Friday, June 22, 2018

Skorpion Practices on a Steamy Day

Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Happy Midsummer to all of our friends in Sweden!

Today is the longest day of the year, the official Summer Solstice, and a time for great celebration among the Nordic people.

In Sweden the maypoles will go up, the dancing will begin and the all night revelry will start on Saturday so as not to disrupt Friday's work schedules.


Meanwhile, back in Italy . . . 

A Cappuccino and a Spritz
before shopping at the Esselunga

Laurie is 100% behind the idea of alcohol serving coffee bars as part of every supermarket.

She says that it makes for mellow shopping experience.

Actually, the cappuccino fired me up before entering the aisles.

We opted to stay indoors again as it was still steamy outdoors.

I continue to attempt to break down our Vipers playoff game video but it is slow going.

The reason for this delay is that my trusted computer is suffering a bit from old age. The problem is simple but adds much to the time to write anything including these blog posts.

You see, the keyboard letters r, t, y, u, i and o on the top line of letters only work about 10-20% of the time that you try to access them. Thus, everything goes slowly and at times frustrates.

Warming Up the U19s and U16s

Both teams practiced tonight in preparation for their Fall seasons. I spent most of the evening working with the Offensive and Defensive Linemen.

To review, the U16s will play seven-man full contact football while the U19s will vie in a nine-man tackle league. 

We accomplished quite a bit tonight, I'm happy to say.

WR Matteo Mozzanica, a.k.a.,
"Pippy Longstockings"

Matteo is only 17 years old but had a solid season playing WR for a Skorpions' Senior team. His breakout game was our playoff contest against the Modena Vipers two weeks ago when he made two spectacular TD catches.

He is going to be a dominant receiver at the U19 level I'm sure.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Concert at Chiesa San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

It was another sticky, scorching day in the Lombardia region. How I wish for those good old days of cooler temperatures, rain and snow.

I know, I know, for months I've been asking where the Sun had gone and would it ever return.

The last few days come under the heading of Careful What You Wish For!

A morning trip to the Esselunga
Super Market is always a good call

First of all, the Esselunga is air conditioned, the Villa Skorpion, not so much.

The cold temperatures in the produce section are delightful and as for the frozen food area . . . 


I almost laid a beach towel down in those frosty aisles.

The Atlantic Bar
a part of every Esselunga

On my first visit to this Esselunga, my guide and confidant Dario D'Adelfio taught me that no trip to any Esselunga in Italy was complete without a café and a brioche.

Who was I to buck a 1,000+ year old Italian tradition?

GREAT advice Dario!

We spent most of the rest of our day indoors reading, doing laundry and continuing to sort out what items to take home to California in two weeks, what to leave behind for next season and what to give to charity.

We did have a plan for the evening though.

One of the things that Laurie and I have grown to enjoy during our ten EuroBall experiences is attending concerts in ancient churches.

Tonight at 8:30 p.m. just such a concert was being held in Milano's Chiesa San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, a.k.a., the Sistine Chapel of Lombardia.

Our problem was getting home after the concert as we did not know how long it would last and we were not sure at what time the last train to Venegono Inferiore departed at night.

Thus we turned to our more than reliable travel guides Coach Bumba and Santa Barbara for advice. As always they were spot on!

We drove our car to the Milano Metro Red Line's Lampugnano stop in Milano's outskirts.

The Lumpugnano station sits next to a HUGE commuter friendly parking lot and we easily found a covered space on the lot's first floor. The Metro station was about a two minute walk from our car and, at the end of the night, the four Euros cost of parking for about five an a half hours seemed reasonable to us.

GREAT call Santa Barbara and Coach Bumba!

With the car safely parked, we took the Metro Red Line into the downtown Milano, switched flawlessly to the Green Line at the Cardorna stop and exited the underground at the Lanza stop near the Brera district noted for its art galleries, nightlife and good restaurants.

We enjoyed a good but way too early meal by Italian standards. We had to make this touristy faux pas since we would be at our concert during Italy's primetime "mangia, Mangia, MANGIA" hours. 

We found a good spot in the Brera district where Laurie claimed to have just eaten the best eggplant parmesan she had ever had! My pizza was good and the pinot grigio was exceptional.

