Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Little Painting, a Lot of American Football

Tuesday, 20 February, 2018

As you may have noticed reading this blog the past five weeks, Milano is loaded with tremendous artwork from across the centuries.

Thus inspired, I opted to work with oils today as we continue to prepare for the 2018 opening of our beloved Varese Skorpions Italian DII season this coming Saturday night against the Varese Gorillas.

As I said, I like to work with
oils and HAMMERS!

SLEDGE HAMMERS that is . . .

This one still needs more work.

Why oils?

Why hammers?

It's an American football thing.

Speaking of American football, our Senior team practice tonight from 8:30 to 10:30 . . .

. . . will be quite chilly
it appears

When I arrived at our practice field for the 6:30 p.m. start of our U15 flag practice, I noticed . . .

. . . that all of our trees had
been trimmed back severely

No problem really, except . . .

Our sleds were buried
in the loped off branches

It took six players but our sled were soon extricated.

U15 WR Filippo Petrillo in action

U15 WR Dario showing off
for the folks back in California

Our Senior team practice tonight was well attended, spirited and extremely competitive.

Those are all good things to a coach's mind.

Reading Is FUNdamental

Four Short Stories from the
Queen of Nordic Noir

All good yarns with good ending plot twists.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Gorillas Game Prep Week Begins

Monday, 19 February, 2018

Most of the day was taken up by lots of scrimmage/game video study on HUDL.

It took a while, but the video of our scrimmage last Wednesday in Switzerland against the Lugano Rebels was finally uploaded on Sunday while I was visiting Genoa.

After breaking it down I can say that we got much better as the scrimmage unfolded.

Our Defense played as well as I suspected that night.

The Special Teams still needs some tweaking to be sure.

The Offense is progressing but needs consistency as we approach this Saturday's DII season opener at the home field of our crosstown rivals, the Varese Gorillas, this coming Saturday night at 8:30 p.m.

After breaking down our scrimmage video, I then started to evaluate the schemes that the 2017 Gorillas used against the Skorpions in our road game against them last season.

We will have to play much better than we did in either of our two scrimmages to bring home a victory this Saturday night.

Outside of the world of Skorpion football, I did have one other task today too see to as I got a parking ticket in Pavia last Friday.

I had parked in a pay-to-park blue lined spot that had a two hour limit. Since we were still in the Lombardy region, as I understood it, parking was free if I just put my document stating that I drive an energy saving auto on the dash.

I did so, toured Pavia's historic center for about an hour and returned to find a parking ticket under my windshield wiper.

What the . . .

Finally it dawned on me as I looked at the car next to me. While I could indeed park here for free, I still had to honor the two hour time limit.

You see, in Italy cars have a little blue card on their windshields or dash like . . .

. . . this one on mine

I had forgotten to reset the time that I arrived at the parking spot using this little blue device. Thus the officer who spied my arrival time was told by it that I had been parked there since 9:30 a.m. and it was now about 4:45 p.m., way over the allowed two hour stay.

This breach of parking etiquette on my part would cost me 28.70 Euros if I paid it within five days and 98 Euros if I waited longer to pay it.

A huge GRAZIE to Santa Barbara Nardi and her daughter Federica for helping me decipher the ticket before our practice on Saturday and explain how to pay it!

How does one pay a parking ticket issued by a city over an hour away you ask?

Why at the Post Office of course!

This is the Post Office in
Venegono Superiore

In Italy everything governmental and financial eventually ends up at your local Post Office.

Paying this ticket in less than five days would thus be easy.

No it wouldn't

It was 1:45 p.m. and as you can clearly see in this picture, the Post Office closes Monday through Friday at 1:35 p.m.

I was ten minutes late but not to worry, it was only day three of my early five day reduced fine payment period so bright and early on Tuesday, day four, I planned to take care of my parking mistake.

On the plus side for the Italian Postal Service . . .

. . . I got a card from Laurie that
she mailed in late January!

It was her annual Groundhog Day
card for me

And only 17 days late.

In the evening, while making a pizza at home, I turned on the TV to the Rai 1 channel which to my surprise was showing . . .


I have read 11 of the Inspector Montalbano mystery books by Andrea Camilleri set in the fictional Sicilian towns of Vigata and Montelusa.

The Camarillo Public Library has the first 20+ videos of the TV adaptations of these fun reads with English subtitles. The episode tonight on Rai 1 was much newer.

Most of the same actors were in the main roles as usual but, somehow, they have all gotten older looking.

How is that possible?

No English subtitles on Rai 1 but I still had fun watching old friends nonetheless.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Sunday in the Gritty Seaport City of Genoa

Sunday, 18 February, 2018

Before we start reviewing the day's outstanding trip, let me just say that . . .

. . . I found a good outdoor
food market in Genoa!

It was a bit of a spur of the moment trip, truth be told.

I had planned on making Turin (Torino) and Genoa (Genova) my first two mini-road trips of the season but was not sure when or which one I would visit first.

When I awoke today, it just felt like a trip to a city on the Ligurian Sea coast was the right thing to do, Genoa it was!

But first I had to get there.

My Rick Steves Italy guidebook informed me that trains from Milan (Milano) to Genoa leave from the Milano Centrale train station.

To get there I had to first drive to our local train station in Venegono Inferiore, there catch the train to the Milano Cadorna train station, then hop onto the M3 Green Line subway to finally arrive at Milano Centrale train station.

Total time for this was about 75 minutes.

