Follow Women's Soccer in Italy

Photo by Harvard Soccer
Photo by Harvard Soccer

June 10, 2014
HWS: Return Home 

Today we safely arrived back into the United States without any difficulties. The hardest part of the day was saying our goodbyes. We are all so grateful to have had this experience with each other. Not only did we improve on the field, but off the field, the time we spent together was so special and just as important for us to prepare for our next season. We want to thank all of the people that made this trip possible.

To our alumni, administrators, and friends of Harvard women's soccer: we can't explain how much we appreciate you all. We hope you follow all our games next year and we make you proud on and off the field. To our seniors: we will miss you a lot and are so glad you got to come on one last trip with us. You added so much to our team and it will not be the same without you. Good luck with everything. We can't wait to hear from you and see you again. Ray, Mike, Hambo, and Kerry: Thank you for this experience. We know we are a bunch of goofballs, but we became so much closer as a team and are very excited for this next season. (Hambo: We missed you but we hope you had a great time with your family!)

This trip to Italy was more exciting, hilarious, and eye opening than I could have anticipated. I learned so much about a completely different country and lifestyle in such a small amount of time. It is an incredible feeling to stare at and (illegally) touch the monuments, statues, paintings, buildings, and churches, all of which add to Italy's natural beauty. I hope to one day travel back to Italy, but even if I get to, I know that traveling with 27 of my closest friends is not something that I will ever be able to replace.
By: Meg Casscells-Hamby 

June 9, 2014
HWS: Last Day in Italy

It's hard to believe that today was our last day in Italy, but at the same time, it seems like forever ago we played that first day of soccer on the dirt in Perugia.

We set out early to a full day of touring Rome. Our tour guides Jeff and Marilyn took us through the streets, and we were all very excited to stop at the Nike Roma store on the way to our first stop. We then made our way to the Spanish steps, named for its proximity to the Spanish embassy. After taking a short break for pictures, we were guided toward the beautiful Trevi Fountain. Unfortunately, there was gate around the fountain which made it difficult to throw in our coins, but many of us were still able to find a way to get our wish in there (not without a few tries for some, and even a backfiring coin on Maura). Still, it may have been one of my favorite sites of the trip, despite the presence of the gate.

Soon after, we walked toward the Pantheon, but not without the street vendors pulling out all the stops to get our attention, even placing a parakeet on Mattea's head. We were finally able to make our way into the Pantheon, though, admiring its beautiful architecture. Some of us also got the chance to stop at a cafe in the square of the Pantheon, purchasing a cup of cappuccino frecco, a cold iced coffee that was refreshing on this hot day, and perhaps the best coffee I've had this entire trip. Our next stop was the Campo de' Fiori, an adorable spot with a marketplace full of tents selling fruit, clothes, and other goodies. We were then given a couple hours to explore to our own liking, discovering hidden gems of shops, restaurants, and street vendors.

When we finally regrouped, we made our way to the Colosseum. By this time, we were all exhausted from the heat, walking, and dehydration, but the trek was definitely worth the sight. The history within the walls of the Colosseum was incomparable to anything else, and it's crazy to think of how it has affected the lives of those before us.

At last, our day in Rome was finished, and we went to the hotel, took a break and showered, and then headed to our farewell dinner. The atmosphere of the restaurant was so cool and didn't stray from our historical theme of the day. The building was an ancient site where ashes were kept in porcelain pots. The walls had holes where the pots fit in, and we sat within the confines of the now roofless building, able to see its beauty. It was an unforgettable ending to the trip, full of delicious food, fun chatter, and gratitude to everyone who was able to go on this trip as well as those who helped make it possible.
By: Karly Zlatic

June 8, 2014
HWS: Sightseeing

We woke up excited to tour the last city of the trip, ROMA! Breakfast was especially fulfilling, and after chowing down our last donuts and filling up on espresso shots, we were ready to explore the day.

The city was even more beautiful during the day than it was from the window of our previous night's travel. A short bus ride later we arrived at our third country of the trip: Vatican City. 

