March 29, 2013     Chris Keeling

5 Best Venues for Your Italy Performance Tour


Italy is one of the few countries in the world that needs no introduction. Every year people come from all over to experience Italy’s art, beauty, and history. Italy also offers some of the most spectacular venues to perform in. I want to share with you 5 venues Italy offers on your performance tour that will change a musician’s life forever. 

Santa Maria del Popolo is a gorgeous Augustinian Church located just north of the Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous squares in Rome.  Pope Gregory IX turned the original chapel into a church in the first part of the 13th century.  This church has excellent acoustics, as do most cathedrals in Italy, and is a stunning place to perform.

Text: '4. Sant’Andrea della Valle'; background: white and gold altar embellished with numerous paintings and marble accents, with square columns surrounding it

Located in the heart of Rome, Sant’Andrea della Valle is a basilica constructed in 1650 and was the largest commission of its day.  The venue is famous for its frescoes on the dome of the Basilica.  Performing here is like stepping back in time: the beauty of this church, paired with its rich history, makes this a wonderful performance opportunity for any musical ensemble.

Text: '3. St. Paul Outside the Walls'; background: small basilica with marble statue and two palm trees in front; colorful paintings of various robed figures flanking the second-story windows

St. Paul Outside the Walls is one of Rome’s four ancient major basilicas, and Italy’s second largest!  This is one of my absolute favorite places in all of Rome.  The original construction of this basilica dates back to Constantine, who wanted to build a church over the burial site of Paul the Apostle.  The coffin under the altar has been excavated for visitors to see, although the contents of the coffin still remain a mystery.

Text: '2. Santa Maria sopra Minerva'; background: interior of a large church with gold and marble accents and a bright cobalt blue ceiling featuring religious paintings, looking down towards the altar

Santa Maria sopra Minerva is located just a block away from the Pantheon in the heart of Rome.  The Minerva has been a church since 1557 and was built directly over the ruins of a temple dedicated to an Egyptian god.  My favorite thing about this church is the original Michelangelo statue, Cristo della Minerva, located to the left of the main altar…and the main altar is, of course, where the ensemble would perform!  To me, this is very special.  To be able to perform right next to a Michelangelo statue is possible only in Italy—and specifically only at Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

Text: '1. St. Peter's Basilica'; background: view of Maderno's facade of St. Peter's Basilica, which features Corinthian columns and a large dome, from the nearest square, Piazza San Pietro, at sunset

There is no other opportunity in Italy that has the same power and magnitude as performing a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.  Recognized as one of the holiest Catholic sites, and the second largest church in the world, there is no experience quite like it.  The sheer size and gravity of performing in St. Peter’s can easily bring tears to your eyes, and will definitely stay with a musician for the rest of their lives.

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