The Lady Lions had a fantastic 10-day excursion through France and Italy before heading back to the States to start classes. The journey featured stops in Paris, Nice, Monaco, Como, Bellagio, Florence, Rome and Vatican City. It was an experience of a lifetime for everyone on the trip, including the staff members.
At our first team meeting of the year, Coquese Washington asked everyone to give their highlights of the trip or what they learned about themselves or their teammates during our 10-day journey. It was interesting to hear what the Lady Lions had to say.
Nikki Greene talked about what an impact the trip had on her as an integrated arts major and how blown away she was by all of the artistic and architectural wonders that we saw on the trip. Maggie Lucas told us how she knows that she can play overseas now after visiting those countries and how she would be able to adapt. Maren told the group that she learned a lot about how the team adapted on the fly with many elements of the trip. I think everyone came away from our European Tour with a greater appreciation of life in the United States, our culture, ourselves and each other.
Before we hopped a plane back to the States, a few of the Lady Lions shared their favorite memories of the 10-day Euro Tour. Take a look:
Today is our final full day in Europe and we spent it at the Granddaddy of the All (no, not the Rose Bowl), the Vatican!
We met our wonderful tour guide, Mia, for the second straight day and she brought us through the Vatican, starting the one of the papal galleries. We then met in a beautiful garden where Mia told the story of Michelangelo and the painting of the Sistine Chapel. It is really quite an amazing story to find out that Michelangelo had no knowledge of how to use the fresco technique. Once we entered the chapel, you were really taken back at how Michelangelo used color and light to make the paintings leap off the ceiling, almost like the sculptures that he was so famous for before the painting of the chapel. We were not allowed to take any photos or video in the Sistine Chapel to help preserve the paintings, so our only memories will have to be in our minds, but it was quite a sight to see. :)
Once we finished at the Sistine Chapel, we headed to St. Peter's Basilica...home of the Pope. The architecture in the basilica was also amazing and breathtaking. There were several former Popes that were enshrined as saints and Pope John Paul II has recently been moved into the basilica as he is nearing sainthood. After leaving the basilica and the Vatican, several members of the team stopped to purchase rosaries, etc. and have them blessed.
We split up for the afternoon and several of the staff members took in the sights of Rome, including the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. It is truly amazing the feats of architecture and engineering in Rome.
LATINA, ITALY - The
Penn State Lady Lions closed out their European Tour with a win over Latina
Basket Tuesday evening. Sophomore forward/center Tori Waldner (Milton, Ga.) registered a double-double with 18
points and 13 rebounds. Waldner was 9-for-16 from the field on the evening.
center Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas)
added 20 points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks and junior guard Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) recorded
20 points and five steals. Junior forward/center Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) chipped in 13 points, while junior
guard/forward Ariel Edwards (Elmont,
N.Y.) accounted for 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Junior guard Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.)
contributed six points, seven assists and three steals.
Our first full day in Rome brought a walking tour of a few of the sights in Ancient Rome, including the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We had a fantastic tour guide named Mia (no, not Mia Nickson). She was so enthusiastic about telling us about the history of her hometown and gave us so many great nuggets to bring back with us. To think that all of these landmarks have been around for 2,000 years is pretty amazing when you consider that they are all older than the United States of America.
The first stop was the Colosseum. What an amazing feat of workmanship that has stood the test of time and a few natural disasters. It's hard to envision what this beautiful Colosseum looked like thousands of years ago when it was covered in marble and travertine. The funniest moment of the Colosseum tour was when Mia, our guide, had Maggie Lucas and Colleen Kelly, one of our managers, reenact what the "Final Battles" were like in the Colosseum. Colleen won the battle, but decided to spare Maggie's life (though I am not sure how much damage she could have done with the umbrella she was using).
After a quick bus tour of some other ancient sights, it was off to the Roman Forum. You had to use your imagination to fill in some of the blanks, but you could really see the Forum being the center of the government in Ancient Rome. All of the Forum was once under 20 feet of silt and has been excavated over the years to produce what we saw today. Among the other items that we saw in the Forum was the place where Julius Caesar was cremated and to this day, there are still flowers on top of the are where he was cremated.
We returned to the hotel to get showered up and ready for the final game of our European Tour tonight when we play the Italian All Stars from Rome.
It was a pretty low key day for the Lady Lions with the morning to shop in Florence before getting on the bus for the three and a half hour drive to the final stop on our European Tour, Rome. Once in Rome, we took a quick walk to a couple of the local squares for some shopping and dinner, then it was off to bed because tomorrow is a game day.
Our tour has run very smoothly, thanks to our tour director, Richard. Richard has amazing knowledge of the countries that we visited during out trip and has been a riot to listen to on our bus trips. Check out the video below to meet Richard and hear from the Lady Lions about him (there's even an impression or two in the video too).
During our tour, we have spent a lot of time on the bus going from city to city and because of the Italian driving laws, we are required to stop every two hours for a 30-minute break. All of our stops have come at a place called the AutoGrill. Watch the video below to hear what the Lady Lions' favorite things to buy at the AutoGrill are.
