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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pisa, Piazza and Pizza

Thursday, June 20-

After breakfast Roberto escorted us to Pisa.  The second you set your eyes on The Leaning Tower, you cannot help but immediately snap a picture for fear it will tip over before you get the perfect photo. 
Lindsay Elston
Try as one might to not be “That Tourist” it is impossible to not get your photo next to it; positioning your hand perfectly so it seems you are holding it up or pushing it over. It appears as if it is super-imposed or stuck onto a backdrop with a special projector.  Once you get over the fact you are standing next to something you have seen in dozens of movies and even more photos; you get a closer look. The pillars, the archways, even the stairs and windowsills turn into ornate tapestries.  Every section turns into it’s own story and is as elaborate as the Christmas ornament that only shows up on the grown up Christmas tree. This is not just Pisa, but every part of the infrastructure of every city we have visited.

In an era where we do not want to waste any time, it makes me stop and think what an extravagant project it must have been to design and construct these buildings. Today, we DVR our TV shows so we don’t have to watch a 15 second commercial, make sure we get our coffee “to go” and cuss at our computer when things don’t download fast enough. 

What would these cities have looked like if speed and cost effectiveness was the primary goal? There would be no doorways depicting Eden etched in bronze or statues of taught muscles of war heroes atop horses lathered from a journey that took place 500 years ago. 
Duomo inside the Piazza dei Maracoli

And the teamwork it must have taken?  Between hauling materials, designing plans that have never been attempted, sculpting statues and disseminating information from architects to laborers.  It could not have been easy.  Some buildings took generations to construct meaning many did not get to see the fruits of their labor.  For these buildings to be so beautiful and still standing everyone had to do their part no matter how big or small. This is what I want for the Huskies: to play a beautiful brand of soccer: together, building from the same plan in order to be the last ones standing at the end of the season, and leave a special legacy to the players and teams that come after them.   

So, the pizza near Pisa in the Piazza was splendid. My assumption that it would tower over the entire Piazza dei Maracoli (Square of Miracles) was wrong as each building in the square was just as magnificent.  The Piazza took form in 1064 and also includes  the Duomo the Baptistry and the Monumental Cemetery.   Fantastico!
Kelsea Brajkovich & Allie Beahan enjoying the view

After our daily gelato and many photos, we headed to the Cinque Terre region in Porto Venere, a beautiful town on the Adriatic Sea known for its sweet white wine, breathtaking views, medieval castle and the best pesto ever!  Seriously!  Who craves Pesto?!!  I didn’t … until today.       

Yes, we are cramming in another place of interest. I am hoping you are getting a good idea as to why it difficult to catch up to the day’s events.  Our driver, who can maneuver our bus as if he were driving a Ferrari, swooped us up and drove us to Sarzana to have a 5:00pm pre-game meal in the local clubhouse that was sweltering. A mere 3.5 hours later we hit the pitch to play against Arenzano Calcio Femminile.

The team was dehydrated from the heat and had been on their feet all day.

Hillary Zevenbergen heads one toward goal while Kate Bennett readies herself for the rebound. 
Gelato was still settling in their tummies after the sauna dinner. This wasn’t the best pre-game preparation for the Dawgs, but these things are much easier to overcome when realizing you are about to play a strong Italian team in Italy.  After re-living much of our history class, it was time to make some history of our own.

The thing that stuck out more than anything to me since we landed occurred about an hour before the game.  For the past few days, our gang had been meandering around, taking notes, packing, changing, in a 23-player amoeba of questions and uncertainties.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but our team seemed more aloof than usual when all of a sudden our pre-game began. The team snapped into an assertive, confident group of ONE.  Ah ha! The Dawgs are at home on game day! 
Jaclyn Softli and Hillary Z 
Through the warm-up until the end of the game it was the most relaxing time since we landed in Italy.  Everyone knows their role the expectation and the work that is involved on game day. Everyone loves being together on the soccer field.  Really? This is considered a workday?

It took awhile to crack the Italians, but once the cork was off, it was clear the team in purple would dominate the remainder of the game.  No need to recap as it can be found on

Seems as if Carlos made an appearance after every goal 4-1. Yes!
As hot and sweaty as we’ve ever been we boarded the bus and headed back to Montecatini  Terme which is where we began and were in bed a little after midnight.  It was both physically and literally one of the longest days ever; and usually when you hear that it sounds as if it drug on, but in this case it meant that we could not have crammed one more thing in without it being completely insane. 

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