A Surprise Serenade in Rome during a Europe Cruise

by Donna Hurd

Rain or shine, Donna and her husband, Bill, pose in front of Rome's Trevi Fountain
Rain or shine, Donna and her husband, Bill, pose in front of Rome's Trevi Fountain

I finally got my husband to Europe by going on a Europe cruise … and what a way to go.  The Crown Princess cruise ship sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome enticed him to finally agree to the long airline flight from Rome back home.

The cruise vacation had eight full days at sea in the beginning, so I thought it would be our marriage test.  But with so much to do onboard, we never opened our books.  (So I guess we passed our test!)

Our ports of call were fascinating — the Barbary Apes in Gibraltar were so interesting, and the hillside towns of Guadalest in Spain and Les Baux de Provence in France were beautiful.   But the highlight of our trip came in Rome, with a surprise serenade not long after we arrived.

We expected to see the usual wonders of this amazing city, the best of Rome – the Roman ruins of the Coliseum, and the Forum; the St. Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City; and landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.

This last place turned out to be the first we visited – and did we get a surprise!  Naturally, our hotel room wasn’t ready, and to top it off it was raining cats and dogs.  But, since my husband had never been to Rome, we weren’t going to waste any time — so I told him we were going out to walk around the area and, luckily the Spanish Steps were nearby.

We ducked under umbrellas and climbed to the top of the stairs.  This is no small achievement even when it’s not raining, as the full staircase is more than 130 steps.  Technically the stairs are called the “Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti” but they earned their more common nickname because they ascend from the Piazza di Spanga.

It stopped raining as we reached the top.  So we started walking more slowly back down the steps and got as far as the first landing before we noticed that suddenly there were security guards all over the place.   We saw that the landing was empty as people had moved to stand on the sides.

Suddenly, four people appeared on this “stage.”   First a red-haired man stood out to me.  I said to my husband, “Look, it’s the red-haired doctor from ‘ER,’ Scott Grimes.”  Then I looked at the second man and said “Wait, there’s Russell Crowe!”  The third person was very familiar looking, turns out it was Kevin Durand.  We knew him from several episodes of “Lost.”  The last person had a guitar and we later identified him as Alan Doyle.

The four of them began to sing.  They sang “Beautiful Girls”, “Man in the Mirror”, and a couple of other songs.  We lucked out, our impromptu walk led us front row and center for the performance so we had an unobstructed view for the whole thing – a perfect vantage point as I juggled my camera in one hand and mini-camcorder in the other.  After a 15 minute serenade, they said “thank you” and left.

As if on cue, just then it started pouring again so we headed back to our hotel.  The front desk person told us that Russell Crowe is very popular in Rome because of the film “Gladiator” and that it was the 10th anniversary of the movie.

A little internet searching once we got back home revealed even more.  It seems that we were in Rome for European opening weekend of Russell’s movie “Robin Hood” and that the rest of the singers were his “merry men” performing some unusual film publicity.  We’ve also discovered we’re all over You Tube because we were captured on video by anyone filming from the right-hand side.

It was quite a way to start off our time in Rome.  We did get to see many of the sights that have made Rome famous throughout the centuries, and it was a wonderful way to cap off our transatlantic cruise and my husband’s first trip to Europe.  However, I had to tell him that you don’t always get serenaded by movie stars when you go to Rome.