tour Manager Stefania and Bus Driver Massimo bid farewell to the Western Reserve Academy Choir, Ensemble and their families as they left from Rome airport early on Sunday morning. The group under the direction of Mrs. Margaret Karam and Mr. Edward Wiles is expected to arrive in Cleveland in the evening. We wish them a very safe return home.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quick WRA update from Italy: Great finale concert and a fun farewell

The last day of the WRA Italy Performance Tour 2010 was action-packed with the highlight being the group's finale performance during Palm Saturday High Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The day and journey then concluded with a fun farewell dinner at the Antica Hostaria Romana, a gourmet restaurant located within the former catacombs. More information and pictures will be added here soon from the Incantato team, but hopefully also from the actual travelers. Buena notte and a save journey home to everyone tomorrow.

WRA finale Italy Performance Tour venue: St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, Saturday, March 27

What a perfect way to end the 2010 Western Reserve Academy Performance Tour to Italy - the choir and ensemble under the direction of Mrs. Karam and Mr. Wiles, are the featured guest performers for High Mass on Palm Saturday, March 27, at 5:00 pm. The musicians from Hudson, Ohio who are traveling with Incantato Tours from March 17 through March 28, will be concertizing right near the beautiful Altar of the Chair.
Here is some information on this amazing place:
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter is located within the Vatican City. St. Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people. It is the symbolic "Mother church" of the Catholic Church and is regarded as one of the holiest Christian sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".
In Catholic tradition, it is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. Tradition and some historical evidence hold that Saint Peter's tomb is directly below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St Peter's since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on April 18, 1506 and was completed on November 18, 1626.
St. Peter's is famous as a place of pilgrimage, for its liturgical functions and for its historical associations. It is associated with the papacy, with the Counter-reformation and with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564), an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Michelangelo took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since the days of Ancient Rome, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He also inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering brains of the 16th century.
Incidentally there are over 100 tombs within St. Peter's Basilica, many located in the Vatican grotto, beneath the Basilica. These include 91 popes, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart, are buried here, having been granted asylum by Pope Clement XI. The most recent interment was Pope John Paul II, on April 8, 2005.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Full house for Western Reserve Academy Choir & Ensemble in Calvi

What a special night it was for the WRA singers and musicians! The students performed to a full house in the beautiful baroque church of Calvi dell'Umbria, a small town perched high upon the hill where the mayor had warmly welcomed them with a special tour prior to the performance and a reception afterwards in the town hall. The audience was very moved by the concert and rewarded the groups under the direction of Mrs. Margaret Karam with minute-long applause. Vice-Mayor Luca thanked the travelers for coming to his town and hoped that the students one day return with their own families. "It was our honor to have you here tonight. Thank you for sharing your gift of music, we will never forget you." As a special souvenir, Mrs. Karam also received a painting that was created during the concert by local artist Valvan. He titled it "Libertà!".

First impressions from the WRA Highlight Concert in Calvi

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting ready for the big concert

What a fun morning the WRA travelers had with a visit to a local cheese farm and olive oil mill, followed by a Gregorian Chant workshop and pizza making at the agriturismo of the Artmonastery. After a little rest at the hotel, the 39 will be treated to a special Calvi dell'Umbria visit by the mayor of the hilltop town and then present their highlight concert in the beautiful Church of Santa Maria Assunta. If the internet allows it, pictures and videos will be up latest tomorrow. Arriverderci, Sandra from Incantato

Impromptu Singing at the Cheese Farm

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Your Home away from Home: Hotel La Pergola in Umbria

One of Incantato's trademarks is to take our groups slightly of the beaten path a day or two during their Performance Tours for a full immersion into the country they are visting. When the WRA Choir and Ensemble stops for two nights in Umbria en-route from Tuscany to Rome, the singers, their family and friends are in for a real treat when staying at the country hotel "La Pergola" nearby the charming hilltop towns of Orvieto and Calvi dell'Umbria. This charming boutique hotel has a rich history as it was once upon a long time an overnight stop for the postal carriers, and is known near and far for its excellent cuisine. We hope you will be incantato with our selection, which means enchanted, bewitched!
Now may the fight over the best rooms begin...

