Marotta / Griesgraber in Italy
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Mon March 7, 2005 - Rome, Italy
Our last full day in Rome today, and another day off. Jerry and I spent the day doing more sightseeing, then joined the PG Tribute band and some other friends for a final dinner.

For the sightseeing portion of the day, we visited two more Basilicas; St Paul's and St John's. St Paul's is believed to be built on the grave site of his tomb. Compared to the number of tourists at St Peter's it felt almost deserted, but was still very impressive. Apparently it was destroyed by fire in the 1800's and rebuilt along the same design with contributions of materials from all over the world. Because of this I guess it was probably the "newest old building" we visited.

St John's was located closer to the center of Rome and is I guess the official Cathedral of Rome (St Peter's being part of the Vatican, which is technically another country). It felt and even looked in some ways like a smaller version of St Peter's. It's most interesting feature to me was a set of stairs just outside the Basilica. They are called the "Holy Stairs" and are supposedly the stairs from Pontious Pilate's Praetorium in Jerusalem, where Jesus would have been sentenced. While there are numerous holy relics in Rome, some would seem impossible to verify the origins of, but.. I couldn't help but think that it would hard to take twenty some giant marble stairs from a palace and not know whether or not they were the right ones!

Entrance to St Paul's Basilica
interior - St Paul's

statue of St Paul

After our day's journeys, we met up with most of the PG Tribute band and some friends of Jerry's for what proved to be one of the best meals of the trip! I learned part way through the trip that if I let our Italian friends order for me I usually wound up with the best food, and tonight was no different. Andrea, the PG band's drummer ordered a meal of mixed meats with some vegetables and potatoes. A little piece of Steak, Chicken and Two sausages to be exact, served sizzling and spiced just right. amazing! I felt like Hideyo from CGT... but had to take a picture.

dinner with PG T. Band
last dinner in Rome

Tomorrow we'll have a 10 hour plane flight (non stop thankfully) to NJ. It was a great trip though and we hope to be back soon!

Sun March 6, 2005, 11:59pm - Rome, Italy
Jerry and I just finished our set and with it our European tour. The PG Tribute band is playing right now. The show didn't start till about 11pm tonight and the club has a curfew of 12:20 or the neighbors complain. So.. short set for both of us.

Crazy power problems tonight for me. Despite several attempts before the show, about 2/3 of my gear just wouldn't behave with the club's electricity. Soo... I essentially rebuilt my rack before the show, taking out all the culprit gear and winding up with more or less an "unplugged" version of things. Ironically it proved to be a fun set for us! Not thinking about effects changes, and mixing all the various elements of sounds I usually deal with allowed me to focus more on just my strings and fingers, relying totally on dynamics, vibrato and other "natural" effects.

After the show, the PG Tribute band took us to a local coffee/sandwich/pastry shop (they call them "bars" here), for an informal "end of tour" celebration.

Marotta/Griesgraber and the PG Tribute band
aftershow coffee and nutella

Sat March 5, 2005 - Velletri, Italy
Very fun show tonight. The club had a very large stage and their own drum kit so Jerry had the idea to mic up two drum kits. This led to many more "jams" tonight with Andrea and Carlo joining Jerry and I for Third Estate and Jerry sitting in much more with the PG Tribute band. It was amazing to watch him play with them as I knew he has hardly listened to some of the old PG material in about 15 years. But... muscle memory seemed to kick in quickly and he was right there "double drumming" with Andrea. Two drummers always seems a little scary, but when they're together it's really an amazing sound. I gained a new appreciation for some of the older PG material listening to the band tonight. While I've always liked it a lot, I realized just how powerful and artistic songs like The Rhythm and the Heat must have been back in the day. Great material on record, but live must have been a real experience.

soundcheck in Velletri

I was also happy tonight to see my friend Ted from San Diego! He works for the Marines as a camera man and drove up from Naples for the show. Marco and Rosanna drove up from Milan as well and it was great to see them again.

Fri March 4, 2005 - Rome, Italy
We've had three days off in Rome now, and I/We've been doing a lot of sightseeing. Today though it's rainy, and frankly my feet are tired from all the walking he past three days, so.. a good day to stay in and catch up on the diary. I still haven't been able to get my laptop online, so it looks like whenever this gets posted to the site, it'll probably be a big update!

