Aug. 25, 2008
em>Welcome to "Buon Giorno!" a daily diary of the Loyola women's basketball team's trip to Italy. Check back to loyolagreyhounds.com for daily photo galleries and updates on the trip.
Day Four Update Day Four - Photo Gallery
Day Three Update
Day Three - Photo Gallery
Day Two - Photo Gallery
Day Two Update
Day One Update
Day One - Photo Gallery
SAN MARINO, San Marino - As a country, San Marino is but the size of a postage stamp, stuck onto an envelope the size of Italy.
It sits high atop Mount Teton, overlooking the Italian countryside with vineyards and lemon orchards on one side, and the country of Rimini and the Adriatic Sea on the other.
On views alone, the country is First Class, when you consider the food, culture and history, it is more that that. As a stamp, it would be worth millions of dollars.
Loyola's fifth day of its Italian Countryside Tour provided the most free time of any so far, and it was the perfect time and place for it. After playing twice in the first four days and touring non-stop, San Marino was an ideal location to relax and enjoy the scenery.
The group split in two during the day with most choosing to go to the beach in Rimini. They enjoyed relaxing by the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, and shopped along the beach's promenade.
Others chose to stay in San Marino, a decision that was well worth it.
The oldest democratic republic in the world, about 25,000 people live in the hills of San Marino, a country that stretches just seven miles across at its widest point.
In the country's historical center, cobblestone streets lead to shops, cafes, and historical venues. No cars, other than those of the government are allowed into the area, making it easy to walk through the area without worrying about being in the way.
Winding the way up the switchback roads, the group found a small café for margherita pizza - a traditional cheese pizza - bruschetta and caprese salad - tomatoes and mozzarella with basil.
After that, the Greyhounds continued to wind up the hill, stopping leisurely in shops along the way. Many of the shops have medieval pieces with full body armor suits worn by warriors of the time. Also, shoppers could purchase huge swords and sabers that would easy harm an intruder to the castle.
At the top of the hill, the group entered the castle that overlooks the entire area. Stairs take visitors up to a path that winds around the west side of the castle. At every turn it seems like there is something new to see on the horizon or another great view, but it keeps getting better.
After returning to the main plaza level, visitors can see cannons that came after the medieval times, but were still very useful in war. Ascending again to one of the promontory points of the castle, the group was able see where archers would set up their bows and arrows to fire upon advancing troops.
You have to hand it to the settlers of San Marino. When building the fortress of a castle, they picked the highest point on the land where they could view ships coming in from sea and any opposing armies that may be trying to impede their peace.
The final portion of the tour of the castle was a trip into one of the towers. A tight squeeze up the first ladder led to a landing where prisoners were kept. The tower had three levels, the top where the guards could look out on the land, and keep an eye on the prisoners, as well.
Walking down the hill to the center of the city-state was almost as arduous as going uphill. Because of the steepness of the descent the group had to lean back in order not to falling forward.
The group proceeded to the Presidential Palace Plaza to see a `Changing Of The Guard' ceremony. Before the guard changing took place, however, the group was treated to a great surprise.
The President of the country, Federico Pedini Amati, left the building and waved to the crowd.
After that, the guards changed watch in a ceremony reminiscent of the historic ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony.
That evening, the Greyhounds picked up another win on the court, defeating Dream Team Lombardy Selection, 91-61.
Tomorrow, the Greyhounds head to Florence for a tour of the Cradle of the Renaissance.
Be sure to check back for more details of the tour. Ciao!
Day Five Photo Gallery to come later.