Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Long Awaited Arrival of a Good Friend from California

Tuesday, 30 April, 2019

As the greatest American football player in the history of St. Anthony H.S. in Long Beach, California, one Johnny "Johnny O" Olszewski reminded me, today marked . . .

. . . ZERO more days until
Laurie arrived at Milano's
Malpensa Airport!

I arrived at the airport area about an hour before Laurie's scheduled 1:40 p.m. arrival time so I decided to explore a bit rather than just sit at the airport.

I found a church

It was closed, but . . .

. . . it had a mural of a traditionally
dressed Camino de Santiago peregrino

Other than the gorgeous natural scenery to enjoy, there was not much to see so I headed back to Malpensa.

As expected, her plane from
Frankfurt, Germany was still a few
minutes from touching down

 MAGA in Italy in
an art museum?

I pray NOT!

The only way the MAGA movement would come to Italy would be to celebrate an anniversary of Friar Girolamo Savonarola's 1495 bonfires of the vanities.

Fortunately, in this case, MAGA is an acronym for Museo Arte GAllarate. Gallarate being a city near Malpensa Airport.

Finally, after clearing customs and collecting her luggage . . . 

 . . . Laurie was officially in Italia!

Because of a serious accident on the Autostrada, my GPS app took us through some previously unexplored areas of the greater Milano megalopolis that we had never seen before.

As usual, the scenery on this alternate route did not disappoint.

After a spritz at Pasticceria Marabelli, we got Laurie settled into the Villa Scorpion II before heading on to Skorpion Field for our 90 minute Flag team practices.

The U13, U15 and U17 teams have their final qualifying tournament this coming Sunday in Bergamo.

All three squads are trying to qualify for the National Championship Tournament in June.

U13s warming up

U15s flag tackling drill

U17 scrimmaging

U17s running every which-way!

U17 Slo-Mo action

 Andrea "Volo" Volonnino

Volo is a talented, hard working WR for the Skorpions' U17 Flag and U16 Tackle teams.

When our son Michael was here he enjoyed working with Volo but noticed that the chinstrap on his helmet was ancient and held together only with white athletic tape.

So Michael remedied Volo's situation by sending him a brand new black chin strap via Laurie.

Volo was excited to get his gift from all that I could tell.

Because we had three weeks until we played again, this time on the road for the Varese Derby against the #12 ranked Varese Gorillas (1-3), and because of the extremely physical nature of our Bengals game last Saturday night, we opted too not have a Prima Squadra practice tonight.

At this point of the season, a day of rest physically and mentally was the right call our coaching staff believed.

This was not to say that Prima Squadra
team members would not show up at
Skorpion Field for a pizza party

Team bonding is a good thing.

So is having Laurie in Italy back on the Continent.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Castle Hunting in Piemonte on the Drive Home

Monday, 29 April, 2019

Before getting into today's interesting drive back to Varese from Rivarolo Canavese, we have some more news from the world of Varese Skorpions American football to relate. 

 The Women's Flag team played
well in their four team
tournament in Grosseto

Our Women's Flag team went 2-1 on Sunday with wins over the Busto Arsizio Tempeste (2-1) 33-13 and the Torino Driadi (0-3) 42-12. We ladies lost to the Grosseto Cudere (2-1) 14-41.

By the way, Driadi is Cudere is Latin for Hammer but I could find no translation for the word Driadi. The Tempeste makes sense since the Busto Arsizio's Mens and co-ed Flag teams are called the Blue Storms.

This week's Italian DII rankings came out today. Remember that only the Top 12 teams in the 19 team Italian DII make the playoffs.

The teams that finish ranked one through four will get first round playoff byes.

The Skorpions are ranked #7
again this week

Five teams ranked ahead of the Skorpions won last weekend, as did the Skorpions. The top ranked Rhinos had a bye.

As I was driving through the gorgeous Piemonte countryside, I saw a sign by the road saying Castello di Parella with an arrow.

Why not go see this castle, I was in no hurry.