Tonight we played in a club in Rome called "Aquafono" which I think means water sound? It was another great audience, and one of the best "band meals" yet from a venue. Late last year I got a new Stick and Emmett Chapman put glow in the dark fret markers in it. The club tonight had some sort of black lights on the stage which made the markers look incredible. Too bad nobody got any pictures of it! I was so fascinated by it that when Jerry handed me the mic so I could say hello to the crowd, I made mention of it... but I don't think anyone knew what I was talking about!

load-in at Aquafono
... another great audience!

Th March 3 - Rome, Italy
Still more sightseeing! Today was another day off in the schedule, and I realized that if I was going to get back to the Vatican to see Peter's tomb and for that matter the museum and the Sistine Chapel, today was the day! I had heard that the tomb was only open from 8-9am, and knew the museum closed about 2:30, so.. I got an early start. I wasn't sure if Jerry was even up, and I knew he had some other plans for the day, so I just set out on my own.

Entering the Basilica again that early in the morning was almost a surreal experience. There are maybe 25 or so altars in the main section of the basilica, and I found that more than half of them had priests saying mass at the same time, and while most were probably in Italian there were many in other languages including English. I made my way downstairs again and found that indeed a gate was open that hadn't been open when Jerry and I first visited it. I went through and found myself in a curving hallway which I was surprised to find had chapels on either side, all with more masses being said! It really felt like a scene out of a movie. Near the end of the hall I found what sounded like an American priest saying mass. I wound up talking to some women from the States who said Peter's tomb was part of an excavations tour. Well.. to make a long story short, after talking my way through some Swiss guard and visiting the excavations office, I found out you had to make an appointment 3 weeks in advance to go on the tour. Oh well.. next time!

St Peter's Basilica
another gated off tunnel in the basement

Basilica floor with mention of Los Angeles
Swiss Guards outside the Basillica

With plenty of time left in the day, my next stop was the Vatican museum. Wow... too much for the few hours I spent there or even a full day. I was too busy looking at things to take many pictures, and some exhibits (like the Sistine Chapel) didn't allow photography, but.. here are a few glimpses.

a courtyard in the museums

doorway art (is that the US depicted?)
this way to the secret archives (shhh!)

bottom of a gift from Nixon to the Vatican
moonrocks (top of gift)

Wed March 2 - Rome, Italy
Day 2 of our Roman sightseeing adventures, and already this page is looking more like a sightseeing tour than a band tour! With an unexpected day off today, Jerry and I had plenty of time to explore Rome more. We started with the Colosseum, where as you can see Jerry fit right in:

inside the colosseum
a modern centurion at rest outside the colosseum

While all of Rome has a lot of historical relics, the center is so full of them it's almost comical. Some of our Italian friend's told of how to many the Colosseum was an "eye sore" or a road barrier and how every time someone tried to build something in Rome they were always digging up something historically significant and had to stop! We walked past I don't know how many famous landmarks..

a view from the Colosseum
arch of Constantine

more old stuff

On the Palantine hill
part of the Italian government (?)

Towards the end of the day, Jerry wanted to do some shopping for his family, so we spent awhile walking through a recommended shopping area. Virna Splendore recommended the night before that we visit a church called St Peter in Chains as well. We found it not far from the shopping area, and stopped in. The church was built around a relic believed to be the chains that held St Peter imprisoned in Harod's dungeon in Jerusalem. A gold box held the chains under the altar. Another big attraction there though was a Michaelangelo sculpture of Moses.

St Peter's chains
Moses by Michelangelo

Finally making our way back to the hotel, Jerry made mention that he was in desperate need of a haircut. So.. we made several stops along our journey for him to try to find a good place (though he never got one!)

negotiating a "Jer-cut"

Tue, March 1 - Rome, Italy
Today was a day off in our schedule. Normally for a touring musician too many days off is a bad thing as it means lots of expense from being on the road and no income. But.. we're in Rome! While Jerry had been here many years before, this was my first trip and I was determined to make the most of it.

Jerry and I set out on sightseeing adventures today with the first stop on my list being St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican (center of the Catholic Church). Having been Catholic for all of my life, I'd seen photos and images of some of the buildings and art for years, and actually prior to this trip, it was always at the top of my traveling wish list to go there. Jerry and I rented audio guides at the Basilica and spent several hours there. First we climbed the stairs to the massive dome. A walkway spans around part of where it joins the rest of the roof . It gave an incredible view of both the inside of the Basilica and outside of the city of Rome.

viewing St Peter's dome
looking up at the dome

St Peter's square from the basillica's roof
a tourist on the roof

more from the dome
ext. of the dome, from the roof of St Peter's

Another Italian Toilet (Toilet series - pt IV) - roof of St Peter's

Arriving in the Basilica itself finally, we spent maybe 3 or 4 hours viewing the art and listening to our audio guides. Walking through the Basilica, I recoginzed many many famous works from my old art history classes. What impressed my most though wasn't the art itself, but hearing the history behind much of it (better told by others.. elsewhere).

