Thursday, 28 May 2020

My 2009 tour of Italy with Bruce Springsteen - Sightseeing

The Italian tour dates for Bruce Springsteen's Working On A Dream Tour in 2009 were ideal for someone to make a tour of central (Rome), north-west (Torino) and north-east (Udine) Italy. But I managed to squeeze a couple of other cities in it.
Well, my journey, started, naturally, from Rome. I took an Alitalia flight fom Athens to Rome on the day before the concert. It was an amazing sight when I glimpsed from the plane the western coast of Italy, my favourite country, which I hadn't visited in 20 years.

From the airport I took the train that goes directly to the central station.

From there, I took a taxi to my hotel where I met people who I had only known online before from the No Surrender forum. From there it was on to the Stadio Olimpico for our first roll call.

In the taxi I noticed how close the hotel was to Villa Borghese. Villa Borghese was on the itinerary of my first holiday in Italy way back in 1984 when Italy was the World Champion in football (and guess what : It was again in 2009). Unfortunately, it was closed at that time. I didn't have time to visit in in 2009, but I made a mental note to do so in the future. And I would get to visit the city several times in the coming years.
Well, we made it to the roll call area near the Stadio Olimpico (but not too close) where an (un) friendly football match had been arranged between the Italian and the Greek fans which sadly never took place. Afterwards, some of my friends decided to go sightseeing in the Vatican, but I skipped that to get some rest since I had visited Rome twice in the past (1984 and 1989). While walking around Rome later we found the hotel where Bruce and the band were staying near Piazza Del Popolo and we managed to glimpse Steve as he was rushed from a van to the hotel.

But the highlight of that Saturday night was when we went to a Bruce Springsteen party arranged by some Italian fans in a warehouse in some part of Rome that I wouldn't be able to find now. Once in there an Italian band played not only Springsteen but also other rock songs. And no, I can't remember the name of the band anymore. (Well now that I look at the photos it seems that they might have been called The Backstreets - The Band Of Hopes And Dreams). One thing I do remember though, is that at some point, a female singer came up on stage and performed an amazing version of "I Shall Be Released"

When we came back we learned that Bruce with his family was seen on Piazza Barberini the square that was near our hotel!
There was no sightseeing the following day, it was the day of the concert, it was extremely hot and it was spent on trips to and from the Stadio Olimpico.
On Monday morning we went straight to the railway station for a 7 hour trip to Torino. There wasn't much sightseeing in Torino I'm afraid. This time I was determined to follow the complete roll call procedure since I got a number that was low enough. So the only photographs I took were those near the hotel or the stadium. I plan to return to Torino one day, either to see a concert there or on a day trip from Milano on my next visit there and see the sights.

Udine was a different story however. I had decided not to go to the pit (I was too exhausted from Tuesday night's concert in Torino) so, when I arrived there on Wednesday afternoon, I decided to rest in my hotel (which was a beautiful building as you can see) and walk around the city.

I concentrated on the resting bit and left the sightseeing for the following morning on Thursday, the day of the concert. But before I started my sightseeing, I decided to go to the stadium to see what was going on there. There were special buses taking people to and from Stadio Friuli marked "Concerto Springsteen".

When I got to the stadium it was at the time that the pit bracelets were being handed out so I secured my entrance to the pit and was able to enjoy Udine without worries. I walked through the old town taking my time occasionally coming across headlines on newspapers about Springsteen's concert in the newspapers.

Then in the evening I went back to the stadium and straight into the pit.

On Friday morning I had to make my way to Milano from where I would catch my flight back to Athens. On my train ride from Torino to Udine, two days before however, I had noticed that I had to change trains at Mestre and from there it was less than an hour's journey to Udine.

That meant that Udine was close to Venice. So I decided to spend Friday in Venice and go to Milano at the end of the evening. And that's exactly what I did. It had been 21 years since my last visit to Venice in 1988 (I had also been there in 1984) and I enjoyed it immensely. I took the vaporetto from Piazzale Roma where the train station is to Piazza San Marco and slowly, via Rialto Bridge I made my way back enjoying several beers and stracciatella ice cream along the way (And bumping into several Springsteen fans). I was shocked to discover two things: that the bridge of sighs was closed for restoration (it was almost completely covered) and that there was a Simple Minds concert taking place at Piazza San Marco on that night. I wanted to attend that one was well but as I could see by my calculations I would not be able to catch the last train to Milano.

I arrived in Milano on Friday night, checked into the hotel went out again to get something to eat and just as I got back in again one of the heaviest rains I had ever seen started. So I stayed in.

Saturday morning was a different thing though. It was a beautiful sunny day and after I left my hotel I went to the Piazza Del Duomo to enjoy the sunshine, drink more beer and eat more ice cream. It was hard to believe there wasn't going to be a Springsteen concert that night since I had been going to one every two days (Sunday night in Rome, Tuesday night in Torino and Thursday night in Udine). However, I got a phone call while sunning myself beside the Duomo from my friends in Athens who wanted to tell me that we were going to go out that night in Athens. So I made my way to the train station, went to Malpensa airport and from there I took an EasyJet flight to Athens.

I arrived in Athens on the hottest night of the year. And yes, I didn't take any time to rest, after I arrived home I went out again to the city centre and met my friends, most of whom had only been to the Rome concert and we stayed there until 6am on Sunday morning. I took a well earned rest for the whole of Sunday and on Monday morning I somehow managed to go to work...