The Castello di Parella
is now a hotel


 Beautiful Castello gate

The Castello's courtyard

 An ancient sun dial

A had a cappuccino in the
Castello's ornate dining area

 Of course there was a functioning
Marionette Theater near the Castello

A native son of Parella,
Piero Giacosa was a noted entomologist

An entomologist studies insects.

 Nice balcony art

 How old is this door knocker?

After exploring the Castello di Parella to my satisfaction, I hit the road again but not for long.

What is that up on that hill?

It looked like another Castello to me.

And it was!

No expense was spared on this sign.

It looked even more interesting
up close and personal

Good looking Castello tower

And a round tower too!

Unfortunately, this Castello was not open for visitors today.

On to the city of Ivrea . . .

Ivrea's Duomo di Santa Maria
was built in the 10th-century by
Bishop Warmondo Arborio


St. Peter and his Keys to
the Kingdom of Heaven

 St. Paul and his famed sword

 Good looking Ivrea Duomo
entry hall . . .

. . . with a colorful main altar

Now, THAT caught my eye

 On to the Crypt!

 There were lots of rich colored
murals in the Crypt

 Cool tonsure haircut

 Jesus striking a pose

 What a beard!

Such interesting art work

I wonder if this is a likeness of
 Bishop Warmondo Arborio

Who names their son Warmondo?

 Almost forgot my
Duomo cupola photo


The Castello di Ivrea
was located next to the Duomo

It was closed today.

Duomo Tower and Castello Tower

I was getting hungry, so I headed to the city of Vercelli where rice growing is king.

Vercelli is the largest rice market in Europe. The locals call the land surrounding Vercelli the mare a quadrate or the sea divided into squares. 

See what they mean?

Flooded, squared off rice paddies everywhere I looked.

The first King of a  newly united Italy
Piemonte's Vittorio Emanuele II

A solid lunch and a great gelato in Vercelli were the last two things that I needed to make the final leg of my drive home a reality.

Once back in Varese, I had some cleaning up to do in the Villa Skorpion II as I have a special guest arriving tomorrow for an extended stay.

ROAD TRIP! A Scouting Assignment in the Piemonte

Sunday, April 28, 2019

I awoke this morning with an agonizing American football scoring hangover thanks to last night's 101 combined points in our Bengals-Skorpions game.

Still, I needed to rally and after yet another great pasta meal at Casa Nardi, I did!

I was off to the neighboring region of Piemonte and the city of Rivarolo Canavese about 90 miles west of the Villa Scorpion II to scout and video tape a game between our final two regular season opponents, the Varese Gorillas (1-2) playing at the home stadium of the Canavese Mastifs (0-3).

The drive to Rivarolo Canavese was

The funky Hotel Rivarolo
would be my home for the night

I got to Rivarolo Canavese nice and early before the scheduled 7:00 p.m. kickoff, so I started exploring the city.

 A Bavarian Beer Festival was in
motion today with colorful
Oktoberfest banners everywhere


In April?

In northern Italy?

Why not!

 A German Beer Festival complete
with Argentine BBQ grill masters

Hmmm . . .

The aroma of meat on the grill
got to me almost instantly

No surprise there.

 No Bier/Beer for me

I was still on duty with the game only two hours from starting.

Interesting round-about statue

Calf stretching exercise?

Besides the Bavarian Beer Festival,
Rivarolo Canavese was hosting a
HUGE street market today too

Thank goodness that Laurie was still in California!

Colorful flowers were in bloom
in the heart of the city


Seriously, I tried but the temptation was too strong and I entered.

It was Sunday after all.

Nice main altar

 Above average Cupola

 St. Michael kicking Satan's ass!

 Still, I like Satan's mustache

Is this "The Green Door"
that Jim Lowe sang about
back in 1956?

Another Church on the same street

Who would have guessed it?

This church's door was nice,
let's go in!


It was an Orthodox Church whose pastel colors were amazing.

 The church was built between the
16th and 18th-centuries

 Colorful clothes on sale
just outside this latest church

Flat Top with Fenders

That was my high school football coach's hair style back in the early 1960s.

I needed a gelato.

And so did everybody else . . .

. . . in Rivarolo Canavese it seemed!