Michelangelo's Pieta
behind the Papal altar

One story at St Peter's fascinated me most of all. Tradition has it that the modern Basilica and a smaller one built centuries before (about 320 AD or so) were both built on the site of the Apostle Peter's grave. Watching the History Channel a few years ago, I saw a documentary that the Vatican had begun excavations beneath the Basilica some years ago. Feeling a little like Indiana Jones armed with a digital camera, I was quick to follow a sign in the Basilica pointing towards "Peter's tomb." What we found was that beneath the Basilica's floor is a sort of basement with a number of elaborate sarcophagus; the tombs of various pope's. At one end was an elaborate memorial (behind closed glass doors) to Peter. Somewhere along the way I heard that Peter's tomb was only open from 8-9am, while masses were going on, so.. I made plans to try to come back early another day.

beneath the basillica's floor; St Peter's tomb

In the evening we met up with our friends (and fellow Stick players) Virna and Roberto (aka "SplendoRe"). The other Roberto, from the PG tribute band had given us some disappointing news during the day, that our show scheduled for the next day had been canceled! While we had four shows scheduled in Rome with Marotta/Griesgraber and the PG Tribute Band, there was also a fifth with Marotta/Griesgraber and SlendoRe. Five shows in any one city IS a lot.. and apparently the owner of the club Jailbreak got nervous thinking there would be nobody at his show. Of course, all of this happened without Jerry and I talking to the club owner ourselves, so Jerry had the idea that if we could go and talk to him, maybe something could be worked out. So... with SplendoRe, we took a trip to the club only to find it closed and locked! Closed on Monday night.. canceled show on Tuesday night.. I'm not sure how any club can stay in business if they stay closed every night! We spent the rest of the evening dining and having a great time with SplendoRe.

Don't we have a show tomorrow? (Splendore and JM)
a living room jam

Mon, Feb 28 - Rome, Italy - Linux Club
We were met at the train station last night by Andrea and Roberto from the Peter Gabriel Tribute Band. They're a group based in Rome that play, well.. Peter Gabriel music. They helped set upfour of our shows here and we'll be doing all of them with them. Tonight was our first show in Rome, in a club called Linux. It was apparently named after the computer OS, and they had a number of computers inside, plus a bar and small stage. It was actually the first place all trip that I could get online with my laptop wirelessly! The club had a real high tech feel. In addition to the computers they had a number of video monitors hung from the ceiling. While we played and while the PG Tribute band played, they actually had PG's "Growing Up Live" DVD playing on the monitors (with the sound off of course). It was kind of funny to be playing and glance to my left at a giant image of Peter in concert. The PG band also asked Jerry and I to sit in with them. Jerry told me he hadn't even really listened to PG's albums in probably at least 15 years.. as me for I listen to them frequently, but.. had never played any of the material. After a quick listening session, we wound up sitting in on Shock the Monkey and San Jacinto. Fun!

live at Linux!
posters at Linux

lookit him go!

great audience at Linux!
Linux' door with a different kind of art

hotel view in Roma

Sun Feb 27 - traveling from Cluny, France to Rome
They say all roads lead to Rome.. what I didn't realize till today was that getting from Cluny to Rome almost means you have to take "all roads." After a nice brunch with our friends in Cluny we hit the road... and didn't stop for about 13 or 14 hours! Jerry and some of the locals had the idea that it would be good to go by train. Jerry I think had fond memories of an old PG tour in Europe that was all done by trains. It was definitely nice to be able to get up and walk around when you wanted to, but also a very long day.

Marco and Rosanna drove us from Cluny to Torino (just inside the Italian border). We were worried we might miss a train there, so Marco drove as only an Italian can! We actually went through a few red lights, and sometimes even swerved into the wrong side of traffic to get around cars stopped at the light! But.. we made it and were soon on our own with a train ride to Milan, then a switch to a train to Rome.

Jerry learns to use the pay phoes (w. local help)
Milan Station (catching a train to Rome)

Train from Torino to Milan

Back seat (driving from Cluny to the train in Torino)
Front seat

Want more stories and trivia? Check out the website archives for past tour diaries.

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