We began our tour at the Museo Vaticani, anxious to see the famed Sistine Chapel among other things. The amount of allotted time seemed like enough at first, but we later learned that we'd need a whole day to truly engage in the beauty and lovely stories of the Catholic Church and ancient Romans. We took pictures of the gorgeous courtyards named after famous popes and posed with Athena, in awe of the pure marble form of the Gods and Goddesses we had learned about in our Culture and Belief classes. After the hall of marble statues came a race to the Sistine Chapel.

We made our way through dozens of rooms with decorated walls, ceilings, and floors. No portion was left unadorned when these artists meticulously designed the rooms. We spent so much time admiring the legendary works that we were down to at least 10 rooms, 25 minutes, and still no Sistine Chapel. As best we could, we admired on the go, so we could spend as much time as possible with Michaelangelo's great work, and man was it worth it. 

It's hard to put into words the awe we felt upon entering the Sistine Chapel. We were told it took Michelangelo 4 years to paint. It's inspiring (and somewhat laughable) to think he doubted his ability to take on the project since he considered himself to be strictly a sculptor! Learning about Michelangelo dared us to consider what each of us could accomplish in our four years at Harvard if only we had the courage to set aside our fears and doubts.

As if the day could not get any more amazing, we regrouped and walked from the end of the museum to St. Peter's Square, where the Pope gives mass every Sunday outside the basilica. The amount of beauty in this area was miraculous. The architecture, the views of the city, the history, and the shared look of amazement on everyone's faces made the experience worth the trek in the heat.

We took our mandatory group picture, ran to get our second to last gelato, juggled with street vendors for free postcards and discounted prices, and went on our way back to the hotel to rest for the game.

The last game of our Italian tour was against the Serie B team: SS Lazio C.F.. We ended up playing three 30 minute periods instead of the traditional 45 minute halves because of the blistering heat.

The three periods allowed us to try our hand at different line-ups against a very skilled team. Like we had come to expect of the Italian style of play, SS Lazio was a very technical and intelligent team. It took us most of the first period to figure out how to break down the other team's defense. Once we found our groove we created many chances and were able to finish the opportunities including Brooke's two beautiful header finishes off corner kicks.

It was a great game to end our week in Italy. We had some beautiful possessions and it was the last time our seniors took the field in a Harvard jersey. We are going to miss them so much next year, but we know that the HWS family tradition carries on long after graduation. Thanks again to everyone who helped make this trip possible, it has been an experience we will all never forget. 

By: Laura Aguilar and Alika Keene

June 7, 2014
HWS: Rome

After a great afternoon in Siena, we headed towards Rome to take on Roma Calcio Femenino. Before the start of the game, both teams ran out together into the field. We took pictures while holding signs supporting women's soccer in Italy. It was a humbling reminder of just how much work is still needed to promote the development of the women's side of the game internationally.

Our game was part of a series of games being put on by the venue that day so we kicked off before a respectable crowd of committed calcio fans. Every team we have played so far has been impressive with their skills and crafty footwork on the ball, and this team was no exception. With two games under our belts, this time we settled in early. Emily placed a great ball on frame that seemed to have hit the inner frame but the goal was called back. Crossbar. The second half brought more fluid play at every section of the field for Harvard. Despite some potentially home team bias with controversial calls from the referee, we came up with 2 fantastic goals from Emily and Joan. We were able to control the run of play throughout the half and put together some pretty exciting sequences.

The game was followed by jersey exchanges and a classic Italian post game meal---pizza! We are on our way to our hotel in the city. Tomorrow promises a tour of the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and other top spots. We will conclude with our final contest against Lazio in the evening. Can't wait!
By: Cheta Emba

June 6, 2014
HWS: Siena

Today, we got to enjoy a later wake up time and began the day with a surprise birthday party for Ray's daughter, Mattea. Certainly no one was complaining about a morning filled with cake!

It was then time for us to leave one of our favorite stays. We will definitely miss waking up to overlook the scenic vineyards of Chianti every day.  We departed on a short bus ride for Siena.  Our knowledgeable ProActive tour guides informed us that Siena was unique in that it was, in a sense, stopped in time, as the facades of the buildings and layout of the city are in the same state as they were when the city was taken over years ago.  Also, during the summer, historic horse races take place in the spacious, oval-shaped city center, or "Il Campo," that is currently lined with delicious cafés and pizzerias.  

