Monday, April 1, 2019

An Unexpectedly Busy Sunday

Sunday, 31 March, 2019

I thought that today would be a calm day of rest, was I ever wrong!

But first, the countdown continues as Laurie will be in the Villa Skorpions II in only . . .

. . . more days!

As is my usual morning ritual, after getting my wake-up cappuccino and brioche at the nearby Bar Semaforo, I opened up my MacBook Air laptop computer to find out the news of the world, both foreign and domestic.

I found a nice photo on-line of one
of Skorpions WR Matteo Mozzanica's
two pass receptions from yesterday's
U19 all-star game

There was also a good shot of Skorpions
LB Stefano Lusuriello (helmet #57)
on one of his many tackles

I had a lot of good news from the grandchildren today.

Kevin was busy in Las Vegas with
the start of another soccer season
Kevin was also all dressed up
for his first piano recital

GREAT start to Kevin's
budding musical career

As for the grandkids back in Ventura County . . .

Jacob and Mary on the way
to Jacob's baseball game

Jacob at bat

 Jacob chugging down the line

He was safe at first!

Jacob turned on the jets moving
from first base to third base!

After the game, Laurie, Mike and Jacob
went down to San Marino to
visit my Mother

My sister Linda was there too and could not resist pitching to Jacob in the back yard.

Sunday was also a day for our
Skorpion Ladies to play in a qualifying
flag football tournament for a spot
in an international competition in Israel
later this year

I was told that they played as well as they could and will move on to another qualifying round in April.

When I opened my e-mail I found one from Barry, a student in one of the ESL classes at the Adult School in Varese that I spoke to the past two weeks.

He was reminding me that he had a rugby game today and asked me if I could come see him play today at 3:00 p.m.

How could I refuse him?

A rugby ball is plump

The Varese Rugby Club has a long history

With Barry before the game

Barry's team practicing the
always interesting rugby
in-bounds play

I love #8's most Italian of reactions to the receiver's miscue.

Practice makes perfect!

 That's Barry with the easy to spot
white headband

 Pre-game rituals

I really like how the two teams came out together in two lines with a rugby ball. They left the sideline together, side by side and proceeded to jog onto the field lateraling the ball back and forth from one team to the other, nice sportsmanship touch if you ask me.

The Varese team is wearing the
solid green jerseys while their
opponents today, the Cinghiali
(Wild Boars) are in the big green
and white stripes

 Lots of action in rugby games
with lots of rules that I do
not fully understand

 A Varese breakaway for the first
score of the game

The successful try after the score
gave Varese 7-0 lead

I like scrums!

There is lots of contact in
rugby to say the least

Laterals and punts are a
BIG part of rugby

 The beauty that is a rugby
in-bounds play

Barry about to talk to his teammates

As it turns out, Barry is a great tackler and loves mixing it up with his opponents, the Cinghiali.

He has all the markings of a solid American LB some day, hopefully.

In-bounds play, a lateral and
a punt!

As you can probably tell, the
in-bounds play fascinates me


A little controlled violence is a
big part of rugby

Barry is in the middle of this
scrum somewhere


 Barry directing traffic

Barry is #2

Another in-bounds leap

 A final one before I had to leave
the game at halftime

Our Catania Elephants QB from 2008, Jason Johnson was in Milano this weekend working at his craft.

Now it must be said that Jason is a high energy, force of nature kind of person who is constantly on the go.

After his final season playing American football in Europe for Austria's 2009 Euro Bowl Champion Swarco Raiders, Jason embarked on a career as first a professional photographer before becoming involved in all sorts of video productions for ESPN and others on subjects about both sports and, well, you name it.

He is currently immersed in a three week odyssey producing of a documentary on the off-season exploits of the NFL's Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson and his highly respected personal QB guru, Quincy Avery.

After stops in London, Innsbruck and Venice, this group was in Milano where besides seeing the sights, they had test driven Lamborghini luxury cars at the company's test track and worked out Deshaun's passing skills with the receivers from the Milano Rhinos.

We had originally scheduled a dinner with Jason's six person entourage and the Nardi and Petrillo families for Friday night but Jason had to cancel at the last minute.

