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Tyler Pauley & Steven Hofacker Blog From Italy - Days 4 to 6

From Sports Information Director, May 20, 2012 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes,, (920) 403-4077

Day 4 - Day 4 started off much like the rest, a wakeup call 8, breakfast from 8-9, and on the bus by 9:15. We were originally going to go wine tasting, but because we had a game later, we decided to move it until Day 5, and tour Pisa instead. This move was welcomed by the parents and players, for some obvious reasons. On our way to Pisa, our tour guide Carolina warned us of merchants who would swarm us in order to buy goods from them. We acknowledged her, but I think many of us were unaware of how many merchants there truly were. We arrived in Pisa at 11, and because of our double-decker bus, we attracted a lot of vendors. They made it nearly impossible to walk off the bus without them shoving a box full of sunglasses or "Rolex" watches at you. Some bought some souvenirs from them, while others just walked past.

The real attractions in Pisa were the buildings. There was a large cathedral, a museum, a cemetery, and of course the leaning tower of Pisa. After everyone got their typical picture of holding the tower up, or for some pushing it down, we had until 3 to grab some grub and walk around the city. It was a beautiful day, and there were many open fields for us to rest our legs. All of the buildings were in near pristine shape, and the artwork shown in them is truly astounding.

With Day 4 also came our much anticipated second game, against another team located about an hour away from Montecatini Terme. Bus rides have become a way for everyone to catch up on sleep, and this one was no exception. We pulled up to the gym, and it didn't exactly look like a club team played there. There was graffiti on the walls, and the lawn could use some mowing. However, this was a "Don't judge a book by its cover" case. The inside was in great condition, and there were a ton of Italian fans there to watch. After warm-ups, we had a gift exchange with the other team, where we got T-shirts with their club name, and a whole platter full of chocolate candy. They played the American National Anthem followed by the Italian equivalent, and the crowd was electric. The Green Knights got out to a slow start being down after the first quarter, but over the rest of the 36 minutes, the Knights were able to amass a 70-23 run sparked by smothering defense. The Knights pulled out the 88-37 victory, and then a surprise party was thrown by the entire city for our team. The hospitality which we experienced was first class, and all of the Italians were very accommodating. There was fresh bakery, desserts, sandwiches, and of course drinks provided for everyone by the community. Songs were sung contests were had, and let's just say that us Americans fared well in the festivities. It was an experience all of us will never forget.

Day 5 - Day 5 followed a similar routine with breakfast and departure. Our destination for the day was Florence, which has a reputation for pick-pockets. Everyone was a bit sluggish from the night before, when we truly got adapted to the Italian ways. We made our way to Florence, which is well known for the Statue of David. Because of the size of our group, we needed to pick up another tour guide in order to see the city. Although this new tour guide was not necessarily the easiest to understand, we made sure to say that we did, or she might be tempted to move 3 feet and talk for another 20 minutes. We made our way around the city, seeing all of the main attractions while keeping an eye out for pick-pockets. Florence had the largest building many of us have seen, the Cathedral of Mary of the Flowers. Once the tour was done, we had about 2 hours to eat and then see some other attractions if we wanted to go back to them. A large group of us went to The Yellow Bar, where they are known for their wood-fire oven pizzas. On our way back, our very own Paul Appleton, '13, had a run in with some pick-pockets. I don't know why they would pick someone who has their bag over their chest and empty pockets, but Paul defended himself greatly, and made it out without a scratch.

After Florence, we were headed off to the wine "tasting" in a small village near Montecatini Terme. Now I put tasting in quotes because it turned out to be more of a wine party. We walked in at sat down in a large tent with tables full of different kinds of wines, both white and red. We waited for our host to explain how to properly taste wine, and they brought out breads and other snacks. Once she gave us the go ahead, no time was wasted. Some people filled their glasses to the proper height, while others may have filled it "a little" over the recommended height. After a while the wine tasting transformed to a party, with the other wine tasting groups from Austria and France joining in on the fun. We united countries with spirit and spirits, with everyone enjoying themselves. After returning from the wine tasting we had a quick dinner and everyone went out to get some gelato and took in the town of Montecatini Terme for another night.

Day 6 - Day 6 was also had a similar breakfast and departure as the previous days. The destination for the day was Sienna. Sienna was an interesting city. Depending on what way or street we were walking on you were either walking up or down a severe hill. This made it sometimes difficult to navigate, but also made for an interesting and fun city to tour. Unfortunately because of time constraints we were not really able to visit all of Sienna, but we were still able to take in a lot of the town. Also it just so happened that while we were in Sienna there was a big Italian car show that was going on in the city. There were cars that ranged from 50 years old to a few days old. Many people branched off to get a local Italian lunch in alley ways, while some stayed in the main square to get a bite to eat while watching the cars tour throughout the city.

We made it back and had dinner around 5, and then departed for our game at 6. We had to travel about an hour to get to the city where we played, and it was right on the coast of the Tryannian Sea which made for some wonderful sights with the sun setting upon the city. This gym had the least amount of seating space, but the floor was relatively large compared to the other gymnasiums. We had a standing room only crowd because there were only two rows of bleachers. The team we played looked very good in warm-ups, and definitely had the home crowd advantage with Italian cheers. After the Italian and American National Anthems, the game was underway. The Green Knights got out of the gates fast and keep their foot on the accelerator throughout the 4 quarters. After another even scoring game, we were able to pull out the 97-52 victory. A fun exchange was made after the game, where we exchanged our jerseys with theirs. Let's just say that American and Italian sweat don't mix well, and made for a smelly ride home. We have to pack our bags for Rome tonight, because we leave bright and early in the morning.

Another Safe Three Days in Italy,
Tyler Pauley, '14, and Steven Hofacker '15

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