We opted to walk to the concert despite the diminishing heat to work off some of our meal.

As usual we found some interesting sights both new to us and old.

One PERFECT column for the
entrance to Lombardia's
 Army Command Center . . .

. . . and the other

A Chiesa in bright Summer sunlight

The Orco logo pretty much frightens
me from ever buying any, even if
they have been around since 1911

 Chiesa San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore
dating from the early 1500s

We got to the church about 40 minutes before the start of the concert only to find out that they were sold out.

We were told that if we stayed seated in this beautiful entry chapel, decorated with amazing Bernardino Luini frescoes, there might be a chance of cancellations.

Thus, our name were added to the Stand Bye List which already had four people on it and growing.

As we watched the process, we realized that most of the "sold out" tickets at the Will Call table had not been paid for until their "owners" arrived to pick them up. This bolstered our spirits as unpaid tickets are easy to give up on due to last second complications on the part of their "owners".

In the end, all of us on the Stand Bye List were able to see the concert in the Chiesa's steamy Choir Room.

The Concert's Venue . . .

Our concert featured a duo. Jacopo Taddei played both the saxophone and the clarinet while his partner, Roberto Porroni strummed he guitar.

Their nine song set was good as was their one song encore.

Here are three samples of our concert for your enjoyment.

Hungarian composer Béla Bartók's
Sei Danze Rumene

Italian composer Enno Morricone's
Death Theme from the 1987 movie
The Untouchables

Later in the same Morricone song

Ennio Morricone's score for the 1988 movie Cinema Paradiso is simply wonderful in my opinion.

We both experienced another enjoyable musical evening in a great setting.

It was time to head home after
a brief walk to the Metro station
through Milano's beautiful streets

Living La Dolce Vita! 

Reading Is FUNdamental

Good Summer reading

Not Patterson's best tome but it helped beat the heat the last few days.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Hot, Humid Day to Start Our U19 and U16 Practices in Earnest

Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

A good day to stay indoors as the thermometer was showing temperatures in the high 80s with equally high humidity readings.

Other than a trip to the market for much needed provisions, we spent the day in the Villa Skorpion reading, watching more World Cup action on TV and started to finally breakdown the video from our final game versus the Modena Vipers a week ago.

At 7:00 p.m. it was back to Skorpion Field for the first time in a week for the start of serious Skorpion U19 and U16 practices. Their first games, nine-man affairs, will be contested in September.

The heat and humidity was perfect for the 14th Annual Intercontinental Mosquito Convention being held at Skorpion Field for the third time, the most of any host city.

We were honored to have them feeding off of our young players and our coaching staff.

Ricardo, in his "stance",
is a first time player

Here Skorpion Senior lineman Nikko Moruzzi, with his back to us, is coaching the prospective U19 linemen. 

Ricardo is only 17, has never played American football, weighs about 225 lbs. and showed great promise tonight in his debut practice.

I think he likes hitting people.
Senior Team starters
MLB Marco Andreoli and
OG Gabo "Capo" Di Stefano

They will both also be key members and trusted leaders of this Fall's U19 squad as Marco just turned 18 while Capo is only 17 years old.

It was good to be back on Skorpion Field again. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Bumba's GREAT Suggestion to Visit Lago Maggiore

Monday, 18 June, 2018

Last night at dinner, Coach Bumba asked if we had visited Lago Maggiore yet.

Our answer was that we had indeed taken the train from Venegono Inferiore to the Lago Maggiore village of Leveno.

His response was that we simply HAD to visit Lago Maggiore's Borromean Islands before we returned to California.

So, wasting no time, today we did.

We drove about an hour to the northwest of Venegono Superiore to the Lago Maggiore city of Stresa.

The view from Stresa's
Lago Maggiore harbor

Over there was our first goal,
Isola Bella

There was only one way to get to Isola Bella, named after Isabella who was the wife of Carlo Borromeo III when the 17th-century villa when was built, and where we were going.

The villa in question is the Palazzo Borromeo, a quaint, austere little home that takes up almost an entire island. 

But how to get there?

 Well by boat of course!

