We have just completed days 7 and 8 in Italy. As we have bounced around from city to city, site to site, game to game, I have come up with a few realizations. First and most obvious, is that Italy is a beautiful, diverse country. Second is that the history of Italy is beyond anything that we have ever experienced in America. Lastly, I have realized that the law of diminishing returns does not apply here.
Our trip started off with seeing some stunning, historic sites. Part of me thought that the best of this trip was on the front end. I didn’t think that things could get better. However, each and every day, we have come upon new sites and new experiences, and EVERY TIME I have discovered myself standing and looking at something that can only make me say, “Oh wow!” Not only has the law of diminishing returns been shot down in Italy, but each and every site and experience has only added to the cultural enhancement and bonding of this herd of Bisons.
The morning of the 14th had us packing and departing the Lipscomb Villa and heading to Pisa, Italy. The ride was just over an hour and it was rainy. Fearful of a walking tour that was going to be rain soaked, I had hoped for a change in plans. Luckily however, upon our arrival in Pisa, the rain stopped. We caught a shuttle bus from the parking area to the site of the leaning tower. We met our tour guide and began walking into the old city of Pisa. It is surrounded by a large stone wall, as many old cities in Italy are, and as we entered the wall and turned right we all saw the beautiful Leaning Tower of Pisa. It must have been fate but at that moment, not only was it not raining but the sun came out and all I could say was, “Oh wow!”
The Leaning Tower of Pisa would be incredible if it was standing straight up but the fact that it leans almost 6 degrees off center makes if one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world. It was supposed to be a bell tower for the nearby church but errors in construction caused the lean. They tried to correct it so it has a slight banana shape if you look closely.
We quickly got in line to climb the tower. This feat was not easy to complete. The stairs wrap around the inside of the tower and there are a lot. Eli Pepper was climbing behind me and said something about getting a great quad workout the day between games is not ideal. We were all breathing heavy by the time we got to the top, but the AED machines spaced out every 30 steps or so gave us all the confidence to make it to the top.
While the sites of the top of the tower are amazing, the real prize is the picture taking. Everyone wanted to get that perfect picture of them appearing to hold or push the tower back into place. This was really fun to watch the guys get their shots and how their creativity came out. Jake Wolfe and Andrew Fleming had the best pose taken by yours truly. When I snapped the photo and looked at the screen, I could only say, “Oh wow!”
After we finished our tour of the tower, the church (which is gorgeous), and the city, we departed for our final major city of the trip - Milan, Italy.
Now we have been traveling on the bus a lot but this us ride was different because of the natural landscape that we were able to see along the way. When we left Pisa, we were travelling northwest up the coast. We didn’t get to see the Mediterranean Sea, but we were able to see some unbelievable views of marble-rich mountains. They were not tall enough to be snow-capped, but they seemed that way because of the marble that had been mined out of the tops. Not only where the mountains amazing, but the towns built on the hillsides were pretty incredible too. Some of them looked like they could fall right off the side of the cliff they were built on. This ride was pretty special and, you guessed it, I found myself saying, “Oh wow,” quite a bit.
We arrived safely in Milan that evening and had free time the rest of the day.
We woke up on the morning of the 15th with another full day of activities including our final game of the trip. I wasn’t sure what to expec,t but once again I was not disappointed.
Our tour of Milan started with a beautiful fortress in the middle of the city. From there, we made our way to the Last Supper. We have all heard of the Last Supper and seen pictures of it, but I had no idea what we were really about to see. I had always thought that the Last Supper was a framed painting hung on a wall somewhere; I was very wrong.
The Last Supper is actually an entire mural on a huge wall. It was painted in the 1500s by famed, Leonardo Di Vinci. On the opposite wall of the Last Supper is another large mural depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Both of these paintings are incredible, but the Last Supper gives you the feeling that you are in the presence of something special. One of the world’s most famous paintings painted by one of the world’s most famous painters certainly brought out an, “Oh wow,” or two.
After the viewing of the Last Supper, we walked to the main square of Milan. The main square of Milan is home to the Milan Cathedral, one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen and heard about.
The first way to describe this cathedral is MASSIVE, absolutely massive. But not only is it huge, it is one of the most detailed buildings that I have ever seen. The outside, the inside, the story behind it is truly amazing. The cathedral took 600 years, yes 600 years to build and was completed in the 1300s. It is the 3rd largest church in the world. Walking around the inside made me feel so small and part of that is by design. Philip Hutcheson told me that making these churches so big was with purpose to make individuals know their place in the world. The builders and conceptualizers succeeded in that task.
I could have sat in the Cathedral for hours simply staring at the beauty. Unfortunately, we had to stay on schedule and as I left, I only had one thought in mind, “Oh wow!”
Our day ended with our last game in Italy.
The game was extremely competitive and even chippy at times. The team from Lithuania played very hard, ran a lot of different actions, and made some impressive shots. To make a long story short, the game was back and forth for 40 minutes and it came down to the last possession. Down 72-69 with the ball, Nathan Moran hit a huge 3 to tie the game. LCC had the ball with the shot clocked turned off. We guarded their initial action extremely well. One of the LCC players made a drive to the basket on a broken play, our defender cut him off but he found a cutting teammate at the rim who caught the ball and laid it in as the buzzer sounded. Safe to say that I said, “Oh wow!”
Kenny Cooper, Rob Marberry, Nathan Moran, and Eli Pepper led us in scoring, all with double figures. Rob added 8 rebounds and Eli had 13 boards including 9 offensive. Everyone on the team contributed for the 3rd game in a row.
We shrugged off the loss pretty quickly knowing that we learned a lot about ourselves during the game and the trip. Credit LCC for a great game!
One more day in Italy has us bound for Lake Como. It has been a highly anticipated part of the trip and I have been told that it is one of the most beautiful landscaped places in the world. Certainly, I’ll be saying, “Oh wow,” a few more times.