A few years ago Catriona Rowntree was fortunate enough to be shown around Rome
by one of today's greatest Italian singers Patrizio Buanne.
The handsome Italian baritone sings in the heart-melting style of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. He is described as having a combination of charisma, sex appeal and raw talent, sophistication and elegance His childhood was spent between Naples and Vienna so he is very European. He has an enormous following there and Australia has fallen in love with him too. His album The Italian achieved triple-platinum status here, which is no mean feat.
Patrizio will be returning to Australia in 2010 for his third concert tour. He last toured in 2007 to sell-out crowds.
Natalie Gruzlewski was the envy of the women in the Getaway office when she was asked to accompany Patrizio on a tour of Sydney which began in Leichhardt, the city's Italian quarter. It's known for great food, fruity gelato on summer nights, fantastic coffee and a wonderful mix of Aussie-Italians who call it home even if they don't live there!
One of the oldest and most authentic places on Norton Street, Bar Italia serves, according to many, the best coffee ever. Even the iced coffee is great. It's a family favourite and diners wander in and find themselves a table. They choose from a blackboard menu and most know what they want when they arrive. Pasta is mouth-watering, they serve chicken schnitzel with an Italian twist and if you're wanting something light, their focaccias go down well.
Bar Italia seats 250 diners in various sections from the gelato bar to a rear courtyard with ferns and climbing vines.
Locals soon spotted Natalie and Patrizio and he was charming. He even sang a few bars before they headed off to experience something completely different.
Harry's Café de Wheels
This Sydney institution doesn't exactly ooze European sophistication, but it has some history under its belt.
It began in the 1930s depression years when Harry Edwards opened a caravan cafe at the gates of the Woolloomooloo Naval Dockyard and has been open ever since. Harry's pie 'n' peas and crumbed sausages were a hit with the people who enjoy the city's nightlife. Name a celebrity who has visited Sydney and you can bet someone has taken them to Harry's for a late-night snack. Elton John even held a press conference from inside the caravan!
Harry's was classified by the National Trust in 2004 and is included on its register as a "quintessential Sydney icon".
The menu has expanded since the early days. Patrizio was convinced to try one of the favourites a pie'n'pea mash and was convincing when he said he really liked it.
The Opera Bar
The Opera Bar is a wonderful place to show off Sydney Harbour and the Opera House. Patrizio has had sell-out performances there, but has not wandered around as a tourist.
Natalie showed Patrizio the Opera House through different eyes on an intimate backstage tour which everyone can do. Just eight people at a time visit areas usually reserved for stars and their crews. They stand on the Concert Hall stage where performers such as Dame Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Michael Bublé and of course Patrizio have delighted audiences.
You can take up the conductor's baton in the orchestra pit, peep inside dressing rooms and see set designs and wardrobe. The tour includes a full breakfast in the Green Room.
Natalie popped out in goose bumps when Patrizio sang a cappella to show how good the Opera House acoustics are.
Leichhardt, an inner Sydney suburb, Woolloomooloo on Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House.
Bar Italia is open every day between 7am and 11pm. Main meals start at $15.
Harry's Café de Wheels is open every day from 8.30am and a great pie costs around $3.50.
Sydney Opera House private backstage tours are $150, including breakfast.
Opera Bar is open every day. Main meals start at $17.
Prices correct at October 15, 2009.
For further information
169 Norton Street
Ph: (02) 9560 9981
Harry's Café de Wheels
Cowper Wharf Roadway
Ph: (02) 9357 3074
Fax: (02) 9357 3020
The Sydney Opera House
Ph: (02) 9250 7250
Lower Concourse Level
Sydney Opera House
Ph: (02) 9247 1666
Patrizio Buanne will tour Australia in 2010. Performance dates are:
Tickets on sale from 9am, Thursday, October 15, 2009.