SpiderTV TRIP COVERAGE:
FRIDAY, 8:30 p.m.
We are back on campus after two weeks on the road. What a trip, but it is good to be back home. Our connecting flight was delayed leaving Paris and then the flight from Paris to Washington, DC was almost eight hours, but here we are back on campus. Be sure to look for two more video blogs, from Tuscany and Rome and a full album of photos from the entire trip. Arividerchi!
THURSDAY, 11:00 p.m.
On our last day in Italy we actually left the country, technically. We went to the Vatican City, which is it's own independent country. We saw the Sistine Chapel and the famous ceiling painted by Michaelangelo. The ceiling was much higher than you would think and it was amazing to think one man, lying on his back on scaffolding could paint in such beautiful detail. We then walked around St. Peter's Basilica, another unbelievably large and ornate church. So In the last few days we have seen two of the three largest churches in the world. We then headed to our last meal together, a lunch in the downtown area of Rome. Derrick Williams gave a nice speech at the end of the lunch thanking the coaches for the opportunity, and then it was free time for the rest of the day (the most free time we had on the entire trip). The big decision of the day was whether to stay up until the bus left at 4:30 a.m. or try to get some sleep.
WEDNESDAY, 11:45 p.m.
We just got back to Rome from our game in Gaeta, which was a 2 and a half hour ride from here on the west coast of Italy. The game was supposed to be a challenge, as the Gaeta team had given Western Michigan a game recently, but we shot 53 percent from three and almost hit 100 before the end of the third quarter. We had a nice dinner at an outdoor restaurant near the water and then headed back on the bus. Before we headed to Gaeta for the game, we went to the Roman Catacombs. We headed underground and walked around the former graves that are now empty and no longer sealed. The catacombs are lit, but that didn't keep some of the group from getting a little nervous about getting left in the maze of tunnels. The catacombs that we went to had 11 miles of tunnels, but we only went two levels down. There were more levels below us that weren't open to the public, but you could see the staircases leading to them. It was another incredible experience and many of the group said it was one of their favorite tours of the trip.
TUESDAY, 10:00 p.m.
We arrived in Rome and what a sight this city is. We were thinking that the ancient ruins were all in one area of the city and the rest of the city was modern, but that is not that case. The ancient ruins are scattered all over the city and our panoramic bus tour was a non-stop head turning history lesson by our tour guide Tamara. We saw where they held the chariot races and the forum that had hundreds of shops, thousands of years ago. We headed to the Coliseum, which is known to locals as just the amphitheater, and it was as enormous as you can imagine. It was interesting to learn that it was in use for 700 hundred years and the system of trap doors from the movie Gladiator were factual, except the wild animals that came out of them were not on chains. We ate dinner at another nice restaurant and then explored the city, with some members of the group getting a look at the enormous Pantheon.
MONDAY, 11:00 p.m.
Just got back to Montecatini after picking up our second win in as many games on the trip. We started the day by going to a farm/vineyard in Tuscany, where we ate lunch outside under a bamboo roof surrounded by mountains and hills. We then headed to Venturina, where we had a pregame reception at a hot springs resort. Then we received a warm welcome at the gym where a large amount of the local fans beat us to the game. After some great pregame festivities, including the crowd singing the Italian National Athem, we jumped out to an early lead an never looked back against the local club team. After the game, the players were mobbed by autograph seekers and then we had a postgame cookout outside the gym with some good interaction between the two teams. Tomorrow we head to Rome for the final leg of the trip.
SUNDAY, 11:00 p.m.
We took a train to Cinque Terre, or five towns, an area on the Italian Riviera that is about as scenic as it gets. The five towns are all at the base of mountains and at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. After spending a few hours in the water and on the beach, we headed back to Montecatini for the night. Words can't describe what we got to see, so stay tuned for the video blog.
SATURDAY, 10:00 p.m.
We saw automobiles for the first time in a few days when we took are boat taxi back to where our bus had been parked, outside the canal area of the city. We headed to Florence, where part of the group did a wine tasting and the other part just explored the city. We finished the afternoon with a walking tour that showed us where the famous David statue was originally before it was moved indoors to preserve it. In its place stands an exact replica, with a statue of Posidean glaring at it in anger from across the square (apparently whomever made the Posidean statue didn't like what David stood for). We got back on the bus and headed further into the Tuscan Valley for practice. Then we reached Montecatini, where we will be spending the next three nights.
FRIDAY, 9:00 p.m.
We had time to see more of Venice in the morning and in the afternoon we took a boat ride out to two of the surrounding islands. One had the most ancient church in Italy and the other was a fishing village with houses painted a variety of bright colors so the sailors could see their house as they were on their way home. We returned to Venice and enjoyed another great night in a one-of-a-kind city.
THURSDAY, 10:00 p.m.
