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Texas Jazz in Europe 5: Italy

by Jerome Weeks 17 Jul 2008 8:45 AM

The One O’Clock Lab Band in San Giovanni Valdarno Last we heard, the One O’Clock Lab Band were in the Netherlands, preparing to head for Italy. Now they’ve hit Rome. The Art&Seek Blog has been following the University of North Texas jazz group on its European invasion, via freelance photographer and UNT student Michael Climents’ […]


The One O’Clock Lab Band in San Giovanni Valdarno

Last we heard, the One O’Clock Lab Band were in the Netherlands, preparing to head for Italy. Now they’ve hit Rome. The Art&Seek Blog has been following the University of North Texas jazz group on its European invasion, via freelance photographer and UNT student Michael Climents’ photo postings on Flickr and some of the blog posts from band member/trombonist Sara Jacovino.

Check out the posts on the jump.

John Leadbetter, lead sax, One O’Clock Band


Posted by Sara Jacovino

Leaving on a jet plane — make that a vintage jet plane. A few hours ago, the One O’Clock said goodbye to the wonderful Netherlands and boarded a plane for Rome. We also said goodbye to a few people who have been traveling with us since we arrived in Zurich. Phil Bulla (our sound engineer) and his wife Renee are returning to New York– they happen to live less than an hour from where I will be moving in 2 weeks! We also parted ways with our tour guide Padta (we will miss her early morning musings) and our slightly eccentric bus driver, Pierre Luigi.

As I write now, I am aboard what seems to be a particularly old MD-80 jet. The seats and many of the warning lights in the cabin don’t actually work. The weirdest and most annoying part of this flight (all 90 minutes of it) is the cabin beep. You know, that beep that happens when you’ve reached your cruising altitude or when someone calls a flight attendant? It is about 10 times louder than any other cabin beep that I’ve heard and is blasted through speakers that sound fuzzy and broken.

But on a side note, I did just get a great sandwich as a snack– and for free! Meh, the flight’s not that bad. At least my seat is attached to the floor.

Later that day:

Rome is quite amazing. I mentioned earlier that we split ways with our old tour guide; we met up with a new tour guide today, Bobby. He is very knowledgeable and is a great guy. Our first experience of the city included a guided bus tour of Rome. We saw such sites as the ancient city wall, the pyramid at the gate to the city, and the Colosseum. The sights are truly awe inspiring!

After the bus tour, we were given a few hours of free time to explore and grab some food. I ended up near the Spanish Steps eating some Italian pizza — this was surprisingly cheap and quite a humongous portion. We also purchased some gelato: I, being my paranoid self, made sure to ask exactly how much it cost. Others were not so lucky and some ended up with cones of gelato that cost 20 Euro — almost 30 dollars.

First impressions of Rome:

1. What a beautiful city — full of so much history. I can’t even fathom how the Italian people live amongst these ancient ruins without become distracted by the age, beauty and ingenuity of each piece.

2. If I said that Amsterdam and Rotterdam were crowded and crazy, I don’t know how to describe Rome– There don’t seem to be as many locals roaming the streets, but the traffic makes up for it. I’m pretty certain that there aren’t any traffic laws– as it seems like nobody follows them (I couldn’t imagine driving). Crossing the street isn’t like a game of Frogger, it is more akin to Chicken. The houses are built on top of each other— and on top of old ruins/ what i would consider as an American, to be ancient.

3. The Italian people are beautiful. Period.

4. Can I mention, once again, the amount of history in this city?


Posted by Sara Jacovino.

There are 12 Egyptian obelisks in the city of Rome, 9 of which were stolen (imported) from Egypt. They can be found peppered around the city, and mostly in front of other historical ruins/monuments.

Today was our free day to explore the city of Rome. We were dropped off by the Colosseum at 10am and were told to be back near the Spanish Steps at 10pm. This made for a VERY long day of walking. We chose to split off into small groups. My tour buddies for the day consisted of Jason Hausbak and Chris Mike. Our first stop was the Colosseum. We opted to walk around the outside rather than wait in the massive line to go inside. We walked a few blocks around the ancient ruins on the Palatine Hill (one of the seven hills of Rome) and caught a glimpse of what used to be Circus Maximus: the Texas Motor Speedway of Rome — where the Chariot races were held. All that remains of this track is the big field in the shape of the track and the ruins of an end house on one side of it. The space is massive.

We walked back to the ancient ruins and decided to wait in the line to enter. The cost was only 11 Euro — and as an added bonus, the ticket also served as admission to the Colosseum. These ruins are amazing, some were built as early as 700 BC. So many of the structures look incredibly well engineered and very modern. There are portions of the ground where the original marble flooring is still in tact. All of ancient Rome was covered in marble. Massive columns (and very detailed!) are everywhere — we even got a glimpse of mosaic floors! This is when it occurred to me: In the United States in the 17thth and 18thth centuries, people lived in shacks. In ancient Rome, people lived in marble works of art! This culture is so advanced. We walked around this one set of ruins (which actually covers a very large area) for hours, and then headed back towards the Colosseum. I was quite happy that we were able to skip the long line (already being in possession of tickets).

A brief synopsis of other sites: We viewed the Pantheon. It’s very well preserved, it is in the same form that it was back in the second century (despite a bit of remodeling when it was taken over by the Catholics). Our travels also took us across the river to Vatican City. Although we were unable to get into the Sistine Chapel (it closed at 3), we were able to view St. Peter’s Basilica. I can’t describe how grand, ornate, and pristine this church is. It is an architectural marvel as well as a piece of fine art. Along the way, we viewed many other churches, fountains and historical sites (including more modern sites — such as Mussolini’s palace and the monument built to the reunification of the nation–still pretty old by American standards). My feet are tired and I feel as though I’ve walked over 15 miles (I wish we kept track). But it was a great day and very well worth it (although I wouldn’t recommend wearing suede shoes and white shorts to walk through dusty old ruins).

Tomorrow we set off for the hills of Tuscany.