Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love My Way

After my last post, I decided to leave the hotel where I connected to the internet and drive the Fiat...at night...into Catania...solo. Somewhere in the deepest part of the soul of every middle-aged, fat, bald guy there lurks a frustrated Grand Prix driver. Catania at night is THE place to free yourself of such petty inhibitions! The rules are simple: speed limits...only a suggestion, lines painted on the road to control traffic flow...PLEASE, honk for no apparent reason every 30 seconds, be aggressive (Zoo Blitz mentality helps), drive fast and finally, if you get in trouble drive FASTER! Praying helps I've found out in only two near death experiences so date.

My first stop in town was, of course, for a gelato al limon. This was my first gelato and I was not disappointed! Many of you have asked how Sicilian gelato compares with the gelatos I came to love two summers ago in Venice, Rome and the Greek Isles. It is way too early to make such a decision but I promise to keep my research going strong daily.

Did I mention that I had instant Parking Karma at the gelateria? This was not typical of the insane parking situation in Catania. After walking around a bit, I got back in the Fiat and started to drive thereby getting hopelessly lost. Thank God for my Garmin GPS system! If you are coming to Europe buy one, don't even begin to think they cost too much, THEY ARE WORTH EVERY PENNY! That being said, the voice on it does continue to get angry with me when I miss a turn, she can be brutal when she has to say "RECALCULATING!".

On Monday, after eating a fine breakfast of prosciutto and eggs (that I actually cooked) on the patio with a spectacular view of the Ionian Sea, I drove into Catania to meet with Davide Giuliano and Gustavo Bonnano at Davide's office. The pictures today are of my office, it is very nice and a complete surprise. I have an internet connection in the office so life just became easier. We talked about our defense and the concepts that make up our calls. Both Davide and Gustavo picked it up quickly and easily, now I hope the defensive players can do the same. I spent the rest of the afternoon updating the playbook, Davide wants to e-mail it to the players Friday so I have to put the finishing touches on it for him. Our first team practice is this Saturday at 3:00 for 3 hours.

At 8:00 p.m. members of the team were meeting to do "Athletics" only. In America we call it conditioning. About 20+ players showed up at the University of Catania's combination track, rugby and soccer stadium to stretch, run, run, run and then, run some more. I was very impressed with their work ethic and how long they worked out in near total darkness of their own volition. It was in the low 40's while they worked out but no one was phased by the weather. Back home Brian FitzGerald would have fielded several phone calls from parents upset about the workouts being too hard.

The players at practice came in all shapes and sizes, some (Claudio, a WR, especially) spoke great English. All were friendly and showed great spirit and comradeship during the workout. The players are all in their 20's save one. The one is named Fortunato, "Call me Lucky", and is 44 years old. He is their leader beyond question! He seems like a great guy and is in incredible shape. He was a QB for 15 seasons but now plays Slotback. At about the 40 minutes mark, the lights go on on an outdoor/indoor soccer field next to the stadium with 1970's Astroturf. They finished the workout there. This small field will be the sight of some of our Monday and Wednesday practices next week.

My impression so far is that the players really want to learn, they are like brand new dry sponges looking for the first rain of the year. I think this is going to be a greater experience than I imagined.

A word about Gustavo Bonnano who has been assigned to be my guide. GREAT guy, a student at the University, in his 20's, speaks English very well and knows good places to eat. He took me to a good street vendor for an Italian sausage, cheese and pepper pannino. I love hole in the wall dining!

By the way, many of you have commented on the statue next to my Elefanti gear in the previous post, obviously some of us don't appreciate art and/or decor when we see it! Also, Shi Young there was a small print of a Mogdigliani drawing in the apartment, go figure!

So to sum up, I'm eating great food and dolce, praying constantly when I drive and love the people I'm meeting.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I am greatly disappointed that there was not an official weigh in before you left for Italy as was agreed upon. I am also disappointed that there was no mention of where we stand now in your blogs. I am just concerned that you may resemble our good friend Moe Decandia (a rather rotund union representative from New Jersey for those of you who have not heard the stories).

Glad to hear you are enjoying yourself!!!!