The great thing about our day in Siena was that there were really no "main attractions," so we had the opportunity to explore on our own and experience life in an Italia city. Siena was peaceful, and the quaint, windy streets were not as busy and crowded as other places we have seen. Seeing the authentic beauty of the city was truly refreshing, and as we're becoming more comfortable traveling in Italy, Siena was a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in our gorgeous surroundings.
By: Kristina Garrido and Jessica Wright

June 5, 2014
HWS: Florence and Game Two

After playing our first game on a great field the night before, we woke up to a relaxing beach day ahead of us in Lido di Savio, Italy. Although rain seems to really enjoy our team's company during almost every practice, it left us alone to soak up 75 degrees of sun and sand. Some stayed at the beach and some chose to venture into the coastal town for lunch and obviously a daily dose of gelato. Choosing to spend a few extra hours on the beach, we packed up at 2 p.m. to head out to the wine country in Tuscany. After arriving, we ate a delicious meal of pasta, chicken and salad, and some more gelato before heading over to explore the small village that was about a mile and a half from our hotel to end another amazing day in Italia.
By: Carly Rotatori

On Wednesday, we explored Florence and played our second soccer match. It was the nicest day of the trip so far, sunny and 80 degrees. We took a bus that dropped us off a block from the Duomo. Immediately, we were impressed by the sheer size and intricate marble façade. Our tour guides noted that it is the fourth-largest Cathedral in Italy. Once inside, the Duomo's plain interior design and high ceiling made it seem even larger. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to climb to the top of the dome, but we were able to admire Brunelleschi's master piece from below. Yet, while we were very impressed with the Duomo, the street venders were very thrilled at the sight of us Americans. Apparently Meg was a ripe target, because they followed her for several minutes in attempt to get her to buy their posters.

We went on to visit David at the Academia museum, and coincidentally ran into the Harvard men's water polo team while waiting to get in. Needless to say, seeing Michelangelo's hunk of perfection with our male classmates was sufficiently awkward…

After walking to Ponte Vecchio with the group, we ventured into the city on our own. Since our first priority was food, as it usually is, the first thing most of us did was find the perfect lunch destination, Gusta Pizza, suggested by the one and only Lauren Urke (who spent three weeks in Florence during January term). Her suggestion could not have been more perfect, and the multiple pizzas we consumed could not have been more delicious.

Still trying to digest our pizzas, we soon hopped off the bus and began our warm up for the game. The match was about ten minutes outside the city against a team called Fiorentina. They were a smart team and played well together, but we pulled away with a 3-1 win. After the game, we learned Italian from a couple players on the other team. We are now completely fluent of course. Just kidding. But we did learn how to say the days of the week! 

After a hot day of sightseeing and soccer, we arrived back at the hotel and some of us decided to jump in the pool. Little did we know it was freezing cold! Overall, it was one of the best days of our trip so far and we are so grateful for the opportunity to be here. Thanks to Friends of Harvard Soccer and all of our supporters for making this trip possible.
By: Lauren Urke and Brooke Dickens

June 3, 2014
HWS: San Marino City and Lido Di Savio

We started the day by saying goodbye to our villa home and getting on the bus for a three and a half hour ride to San Marino, a sovereign nation that has existed independently within Italy since 301 AD. We spent the first hour there wandering San Marino City, the capital of the 62 square km country, before taking a guided tour led by San Marino native Lara. She gave us a brief history of the country's centuries-old struggle to maintain its independence and explained the democratic system of government that has kept the country free for so long. After climbing to the top and witnessing a breathtaking view, we said goodbye to Lara and got back on the bus to drive to Lido Di Savio, a beach town on the east coast, where we will spend the night before heading to Tuscany tomorrow.

The hotel has a quaint villa feel to it and is a lovely place to relax. After a short trip to the beach, we commenced for a dinner of pizza, pasta, salad, and pork. The food was remarkable, and fueled us as we prepared for our match.

We headed to our game and arrived at a beautiful grass field. The weather was perfect for our first game in Italy against a gritty Serie A team called Riviera do Romagna. In the first half, Maura Duggan scored our first goal off of a great cross from Pip. Once the second half began, the pace picked up and (Miracle) Meg scored a goal from about 25 yards out. The game ended 2-0 and with a group photo of both the teams. We headed back in our pink bus and called it a night as we awaited our beach day tomorrow.