WRA Concert Venue: Santa Maria Assunta Church in Calvi dell'Umbria on Thursday, March 25

On March 25 at 8:30 pm, Incantato Tours & Concerts is going to present WRA at Santa Maria Assunta Church in Calvi dell'Umbria.

Calvi dell'Umbria is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Terni in the Italian region Umbria, located about 80 km south of Perugia and about 20 km southwest of Terni. The area was inhabited in Roman times, but developed as an urban center only in the High Middle Ages. Calvi was a fief of the Orsini and then of the Anguillara families. The main attractions are the church of Santa Maria, with an elegant Late Renaissance baptisal font, and the church of Sant'Antonio. In the neighborhood are the remains of a convent erected by St. Francis in the early 13th century.

The picture is from the official website of the town.

Fun Times on Tour - New Pictures from Italy

Monday, March 22, 2010

WRA Tour Blogger Martha Miller reports from Italy: Montecatini and Pisa

Again we are on a bus! Although we're staying in the same hotel in Montecatini, (which is gorgeous) we are travelling around to see different cities in the area.
Yesterday, after our three and a half hour bus ride, we finally arrived in Montecatini and got settled into our previously-mentioned hotel. We then set out to walk around Montecatini. It's probably one of my favorite cities we've visited so far. Unlike Venice and Verona, it is not as crowded as the other cities we visited, and we arrived right at lunchtime, so the streets were especially open. After eating lunch, we were left to wander the city in groups, some visiting the markets before coming back to the hotel to do a rehearsal for our big concert on Thursday. Then it was time for dinner, and off to bed.
This morning after breakfast, we took a bus to just outside Pisa, and then took a local bus into the place itself. It was amazing! We saw the Tower while we were standing waiting to get into the Duomo di Pisa. Once inside, we were allowed to perform at the front altar, an amazing experience! Many groups stopped to watch and listen, and seemed to really enjoy the concert, even if we couldn't understand their words.
Now we have just arrived in Lucca, where we will have a guided tour and then eat what will undoubtedly be a delicious dinner. Even the most picky of our group have been enjoying meals, and are looking forward to several more days in Italy!

WRA Tour first pictures from the Kids - Venice

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 6 of the WRA Tour: Visiting Pisa

The WRA Choir and Ensemble, along with their families and friends are at the half-way point of their 2010 Italy Performance Tour. Today, the group under the direction of Mrs. Margaret Karam and Mr. Edward Wiles is visiting Pisa and Lucca. Incantato Tours got the singers permission for a recital in the beautiful Duomo di Pisa, the most important cathedral. A special farm house dinner with Tuscan specialities awaits them in the evening.
  • The present inclination of the Leaning Tower, Pisas most important sight, is measured to be about 10 percent. The reason behind the inclination still remains a mystery. However, it is believed that the inclination was due to the subsidence of the foundation soil, which was a mixture of varied deposits and clayish material.
  • Pisa was the birthplace of the important early physicist, Galileo Galilei.
  • Pisa's origins remained unknown for centuries. The presence of an Etruscan (civilization of ancient Italy) necropolis (large cemetery), discovered during excavations in the Arena Garibald (mulit-use stadium) in 1991, allowed to clarify its Etruscan origins.
  • The city has two sister-cities in the USA: Niles, Illinois, and Coral Gables, Florida.
  • Football is the main sport in Pisa; the local team, Pisa Calcio, currently plays in the Italian Serie B (second-highest division), and has had a top flight history throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, featuring several world class players such as Diego Simeone, Christian Vieri and Dunga.
  • Pisa is also known for its excellent university, which was established in 1343 and has become one of Italy's top schools.