We checked out of our hotel in Como and headed to Venice, a city that doesn't have any cars or even scooters. So we had to ditch our bus and jump on a boat that took us into the congested waterways of Venice. It is pretty amazing how the the boat drivers manuever in such small canals and how many boats and gondolas there are around the cities' waters. The city was designed to be confusing for invaders and without our guide we would have fell victim to the winding maze-like streets that do not have signs. We split up and took a nice gondola ride, and were surprised to see the gondoliers who pilot the gondolas had on Nike sneakers along with their striped shirts. After that it was dinner and a night to enjoy the picturesque city.
WEDNESDAY, 9:00 p.m.
We were on a boat today on Lake Como, heading up to the town of Bellagio. We passed the mansion owned by George Clooney that was used in the movie Ocean's 12 and the scenery was absolutely amazing with the mountains going almost straight up from the lake's edge. After a two-hour boat ride, we made it to the town of Bellagio, located right on the side of a steep hill. The streets running up the side of the hill were actually steps and we are still trying to figure out how the cars got to the top of the hill...and it took great skill for them to navigate the narrow roads up there. Late in the afternoon we headed to a pool club and had a great time with some swimming races (Alonzo is the fastest swimmer on the team) and other competitions, like guys wrestling on each other's shoulders (having DWill as your base was a guaranteed victory). After that it was an Italian-style barbeque, which consisted of an assortment of hot and cold meats (no hamburgers and hot dogs.) Then it was on the bus back to Como on one of the most ridiculous winding roads you can imagine a bus travelling on. Some of the turns were literally 90 degree angles and the bus had to constantly honk its horn and flash its lights going around the blind turns.
TUESDAY, 10:00 p.m.
Today was a more relaxaing day than all the adventure yesterday. We boarded the bus and headed about an hour from Lake Como to the fashion capital of the world, Milan. We got a panoramic tour of the city by bus, saw the painting by Leonardo da Vinci of the Last Supper and then had free time to spend in the center of Milan at the Galleria. We toured a cathedral which is the 3rd largest in Italy and is made of complete marble. We were impressed when we heard the church of Lake Como took 400 years to build, but this one took 5 centuries. Some of the players even went on the roof of the church and had a great view of the city. We returned to Lake Como for a nice Italian dinner with a bit of a surprise. Two main courses. Everyone had an appetizer of cold meats, then lasagna, and instead of getting dessert for the third course, another full meal came out. Then a dessert of fruit cup. Another great day in Europe and looking forward to a boat ride on Lake Como tomorrow.
Monday, 9:00 p.m.
Today we took a bus up into the Alps, broke off into four rafts and went whitewater rafting in Interlaken, Switzerland. What an experience as the video and photos will show. Darien Brothers kept saying how great it was sitting up front on one raft. He said he could be a whitewater rafting guide when his basketball career is over. When we got back to the rafting headquarters their was a pool with an unreal slide. The players enjoyed doing flips. Watch the Video Blog #3 With Wayne Sparrow with footage provided by a camera mounted on the head of strength coach Jay DeMayo. Then we took a bus down to Lake Como, Italy and checked into a hotel by the lake. Tomorrow we are heading to Milan, but will be staying in Lake Como for the next three nights.
Sunday, 8:00 p.m.
What a first full day in Switzerland. The trip to the top of Mount Pilatus was intersting to say the least. We took four-person gondolas up the mountain which had us pretty high off the ground, but in the distance you could see another larger gondola riding straight up to the peak. As Associate Head Coach Kevin McGeehan said, "Wow, that looks terrifying." Then he was told we were going on it. Everybody thought we were just going halfway up. Check out Video Blog #2 With Greg Robbins to see the views, but even the camera doesn't do the ride to the top justice. We then headed to the arena and took care of BC Alston Baden 97-43...check out the recap and highlights here at RichmondSpiders.com.
Saturday, 10:00 p.m.
The Spiders arrive in Zurich after 19 hours of travelling. Before checking in, we went right to a restaurant by the river in Zurich. They tell you to stay up to fight the jet lag, but we will be on the bus in the morning to head to Mount Pilatus. Then we have our first game in the afternoon.
Visit RichmondSpiders.com for photos and videos of the trip, including game highlights, and follow the trip through the following social media sites:
- Friend Mooney's Looneys on Facebook
- Follow @RichmondBball with #URragni12.
- Follow the new RichmondBball Instagram site for photo updates throughout the trip.
- Subscribe to youtube.com/richmondspiders
The Richmond men's basketball team is travelling to Switzerland and Italy from Aug. 10-24.
The NCAA allows teams to make foreign excursions every four years and this is the first time that incoming freshmen are allowed to make the trip. Leading up to the trip, the NCAA allows teams to practice for 10 days.
Richmond will visit Zurich, Switzerland, before making their way throughout Italy, including Lake Como, Venice, Florence, Milan and Rome.
The Spiders will have custom made uniforms for the Italy trip with "Ragni," the Italian word for Spiders, on the front of the jerseys, just as the 2008 Spain uniforms had Las Aranas on the jerseys.