Washington has made it back home safe and sound after its summer foreign tour, with the last several days in Italy focused on sightseeing before an early flight Friday back to Seattle. Kim Condie, Kaleigh Nelson, and Jenna Orlandini give their thoughts on Milan, Perugia, and Rome as the Huskies made the most of their final days abroad. Thanks for following along, Husky fans!
Sophomore Defensive Specialist Kim Condie - Milan
We got to sleep in our second day in Milan, since we played the Italian National Team after a fairly long drive to the city the day before. The public trolley, comparable to those in San Francisco, took us from our hotel to the city's center. As expected their church, the Duomo, was the heart of the center with the roads beaming out from it. The white limestone and stunning architecture made it impossible to ignore anytime one walks by. After admiring all the detail, anyone can see the amount of time and effort that went into building it and why it means so much to Milan.
Naturally, all of us 19 to 22-year-olds head directly to the shops after taking pictures of the Duomo. We were only able to window shop in the high-end stores such as Louis Viton, Prada and MaxMara but we found our way to the affordable, or somewhat affordable, stores in order to spend some euros. While we all had per diem to buy lunch, most of us managed to spend the entire time shopping and had to quickly buy lunch once we got back to the hotel before heading off again to go play the Italian National Team for the second time. Unfortunately we were unable to come up with a win, but the experience was nonetheless a great one. We have started to apply the principles that Keegan brought with him along with those Jim has always stressed, and there's no denying the improvement.
The bus took us back downtown to the center for dinner where charming Italian waiters brought us endless pizza, pasta and wine for the adults. The last half hour we spent roaming the center one last time before taking another trolley back. We hopped off at our stop and we walked the last block to our hotel in the warm rain.
Junior Outside Hitter Kaleigh Nelson - Perugia
Sitting on a hilltop in the heart of Italy lies the beautiful city of Perugia. As we snake our way up, I keep my eye on the valley and watch as the scene expands as we go higher and higher. With hardly a cloud in the sky, I can barely believe my eyes when we reach our destination at the top. I feel as though I'm looking upon a painting, for something so beautiful cannot possibly be real. I'm finding that on this trip I often have to pinch myself and remind myself that this is not a dream. I really am touring Italy, and I have the opportunity to do it with my teammates.
Everything we've seen so far has been amazing and Perugia definitely did not fall short. When we got there we quickly had lunch then went on a walking tour of the city. Much of old Perugia was below the city so we got to go underground during our tour, we also stopped at several lovely viewing points at the top, and we ended the tour with the city's cathedral. I had yet to go in a cathedral whilst on our trip and as soon as I entered I could only make out one word, "wow". There was so much detail in every inch of the structure. Paintings all over the walls, statues at every corner, and a ceiling that seemed to just keep going as I arched my neck to look up.
After the tour, we rested up because we had our final match to play. We went into our pregame mode and then it became business as usual. We had one last opportunity in Italy to get better as a team and I believe we did just that. It was a solid match to end on, winning all 4 sets we played against the local club team. Like every team we have played here in Italy, they were extremely kind and welcoming after the match. After we took a few pictures and chatted a bit, we headed back to our hotel for dinner and then got cleaned up and ready to go out on the town. A few of the Perugian girls had wanted to take the team out for gelato, and of course no one had to even ask, gelato has become part of the daily routine on this trip. We spent the evening getting to know the Perugian players better and walking around the city. It was the perfect ending to our day. We got a full nights rest and set out the next day. I wish we could have spent more than just that one day in Perugia, but Rome was waiting for us, the final destination of our Italy adventure!
Senior Libero Jenna Orlandini - Rome
Rome! We finally made it to Rome and are done playing volleyball. Although we are excited to experience the city without worrying about competition, we will miss it until we start preseason. The first thing we did when getting to the city was tour the area around our hotel. Our professor took us to the bath house Romans used in the second century BC that diminished over time, but some of the surrounding structures still exist today. The walking tour was awesome but we were all pretty exhausted from the drive after seeing Assisi.
On Wednesday we went to the Vatican City and saw the Pope! We were not expecting to see him, but it was an awesome treat. After going to the Vatican we went to see a church named for St. Agnes. Although it was small, the church was very pretty with artwork covering every section of the walls. We also walked to the headquarters of where the University of Washington students go when they study abroad. We were all pretty stoked to see our school make a statement in the city. We then went back to the Vatican to walk through St. Peter's basilica. Even though we had already walked through a few churches on our trip, St. Peter's was definitely the most memorable. The size of it is incomparable to any other church we saw. There were tombs of popes and some of the prettiest artwork hanging from the side walls.
Thursday was a great way to end our trip. Not only did we see the Colosseum but we walked through the Forum of where the ancient city center of Rome would have been. Knowing the history of the Colosseum, thanks to Professor Clauss, made the experience that much more interesting. We learned about the kinds of events that took place in the Colosseum, who participated, and how it got its name. After lunch we were allowed to explore Rome on our own. A few of us went to the Trevi Fountain to make a wish. It was a lot bigger than we thought but even more beautiful.
Rome was an awesome way to end our trip and a lot of us are ready to head back home to see family. We went through five different countries on this trip, if you include Vatican City, and I don't think any of us expected the trip to turn out as it did. We took long bus rides together, played against some amazing European volleyball players and even saw the Pope. This was definitely a trip to remember and we are all so grateful we got to experience it together.