WRA Tour first pictures from the Kids

WRA Tour Blogger Martha Miller reports from Italy

Hello from a bus in the middle of Italy! Not the exact middle, but we are driving from the north more towards the middle part of Italy. We took our two-hour bus drive down to Verona yesterday with our wonderful bus driver and guide, and saw many farms out the window in that time. The bus drive felt oddly short as we pulled up in Verona and began our first adventures in an Italian city with a new added twist--there were cars everywhere! Unlike Venice, we had to be aware of cars and motorbikes driving up and down the streets, and we found that crosswalks in Verona last less time than the infamous crosswalk across Main Street in Hudson, leaving some of us on the other side of the street.
We ate lunch inside an old church that had been renovated, St. Matthew's Church. It was there that we really noticed for the first time how long Italian meals are--we ate for almost two and a half hours! After we finished, we met with our local guide and got a beautiful walking tour of Verona, complete with a very deep history of Verona. We started at the Gate of Jupiter and ended inside 'Juliet's House'--the house supposedly of the Capulets from Shakespeare's play. After that we were given some free time to walk around Verona's crowded streets before meeting back by the amphitheatre--yes, Verona has one too but it's not as big as Coliseum in Rome. It's actually the third largest in Italy.
We drove to our hotel and got settled in before heading out to Valeggio sul Mincio, a small village beyond Verona's city limits, for dinner. All of the kids went to a pizzeria with our guide and had delicious pizzas while the rest of the adults had some alone time for a nice quiet dinner (quite the gift on a trip like this one). Then we all met together at our bus and went back to the hotel to go to sleep.
This morning we got up and began our three hour trek to Montecatini, where we will have most of the day to ourselves before diving back into the intense touring once again!

p.s. Our apologies for mixing up Martha's first name

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fun Facts about Verona

  • Verona is the setting of the story of "Romeo and Juliet". Although the earliest version of the story is set in Siena, not Verona, a balcony claiming historical connection to the fictional lovers has become a tourist attraction for lovers.
  • Because of the value and importance of its many historical buildings, Verona has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The Roman city with its basalt-paved roads is mostly hidden from view it stands virtually intact about 6 m below the surface. Most palazzi and houses have cellars built on Roman artifacts that are unfortunately rarely accessible to visitors.
  • Verona is famous for its Roman amphitheatre, the Arena, completed around 30 AD, which is the third largest in Italy, after Rome's Colosseum and the arena at Capua. It could seat some 25,000 spectators!
  • A son of the city, singer Gigliola Cinquetti, brought Italy its first Eurovision Song Contest in 1964.
  • Verona was the town that Julius Caesar selected for his relaxing stays.
  • Verona has several partnerships and twinnings around the world. In the USA: Fresno and Albany.

WRA visits the Charming Town of Valeggio sul Mincio on Saturday, March 20

WRA is visiting Valeggio sul Mincio, a charming litte town nearby Verona this evening.

Incantato Tours has some information for WRA about the beautiful town: Valeggio sul Mincio is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Verona in the Italian region Veneto, located about 120 km west of Venice and about 25 km southwest of Verona. It is crossed by the Mincio river. The economy is mostly based on agriculture, with some craftwork and industrial production. The main sight is the Ponte Visconteo ("Visconti Bridge"), a fortified dam built in 1393 by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan. The bridge is 650 m (0.4 miles) long and 25 m (0.016 miles) wide. It was connected to the nearby Scaliger Castle by two tall merloned walls, and integrated in the fortified complex known as Serraglio which extended for 16 km (about 10 miles) in the Veronese plain up to Nogarole Rocca.

The picture is from the official website of the town.

WRA Tour Blogger Martha Miller reports from Italy

The WRA tour group arrived in Venice two days ago, after several hours on three different planes. We met up with our guide, and put our bags in the hotel before beginning our tour of the city of Venice. It's confusing! The streets tend to mostly all look the same, and the shops all blur together in a mish-mash of masks, food vendors and 'I -heart- Venice' shirts. We walked through the Jewish ghettos--the first ghettos in Europe--and finally got to have our first lunch in Rialto Bridge. Afterwards we continued to St. Mark's Square. A large group of us had the wonderful oppourtunity to go on a gondola, and it really sunk in that we were in Venice! After a delicious dinner we went back to the hotel to collapse into bed.
Our second day was spent mostly in St. Mark's area, taking tours of Doge's Palace and the St. Mark's Basilica. We also visited a Venetian glass factory, where we saw a professional glass-maker make a vase in about five minutes flat right before our eyes! Afterwards we were allowed to wander and visit some of the museums in St. Mark's Square. Finally it was time for our concert inside St. Mark's Basilica for mass. Although it was absolutely freezing inside and the crowd was small, the concert sounded beautiful and we moved off to our celebratory dinner. Finally we went back to the hotel to fall back into our beds.
Today we are driving two hours by bus to Verona, and after the long walks around the winding bridges of Venice we're looking forward to some time sitting down!

