Here is this year’s soccer media guide. Enjoy!
Just another GC weblog
Here is this year’s soccer media guide. Enjoy!
After leaving Rome we were immediately dropped off at the beach in the San Marino area, which was a relaxing break from walking the streets of the beautiful, but energy-draining Italian cities. We swam, played Frisbee and charades and napped on the sand. On our second day in San Marino we went on a guided tour of the actual city of San Marino. We learned on our tour that this is the oldest republic in the world, originating in 301 A.D. Although San Marino has been invaded twice, they have stayed an independent country ever since and now have no need for an army. Not only was the history of this place unique and amazing, but the views were spectacular! The city of San Marino is located at the top of a mountain range surrounded by castle walls and looking out over the rest of the country. Some of us paid a couple Euros to climb the ancient castle, which allowed us to see views of the other two lookout spots on the castle wall. There are only 60 native residents of San Marino city, while 32,000 citizens make up the republic of San Marino. We were given the option to stay in San Marino for the day, go back to the beach or return to the hotel to hang out at the pool. Personally, I can’t imagine passing up a chance to go to the beach, so I spent another afternoon swimming in the Mediterranean and relaxing on the beach.
The following day we traveled to Venice, the city with over 400 bridges. After taking a ferry ride to the island, we followed our tour guide Titina to a famous glass blowing studio in Venice where we watched a glass blowing presentation. We were all blown away by the skill and ease at which the man formed a vase and then a horse. It took about 5 minutes for him to create each piece. Afterwards we had free time to explore this crazy city on our own. While Venice is beautiful, it is packed with tourists so to enjoy the city Mac advised us to get off the beaten path. I was with a small group that meandered around the narrow, winding streets and ended up at a quaint coffee shop for a couple hours. We realized that you don’t always have to be doing touristy things to make the most of a trip to a foreign country. We were experiencing Italy just fine by sipping a coffee and people-watching from inside the café.
Our final destination on our Italy tour was a two-in-one. For our final full day in Italy we got to visit both Padua and Verona. Since we had already spent a jam-packed nine days in this wonderful country, I think we were all hoping for a relaxing, low key day. That is just what we got. Padua was possibly the least touristy city we visited, but was perfect for walking slowly and enjoying the breeze. The main square area had grassy patches surrounded by a stream, bridges and beautiful old statues. Padua is also the home to St. Anthony’s cathedral, which I saw from the outside since my knees and shoulders were showing. I hear, however, that it is quite stunning. After a couple hours we headed over to Verona, which is, of course, famous because of Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet.” Many of us girls found our way to Juliet’s house, which isn’t really her house because it is a fictional play. The “house” is basically just a tourist spot with a balcony, courtyard and statue of Juliet. The walls just outside the courtyard and covered with the scribbles of lovers’ initials or names. This was the day to get rid of all our extra Euros, so many girls bought souvenirs, gelato and pizza to make the most out of the foreign money. After sufficient time in Verona, we drove back to our very first hotel in the Milan/Como area were we ate our final Italian dinner. We all agreed that we will miss the pasta and the gelato, but that it might be better for our soccer season if we don’t have a three course meal each night. We have truly had a delightful time growing closer to each other while learning so much about the country of Italy.
Walking through ancient Rome today, I had ample time to reflect on the past five days of our ten day stay in Italy. Thus far we have been to Milan, Como, Florence, Rome and even Switzerland. Our team as whole seems to like each activity and city more than the previous. Either our tour guides read our minds and did a perfect job organizing our trip or we are falling more in love with Italy each passing minute. Maybe both? Since it is not feasible for me to mention everything we have done on our trip so far, I will highlight some of our group’s favorite activities.
Our trip began in Milan, where we got the chance to lead a training session for a team of 11-13 year olds with the focus of helping them practice English while having fun playing soccer. Although our team was a bit nervous at first, once we saw the little Italian girls we immediately began introducing ourselves and engaging in bilingual chatter. As we would later on, in a training session of our own with a professional Italian coach, the language barrier makes soccer even more interesting and more of a challenge. For me, this was a unique opportunity to take a break from being a tourist and connect with Italians. I passed and juggled with a girl named Claudia and at the end of the session we traded bracelets to remember each other. Many of the other girls made close connections with the girls, so we traded names in order to add each other on facebook. The first few days were packed with soccer. In addition to leading a training session, we played two games during our stay in Milan. Our first game was against an Italian club team just outside of Milan and we played our second game in Switzerland verse a team in the town of Lugano. Despite losing both games, we had fun and learned a lot! Plus, our field in Switzerland was surrounded by the beautiful Swiss Alps.
We also spent a day in the small town of Como, near Milan, taking a scenic boat ride of Lake Como and perusing the shops. This quaint town was full of winding cobblestone streets and typical, old Italian style buildings. Everyone agreed it was a nice change of pace from the bustling city of Milan. Our next stop was a short stay in Florence. We spent the afternoon touring the city, although some opted out of the tour in favor of shopping because Florence has some of the best souvenirs. On the tour we saw the Duomo (Florence’s big cathedral), the houses of influential families in Florence and a replica of Michelangelo’s David, among many other sculptures on display outside of the Uffizi museum. Afterwards was our first training session with two Italian coaches. They didn’t speak much English so we listened carefully and did our best to deduce what they were saying. After Florence was Rome. We spent two full days taking in the magnificence of this city. We first explored St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, then ancient Rome where we saw the Palatine Hill, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Spanish steps and Trevi Fountain. All were amazing and the incredible history of these places baffled us. Based on how the great the trip has been so far, I think it’s safe to say we will continue to enjoy the rest of our stops in San Marino, Venice and Verona. Thanks for all your prayers and support! We love and miss you all back home.