Aug. 11, 2012
Greetings from Rome! Our 14-day trip began with a bang Thursday afternoon. Minutes after we had taken off from O'Hare, our plane's right wing was struck by lightning (only feet from my seat). Thankfully this was the most eventful part of the nine-plus hour plane ride.
After landing around 8:00 a.m. local time, we wasted no time and began our excursion around the city. Right when we got off the bus, Nick Osborne quickly made friends with a gypsy and bought himself an Italian flag-colored fedora. Fr. Stefano then led us to a small restaurant for a light breakfast. After, we continued to the Roman Forum and the to the Colosseum. For all of us, the Colosseum was quite an experience. It is amazing how despite its poor condition, it can handle so many visitors each day. Later in the afternoon, after some much-needed rest, we headed west from our hotel see the church of St. Ignatius of Loyola. We explored the city around the church for a little while and then we feasted for dinner. And when I say feast, it was quite a meal (and celebration for Coach Malnati's birthday). The three-course meal topped off what had been a real long day for each of us.
Saturday started early for us as we were up by 7:30 a.m. to eat breakfast in the hotel. We then made our way over to the Palazzetto for practice at the arena where the top Italian pro team plays has quite the history. Our team historian (and phenomenal trainer) Hitch (Tom Hitcho) explained to all of us that Team USA and Cassius Clay had won gold medals 52 years prior in the same building in the Italian Olympic Village. We practiced for about three hours before feasting again at another local Italian restaurant. Again, the three-course meal did wonders for our hunger. We then continued our journey to Vatican City. The tour around the Vatican was unbelievable. The size and detail of St. Peter's Basilica left all of us who had never seen it in awe. We proceeded to the world Jesuit headquarters just steps from the Vatican for a continuation of the social justice class that Fr. Stefano has taught this summer and today our focus turned to the Jesuit Refugee Service that impacts the lives of millions of humans worldwide. The presentation and subsequent discussions allowed of us to appreciate our great situations we have at home. Day two wrapped up with some needed free time for all of us. For me that meant one thing, trying gelato for the first time and I can say that I am now a big fan!
Ben Averkamp #24