Tuesday, May 13, 2014

SBCC Featured Guest Choir for Mass on June 1, 2014 at 11:30 am at Sant' Agostino Church in Rieti

The SBCC Choir will be featured guest choir for Mass on Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 11:30 am in Rieti, Italy at Sant' Agostino Church.

The church is located at Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini and dedicated to Saint August, who decided to establish a type of religious life inspired by the early community of Jerusalem.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Your venue in Florence on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 8:00 pm

The SBCC Choir is going to perform at Santa Maria Maggiore in Florence, Italy on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

The ancient church which has existed since at least the 8th century, was first documented in 931 (or 1021) and underwent extensive renovations to the facade and sides in the 13th century.

The rough stone exterior had a marble façade designed for it by Alfonso Parigi which was never built. It was plastered over until a restoration in 1912-13, at which time some of the baroque features were also removed. The romanesque campanile remains with a half-bust of a woman, known as Berta and almost certainly ancient roman. Legend has it that she was a woman who made fun of a passing condemned prisoner who cursed her and she turned to stone.

The interior is simple with a nave and two aisles, ogival arches and groin vaults. Artworks include frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti and a nativity by Matteo Rosselli. Other artworks once housed in the church include the Carnesecchi Triptych, by Masolino da Panicale and Masaccio, as well as the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian and the Lamentation over the Dead Christ with Saints by Botticelli

Pictures curtesy of:  http://www.churchesofflorence.com/

Your last home away from home in Rome, Italy

 Allow us to introduce another home away from home as we continue to share information about the 2014 SBCC Italy Performance Tour. Incantato Tours takes great pride in selecting nice and safe hotels in good locations for our traveling choirs and are very happy to present the new H10 Roma Città Hotel.

This modern 4-star hotel is located in the Marconi neighborhood just a short distance from the district of Trastevere and features all amenities travelers enjoy including comfy beds, solarium, national and international newspaper, ice machines, laundry service and also a rooftop swimming pool.

The hotel has 181 rooms, which are equipped with flat-screen LCD TV with international channels, smart temperature control, pillow top, MP3 (audio) and PC connection, safe box and professional hair dryer.

We don't know yet how the weather will be, but do not forget to bring your bathing suits. Another great perk is free WIFI throughout the hotel - and even in high speed so you can upload all your pictures and videos. Arriverderci!

Hotel Cavour in Rieti, Italy - Your second hotel

Hotel Cavour is situated on the bank of the river Velino. Its strategic position allows to reach the Rieti's historical city center in few minutes walking along its winding streets.

Each of the 34 rooms have LCD satellite TV, mini bar, safe, direct dial phone, hair dryer, air conditioning and internet connection.  Some rooms overlook the river Velino on the historical part of the city with the ancient Roman Bridge, others look out onto Piazza Cavour, that is one of the main points of junction to reach the institutions and the commercial areas of the town.

The hotel also has a restaurant with panoramic view, breakfast room and a gym. 

Your first home away from home in Florence, Italy

 Nilhotel, with its 246 rooms is the third popular hotel in Florence for accommodation and number of beds. The 4-star hotel was built in January 2009 and offers facilities such as meeting rooms, restaurant, American bar, garage and a private parking, high speed internet access, an internet point and the WI-FI connection in all the common areas.

It is located in the business area of Novoli, on the North/West of Florence, nearby the new University district, the Court and Local Authorities. The hotel is well connected to the historic city center, the Congress Palace, the exhibition area of Fortezza da Basso and to Santa Maria Novella train station by public transportation.

It has 246 newly furnished guest rooms. 4 lifts available for 7 floors. All guest rooms are soundproof and equipped with safe, satellite TV, self controlling air conditioning, high speed internet connection and hairdryer.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Travel Tip: Money Matters

Dear SBCC travelers, 

We all know money is a delicate subject. The best way to use your money during your upcoming 2014 Italy Performance Tour with Incantato Concert Tours is to have a debit or credit card. 

Paying with these cards allows you to minimize cash needs and also allows you to withdraw money from any ATM machine with only being charged a small withdrawal fee. The fee differs between banks. Be sure to call your bank before your departure to tell them where you are going and for how long so they won't freeze your account. The debit cards given by the bank has the compatibility of Visa, MasterCard, however, Visa is the most widely accepted worldwide. 

