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Inaugural Trip - March 2009

posted Feb 17, 2010, 9:03 PM by Jen Hayes   [ updated Mar 14, 2011, 6:28 PM ]
Handbell Ventures' first trip to Italy in March of 2009 was a huge success. After two rehearsals in the Bay Area to prepare for our trip, we were off to a gorgeous, 11th century villa outside of Lucca.

Our first two days in Italy were spent exploring Lucca and relaxing in the beautiful and expansive villa. We enjoyed spectacular four course meals prepared for us by the owners and continued to rehearse our repertoire for the three concerts planned for the week. We even had a chance to learn how to cook our own Italian meal -- even ravioli from scratch -- thanks to guest chefs and instructors Paula and Ana.

The rest of our week was the perfect mix of concert performances in the evening and sightseeing by day. Each day we explored a different city, stopping in Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, Lucca, and of course Florence. We visited beautiful art galleries and museums, had many unforgettable meals, and performed in historic cathedrals.

In Pisa, several of us were intrepid enough to climb the Leaning Tower itself, while others explored the Baptistery and all enjoyed the sunshine of the warm day. There are seven large bells at the summit of the Tower of Pisa; we felt right at home!

Florence was another highlight as we visited the Uffizi Gallery, treated ourselves to gelato, and split up to explore the city. Some came back the the villa with beautiful purchases from Firenze, which is known for its high-quality shops selling leather goods, jewelry, tassels and more.

Our concerts were equally spectacular as we had a chance to perform in atmospheric cathedrals for audiences intrigued to see handbells being played.  There was quite a bit of lively conversation, and even more lively gesturing and sign language as individuals came up to the table after concerts to learn more about handbells.

When our trip was all over, I could hardly wait until our next trip in 2011. I hope you join us then!