We left the mainland behind as
we ventured to Isola Bella

The Gardens at the rear
of the Palazzo grounds

Docking at Isola Bella

Happy to announce that neither one of us got seasick on the five minute island hop.

In case we needed to sail off
on our own at any point

Laurie, is that a church?

Replica weapons of
Medieval Destruction

Authentic Weapons of
Camarillo, California Child Control

We bought some cool
coffee spoons here

 Interesting but we were saving
ourselves for lunch later on
Isola Superiore dei Pescatori

The ristoranti on this small island were highly touted by both Bumba and my Lonely Planet guidebook.

I'm sure these shops were not
on Isola Bella back in the

We entered Isola Bella's only church.

 One of the many Borromeos
is buried here in the church

Is this the final resting place for
Alexander Dumas' Man in the Iron Mask?

 Instead of a sail boat, we could
highjack this speedier craft

Or they could . . .

Happy to be alive in ITALIA!

Trees sucking in the
Lago's magical waters

I could get used to this view

Maybe the view could get used to me too

It was time to enter Isola Bella's main attraction, the Palazzo Borromeo.

We were greeted by weaponry

And also by San Rocco and his
plague related leg wound

 The Palazzo's Grand Staircase
was, well, GRAND!

The lower end of the long
Grand Staircase banister . . .

. . . and the top end

Who is that mysterious man?

I said earlier that this Palazzo was
". . . a quaint, austere little home . . ."

I'm beginning to think that I might have been wrong about that.

A Camino de Santiago Peregrino!

Italians at War

 Moses wishing GPS had been invented
when he was lost in the desert

The Borromeo family
loves desks . . .

. . . Ornate desks

It's GOOD to be the King!

Not quaint at all!

Well over 130 amazing paintings from the vast Borromeo collection are on display throughout the first floor.

A Donna

 Laurie liked this BVM painting

The Martyrdom of St. Agnes

Prosecco Time gone WILD!

 Does it hurt when I touch here?

What is he doing?

Helping to hold up another
ornate Borromeo desk

Who let him into the Palazzo?

The Throne Room

Another view of the Throne Room

We have a Throne Room in Camarillo but it serves an entirely different purpose.

Nice Dinner Set

Humitas maybe?

 The Ball Room

 We need a modest area to dance
at the Villa Skorpion

 Laurie fit in with the Ball Room nicely

Lunch is on that island!

 A simple piano of course
for the Borromeo family

 And yet another ornate desk

Napoleon slept here

I just liked it

That riding saddle does not
look too comfortable to me

Laurie is going to try to do this
to our living room when we get
back to Camarillo

A simple table

Not sure what the purpose
of this room is other than to
awe visitors

Great wall decorations

 Laurie liked this chandelier

"Bring out your dead . . ."

Creepy kids toys


Totally different architecture now

The modest Tack Room
A good palazzo must have
GREAT tapestries!

This lion looks sick

These lions do not!

Maybe this is why you don't see unicorns anymore?

Score one for the unicorn!

 Weird looking animals

 Lots of details are woven into
these tapestries

 The garden was something
to behold too

 Lots of peacocks

Lots of statues

 Laurie blending in

Great view of Lago Maggiore
Amazing gardens 

 Amazing gardeners


A comfy chair I'm sure

There was indeed a frog
in this lily pond

The Palazzo Borromeo was incredible and well worth the price of admission.

We now boarded another boat for the short ride to Isola Superiore dei Pescatori for lunch. 

The boat ride was smooth

Lonely Plane highly recommended
the Belvedere for lunch 

The Belvedere offered
great views . . .

. . . Great wine . . .

. . . and great food!

La Dolce Vita!

We boarded yet another boat to take us back to Stresa but we still wanted to explore this village a bit before heading home.
We sat and read here for a few minutes

The Grand Hotel des Iles Bornoyées
was built in 1862

Ernest Hemingway checked in here after WWI to nurse some battle scars. He also wrote his anti-war novel A Farewell to Arms while in residence. 

A Tribute to the mountain fighting
Alpini Soldiers

Honoring Stresa's WWII fallen

A vintage Fiat 500
with a picnic basket/luggage

Getting married on Lago Maggiore

I highly recommend it!

It was truly another fabulous day living in Italia!

Grazie Bumba!