Arrived safely and on time in Naples where we meet our charming guide Flavio.
The trip was fairly uneventful except for the tight connection in Paris where one group imagined they were indeed winning "the amazing race." Of course they were the first group to get through customs and security in Paris. Congrats to Maggie, Jacinda, Kat and Bea.
We had a wonderful lunch in our Hotel Europa and rested briefly before heading to the fields for the two-mile and our first practice of the year. After a great run where all but four players passed we had a solid session on the field.
We were treated to some wonderful Naples hospitality that consisted of delicious pastries and drinks. We returned exhausted to the hotel for another great meal and sleep.
"This was definitely a crazy and awesome way to start off our
preseason. Nothing helps you get to know a new teammate quite like
nine hours sitting side-by-side on a plane. After such a long
flight it was almost a relief to run the two mile. Any excuse not
to be sitting."
-- Emma Gormley.
"Coming to preseason was definitely a nerve wracking experience,
but I think after the full day of traveling and almost no sleep, I
had no energy left to be nervous. I wasn't the only one feeling
this delirious as after Maggie finished off a plate of pasta and
wiping up all the sauce she yelled 'it's white!' (of course in a
fake and very bad Italian accent). The best part of the day was
finishing practice to find delicious Italian pastries waiting for
us! It is still surreal that we are in Italy!"
-- Katie Shivanandan
Capri, a magical island off the coast of Naples.
A quick ride on the hydrofoil and we were landing at the picturesque isle of Capri. Boats,yachts houses on the hillside, views in every direction, lemon trees and olive branches with colorful flowers everywhere.
After stumbling off the packed ferry we were whisked away on a private boat tour around the island. Pierre, our captain, navigated some rather rough seas to bring us to some vistas unlike anything we had seen before.
The highlight was traveling through the arch of Capri and then circling to some calmer waters where almost all jumped off the boat into the salty warm Mediterranean. It was one of those moments in life. We continued along the shores enjoying the views and our experience.
Landing in Capri we rode the funicular up to the village of Ana Capri where groups split for many adventures including much gelato, pizza and caprese salad. Trips to the Augusto garden and the natural arches were also part of the day.
A quick stop at the airport to pick up Emily Heaton made our group complete and it was off to Rome for practice number two. We checked into the chic Hotel Ripa and had an amazing dinner topped off with a cup of decadent tiramasu .
"If someone asked me what my favorite part of the day was, I
would not be able to tell you, from attempting to get the perfect
jumping off the boat photo to meandering through the empty paths of
the beautiful, quaint villas to watching Sarah Miskel speak
enthusiastic yet broken Italian to our waiter (who served my first
authentic Italian pizza - delicioso!!). Capri was definitely one of
the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and I continued to
pinch myself to make sure I was not actually dreaming. Capri is
what I had always pictured when someone says "paradise" and I feel
so lucky to have spent a day in paradise!"
-- Maggie Tobin
"The most amazing thing about Italy is that everything you've
seen and heard about the country is right there in front of you.
This feeling was with me throughout our day in Capri, but most
acutely during our swim (swimming in the Mediterranean?!) and while
eating lunch (the cheese was just as delicious as I had
-- Frances Harvey
A historical tour of Rome.
Our day commenced in a building that was completed in 82. No, not 1982 or even 1882 - 82 AD. This building was the Colosseum, that world-renowned architectural wonder, the stomping ground of gladiators, wild animals, Roman emperors, vestal virgins, and the Roman public.
Our Roman guide Isabella led us around the structure, pointing out the architectural features and the seat of the emperors. We got quite a few group pictures, many featuring girls sparring gladiator-style, or showing off their gladiator poses. It was certainly amazing to be standing in a building that is almost 2000 years old.
After the colosseum we walked into the ruins of the Roman Forum. As we walked among the crumbling pillars and walls, Isabella told us the story of Caesar's murder, and showed us the site where his body was displayed.
After the Forum, we went to the Pantheon, the oldest dome in the world. We walked by the tombs of Roman kings and Raphael.
We then went to the Trevi Fountain, a beautiful fountain with some peculiar traditions. As the Locals told us, if you throw one coin in, you'll come back to Rome; two, you'll find everlasting love; three, you'll find everlasting love in Rome; four, you'll get divorced very quickly.
Our last step on the official tour was the Piazza Navona, where we divided up for two hours of free time in Rome.
That night we had our first game in Italy versus Res Roma. The game went very well after everyone started to feel more comfortable playing together. The game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Today we mixed things up with a morning practice and our first time playing on grass this season!
