Daily Report: May 25, 2002
It was back on the road for the Notre Dame women's basketball team, which
spent another three hours traveling the highways and byways of northern Italy
as it trekked from Bologna to Venice. Along the way, the Irish made a
lunchtime stop in Verona, known famously as the place where Romeo and Juliet
fell in love. The team visited Juliet's balcony and had their picture taken
with a statue of the famous lover. In fact, legend has it that one will have
good luck by touching the bare right breast of the statue, a tradition which
is evident by Juliet's tarnished bronze bust.
The players and staff also passed the Verona Arena, which was being prepared
for an Elton John concert later that evening. After hearing tickets were only
$40 Euro dollars (about $36 American), many were interested in making the
90-minute return trip to Verona from Venice later in the day. However, there
were other items on the agenda and the concert had to go by the wayside.
By midafternoon, the Notre Dame crew was in Venice, the city known worldwide
for its miles of canals and gondolas, with their singing gondoliers. After
checking into their hotel in suburban Mestre, the Irish boarded a water taxi
for a 20-minute boat ride to the main pier in Venice. Once there, the team
split up to do some heavy-duty shopping and sightseeing while wandering
Venice's narrow alleys which hugs the inland waterways.
Besides the tremendous shopping available in Venice (including a plethora of
world-renowned Venetian masks), there are many sights to see in the city.
Among them is the main "piazza", or town square, which is lined on three sides
by massive ornately-decorated buildings and shops. The piazza is headed by the
main cathedral in Venice, which is in the process of some renovation but still
open for services ... and where the team will celebrate Mass on Sunday.
Another less well-known Venetian landmark is the pigeons. Thousands of the
birds descend on the main square and surrounding areas, and vendors in the
piazza will sell bags of bread crumbs to passersby to feed the winged
visitors. The Irish got in on the act as well, with Jill Krause doing her best
to tame the creatures in her debut as "The Bird Whisperer".
Following Sunday's Mass, the team will do some more shopping and visit a
glass-blowing shop in Venice. They also will split up into groups of six for
rides in the famous Venetian gondolas, which have rarely seen a group of young
ladies as tall as the Irish. The team then will return to its hotel to prepare
for the third game on its four-game tour on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. local time
(11:30 a.m. in South Bend) against Reyer Venezia in Mestre. Reyer is made up
of players from three teams in the Venice area -- First Division clubs Schio
and Venezia, as well as Second Division squad Vincenza.