Tonight he wanted to meet for dinner in Bellagio for dinner at the unheard of, way too early hour of 6:00 p.m.

I drove the 90 minutes northeast to meet all of Jason's entourage.

It must be noted, in typical Hurricane Jason fashion, that all of his group had to catch a plane to Cairo from Milano's Malpensa Airport at 11:00 p.m. The drive from Bellagio to Malpensa takes about 90 minutes to two hours depending on traffic.

After Egypt, their world tour will end with a few days in China before returning to the USA.

Thus, eating a typical, slow paced Italian dinner in Bellagio and getting to Malpensa on time could prove problematic for them.

But not for me.  

 The Ferry Dock in Bellagio
was the good spot to meet Jason
at about 6:00 p.m. on this first
day of Daylight Savings Time in Europe

 Bellagio's pedestrian hillside
streets are marvelous!

Jason, Ashley and Deshaun
walking ahead of me

Ashley is Deshaun's charming significant other.

We don't serve dinner until 7:00 p.m.

As expected, we were having trouble finding a place that was open for dinner so early in the evening.

Only one thing to do, call on our Skorpion Defensive Line Coach Pacio Cranchi, the unofficial Mayor of Bellagio, for help.

DT Pacio and QB Deshaun

I was happy that Pacio did not try to body slam Deshaun with one of his signature QB Sack moves!

We headed up the hill to one of Pacio's recommended dining spots while Pacio went home to get his wife Teresa to join us for dinner.

When we arrived at the La Fontana Ristorante, we asked for a table for nine.

EEMPOSSIBLE! We were told that there was no way that they could serve us at this ungodly hour.

I casually said that our friend Pacio had sent us and, voilà, we had an outdoor table for nine in about 30 seconds with beverages and food soon to follow!

 QB guru Quincy Avery
is a really good guy

Helping him decipher an Italian menu was fun and watching him expand his culinary horizons was a thing of beauty.

 Jason's Crew

From L. to R.: Quincy, Deshaun, Ashley, Tia, Jason and Dale

Tia co-produces Jason's projects and Dale is the professional photographer who inspired Jason into his frenetic, interesting career years ago.

 Pacio giving Deshaun a
Skorpions t-shirt before dinner

Between the Skorpions t-shirt and the incredible meal, I think that Deshaun is now close to agreeing to jump ship on the Texans and join the Skorpions if we move to DI someday in the future.

While we sat at dinner, Quincy asked Pacio who was his favorite NFL team. Pacio's answer was that he did not have a favorite team.

Instead, Pacio said that he did follow great NFL Defensive Linemen, no surprise there.

In his playing days he liked the Raiders' Howie Long and Lyle Alzado. In today's game, Pacio really likes the way that J.J. Watt, who happens to be Deshaun's teammate, plays the game.

When Deshaun heard this, he got out his cell-phone, dialed a number and handed Pacio his phone. Pacio looked at him with a quizzical look and, in Italian, asked Deshaun what was going on. Deshaun had called J.J. Watt to get him to talk with Pacio directly but, unfortunately, J.J. did not answer his phone.

Still Deshaun, AWESOME!

 With Jason "Hurricane" Johnson

One of the best, most memorable people that I've ever met coaching the great game of American football!

Tia was my fun dinner mate
who LOVES Italia!

An after dinner grappa digestive
in Bellagio with Deshaun Watson
was a MUST!


Deshaun Watson is a really nice, down to earth young man who I hope continues to have a great NFL career except for in Los Angeles Rams games of course.

Jason's crew left Bellagio at about 7:45 p.m. for their race to the airport and that pesky 11:00 p.m. flight to Cairo.

It was a tight window, but they made it in typical Hurricane Jason fashion.

It was good to see Jason as always.

After they left the ristorante, I stayed behind to join Teresa and Pacio for some more wine with their friend Mitch from Connecticut and his Italian friend whose name I did not catch.

 Just a GREAT evening in Bellagio!

The Lago di Como Ferries were
still running when I left Bellagio

What started as a quiet, calm day ended up being action packed and lots of fun.

Such is life in gorgeous, surprising Lombardia.

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