p.s. Our apologies for mixing up Martha's first name

WRA Tour Day 4: Verona in Juliet's Footsteps

Quick update from Venice where the WRA is getting ready to leave by putting their suitcases on the boat to the bus parking lot. "Tutto bene", reported tour manager Stefania this morning and tour blogger Hannah asked her to pass on that she will use the bus time to Verona to send pictures and updates. On today's agenda is a guided tour of Verona, a group luncheon and a special excursion to Valeggio sul Mincio in the evening. Arriverderci!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fun Facts about Venice

  • Venice has been described by the "Times Online" as being one of Europe's most romantic cities.
  • Italian baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) is Venice' most famous son.
  • The city has an average of 50,000 tourists a day
  • The Republic of Venice seized a number of locations on the eastern shores of the Adriatic before 1200, mostly for commercial reasons, because pirates based there were a menace to trade.
  • By the late thirteenth century, Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe. At the peak of its power and wealth, it had 36,000 sailors operating 3,300 ships, dominating Mediterranean commerce.
  • The newly-invented German printing press spread rapidly throughout Europe in the fifteenth century, and Venice was quick to adopt it. By 1482 Venice was the printing capital of the world, and the leading printer was Aldus Manutius, who invented the concept of paperback books that could be carried in a saddlebag.
  • The buildings of Venice are constructed on closely spaced wood piles, which were imported from the mainland. Under water, in the absence of oxygen, wood does not decay.
  • The city has been a setting for numerous films and music videos, such as the James Bond series "From Russia with Love", "Moonraker" and "Casino Royale". Furthermore you might have seen a Venice location in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", "The Italian Job", "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider", and Madonna's song "Like a Virgin".
  • Venetian cuisine is obviously characterized by fish, but not only: the products of the gardens of the islands, the mainland rice, game, fishing in the northern Adriatic and polenta.

First words from Italy: "Venice is beautiful"

As the choir and ensemble is getting ready for the first performance of the WRA 2010 Italy Tour, Mrs. Margaret Karam shared lots of good news over the phone. "The first day was wonderful, and Venice is just beautiful. We saw so much and were exhausted by bedtime. Several kids even went on gondola rides." Incantato Tour Manager Stefania took the group on a special walking tour of Venice (a good 3,5 miles) on their arrival day and helped negotiate special entrance fees to the Doge's Palace - a special treat by WRA. Karam: "The guide was outstanding, we learnt a lot." Since it was less than an hour away from the concert, it was a short phone. Karam: "We sure look forward to the first concert at St. Mark's Basilica, the kids are very very excited. Ciao Ciao!"

WRA first Italy Performance Tour venue: Basilica di San Marco in Venice, Friday, March 19

Incantato Tours proudly presents the first WRA Italy Performance Tour venue: the Basilica di San Marco in Venice will welcome you on Friday, March 19, at 6:45 pm.

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. It lies on Piazza San Marco adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the "chapel" of the Venetian rulers, and not the city's cathedral. Since 1807 it has been the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. For its opulent design, gilded Byzantine mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the building was known by the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of gold).
The first St Mark's was a temporary building in the Doge's Palace, constructed in 828, when Venetian merchants stole the supposed relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria. This was replaced by a new church on its present site in 832; from the same century dates the first St Mark's Campanile (bell tower). The new church was burned in a rebellion in 976, rebuilt in 978 and again to form the basis of the present basilica since 1063.
The spacious interior of the building with its multiple choir lofts was the inspiration for the development of a Venetian polychoral style among the composers appointed maestro di cappella at St Mark's. The style was first developed by a foreigner Adrian Willaert and was continued by Italian organists and composers: Andrea Gabrieli and his nephew Giovanni Gabrieli and Claudio Monteverdi.

