Saturday, July 7, 2012

Study Abroad Re-Cap: Tuesdays with the (Italian) Beatles

Probably one of my favorite activities in (and now memories of) Florence was attending the Beatles cover band night every Tuesday.  As many of my friends know, I have always been a huge Beatles fan, so I was really excited when I heard about this weekly event from my roommates.  Unfortunately, I did not get around to actually going to the concerts until around mid-semester since it was held at 11 p.m. on a school night each week. But after a while, I figured I could sleep when I was not in Italy anymore.

The first night I went to Beatles night was with Liz and her boyfriend Mike, who was visiting Florence at the time, and our friend Ryan.  Beatles night is held in this little, literally underground bar called "Be Bop" just past the Duomo.  We had to walk at least 20-30 minutes across the city just to get there, but it was always so worth it. Upon arrival, we walked down a set of stairs into this tiny, dark room crammed with tables and people craning to see the four men on the little stage.  On that first night, we entered in the middle of one of their songs, and I immediately was impressed (and really excited) because the cover band sounded almost just like the Beatles! Even though the looks were not exactly right on, they even dressed up in character!  The four of us were shuffled into another room past where the performance was taking place since there was no seating in the first room – and thus no good view of the performance – so we just stood and listened for a while.

I was familiar with most of the songs, as were Liz and Mike, but Ryan was not a die-hard Beatles fan and was just along for the fun.  In the middle of each song, one of the Beatles (usually the men who played Paul or John) would speak to the audience in English in a British accent to try to get the crowd excited.  It was difficult to figure out if the Beatles were actually British or Italian that night, but I eventually figured out on a later occasion that they were Italian (since they talk to each other onstage in Italian). Even though we didn't get to see much of the show that first night, it was still a ton of fun to bob to the beat of familiar songs and see what the Italian take on The Beatles was.
The Be Bop sign onstage! Photo courtesy of Carly Cummins.

Looks just like the real drum!!! Photo courtesy of Carly Cummins.

The second time I went back to Beatles night, it was just Ryan and me.  Everyone else was either too tired, too lazy or had too much homework.  This time, the show was not as crowded and we were able to snag ourselves some front-row seats. Now, when I say front-row, I mean practically onstage since the room was so tiny! I was practically sitting on top of the speaker at the very front of the stage.  As the show went on, more people trickled in, but it was not nearly as crowded as the first night.

The Beatles, whose collective stage name is Vox Power, played everything from classic oldies to drug-induced hippie songs from The Beatles' repertoire.  It was about a two-hour show with a set break in the middle, where the band members would often visit with audience members.  (This was how I was eventually able to meet the young man who played George, and he recognized me on other occasions when I attended the show.  He was my age and we became friends and still keep in touch, which I hope will continue until the next time I visit Italy. I was very happy to have made an Italian friend!) People would get up to dance during "Twist and Shout" and sing along to other popular songs.  The whole night was a blast, and I was always sad when it had to end.
Vox Power on stage! From left, Paul, George, Ringo and John.  Photo courtesy of Liz Salois.

George, who switches to the keyboard halfway through the show, shares a reaction with Paul! Photo courtesy of Carly Cummins. 

I only had to skip a few Beatles nights during the rest of the semester, but I tried to make it a weekly activity.  At first, it was just Ryan and me who attended each week, but we eventually persuaded our other friends to come too. Unfortunately, it was near the end of the semester, and they left wondering "Why didn't I start coming sooner?"

Beatles Night, though not a traditional Italian activity, is one of the things I miss most about Florence.  I loved the quirkiness of four Italian men speaking in British accents and singing Beatles songs, and the shows were always a ton of fun.  It was also an interesting way to meet native Italians since half their audience members were Italians while the other half were tourists.  Since I've come back to America, every Tuesday at 5 p.m. I long to be back in Florence (since there is a 6-hour time difference, 5 p.m. in America = 11 p.m. in Italy) to see the beginning of the show and dance and sing along to my favorite tunes.  I fully intend to go back to Florence sometime in the future, and when I do, I will aim for a Tuesday so I can spend it with my favorite Italian Beatles.

If you have any questions regarding my study abroad experience or my life at St. Michael's College, do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on Formspring (lizmurray3).  I will do my best to answer whatever question you may have.


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  2. I stumbled upon this post while searching for the name of this bar - Be Bop. I would always go there on for the Beatles cover nights when I was studying abroad in Florence back in 2004. Always such a fun time. Thanks for refreshing my memory!