Over the next two weeks the Harvard women's volleyball team will be embarking on a foreign tour of Italy, where it where travel to Rome, Florence, Siena, Assisi and Perguia. The Crimson will also play four matches against Italian club teams during the nine-day, eight-night excursion, giving the team a unique opportunity to immerse itself in the local culture while competing against elite level competition.
Rising junior Corinne Bain will be keeping fans updated throughout the tour with daily posts to GoCrimson.com, providing insight into the team's adventures (Photo courtesy Mike Mancini).
June 9, 2015
Unfortunately, the last day of our international trip has arrived. We wanted to make sure we could see as much as Rome as possible, so today was jam packed with sight-seeing.
We started off at the Coliseum and walked around both levels to get views of what used to be the bleachers and the arena. Following the Coliseum, we walked over to the Forum and used a before/after book to visualize what was there before it was stripped or decayed. Both of these outdoor sights were intricately designed and we appreciated the history behind the ruins that remain.
Shortly after the Forum, we walked through the Jewish Ghetto in Rome (prior district where the Hansen's lived) and found a pizzeria that could sit 21 hungry people. It was a hot day and many of us have upper back sunburns to prove the strength of the Italian sunshine, so a long lunch was necessary. After lunch, we had multiple options: to shop, return to Whitney's apartment or grab gelato and walk around.
Eventually, the team was all back at Whitney's apartment resting up before our fancy dinner. We all got ready together and took a good amount of pictures on the rooftop with a panoramic view of Rome in the background. We then headed to the club for dinner and this experience truly felt like we were in a movie. We ate a decadent dinner in the prior Borghese family's home. If you know Italian history, you know the status and fame of this family. Let's just say the "Central Park" of Rome is called Villa Borghese (ya, crazy). It was an unreal experience and parents, you should definitely ask your daughters about this event.
Our trip has brought us even closer together as a team (if that's even possible) and we are so grateful for this opportunity. Thank you for following along and reading my blog posts throughout the week. It has been such a fun adventure for HVB!
Until next time,
June 8, 2015
Today we visited two religious landmarks of Rome: the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica.
The progression of the Vatican was interesting as it got more and more famous when walking through towards the Sistine Chapel. We started walking through the long hallway and on the way we passed beautiful tapestries, detailed maps and the rooms of Rafael. We navigated through masses of tourists (more than we've ever seen at Harvard) and pushed through the heat, ending up in the Sistine Chapel. We spent some time inside admiring the work of Michelangelo and wondering how he possibly could've created something so detailed and massive.
We were able to sneak through from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter's and avoided waiting in any line! Wandering around the Basilica was a great experience and we enjoyed the opportunity to see this religious landmark. My favorite fact was that every "painting" in the basilica was a mosaic, thanks to Whitney's book of facts!
We were welcomed into our last match with an opening ceremony presented by what we think was the club's younger ages. It felt a little more like a season game, but still was different because we were playing girls from 18-30 years old. We lost in 4 games, but we were able to run new offensive plays and practice our new system. We enjoyed this match and even received a Toblerone the size of one of our legs after the game.
None of us are ready for this journey to end. Tomorrow is our last day and will be jam packed with activities and a fancy dinner at a club in Rome.
June 7, 2015
Today was a day full of travel mixed with some city exploration. We started off the day with a workout circuit with Chantelle in hopes of burning off some of the pizza, pasta or gelato (or all of the above). Feeling motivated for the day, we were off to Siena!
Siena was a quick stop between Florence and Rome. We were given 2 hours to walk around and some notable activities included the following: walking through the Cathedral, shopping in the streets, experiencing the rich cuisine, and watching a traditional procession of musicians. The time passed quicker than we wanted and we were on our way to Rome!
Our welcome into Rome was incredible. The Hansen family invited us to their apartment in Rome and we had the best time. A beautiful meal paired with breathtaking views of the entire city made for a night to remember. Whitney's mom took us on a walking night tour of the city and she elaborated on the rich history of Rome. We already love Rome and can't wait to see the Vatican, St. Peter's and other world famous sights.
June 6, 2015
It's hard to believe every day can be just as enjoyable as the day before but that seems to be a common theme of this trip. We woke up and got an early start in order to see as much as Florence as possible in a single day. We were led through the city by our tour guides and ended up at Academia, where we all admired the perfectly sculpted David by Michelangelo. We wandered around the museum surrounded by world famous paintings and sculpture.
