odore di basket

E ‘fantastico essere di nuovo in Italia .. Land of passion, pizza, pasta, perfection (in some areas)pother and puzzlement. We arrive in this beautiful country in the midst of a financial and political crisis and a threatened fuel strike although thankfully, that hasn’t materialized. I woke to a beautiful Autumn morning with the sun streaming into the room through the gaps in the blackout curtains. My first Italian breakfast order of the tour is well worth a mention. It was 10:55 so I assumed that breakfast would still be available. Well we are in Italy and everything operates about two hours later here…doesn’t it? I asked if I could order some room service breakfast. The conversation went as follows –
“buongiorno, could I order some breakfast please?”
“per la raccolta?”
“continental please”
“with orange juice?”
“and some muesli?”
“and coffee?”
“grazie mille”
“OK”…click…..4 minutes and thirty seconds later there is a LOUD knock on the door and a waitress appears with a tiny tray containing a toasted cheese and ham sandwich. She’s clearly been running and says in very broken English (possibly even more broken than my Italian) that breakfast finished at 10am but she ‘found’ this. I thank her with a smile, said “OK” and tucked in to my mini feast. Thankfully, I have tea with me!

The hotel appears to be situated on some sort of commercial trading estate so the thought of going for a stroll wasn’t particularly appealing. I decided to stay in my room for the day. My room. Yes. Let’s talk about this hotel. Surely designed by a drunken architect, the B4 is hailed as an icon of pure contemporary balance between Italian design and functionality, although I’m not quite sure where the functionality bit comes in….The rooms are spacious and the beds are comfortable but that’s where the fun ends. A desk which can barely fit a computer, two designer chairs built around Jabba the Hut’s vital statistics, a bathroom tap and shower system which requires a degree in ingenuity to operate and an internal ambient temperature of 30 degrees celsius. Thankfully you can open the windows to allow in the swarms of mosquitos. Did you know that Mosquitoes do not actually feed on blood. The female mosquito requires a blood meal for development of her eggs. Anyway, as always, one must look at the positives and the available space and tropical greenhouse characteristics lent themselves perfectly to a good sweaty yoga session. The less you know about that the better. A later bag call today due to the later show times in Italy and I was soon on the street with the other guys who were discussing their personal experiences in the hotel. Some of the chaps had gym equipment in their rooms. Mark’s shower gushed water onto his carpet, Pete’s tap had no lever so he inserted his toothbrush into it in order to achieve a flow of water. See what I mean about ingenuity. Happy to be aboard the bus and away from the hotel…never B4, never again.

The venue was just around the corner and the Carl guided the bus into the parking lot which had barely room enough left for one more bus. As you are probably aware, we have quite a few buses on the road with us on this trip. The PalaFabris is a Basketball, Volleyball and Handball arena was built 25 years ago and is a new venue for us although I read that Bob played here last year. We were escorted to our dressing room by production manager Colin (Alfie) Barton which was sited directly next to catering. As has now become customary upon our arrival, most of us dived straight into the leftover lunchtime soup which today was Pea and Mint. The dressing room had a particular odour which for now we’ll label ‘odore di Basketball changing room’ but the mozzies seemed to enjoy it. I wandered around the venue looking for shots.

The gennie…

Our usual band backstage banter brought us toward sound-check time and we ran through our usual three tunes. Colin brings into the dressing room a set list from the previous night together with a Sharpie pen and I write on it any changes for this evening’s show together with the three sound we will sound-check. This is because of the limited sound-check time and so the crew can be ready with the relevant instruments etc. The show itself was..you’ve guessed it…fabulous. It’s always great to be on the receiving end of pure Italian laudation and tonight’s audience were fantastic. THIS is why we come to Italy I thought. Mark and Bob gathered at the side of stage and we heard the unmistakable sound of Al’s pre-Bob announcement and there was an Italian roar and they were on. 4 songs later Mark returned smiling to the dressing room. I think he’s having fun up there and it would certainly appear that Bob is too. How fab is that!

All aboard the buses once more but departure was delayed slightly as the sushi order hadn’t arrived. Tim said it would appear in 10 minutes. We were all doubtful, but it did! It was worth the wait too.. we set off bound for one of the most beautiful and intriguing cities on the planet, Firenze, Florence. The mountainous route South is one of the trickiest and dangerous of the tour according to Carl with many late night trucks, many tunnels and inclines. Jim once again blew our collective minds with a playlist seemingly from another world. The highpoint was undoubtedly an instrumental called ‘Moonlight and Roses’ by the Three Suns. Completely mad.

Even though I’d had dinner AND sushi, when I saw a plate of mini pastries in the room when we arrived at the hotel, my renowned self-control deserted me.

Happy Days