June 26, 2006
Milan, Italy - After our stay in Ravenna, we traveled to Novara, a smaller town just outside of Milan. We arrived just in time for the Italy vs. Czech Republic World Cup soccer game. It was difficult to find a place outside of the hotel to watch the game - everything was either closed or packed full with cheering Italians. Italy ended up defeating the Czechs 2-0 and the streets of Novara filled with excited fans. We were able to take part in the celebration on the street as well, waving Italian flags and cheering for Italy along with the rest of the fans. The next day began with a tour of the rest of Novara. We saw castles, cathedrals and the main plaza, or Piazza del Duomo as the Italians call it. Next we played Asystel, a pro team from Navarro. We played five games, winning two and losing three.
Following our match, we drove straight to the city of Milan, my personal favorite so far. We meandered through the cobblestone streets, admiring the window displays of posh Italian boutiques, stopping to dine at a dainty, family owned Trattorias and somehow, despite our lack of Italian vocabulary, discovered that that night there was a free concert scheduled in the Piazza del Duomo with Sting as the headliner! We convinced the coaches (though not hard to do since the also wanted to enjoy the concert) to let us stay later to enjoy our good fortune - we were truly in the right place at the right time.
Italians from all over the region came to see Sting, totaling 1.2 million people on the streets of Milan that night...and we got to be a part of it! After a phenomenal performance by Sting, we returned back to Novara and rested the entire next day in preparation for our match against the Italian Junior National team. Our setter, Nellie Spicer was out for the match with a concussion and injured nose from the match the day before. Tammy Jackson and Jade Machado took the place of Nellie in the match against the Italian Junior National team. The match concluded with a 1-3 game loss, but the experience of getting to play such a high level international team made it worth the while. After the game we took a picture with the Italian team and some of the girls exchanged contact information. Post match, we hopped back on the bus, departing for a new city and our final stop of our trip, Rome.