Day 1: Verona & Pordenone, Italy
March 17, 2008
And so it's begun! We finally made it to Italia!! After 8 hours of tossing and turning on the airplane, Europe welcomed us with open arms at dawn, where a fire red sunrise and the Swiss Alps gave us a sneak peak at the marvels that would behold us. Unfortunately (for Miss Cramer, and the rest of the Toblerone lovers out there, we were NOT able to see the chocolate factory that feeds our fat-kid appetites.) Once we landed in Milano, we got off without a hitch, getting through customs (and for some of us, our very first visa stamp!), and continued onward with a two-hour drive through the spectacular Italian countryside headed toward Verona.
After two hours of fighting off fatigue (which some of us couldn't help but succumb to), we got to the city of love!! Verona, home to the famed lovers from the Capulet and Montague families (a.k.a, Romeo and Juliet), is a spectacle in itself. It houses the Arena, which is one of the six largest coliseums from the height of the Roman Empire, and it was our first massive introduction to Italy. We continued on, exploring the streets of this city where fresh markets, high fashion, cafés and shops intermix with the authentic lifestyle of the Italians. The streets were endless, and wherever you turned there was something for everyone! For the lover in you, you need only find the balcony of Juliet, where a statue and a wall graffitied with lovers' names stand to pay homage to the star-crossed lover. For the shopping fanatic, you need only to open your eyes to the billions of shops--both globally recognized and Italian exclusive--to find exactly what you're looking for. And for the food lovers, (which includes 100% of us!) take your pick of delis, cafés or gelato stops where you can eat authentic Italian goodness to your little hearts desire! The Arena offers an astounding glimpse to the past, where operas, plays, and gladiators dominated Italian entertainment, and where you can stand atop its walls and witness the sheer magnificence of it all. To say the least, Verona did not disappoint!
Having spent 2 hours touring Verona, we sought out a change of scenery for the streets of Pordenone, where we will stay for the next two days. This little city, smaller and less touristy than that of Verona, holds a charm unique to its trendy, historical streets. It's here that we settled in to our little Hotel Damodoro, and strolled along the café-lined streets, where, once again, shops and food ruled the scene. Since it's customary to eat later in Italy and other European countries, we decided to have a midday snack before our dinner after practice at 9. Our time here was mostly composed of exploring and taking in the culture of this little city. We've found that people watching in Italia is way more interesting than in the states! And that history is around every corner in this piece of the world. After a couple more hours of meandering and eating, we headed back to our temporary abode and got ready to hit the courts at 8. And after a short practice and a fantastic buffet, we ended our day fat, happy and completely ready to beat that wicked jet lag!