By: Lauren Varela, Joan Fleischman and Haley Washburn

June 2, 2014
HWS: Umbria

This morning we woke up bright and early for a light practice before heading to breakfast. Practice consisted of a light technical workout and also some pattern play in preparation for tomorrow's game.

After about an hour of play, we were welcomed with a couple of different pastries, cereal, coffee, and delicious fruit juices for breakfast. We all indulged in the delicious fruit provided to is, especially the oranges which we all grabbed to save for snacks later in the day. After breakfast we had about an hour and a half to shower and get prepared for the day before heading to a mini lecture on the region of Umbria and the basilica of San Francesco in Assisi.

The lecture was given by Rosella who works at the villa where we are staying. She was awesome! She was able to successfully give a group of girls without any background in art history an extremely informative presentation about the frescas we would be viewing at the basilica in Assisi. Once the presentation was over were ready to get on the bus and start the day!

On the way to Assisi our ProActive tour guide Jeff gave us some great facts about Umbria (the region of Italy we're staying in now) as well as Italian food and wine. Umbri people settled here 1,000 years before Christ, making it a place full of history. Truffles, white and black, are popular but a very expensive treat. The best way to use truffles is to put shavings on top of your food.  Additionally, balsamic vinegar comes from the Umbria region.  True balsamic is aged in oak barrels for 10-12 years, similar to how wine is made, but oxygen is allowed inside to develop a balsamic reduction in which the taste is a sweet one. After the brief bus ride, we arrived in the town of Assisi. Most of us took a walk through the Basilica and saw the tomb of St. Francis and the frescas along the walls we had learned about in the lecture earlier that day. The remainder of our time in Assisi was filled with walks along the beautiful, hilly streets, browsing small shops, eating paninis, pizza and gelato, practicing our Italian and enjoying the breathtaking views from atop the hill where the city rests. 

After a quick break at the villa, we headed to the lakeside town of Perugia to enjoy a delicious dinner. The meal began with linguine with a beef and tomato sauce that was so fresh that we all indulged in general second helpings. Next we experienced a local dish specific to the Umbrian region called a torta, which was a sort of sandwich between two pieces of pizza-crust-like flatbreads that contained a variety of different fillings. We sat at long tables and benches and dined family style until we could all barely stand.

After a day like today, with history and views like we experienced this morning and endless dinners like we ate tonight, we are awfully glad that our coaches chose Italy for this trip. 

By: Peyton Johnson, Elizabeth Weisman and Jessica Wright

 May 30-31, 2014
HWS: First days of travel 

Our first day of travel was completed successfully, despite a few hiccups along the way. The ProActive crew overcame the Aer Lingus strike and magically re-routed the team from Boston to Rome. A few things were almost lost along the way - among them Boo, Melanie, and Emily's phone. Upon arrival in the ancient city of Rome, a few among our ranks (read: LV) began what seems to be a never-ending struggle with airplane "cankles." We will keep our followers posted with her recovery. After meeting up with our ProActive guides, Jeff and Marilyn, we enjoyed the scenic drive to Villa Pieve in Perugia (thanks to our wonderful bus driver, Giorgio).

After a long plane ride, which went by in what felt like an hour for some and eternity for others who were not able to sleep, we all woke up to a beautiful Saturday morning in Roma. We hopped on a bus with our tour guides and took a beautiful three hour ride to the villa where we are staying. As soon as we arrived to the villa, tucked away in the hills next to a 17th century castle, we put our boots on and made the trek down the hill to the local soccer field. With new geography comes new terrain. We practiced on a small gravel field and I think it's safe to say that no one walked off with turf pellets in their cleats... The game is universal and the terrain had no impact on our level of play.

After the much needed physical activity, many of our ankles started to deflate and one by one HWS rediscovered their tibias. Later that night, we were shown how to make pasta from scratch - who knew it only takes flour and eggs? We are unsure whether Rosa will actually use our pasta products but hey, we tried. For dinner, we enjoyed a lovely homemade lasagna, and once again, we struggled to keep our eyes open. Moral of today's story - HWS apparently loves to sleep. But now we are rested and ready to take on the country. Ciao!

By: Marissa Segala, Erika Garcia, Emily Mosbacher and Mai Le