We were left in Academia and had a few hours to choose what we wanted to see in Florence. Most of the team chose to climb the dome of Duomo, which resulted in spectacular views of all of Florence and beyond. I carved "HVB" into the wall of the Duomo so if you are ever climbing to the top, keep your eye on the right and look for our mark!
We concluded the day with a tour of Casa Emma, a vineyard an hour outside of Florence. Suffice to say, we now understand the process of wine production with current technology.
It was another beautiful day in Italy and we are sad to be halfway through this journey. More to come!!
Our day began with a late morning and our team took advantage of the chance to sleep in. We took the bus into Perugia and arrived in the city center around 1 p.m. With three hours to explore Perugia, our team split into two and conquered both sides of the city.
Perugia is an elevated city and the views were unreal. The narrow streets opened up to ledges that overlooked the region of Umbria. One group walked up to the top of the city and visited a temple which was converted into a church. Luckily the temple was empty because our team struggles with rules of silence. We all met up in the afternoon to head to our games against two more level B professional Italian teams.
Our team arrived at the gym with a game plan to enjoy playing together in the game we love. It was tough to feel 100% but we pushed through the heat and exhaustion and played two well fought matches. After the games, we showered as fast as we could and began our two hour bus ride to the Villa outside of Florence.
We were once again welcomed with a pasta dinner and enjoyed every bite. It is exciting to be in a new city and region of Italy and we are ready to conquer Florence tomorrow!
June 4, 2015
Our team woke up this morning ready to learn and explore. We had a nice breakfast on the balcony of the Villa followed by an informative video about the life of St. Francis of Assisi to prepare us for the day.
With roughly four hours to explore the city of Assisi, our team naturally split up into a few groups and wandered through the ornate Cathedrals. The insides of these cathedrals included beautiful stained glass, narrative frescos and the tomb of St. Francis. Some of us lit candle offerings and experienced the spiritual aura of Assisi.
The city of Assisi felt like a cobblestone maze built into a hill over the country side of Central Italy. Getting lost in these streets was definitely our favorite part of the day. The smells of freshly made pasta, views of castle tops and narrow streets made for an incredible day of hill climbing.
We got off to a rocky start in our first match of the trip, but we are looking forward to our games tomorrow and our game in Rome. We were lucky enough to have dinner with one of the teams in the tournament and experience their Italian hospitality. The language barrier did not stop us from immersing ourselves in their culture and we even learned a few fun Italian phrases!
We are still in disbelief that we are here together and loving each and every moment.
June 3, 2015
Following roughly 20 hours of travel time, HVB has arrived in Italy!
The experience has exceeded our expectations already. We are currently based in Villa Pieve outside of Corciano in the region of Umbria on a lush green hill surrounded by countryside architecture. The incredibly welcoming Villa owners embraced us with homemade Pasta Cruda con Pomodori, fresh bread with olive oil and a delicious Torta di Pera al Cioccolata. We were able to watch the chef create this Torta as she walked us through her meticulous process. Having a permanent translator on the team, Whitney, has also been a huge bonus in the first few hours of our trip.
We decided to walk to the town of Corciano after dinner, which happened to be another pleasant surprise. The unlit streets were buzzing with fireflies as we trekked up a hill to get to the center of the town. Although we were hesitant with Coach leading us through this unknown area, we stumbled upon a beautifully lit town. Wandering the streets provided many picturesque opportunities and another chance to spend quality time surrounded by historical and authentic architecture.
We cannot wait to sleep tonight so we can have energy for a day full of exploring Assisi and our first match of the trip tomorrow.
More to come!
June 1, 2015
Ciao from HVB!
Returning to campus this week has been a bit of a different feeling for us. Between graduation festivities, reunion jobs and volleyball practices, we all are busy but constantly thinking about our upcoming trip to Italy. Our countdown is coming to an end and we cannot be more excited to explore Italy and play Italian teams!
The most exciting part about our international trip is the opportunity to go together. This is a truly special group that is traveling abroad and we are all so grateful for the chance to create more memories as a team, especially following our Ivy League title this past season. We feel excited and prepared to face Italian teams in the coming week.
Our excitement is apparent in our practices as we get closer and closer to our departure. It is almost surreal that we are leaving in two days and cannot wait for the week ahead of us!
Stay tuned for our day-by-day synopsis of this adventure!
Harvard Women's Volleyball