We loaded up the bus again this morning and headed just about four hours south to Florence. As we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by a 102 degree day and the sun beating down on a cloudless day.
After a short time to settle into the hotel, we headed out on a guided walking tour of Florence, or as they call it in Italy, Firenze. We met up with our guide, Nicco, at the Duomo and set out for our hour and a half jaunt around the city.
The Duomo is an amazing sight and took more than 150 years to complete. It was so huge and tucked into the buildings that it was impossible to take a photo of the entire building. From there, we stopped by the museum where the statue of David resides and took some time to enjoy the many marble and bronze sculptures that fill the area around the Palazzo Vecchio.
We then headed another couple of blocks down the street to the Piazza di S. Croce, where the Basilla of Santa Croce is. The church is where many famous artists, philosophers and writers from Florence are buried, including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and Marconi.
Following the walking tour, we broke for dinner and a nice evening stroll in Florence.
Tomorrow we will have a little time in the morning for shopping and to see more of the sights before hopping back on the bus to go to Rome, our final stop on the tour, for three nights.
BERGANO, ITALY; August 18,
2012 - The
Lady Lions cruised in their second European Tour game en route to a 123-34 win
over the Italian All Star team in Bergano, Italy Saturday evening. Dara Taylor (Wilmington, Del.)
registered a triple-double with 16 points, 10 assists and 12 steals, while Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) posted a
30-point performance, going 11-for-14 from the field, including a 4-for-4
effort from three-point range in the second half.
center Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas)
chipped in 18 points. Junior post player Talia
East (Philadelphia, Pa.) was solid as she contributed 16 points, seven
rebounds and two assists, while Ariel
Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) also added 16 tallies.
Lady Lions sprinted out to an 8-0 lead in the first 1:38 of the game thanks to
a pair of buckets by Edwards and scores by Lucas and Greene. Penn State
continued to keep the pressure up defensively and extended the lead to 22
points (20-8) with 4:14 remaining in the first quarter. The half came to a
close with the Lady Lions leading 34-14. Penn State had solid defensive
intensity, forcing 13 steals in the opening frame, including four thefts by
State started the second half on fire with an 18-2 run that featured six points
by Lucas and four points each by Edwards and Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.). The Lady Lions continued to extend the
lead and headed into the half with a 74-22 lead. Lucas paced the Lady Lion
scoring effort with 16 points, while Taylor added 12 tallies, nine steals and
six assists. Edwards and Greene also reached double figures in the first half
with 14 and 12 markers, respectively. The Lady Lions cruised through the second
half for the 123-34 win.
Lady Lions closes out its European action against the Italian All-Star Team on
August 21 in Rome.
After a great nigh't sleep, the Lady Lions headed off on a boat tour of Lake Como and spent the morning shopping in Bellagio. The Lake Como area is gorgeous and Bellagio is the point where all three parts of the lake come together and there are some amazing views.
The shopping area in Bellagio was very neat, with cobblestone steps (instead of roads) that lead between the major shopping areas. There were a ton of arts and craft places with a myriad of silk ties, purses, kitchen utensils and jewelry. Many Lady Lions found themselves some new necklaces and other trinkets to bring back to the US.
We had pregame meal at the hotel and will catch the bus at 3:30 to take the hour and a half bus ride to our game this evening.
We had a wonderful day in Nice, complete with tubing on the Med and a walk down memory lane with Maren, but it was back on the bus with our driver, Salvatore, and tour guide, Richard, as we headed to Monaco for a part of the day and then continued on into Italy and the start of a two-night stay in Como.
On the way out of Nice, we stopped at an overlook and saw the most AMAZING view of Nice and the Mediterranean Sea. The team stopped for a quick pic and then it was off to Monaco. After a winding and twisting ride, we finally arrived to a beautiful seaside city-state with some huge yachts and breathtaking views.
We spent a few hours in Monaco, shopping, eating, snapping photos and watching the guards in front of the palace. It was a really great place to stop, even if it was just for a few hours.
Back on the bus we went for the four hour jaunt to Como, Italy, where we will spend the next two nights. Como is named after the lake that it sits on. We didn't have a whole lot of daylight to sightsee Como (that is on tomorrow's agenda), but we did get some great dinner and gelato for dessert.
Tomorrow will bring a bus and boat tour of Como and our second game of the tour against the Italian All Stars.
After two wonderful days in Paris, it was off to Nice with an early morning wake up call. We headed off to the train station, where we caught a high speed train to Nice in the French Riviera. The French countryside was spectacular, even at speeds of 160 km/h, and by the time we "took the turn" along the French coast, the water was breathtaking.
We checked into our hotel and the team had some free time, where they went to the stone beach along the Mediterranean and even did some parasailing. The beach and shopping time must have wiped the squad out as they hit the sack fairly early. Maren, who played for one year professionally in Nice, took a quick trip to her old gym (we hope to have a video for you tomorrow). In the evening, most of the staff caught a delicious meal in the Old District of Nice and then did some people watching while eating a Nutella crepe.
The Lady Lions are back on the road tomorrow, heading to Monaco for an afternoon of sightseeing before heading on to Lake Como for a two-day stint. Everybody is hoping to run into George Clooney in Como. :)