Friday, September 30, 2022

Renting a Car and the Return to Varese, Home of the Skorpions: Day IX Euro Adventure 2022


Thursday, September 29,2022

Our time in Milano had come to a close, it was time to pick up our rental car and hit the road to Varese to meet with a few of our Skorpion friends.

This next six days of our adventure would see us driving to Varese for a night, then to Verona for another night before spending four nights in Florence to complete the Italian portion of our journey.

The car was packed!

It wasn't quite as bad as this looked, but it was close.

This just HAD to be our first stop in Varese

Four cappuccino, four brioche and
two still waters

Such sweet carnage . . .

Our hotel in the heart Varese
was comfortable and well located

But it would come with a story at the end of what became a long and exciting day.

The Hotel Bologna's restaurant
is excellent by all accounts

All accounts but mine that is, I had never eaten there.

The hotel itself is also highly regarded

We met Enzo Petrillo for lunch
at one of our favorite restaurants

Amazingly, Enzo had never eaten at this great spot only a few short blocks from the bank where he works.

The ladies LOVED their risotto!

We enjoyed a typically relaxing three hour lunch over fine food, good wine and great friends.

Looks like Koreen and Brian
might still be hungry

My favorite spot in Varese's
historic center for a mid-afternoon caffè

Chiesa San Vittorio
never gets old to me

Sharing a bench with a kindred soul

The historic part of Varese
is indeed colorful

The main reason for our stop in
Varese was to see members of the
Skorpion Family

I believed that the plan was to go to Enzo and Nency's home for one of her famed lasagna dinners after attending the Skorpions youth team practice that started at 6:30 pm.

Majestic Skorpion Field

With lots of rain this evening, the practice was changed to an install meeting.

Skorpion players paying rapt
attention to Coach Principi's discussion
on their base defensive coverages

Swito was In The HOUSE!

Enzo at the Snack Bar with
the Senior Mens and U-19
National Championship trophies
from the 2021-22 seasons

He is wearing the Newbury Park H.S. pullover that our son Michael had promised him after Enzo gave him a Skorpions' jacket when Michael visited us during the 2019 season.

After a couple glasses of gold label Skorpion Field prosecco, I now believed that we were going to eat at the tables in the Snack Bar area.


With my man Raffa!!!

RB Ema and SS/OLB Nicolas

With the rain and the meeting now over, all of the players headed home.

Apparently the plan now was for our group to join the Petrillo and Nardi families for dinner at a local ristorante.

We caravanned by car to this
excellent spot in Malnate

It was the scene of my first meal with the Skorpions back in 2018.

Our group of ten people walked into the da Vincenzo, turned the corner and . . .


The room was full of Skorpions to share the night and a meal with us.

Laurie and I were moved to tears by this touching gesture from a group that we really love.

Let the reunion commence!

With Dani our excellent
Defensive Coordinator

Baffo was a DE and even
visited us in California

Marta and Koreen

Marta and Nicolas have stayed with us in Camarillo on two occasions.

Marta and Nicolas

Laurie speaking Italian

With Cinzia who was always
wonderful to us and now is
an official Skorpion team photographer

"Do you remember that time we . . ."

Talk about two happy
and humbled people

What a group!

Giorgio said some kind words

I spoke briefly as I really wanted
to hold my emotions in check

Nency and Enzo

Talking LOTS of Italian with
Dario and his new bride Roberta

I once told Dario that the secret to a happy marriage is just two simple words, "Si amore."

When your wife gets mad at you just say these two words to show that you are contrite for whatever perceived problem that you have created. It has a calming effect as you take full responsibility for the issue at hand.

Apparently, Dario has had to use this simple phrase already in the early stages of their married life.

Roberta's response to Dario's "Si amore" was a resounding "NO, that is George talking, not you!"

Sorry Dario, she's on to us.

Enzo's fingerprints were all
over this surprise event

Cinzia, Nency and Santa Barbara

Talk about three wonderful, hard working Skorpion ladies, WOW!

Enzo, Giorgio, Mangano, George,
D.J. and Pietro

For me, there are so many wonderful memories related to the men in this photo.

Giorgio, Laurie Maguire and Enzo

I love Swito even
if he is a Raiders fan

Tex was my personal "Get Back" Coach
and is a GREAT flag football player

The amazing Mothers and/or wives
of our Skorpion players and coaches

"So then they stacked their WRs . . ."

With the owner of da Vincenzo
who happens to be the father of
David who is a GREAT DE for the Skorpions

Dani is such a good man
With our neighbors and friends,
the Nardi family
Giorgio, Santa Barbara George,
Laurie, Raffa and Federica

All four of them are hard working people who give their all to make the Skorpion experience special.

They usually succeed.

Dani wore his absolute
BEST t-shirt tonight

Laurie and Marta bonded in
Camarillo the week that Nicolas,
Michael and I were in Chihuahua
for a Europe Warriors game

Raffa, what did you think about
this surprise party?

"MOLTO BENE, Coach!"

I can not begin to express how touched we were by this wonderfully surprising gesture of an evening.

Added to last weekend's reunion with the Falcons in Lyon, France, and it has really made me feel as if our coaching efforts made a difference in a lot of EuroBall player's lives.