WRA Tour Day 3: Venice Sightseeing and High Mass at St. Mark's Basilica

Soon tour blogger Hannah will take over, but here a quick update from the Incantato Tour team. After a good night on Venice island, the group just boarded their private boat to start the guided sightseeing tour of the main highlights: St. Mark's Basilica, where the choir and ensemble are the featured guest performers for High Mass in the evening, the Bridge of Sighs and last not least the famous Rialto area. More to come!
p.s. Even the two pieces of lost luggage from the inter-European flight made it to the group's hotel just in time for bed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Benvenuti in Bella Italia

The WRA group arrived safe and sound in beautiful Italy (with a little missing luggage) and was welcomed at the airport by Incantato Tour Manager Stefania La Rosa. After exploring the magical island also referred to as La Serenissima, the performers and their families checked into the Hotel Belle Epoque (a separate blog post shows you this very Venetian Hotel) and they are currently enjoying their welcome dinner. A first highlight awaits them tomorrow as the choir is singing High Mass at St. Mark's Basilica. We sure hope the kids will upload some pictures for you all soon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Have a good flight!

Dear Travelers,
Incantato Tours wishes you a safe and relaxed flight to Europe. Enjoy your stay and have a great time! For your first dinner in Venice, you are going to visit the Ristorante Al Brindisi. The menu includes penne with fresh tomato, chicken, cooked vegetables and potatoes, and a chocolate cake.
Bon appetit!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Enjoy the WRA Tour blog? Then become a follower and never miss an update

Dear Singers, Family and Friends of the WRA 2010 touring Choir and Ensemble, we sure hope you enjoy the blog and recommend that you become a follower by clicking on the respective option in the right side bar of this webpage. As a follower, you will never miss an update and once the groups heads over to Italy there should be lots of news coming your way. You can also leave comments which are like virtual greetings. Our Italian tour team will pass those messages on the kids on tour whenever possible. Everyone at Incantato Tours wishes you a most wonderful weekend and lots of Vorfreude for this exciting journey under the leadership of Mrs. Margaret Karam and Mr. Edward Wiles.

Two meals and two movies - Welcome aboard Lufthansa

The WRA Tour is about to take off on Incantato's preferred airline: Lufthansa.
After your short commuter flights, the 39 members of the 2010 Western Reserve Academy Italy Tour, are boarding the German airline for the long-haul and inter-European journey. While we recommend that you do get some sleep on the transatlantic overnight flight, you are in for several treats such as hot towels to refresh yourself shortly after take-off, two warm meals served with salad and dessert plus two or more recent movies. For more information on the on-board experience, visit Lufthansa's website.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunny Venice will welcome you on March 18

As the WRA tour to Italy will start in a few days, Incantato Tours had a look at the weather forecast. On Thursday, March 18, Venice will welcome you with a sunny, just partly cloudy sky. The highest temperature will be around 59° F. The nice weather will continue on Friday, March 19, with 58° F. Enjoy the sunny days in the beautiful city of Venice!

Don't forget to look at the travel tips

With your departure just around the corner, we recommend to have one last look at the travel tips where you will find a lot of information about what to pack, which converters to bring etc.
Here is a direct link, but you can also find the travel tips by clicking on the label in the right side navigation.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fun Facts about Florence

  • Florence is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 367,569 inhabitants.
  • A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the richest and wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance; in fact, it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages.
  • The historic centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.
  • It has been the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historical figures, such as Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci.
  • Florence being historically the first home of Italian fashion is also home to the legendary Italian fashion establishment Salvatore Ferragamo, notable as one of the oldest and most famous Italian fashion houses.
  • Florence has been a setting for numerous works of fiction and movies, including the novels and associated films, such as "Hannibal", "A Room with a View", "Tea with Mussolini" and "Virgin Territory".
  • The city is one of the great wine-growing regions in the world. The Chianti region is just south of the city, and its Sangiovese grapes figure prominently not only in its Chianti Classico wines but also in many of the more recently developed Supertuscan blends.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fun Facts about Rome

