Monday, May 7, 2018

A FULL Day in Varallo, at a U13 Flag Team Practice and at Swito's Home for an Italian Food Festival


Saturday, Cinco de Mayo, 2018

As a famous Roman once noted, "All Gaul is divided into three parts." 

Some Saturdays too.

PART I
The Beautiful Drive to Varallo

As mentioned in yesterday's post, former stellar Westlake H.S. Defensive Lineman, Bob Hoyman was staying with us for a night.

Though well travelled in Asia and South America, it was this rugged outdoorsman's first visit to The Continent. He was here to celebrate his 50th birthday next week and enjoy a week long kayaking adventure on the Sesia River in the northwest corner of Italy's Piemonte region.

Thus our day started with a 90 minute drive (two hours if you include the time we spent wandering aimlessly when we lost our GPS connection in the mountains) through some of Italy's most naturally beautiful country side to the mountain village of Varallo. It was here that Bob was to meet up with his fellow kayakers for his birthday bash/adventure week.

As we reached the valley that the Sesia River has carved out over the centuries, it was fun to see Bob get excited was he read the river and started interpreting what he saw for me. It looked like a good river for kayaking.

When we finally got to Varallo and said our goodbyes, I was floored when Bob thanked me, not just for our hospitality the last two days but for working him hard in high school both on the field and in the weight room to make him mentally and physically tougher. He said that he believes that that mental training 30+ years ago was huge in helping him get through his bout with cancer the past two years.

Now that was humbling to hear.

We parted ways and I started to head home but quickly got lost without any GPS signal again.

I was stripped of any further male dignity that I had when I opted to stop by a bridge and ask for directions at the far end of Varallo.

Nice statue on the bridge over . . .

. . . the apparently fish rich
Sesia River

I wonder what Bob's assessment of
this stretch of the river would have been?

Looks a little rough to me.

I got good directions from the
owner of the Bar Asia at
the far end of the bridge . . .

. . . but he had me drive past Varallo's
Sacro Monte

I just had to stop to take a look

Didn't I?

Hill top religious structure . . .

Lots of hill top religious structure

Cool chimneys

Purple wisteria and yellow walls

A good combination if you ask me.

Another view of Varallo's Sacro Monte

Of course this old building has a
crest painted on it

This one had the Madonna

No, not the singer.

Marcantonio Carlavèe is a
folklore figure in these parts
that is huge during an annual
festival in Varallo

It says on this sign that he is "The King of Dreams."

More on him in a bit.

Varallo's War Dead Memorial

These fallen are from Garibaldi's Italian Independence and Unification movement battles in the mid-1800s.

Sicily's famed three legged Trinacria
icon wherever fresh fruit is sold

And here was the fresh fruit

One of Varallo's narrow streets

And another

A café for the road and
I was good to go

But I took one more shot of the
Sacro Monte up above and the
wisteria down below

There is the "King of Dreams" himself,
Marcantonio Carlavèe!

An Alpini Soldier getting
a blessing from Jesus

Just a random, closed church
on the drive home

I would have loved to spend more time stopping here and there on the drive home but I needed to get back home in time for Saturday's . . .

PART II
U13 Flag Team Practice

With this being a Senior team Bye Week and after playing games for four straight weekends in April, I had made the executive decision to cancel this week's Tuesday and Saturday practices to let our worn down bodies heal a bit. On Thursday we did workout and our Skorpions were in good spirits.

Still, we did have our regularly scheduled U13 Flag Football practice going on today and I needed to be there to at least lend moral support on this BEAUTIFUL day for American football!

We ended up with 11 mini-Skorpions
at this workout

Grueling Warm-ups

QB Tommy sporting his
American football number on
on side of his testa . . .

. . . and his basketball number
on the other side

We like multi-sport athletes at all levels of EuroBall.

Two of our coaches had to fill in
as "players" today

RB Emma about to catch the ball if she
is not intimidated by hard charging
MLB Alessandro

It was a fun and productive two hours of Flag Football today but our Saturday was far from over, on to . . .

PART III
Dinner at Swito's Home

Our Skorpion Senior Team MLB, Ivan "Swito" Raso invited us and some of our fellow Skorpions to his home for dinner.

That, in and of itself, was great news but I forgot one thing.

Swito is originally from Calabria, the toe of the Italian peninsula's boot, and he loves to cook.

Therefore we were in store for an unexpected treat, he hand made everything we ate.

He rolled his own pasta

He made his own cheeses

This cheese was a Skorpion family project as he made it from the milk of WR Jack Micheli's family's cows.

Swito was having a ball
in the kitchen!

Swito with Laurie sporting
the Harley-Davidson t-shirt
from Camarillo that she gave him

Swito's love for his Hog is only outdistanced by his love for the wonderful Chiara, his cooking and the Skorpions.

That's our MLB!

And our amazing host tonight.

Pork to die for!

Not 100% sure but I think that he may have slaughtered the pig with his bare hands.

Naturally he baked the bread

Wild boar meat in
an incredible sauce!

A Calabrian Lei made of
hot Italian peppers

And why wouldn't Swito have
a water pitcher in the
shape of a hand grenade?

Swito's hand made pasta was
AMAZING!

The bread was still warm
and delicious

It was perfect for sopping up the wild boar sauce.

Dinner was served!

HAPPY Skorpion family guests

More Wild Boar meat!

DE Baffo on the right just
after he tapped out fully sated

I have often said that the best part of any EuroBall experience is really not the American football but those magical moments with new friends and their families at someone's home over a meal.

This was definitely a magical, magical evening that capped off a great Saturday.

 GRAZIE Swito and Chiara!

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