The last two days for us have been filled with sightseeing, soccer, eating amazing food, and most importantly, shopping. Yesterday we got up to do some conditioning before we headed over to the Vatican to go through the museum, see the Sistine Chapel, and see St. Peter’s Basilica. Since we were in a group, we were lucky enough to bypass the enormous line waiting to get into the Vatican Museum. There were hundreds of people waiting to get inside, and from what I was told, August is not even the busiest month of the summer, so I’m sure during June and July it is absolutely nuts. Inside the museum, we were able to see tons of Roman art, mostly sculptures and tapestries. Before entering the Sistine Chapel, our guide, Manuela, gave us a little history about the architecture and paintings as no one is allowed to speak once you enter the chapel – it’s hard to miss this with the guards yelling “SILENCIO, SILENCE” every five minutes. On the ceiling of the Chapel we were able to see Michelangelo’s amazing depiction of scenes from the Bible, done in an art style called “fresco”, which literally means “fresh” or “wet”, and involves painting directly onto wet plaster so that the paint becomes part of the building and will never wash away. We spent about fifteen minutes admiring the entire Chapel and then made our way out and walked the short distance to St. Peter’s Basilica. We learned a lot about the Basilica, like when and why it was built and what it is used for today. Once inside, we were able to explore, and for those who have never been there before, there is quite a bit to look at (including the glass-encased body of the deceased Pope John XXIII…which was kind of eerie).
After spending some time looking around, we left and made our way to Piazza Navona for lunch and some much desired shopping. The group I was with for lunch found a really great spot off of one of the side streets and spent about an hour or so looking in the shops and outdoor vendors.
Around 4PM, we headed back to our bus to return to the hotel for our first training session of the trip. We had a great turf field we were able to play on and unofficially (we can’t wait for the incoming freshman to join us!) had our first practice of the season. I know everyone was really happy to get back out on the field together and it was really clear how hard everyone has been working over the summer to make themselves better.
Today we started the day off with a great yoga session led by our very own Phoebe Miller ’15. She did a great job leading it and everyone enjoyed a nice break from the morning conditioning. After yoga, we hopped on the bus for a three hour ride to Florence. Although I was asleep for virtually the entire bus ride, I was told how beautiful the Italian countryside was (according to Alanna Thurston ’16 there were sunflower fields for days). Once we arrived in Florence we grabbed a quick lunch and then met our tour guide in front of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. It was absolutely enormous and breathtaking – it didn’t even seem real. We were able to see a good amount of Florence, including the River Arno, the market, and the replica of Michelangelo’s David in the main square (the original is in a museum with a super long line we didn’t quite have time for). We also learned about how virtually an entire Roman-influenced city is located underneath present day Florence but excavators uncover new areas, document them, and cover them back up to preserve the Florence that we see today. Our tour ended a bit early, which allowed some extra time for shopping (duh) where most of the team ventured back to the market to look at all the leather bags and beautiful scarves. I was actually able to find the store where my Dad bought my Mom a purse as a gift many years ago which was very cool. After some authentic Italian shopping, we walked back to the bus and made our way to our second training session – but first session with our guest Italian coach, Coach Sorbi.
The fun thing about Coach Sorbi was that he did not speak more than three words of English and of course, none of us speak more than three words of Italian. So when he was unable to convey what he wanted the team to do with his body language, our awesome tour guide Giulia acted as translator. There was a lot of nodding and smiling but he was always able to let us know what he wanted us to do and the team executed each drill exceptionally well. We went through a “traditional Italian training session” which included a lot of footwork and small-sided drills. Everyone really enjoyed training with Coach Sorbi, who even stopped practice to help Lexi Williams ’16 tie her shoe in the middle of practice (he was great).
Originally, we were supposed to train at Coverciano, the central training ground and technical headquarters of the Italian Football Association. Unfortunately for us, the field was occupied tonight. Occupied by the Italian men’s national team playing a friendly match against Argentina (casual). So today is known as the “day the Italian national team stole our field.”
And finally, this blog post wouldn’t be complete without a shoutout to Bella Bertagna ’16 and her 19th birthday today! Happy birthday Bells!
Tomorrow we are spending the day in Cinque Terre and then playing in our first friendly match of the trip. I think I had said in my previous post that the game was scheduled for today (apparently I cannot read) so I am sorry for any confusion I may have caused. Now that we have free wifi in our new hotel I plan on blogging each day for the rest of the trip. I hope everyone is doing great at home and you will hear from me soon!