If you bring cash, you can exchange it but you will lose more money as they charge for their services. 
Please keep in mind that most places in Europe won't accept traveler's checks anymore. Also, be prepared to pay for water in restaurants/ bars and a little fee for restroom use (usually 0,50 EUR). 

We suggest you have some spending money available and our recommendation is around 20 US-Dollar per day for the meals not included, snacks, drinks, postcards, some souvenirs. It is not imperative that you have this amount of money. There are many ways to lower your expenses such as:

  • Most restaurants abroad have menus outside, so you can check their price range before you enter it.
  • Venture off the main roads to find a restaurant. These usually have more character, better food, and also better prices.
  • Bring your own water bottle. Most places have safe tap water to fill up with.
  • Buy food from the "convenient" stores. You don't have to sit down in the restaurant for every meal.
  • Hop around for souvenirs. Many stores have the same things on sale for very different prices.
Last but not least, there are no free refills on soft drinks in Europe which is why most Europeans ask for little to no ice in their drinks.

Last but not least, remember that your Incantato Tour Manager is with you pretty much 24/7. The guide is there to help you make the right choices abroad and answer all the questions you may have.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Travel Tip: What to pack for your Incantato Performance Tour?

Dear SBCC Travelers,

As your departure for your Italy Performance Tour 2014 gets closer, Incantato Tours provides you with some travel tips to make it easier for you to get ready for your tour.

For most people, packing for a trip is the most difficult part. The solution for many is to just pack as much as you possibly can into your suitcase and backpack, but as a colleague explains it:

"You'll be thanking me later when you don't break your back from having to carry everything on your own. Don't do it!" 

Her advice:

"Pack as lightly as you can. The best way to get it all to fit nicely into your suitcase is to fold it nicely 
and then roll it tightly. It can all fit into your bag like a puzzle."

Keep in mind, however, that many cathedrals have a dress code and will not allow you to walk in if you are wearing tank tops or shorts. A scarf is a good solution to this code. And shorts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents).

Below are a few things that we think are essential to have to be comfortable with what the weather brings and with the weight of your bag - remember, airlines allow only one checked bag per person and a small carry-on.

A sample packing list (just a suggestion!):

  • Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
  • Umbrella
  • Gloves, scarf, hat… if you tend to feel chilly!
  • An adapter plug/converter (if you are bringing electronic devices, please check if they are compatible, most new devices are)
  • Camera and batteries or charger with adapter
  • At least two pair of jeans/pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or dresses, too
  • A sweater or two, (or three, if you tend to feel chilly).
  • Plenty of shirts, including a polo or two and at least two dress shirts (Europeans dress much more formal than Americans)
  • Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes
  • A watch, make-up and jewelry if applicable (carry on any valuables at all times)
  • Choir music and attire
  • Don't forget shoes, we recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes, good everyday shoes, dress shoes). Bring nice concert shoes, but make sure that you will be able to walk long distances in them. Europeans do not wear flip flops other than to the pool or at the beach.
  • Put all liquids that are in your carry-on into a zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules by TSA | Transportation Security Administration.
  • All scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. are better packed in your check-in luggage along with liquids over 3 ounces. Bring enough contact lens solution and prescription medication that you may need for the whole duration of the trip.

If you forget anything there are plenty of shops where you can by shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Incantato Welcomes You to Florence

Located in Tuscany, the city of Florence is one of the greatest artistic capitals in the world. It is a monument to the Renaissance and the artistic and cultural reawakening of the 15th century. 
The city began as a Roman colony in 59 BC and grew to a trading hub and independent city. In time, power passed to leading noble families of the city, the most influential of which were the Medici, a hugely wealthy banking dynasty. Both Florence and Tuscany remained under the family's rule for three centuries until 1737, and the mark they left can be seen throughout the city even today. It was during this time that Florence was at the cultural and intellectual heart of Europe. 

There are so many sights to see in one of Italy's most visited cities, that it is impossible to present them all here. Therefore, just a few highlights are mentioned, and the rest is left to own exploration. 
The historic part of Florence is a compact area, and the river Arno bisects the city. The oldest surviving bridge in the city that crosses the Arno is the Ponte Vecchio, built in 1345. It is almost exclusively jewelers and goldsmiths that offer items for sale in the shops that line the bridge, a tradition that started back in the 16th century. The Ponte Vecchio is also the only bridge in the city that escaped any destruction during World War II. 

