<i>Buon Giorno!</i> - Loyola Women's Basketball Italian Countryside Tour

Aug. 21, 2008

Day One - Photo Gallery

ERBA, Italy - Welcome to "Buon Giorno!" a daily diary of the Loyola women's basketball team's trip to Italy. Check back to for daily photo galleries and updates on the trip.

It was a long 24 hours of traveling, but it was all worth it for the Loyola women's basketball team as they settle in the the Hotel Leonardo da Vinic in Erba, Italy, for the first night of their Italian Countryside Tour.

The Greyhounds departed Baltimore on Wednesday night and had an overnight flight to London. After arriving at Heathrow Airport Thursday morning, the Greyhounds had a chance to stretch their legs and get a look at Heathrow's beautiful new Terminal 5.

Loyola's stay in the home country of senior guard Siobhan Prior was brief, however, as the team soon boarded a flight to Milan's Linate airport. The 1-1/2 hour flight provided a spectacular view of the Swiss Alps, and soon enough the team was in Italy.

After clearing customs and retrieving their luggage, players, staff and families of the team met their tour guide, Elena Pedretti. The first stop for the team was the center of Milan, the financial and fashion capital of Italy.

Milan's downtown features historic architectural, combined with a modern sense of style and passion for fine living. The team walked several blocks to see the Duomo di Milano, the city's famous Gothic cathedral.

Construction on the cathedral began in 1386, and it was not finished until 1809. The wait was worth it for citizens of Milan and tourists, alike. The cathedral is second only in size within Italy to St. Peter's Basilica and is the second-largest Gothic cathedral in the world.

Marble columns in the cathedral rise 80 feet into the air, and stained-glass windows that measure 68 by 28 feet paint a visual tapestry of Biblical images and scenes. The outside of the Duomo is just as spectacular, as over 3,000 marble statues and 135 pointed spires tower above the cathedral.

After leaving the cathedral, the team walked through an open-air shopping mall that featured the likes of Prada, Louis Vuitton, and other famous labels.

From there, the team took in sites of the Castello Sforzesco, a 14th-century castle in the heart of the city that once housed the Lord of Milan. Given to the city in the late 1800s, the castle now serves as a tourist destination and location for fine art shows and exhibitions.

Loyola's say in Milan was brief, as they boarded their tour bus and took a scenic 50-minute drive to the Como region and their hotel in Erba. Much welcomed showers to freshen up revived members of the travel party before dinner, and the team settled in to the hotel's restaurant for fine Northern Italian dining.

The first course of pasta with bolognese sauce was followed by sauteed veal with rosemary and herbs and sides of potatoes and zucchini. Dessert was another highlight, as fresh fruit was served with vanilla gelato.

As much as the team wanted to see more, everyone was quite ready for bed and settled in for the evening.

Friday will bring a boat tour of famous Lake Como, time to walk around town and an 8 p.m. (Italy time) game against the Swiss National Team.

Be sure to check back for more details of the tour. Ciao!