Besides these two gelaterias, I passed three others that were just as packed.

No gelato for me today.

Colorful arcade art

This pharmacy was founded in 1699!

 Of course they have a
Chemist's Laboratory on the premises

Do you have anything in yellow?

 Rivarolo Canavese's mandatory
War Memorial

 What a picturesque city at the
foot of the Alps

It was time to head to the stadium and get the video equipment properly set up in a good location.


The original club here was called the Mastini, not the Mastifs.

At some point they stopped playing American football and at that time a new club sprung up far to the east in the city of Verona. This new club adopted the name Mastini as their own.

When the local club came back too life a few seasons later, they wanted to still be called the Mastini but Italy's American football governing body said, NO! 

Thus they are officially called by their new nickname, the Mastifs, in all official capacities. 

But, all articles of team clothing and signs about the stadium still call them the Canavese Mastini.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day
for American football!

A tribute inside the stadium for the
championship Torino calcio team members
that all perished in a plane crash on a foggy
night in Torino in 1949 on the Supergra
mountain near Torino's Airport

Rivarolo Canavese is about 20 miles north of Torino.

Gorillas in Red,
Mastifs/Mastini in Gray

Just what my aching head needed, another Shoot Out!

It was a great game for the spectators.

The coaches of both squads need to be congratulated for the effort that their players put forth tonight despite their records.

We will have our hands full with both of these clubs the way they moved the ball tonight!

NINETY-FOUR combined points

This weekend was like watching two of our 2008 IFL Catania Elephants high-scoring DI games again.


Time for our update of what happened across Italy in DII American football action.

The maximum possible eight
games were on the slate this weekend


Group A

Group A Week #8 Results
Varese Skorpions (4-2) 58
Brescia Bengals (3-3) 43

Palermo Sharks (3-2) 24
Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-5) 7

Cernusco Daemons (4-1) 28 OT
Desio Hammers (2-3) 21  

Canavese Mastifs (1-3) 54
Varese Gorillas (1-3) 40 

Group A Standings
1. Milano Rhinos 4-0
2. Cernusco Daemons 4-1
3. Varese Skorpions 4-2
4. Palermo Sharks 3-2
5. Brescia Bengals 3-3
6. Desio Hammers 2-3
7T. Canavese Mastifs 1-3
7T. Varese Gorillas 1-3
9. Busto Arsizio Blue Storms 0-5

Group A Week #9 Schedule
Saturday, May 4th
Milano Rhinos (4-0) at
Palermo Sharks (3-2)

Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-5) at
Varese Gorillas (1-3)

Brescia Bengals (3-3) at
Cernusco Daemons (4-1)

Canavese Mastiffs (1-3) at
Desio Hammers (2-3)

Varese Skorpions (4-2)

Group B

Group B Week #8 Results
Verona Mastini (6-0) 38
Isonzo Sentinels (1-4) 20

Padova Saints (4-1) 24
Ferrara Aquile (2-4) 0

Group B Standings
1. Verona Mastini 6-0
2. Padova Saints 4-1
3. Ferrara Aquile 2-4
4. Isonzo Sentinels 1-4
5. Castelfranco Cavaliers 0-4

Group B Week #9 Schedule
Saturday, May 4th
Isonzo Sentinels (1-4) at
Castelfranco Cavaliers (0-4)

Ferrara Aquile (2-4)
Padova Saints (4-1)
Verona Mastini (6-0)

Group C

Group C Week #8 Results
Roma Pretoriani (4-1) 47
Sarzana Red Jackets (1-4) 6

Reggio Emilia Hogs (5-0) 35
Bologna Braves (1-4) 29

Group C Standings
1. Reggio Emilia Hogs 5-0
2. Roma Pretoriani 4-1
3. Modena Vipers 1-3
4t. Bologna Braves 1-4
4t. Sarzana Red Jackets 1-4

Group C Week #9 Schedule
Saturday, May 4th
Bologna Braves (1-4) at 
Modena Vipers (1-3)

Sarzana Red Jackets (1-4) at
Reggio Emilia Hogs (5-0)

Roma Pretoriani (4-1)