Perhaps the most famous of Florence's landmarks and historical buildings is the richly decorated Duomo, the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore with its orange-tiled dome. The city's geographical and historical focus, the Duomo rises above the heart of Florence and to this day remains the city's tallest building. It has become Florence's most famous symbol and the cathedral is Europe's fourth largest church. The dome was finished by Brunelleschi in 1463 and was the largest of its time to be built without scaffolding. 

The Academy of Fine Arts, the Galleria dell'Accademia, was established in 1563. It was the first school in Europe specifically to teach the techniques of drawing, painting, and sculpture. The art collection displayed here today was formed in 1784. Its most famous work is Michelangelo's David, a colossal nude of the biblical hero who killed the giant Goliath. Created in 1504, it established Michelangelo as the foremost sculptor of his time at the age of 29. Another one of Michelangelo's masterpieces found here is the Quattro Prigioni, the Four Prisoners, a sculpture created between 1521 and 1523 and intended to adorn the tomb of Pope Julius II. 

Built from 1560 to 1580 to house offices, the Uffizi are now one of Italy's leading art galleries. Originally, the upper story was used as a gallery to display the Medici art treasures. Today, it houses the world's greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art and a priceless collection of paintings, including the Birth of Venues, painted by Botticelli in 1485. 
Across the river Arno, the vast Pitti Palace is second only to the Uffizi in its art collection. It was constructed in 1457 and in 1550, it became the main residence of the Medici family and subsequently all rulers of the city of Florence lived here. The Palace's richly decorated rooms exhibit countless treasures from the Medici collections and contain galleries with works by great Renaissance artists including Raphael and Titian. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

SBCC Travelers Flight Schedule

Departure for Europe
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Lufthansa flight LH453 leaves Los Angeles (LAX) for Munich (MUC), Germany, at 5:20 pm, arrival is at 1:40 pm local time on the next day (Thursday, May 29, 2014).
The group then connects from Munich (MUC) at 6:10 pm with Air Dolomiti flight EN8196 to Florence (FLR), Italy, with an arrival time of 7:25 pm local time.

Return to the US
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Lufthansa flight LH231 departs Rome (FCO), Italy, at 10:10 am local time for Frankfurt (FRA), Germany, to arrive at 12:10 pm.
The group then connects from Frankfurt (FRA) at 2:05 pm with Lufthansa flight LH450 to Los Angeles (LAX) with an arrival time of 4:40 pm local time.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The SBCC Choir Italy Tour Materials

Dear SBCC Choir Travelers,

Your most important tour information can be found in your tour brochure. In order to sign up for the tour, you must fill out and submit the original registration form to Incantato Tours (our mailing address is located on your registration form).

If you would like to download any of the tour materials, we have made both of these available to you as PDFs from our Dropbox account:

SBCC Travelers Tour Route

The SBCC travelers will embark on their performance tour through Italy in Tuscany, in the city of Florence (A). Their next stop is Siena (B), then contuniue on to Rieti (C). From here, day excursions are planned both to Assisi (D) and Orvieto (E). The final stop of the journey will be in Rome (F) and Vatican City. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Incantato Introduces Siena

322 meters above sea level, Siena (in English sometimes spelled Sienna) is right in the heart of Tuscany, Italy. It is also the capital of the province of Siena. But the true origin of this magnificent city is still uncertain. A number of historians refer to an ancient Etruscan settlement known as Sena, which stood on the borders between the lands governed by Volterra, Arezzo and Chiusi. When this settlement was conquered by the Romans under Augustus, it took on the name of Sena Iulia.

The origin of the name Siena is probably Etruscan and could derive from the name of a family, the Saina. It was quite common for patrician families to take on the name of their place of origin. A number of references to the name Saena appear in Latin texts, ass

Some legends trace the founding of the city back to a young Roman named Senius, one of the children of Rhemus who was forced to flee the rage of his uncle Romulus along with another of his siblings, Ascanius. These two brothers are believed to have left Rome with a statue of the she-wolf and, after finding refuge on a hill above the river Tressa, built a fortress known as Castel Senio, or Castelvecchio – reputed to be the first nucleus around which the city developed over the millennia. This is the reason why the emblem of Siena remains to this day the she-wolf of Rome.
The diocese of Siena probably dates back to the reigns of Gratian and Theodosius, following the conversion of the area by Ansanus, a young martyr who is the city’s main patron saint.

The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008.

The city is also famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held twice a year.