We then took the bus into Florence (or Firenze as the italians would say). We spent our day eating paninis and then followed that with a guided tour through the city. Buildings and statues aged back to the Middle Ages!
For our free time to explore the city, many got their shopping fix at the city market and bargained with the leather sales vendors. Others ventured to the hills (mountains according to Kristine Ma) across the river and through the woods for a stunning eagle's eye view of the city. Completely worth the extra exercise!
And on top of that, some went to see the perfect figure of the statue of David, where he is depicted the moment before he defeats Goliath! Despite wrong turns and triple helpings of gelato, we had an amazing time in Florence that was completed with an early bed time back at the hotel.
"My favorite thing about Florence was the gelato shop that was
the best place I have ever been to. We went three times in one day
which says a lot. My list of flavors was coffee, dark chocolate,
classic cream or cream with milk, nocciola, stracciatella, peach
mango, and pear (my ultimate favorite)."
-- Katy Hedlund
"Florence was an easy place to find gifts for my family with a
huge market full of vendors selling anything you can think of!
Scarves and leather gloves made the perfect gifts to bring home,
along with some featured recipes from the regions. With the whole
afternoon as free time, everyone got to enjoy the city of Florence
exactly how they wanted to!"
-- Kelsey Ryan
"The David was a big highlight of today's trip, but by going to
the museum to see him we were able to go through the other exhibits
as well. There was an exhibit that featured sculptures of italian
women featuring hair styles throughout different time periods.
There was another that was specifically musical instruments,
including the first standing up piano and the evolution of
clarinets. I thought this was extremely interesting and an
unexpected bonus to viewing the statue of David."
-- Katie Dana
After a spirited practice where 3 v. 3 was again the highlight, we headed to the cinque terra region, a beautiful area along the Italian coast. It consists of five small fishing villages connected by path and/or light rail along the Mediterranean Sea.
The views were incredible and the walk was highlighted by the "street of love," a half mile walk between two towns where the rocks are covered in fishing nets.
The nets are covered with locks. As local lore has it, lovers connect the lock and toss the key into the sea symbolizing an everlasting love.
"It had a small quaint town feel where I could see myself
-- Katie Dana
The idea behind the area was to preserve the agriculture and products of the region: olive oil, lemoncello, pesto, and wine. From our perspective the vistas and views were breathtaking, from the colorful villas nestled in the hills to the row boats and yachts in the sea and steep cliffs and vineyards above.
Lunch included some of our best selections from baby squid to gnocchi nestled in delicious pesto sauce. In all we visited three of the five towns.
As we have many swimmers on the team, rumor has it that several found the sea with limited clothing and talk of a bucket list. It was a wonderful day which culminated in a quick ride to Lake Como where we were again treated to never ending views.
"To dive into the mediterranean and eat locally made pesto, made
my day in cinque terra a memorable one."
-- Meghan Derken
Sleeping in. At 10 a.m. we headed to our cooking class at the culinary institute in Como.
After a beautiful walk through medieval Como, a walled city, we arrived and were handed our aprons. A treat of juice and bruschetta prepared us to get to work preparing our lunch. Our first two tasks were preparing the dough for pasta and chopping our vegetables for the bolognese sauce. We lost no fingers and got a great upper body workout in preparing the dough. Bea and Claire prepared the best dough as he rest of the group worked relentlessly to create some semblance of usable pasta dough.
Next it was on to the tiramasu where eggs were cracked and separated by all and whipped into a frenzy by Micaela. As our master chef added the sugar and quite generous dose of brandy we worried about Camy, Katie Shivanandan and Shay Reifert who dipped into the leftover batter until it was gone. We made three large plates and enjoyed it tremendously.
On the other side of the kitchen, Maggie Tobin was browning the meat for our sauce and Emily Heaton, Meghan Derken, Kelsey Ryan and Marley were pulling basil leaves for the most delicious pesto any of us had ever tasted. Note we just watched this preparation and that may explain its perfection.
Finally we peeled and put the potatoes through a ricer combining them with flour to make yet another dough for the gnocchi. The exciting part was rolling and cutting them into small little pillows of dough. There is never enough flour! Finally after some delay we were treated to a delicious meal (some of it a little doughy) that we will all try and recreate in Chicago.
"Between the most amazing pesto I have ever had, the experience
of learning about Italian cooking and getting to meet the
ratatouille kid it was a memorable day."
-- Micaela Harms