  • Rome's early history is shrouded in legend. According to Roman tradition, the city was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on 21 April 753 BC.
  • Due to this centrality on many levels, the city has been nicknamed "Caput Mundi" (Latin for "Capital of the World") and "The Eternal City".
  • Its rich artistic heritage and vast amount of ancient, notably architectural and archaeological sites, contribute to the city's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Rome is the third-most-visited tourist destination in the European Union.
  • The city is also an important worldwide hub of the cinematic and filming industry, home to the important and large Cinecittà Studios, which saw the filming of several internationally acclaimed movies as well as television programmes.
  • The Rome metropolitan area has a GDP of €109.4 billion (US$ 149.14), and according to a 2008 study, the city is the world's 35th richest city by purchasing power.
  • The city hosted the 1960 Olympic Games and is also an official candidate for the 2020 Olympic Games.
  • Rome is an important centre for music, and it has an intense musical scene, including several prestigious music conservatories and theatres. It hosts the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (founded in 1585), for which new concert halls have been built in the new Parco della Musica, one of the largest musical venues in the world.
  • A Jewish influence in the italian dishes can be seen, as Jews have lived in Rome since the 1st century BCE. Examples of these include "Saltimbocca alla Romana" - a veal cutlet, Roman-style; topped with raw ham and sage and simmered with white wine and butter - and "Carciofi alla giudia" - artichokes fried in olive oil, typical of Roman Jewish cooking.

Monday, March 1, 2010

We proudly present: The WRA Incantato Concert Postcard

Over 2000 of your custom designed Incantato concert postcards have been printed and are currently distributed locally in Italy to announce the 2010 WRA Performance Tour to Italy. We sure hope you enjoy seeing them here and look forward to having the hard copies in hand after your arrival abroad. Incantato Tours takes great pride in providing the fine ensembles traveling with our organization with professional marketing materials to ensure the local audiences are aware of your coming.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

WRA 2010 Italy Tour

Dear Travelers on and Family and Friends of the WRA 2010 Performance Tour to Italy. Mrs Karam informed us that there will be a special parent meeting next week where she will go over all the details from her end, in the meantime, please find a slightly more detailed itinerary below. We thank you for contacting our office and understand your interest in knowing all the ins and outs of the wonderful journey that we are so honored to plan for the choir and ensemble, but ask you to understand that WRA is in charge and we can only provide you with limited information until we receive the okay to send out more. Arriverderci!


• See and experience both major cities and off-the-beaten path gems of beautiful Italy
• Three unique performances for the WRA Choir & Ensemble
• Plenty of opportunities for immersion into local cultures
• Educational and entertaining sightseeing
• Quality hotels in good locations, great food...


• High Mass: St. Mark‘s Basilica —VENICE
• Santa Maria Assunta in Calvi dell'Umbria—FLORENCE & TUSCANY
• High Mass with strings: Basilica San Pietro (confirmed) - VATICAN CITY

DAY 1 Wednesday, March 17
Overnight flights from Cleveland via Chicago and Germany to Venice on United and Lufthansa

DAY 2 Thursday, March 18
Benvenuti to Italy
As you arrive early in the day, you‘ll have plenty time to enjoy the magic of Venice Island with your tour manager prior to a welcome dinner with local specialties at Ristoranta La Brindisi. Overnight stay on Venice Island at Hotel Belle Epoque.

DAY 3 Friday, March 19
Venice in-depth - High Mass at St. Mark's
Take a private boat ride, then see the highlights of Venice (Rialto Bridge, St. Mark‘s Basilica and Square, Bridge of Sighs etc) with a local guide. Afternoon of leisure with optional visit to a Murano Glass Factory prior to singing High Mass at St. Mark's Basilica followed by dinner in a nearby restaurant.

DAY 4 Saturday, March 20
Verona Visit
Explore the nearby musical city of Verona with a local guide and visit Juliet‘s house. Some free time for shopping. Overnight stay near Verona in Caselle di Sommacampagna at Hotel Saccardi. As a special treat, you will be visiting the beautiful town of Valeggio sul Mincio in the early evening.