This has all been extremely humbling to say the least.


Unfortunately, every silver lining has a dark cloud.

When we returned to the Hotel Bologna at about midnight, the door was locked and there was nobody manning the night desk. 

We had left our keys at the front desk as requested when we went out so we were literally out in the cold. We kept pressing the hotel's buzzer which we could clearly hear, but no luck.

We tried calling Enzo, Nicolas and the hotel but had no luck in raising an employee.

Finally after about a half hour standing in the cold, damp night, we opted to call a nearby hotel to see if they had two rooms still available for us to rent for the brief remainder of the night.

The man who answered that call said that he would first try and track down someone with the Hotel Bologna to help us.

About five minutes later, without warning, someone buzzed us in to the warmth of the hotel's lobby where we found our room keys dangling on the wall where we left them.

Harrowing to be sure, but it was ok as I was still basking in the joy of an amazing evening with our beloved Skorpions.

Life was so GOOD today!

The Adventure continues on Friday as we drive to Verona, stay tuned . . .

An Action Packed Day in Milano: Day VIII Euro Adventure 2022

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wow, some days are more intense than others.

Today was one of those days, but before we start, let me apologize for the delay in posting about today's events.

As it turns out, we are simply having too much fun to keep up on the blog.

We saw several amazing Milano sights today in the following order . . .

Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper

Brian and Koreen were both excited
to start our day here

Laurie and I sat this one out as we had visited this former dining hall of the Church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie to view Leonardo's masterpiece a few years ago.

While they were busy viewing,
we were actively . . .

. . . shopping just down the street

Of course, we placed our traditional morning breakfast of a cappuccino and brioche as of more importance than shopping.

We debriefed them about their
Last Supper experience at this
historic spot

They opened their doors in 1824 and are still going strong almost 200 years later.

Laurie loves the pastries at Marchesi

The ruins of the Roman Imperial Palace
from the 4th-century A.D. are right
behind Marchesi

Chiesa San Maurizio al Monestero Maggiore

This church dates from about the year 1500 A.D. It proudly displays an amazing array of Bernardino Luini frescoes.

The Main Altar as you walk
in the entry doors

Another group of boosters upset
at their coach's Third Down calls

Two by Two

St. Peter getting violent

Who is that man's tailor holding
the right arm of Jesus?

The beautiful choir room

St Agatha in her traditional
pose holding her two breasts
on a platter

LONG story.

Jesus pouring a cup of blood

The Fickle Finger of Fate
in front of Milano's version of
Wall Street Stock Exchange

The Duomo of Milan


Laurie and Koreen both marveled at
these wine grapes on the way to market

Impressive interior

Intricate floor design

Zodiac signs in a Catholic church? Hmmm . . .

Lauri teaching Koreen proper
votive candle lighting techniques

St. Bartolomeo
A 16th-century statue

This saint was a martyr who the Romans skinned alive. St. Batolomeo is depicted wearing his own skin like a robe.

This is my favorite statue in Europe. It was created by a student of Leonardo's who had learned anatomy via the dissection of human corpses which was forbidden by the Catholic Church by the time.

One of many side chapels

Lovely marble floors

Art work near the ceiling

View from the Duomo roof


As depicted here, gravity can
be an issue over time

The Galleria as seen from
the Duomo roof

Ornate addition to a random handrail

So many mini-spires


On Guard Duty over the
City of Milano

Pizza for lunch near the Duomo

The Naviglio Grande Canal District

The Golden Girls above the last remnants
of Leonardo's canal system in Milano

Signs of Everlasting Amore
on the same bridge

SPRITZ time in the Naviglio

Our view while sipping a few adult
beverages in the Naviglio District

Koreen enjoyed her first
ever Sicilian arancini


Il Cimitero Monumentale

An amazing cemetery experience

This huge cemetery provides a resting place for Milano's most famous and well-deserving people.

It doubles as a spectacular statue garden.

One war veteran . . .

. . . and another

I just like how the dead leaves
accentuated this tomb

Green highlighted by red


The battle flag of Venice

One last look at the symbols of death

Two Metro riding ladies

Following young American football
player on his way to a
Milano Seamen practice

We were on our way to meet Cristian "Bumba" Bianchi for a drink and some food before the Milano Seamen practice at Vigorelli Stadium.

With "Bumba" and
Milano Seamen Head Coach
Stephen Pokorny

Bumba is the Skorpions long time Running Backs Coach and will continue in that position next Spring.

This Fall though, he is coaching the Seamen's U21 in an effort to learn more about every facet of the game from the Seamen coaches.

With Bumba and Carson Hollandsworth

Carson graduated from California's South Torrance H.S. last Spring. He is currently a foreign exchange student going to college in Milan.

He is one of Bumba's U21 team players and a quiet young man.

What a great experience for this youngster!

As the practice started it
started to rain . . .

. . . HEAVILY!

It was definitely time to head home.

Bumba gave me this book whose
main topic is the early history
of Italian football

Interesting . . .

We leave you with our latest physical fitness efforts.

Like I said, it was a BUSY day!

Stay tuned for more news from the Amazing Adventures of our Fab Four.