Forgive me for taking so long to get back to you. I have to say, "Tosca" at La Scala was profoundly stirring! Our seats were terrific. We traded around, so each of us sat in the orchestra for one act! I was thrilled that I sat in the orchestra for Act I because the set "inside the Basilica" was astounding!! The "ceiling" was FRESCOED and I wouldn't have been able to see it from above. I don't know which was more dazzling--the voices--or the newly refurbished Opera house, itself! The red velvet, gilt and crystal were pristine. I enjoyed being upstairs the last two acts. I stood on a bench and watched Loren Maisel direct! Those hands....The three of us were bowled over! We had such a wonderful side trip to Milano. It was certainly a "Peak Cultural Event." It was tough going on the train. We failed to make reservations! We had been to Florence on the train the week before, and it was practically empty. Oh, well! We took turns sitting on our suitcase. We did get a sitting respite between someplace and Emilio-Romagno. We were so "jazzed," it really didn't matter. Our little hotel was very close to the train station when we arrived and we absolutely fell in love with it (Hotel Charley, I believe). It was one block from the direct tram to La Scala. Our opera tickets had been delivered to the hotel that afternoon, as promised! We were able to get relaxing naps and find something to eat first. Just as we were waiting for the tram, there was a downpour! Fortunately, we were able to stand under a large overhang, so it was no problem at all. The entire evening seemed "charmed." After the opera, we walked over to the Galleria for a coffee and were stunned when suddenly all the men stood up, and here came Hui He, the superlative "Tosca," without her
makeup and with her entourage. She was carrying an armful of lillies and she passed within ten feet of us. She bowed beautifully and was incredibly gracious to her applauding fans. Yes, it was an incredible evening! Thank you so much for inquiring. And the next day, we rode some more trollyes and saw the duomo, etc.
In Tuscany, we stayed at a wonderful place, "Il Pavonne," owned by two lovely Italian women--sisters-- They remodeled an old farmhouse estate and turned it into five apartments. We had the entire place to ourselves almost all of the time, we were there so early (arrived in Lippiano on April 8th). It is in an extremely picturesque, tiny agricultural valley, with the village above. I gave them the email et al. for "Cultural Italy." They also own Il Castello in Lippiano, and have their living quarters on site, but rent out a few rooms, too. There is a cultural event in the area at some point and suggested that she contact your organization. They are delightful I had hoped to get an email from Lily--there were many important things happening I wanted to hear about. But so far, I have not. I'm sure I have their last name and contact information somewhere. We originally found the place to stay through a gentleman who owns a small villa a few kilometers away, and above. Tuscany in spring was breathtaking. It was so wonderful to be there three weeks to get to see the plants unfold and blossom! To have all that, plus La Scala & two nights in Venezia as well-- the trip of a lifetime! The espresso-- the gelato-- there is nothing like it!! But we do have some nice places here.... Do you ever get to San Francisco, Silvia? It would be lovely to meet you. I'm not much for Southern California, myself, although San Diego is pretty special--and that is where you are, right?
Again, thank you, Silvia, for all phone calls and the special assistance you rendered in making sure we were able to attend La Scala. Thanks also to all of the Cultural Italy staff.
A terrific organization! Sincerely,
Edelle Waller, USA