DAY 5 Sunday, March 21
Scenic Road to Tuscany
Take in the beautiful countryside as you travel to Montecatini Terme, a spa town outside of Florence very much beloved by composer Guiseppe Verdi. Overnight at Hotel Imperial Garden.

DAY 6 Monday, March 22
Pisa & Lucca
Full-day excursion to Pisa - see the leaning tower and other highlights such as the magnificent Duomo where WRA will present a recital - and Lucca, a true Tuscan gem followed by a traditional farmhouse dinner. Return to Montecatini. Overnight at Hotel Imperial Garden.

DAY 7 Tuesday, March 23
Florence in-depth
Guided city tour of Florence’s many highlights, including entrance to the Accademia Museum to see Michelangelo's David. Return to Montecatini. Overnight at Hotel Imperial Garden.

DAY 8 Wednesday, March 24
Umbria: Orvieto Excursion, Workshop and gourmet dinner
You will visit the hilltop town of Orvieto, experience a special Gregorian chant workshop and then continue to Magliano Sabina for check-in at Hotel La Pergola and a very special dinner.

DAY 9 Thursday, March 25
Calvi dell'Umbria Highlight Concert, Reception, Pizza-Workshop etc.
You are in for many treats today as she head to beautiful Calvi for the highlight concert preparation, a likely exchange with local youth, a special reception from the towns people and last not least a tour of local cheese, olive oil and ostrich farms followed by a pizza making workshop.

DAY 10 Friday, March 26
Eternal Rome
Continue to the capital city of Italy, and see the ancient part amazing Rome, walk through the Colloseo & Foro Romano, then take in some of the magic squares with the famous Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain etc.

DAY 11 Saturday, March 27
Vatican Visit & High Mass at St. Peter's Basilica
Explore the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter‘s Basilica with your local guide. The WRA choir and ensemble are the featured guest performers for a special Palm Saturday High Mass at the magnificent cathedral. A fantastic farewell feast with local specialties and music concludes the day.

DAY 12 Sunday, March 28
Rome Departure
Early transfer to the airport for your flight home to the US.

How about a rustic famhouse dinner in the Tuscan countryside?

We sure love great food at Incantato Tours and want to share our passion to explore typical eateries with our travellers. Italians love to dine in the countryside and over recent years many traditional farms added restaurants to their offerings. These so-called agriturismo offer great food in a more rustic environment. On Monday, March 22, after visiting Pisa and Lucca, the WRA tour members will dine just outside of Lucca at "Agriturismo Il Poggio" and are sure in for a treat.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Meet your Incantato Tour Manager Stefania...

... as she dances the night away with Dr. McCarthy on the CSULB Incantato Italy Tour 2008.
Ms. Stefania LaRosa - who is welcoming WRA at Venice airport and traveling with the group until the departure from Rome - is a native of Civitavecchia, Italy and now resides in beautiful Florence. Stefania is an experienced tour manager and certified Rome guide. She has been with Incantato Tours from the very beginning and while she did take some time off from other assignements to complete her studies as certified local guide for Florence and the region, we are honored to have her aboard for all 2010 Incantato tours to Italy with the WRA's upcoming journey being her season opener. Stefania loves music, the arts, good food and she is the most stylish in our team.
Stefania's cell phone number is being provided to all tour participants, but we ask those of you remaining behind in the US or other countries to not contact her directly. If you wish or need to reach anyone on the tour, please send an email to and our European team will pass the information on and get back to you.

Ready for some real Italian food?

We sure hope you are getting hungry to sample the many flavors of Italy and hereby share a link to the restaurant awaiting you with a three course welcome dinner on your first night abroad in Italy. "Ristorante Al Brindisi" is a local favorite and being well over 100 years old it is well known for its traditional Venetian cuisine. Located in the Cannareggio district and within easy reach to your Incantato Tour Hotel "Belle Epoque", the WRA singers, musicians, family and friends are in for a fun evening out at "La Brindisi" in one of the most magical places on earth, Venice Island.