I had never been to the Milano Centrale train station so, after buying my round trip train tickets to Genoa and realizing that I had about a 40 minute wait until my train left the station, I explored.

Milano Centrale opened in 1931

It was built at the height of Benito Mussolini's 21 years in power in the typically intimidating Fascist architectural style.

It still gives off that feeling that people are small and that their is a higher secular power in play.

Let's take a look at some of this edifice's details . . .

Not sure of the message here

Pegasus on steroids?

Eagles are always a good touch

Inside the HUGE station I found
a bookstore with LOTS of English
language books for sale

That 2007 John Grisham book
looks like a worthwhile read


I used this book series' Stockholm edition last Spring and had great fun experiencing lots of interesting things that are way off of the typical tourist track in the Swedish capital.

They had about ten copies of the Milan book for sale but only one in English. I snapped it up instantly. 

I can't wait to get started seeing these unique sights!

A café before the 90 minute
train ride to Genoa was a must!

 Waiting to find out what track my
Genoa bound train would be found

 Uscita means Exit

As I said earlier,
Eagles are ALWAYS a good touch

 My train was on Track #14

The ride in a second class coach was clean, quiet and comfortable.

Genoa's Stazione Principe
train station

Christopher Columbus
was from Genoa


A gelato was in order and the delightful lady who served me also had a map of the city to offer me at no cost.

Good choice, I needed a map and the limone gelato was perfect!

My first area of exploration in Genoa was the Old City.

It is the heart of medieval Genoa

The Old City is full of narrow
pedestrian lanes or caruggi
as the locals call them

Gritty, fun and interesting, I loved this part of the city.


Cattedrale di San Lorenzo

The Cathedral was consecrated in 1118 A.D. and is built in Gothic-Romanesque styles.

The bell towers and cupola were added in the 16th-century.

 Magnificent Entry Doorway

Lion on guard

I liked the natural lighting inside

 I also like the zebra-like striping

I know just how he feels

 Scary Feet

The Last Supper

The Last Judgement

The last thing that I saw of interest was in the nave. It was an artifact to which the Cathedral owes its very existence today.

It was . . .

. . . a poor quality British WWII bomb

It hit the Cathedral during a British bombing raid in 1941 but failed to ignite, thus we still have a now 900 year old edifice to enjoy today.

Now, about that outdoor food market that I found in Genoa near the Cathedral . . .

They had sun dried tomatoes
and lots of mushrooms

Great cheeses!

Good looking hams but what
are those red berries doing there?

BIG wheels go Parmesan cheese

I had already consumed a delicious slice of focaccia with basil, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese but I needed more.

A slice of Farinata did the trick

Not 100% sure what it was but I do know that I liked it.

The crest of Genova with the
Cross of St. George

Artsy Genova sign

I liked this fountain so much . . .
. . . that I asked a fellow tourist
to take my picture

Cool door knocker

 I love pasta too!

 A colorful, vintage Fiat 500 . . .

 . . . with matching luggage

It looked good but I decided to save
myself for one last meal
before heading home

 The Porta Soprano Gate

Another Old City Caruggi

And another café near the
Porta Soprana at the
Il Barbarosso Caffé Bar

It served a strong cup of espresso!

 The Christopher Columbus Family Home

The people of Genoa claim that this was the birthplace of the famed navigator.

The city of Calvi on the French island of Corsica also claims this honor.

Multiple ancient documents tend to give strong support to Genoa's claim to Columbus being one of theirs.

Interestingly, the Columbus Family Home was built just outside of the protective city walls and the Porta Soprano.

In the Columbus Family Home's
back yard

Columbus is #1 in these parts!

I started to work my way slowly back towards the train station as my return train would be leaving relatively soon.

 A random building on the harbor

 How old is this RISTORANTE sign?

 Arcades near the water front

The Palazzo Reale

Genoa has 42 Palazzi dei Rolli built between 1576 A.D. and 1664 A.D. that are now designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

These Palazzi were at one time the homes of Genoa's rich and powerful families.

Near the train station, the Palazzo Reale is considered to be the best one to visit, so I did. 

We may need a bigger wing

Here comes the opulence

Painted ceilings everywhere,
yet again

Real hair or a wig?

 A Hall of Mirrors is
a MUST in every home

Don't you agree?

Ceiling of the Throne Room

The Throne

Did I mention that these
Genovese Families were R-I-C-H?


A modest bed

 Hunting with only spears
and not an AR-15?

How is that even possible?

Of course they had tapestries

The view of the Palazzo Reale
from the bayside terrace


The floors displayed
amazing woodwork

That was an interesting home to say the least . . .

. . . but I liked where the average
citizen calls home more

Is this a sister enterprise to
The Grand Budapest Hotel?

I was now near the Genoa Stazione Principe train station but still had nearly an hour before departure.

What to do . . .


I read in my Lonely Planet Italy guidebook that Genoa is famous for their Pesto Genovese pasta dishes.

I like pesto and, as I declared earlier in this post, I love pasta, so ordering was easy.

 A simple Gnocchi dish bathed in an
incredible Pesto Genovese sauce

I was stunned by the flavor! So much so that after finishing the gnocchi, I used every piece of the bread in the basket on the left to sop up each and every drop of the remaining pesto sauce.

What a great finish to a good day in Genoa!

Reading Is FUNdamental!

Another Good Read
from Donna Leon

Comissário Brunetti of the Venice Police Department never fails to entertain me.

This was the 11th book in the series that I have read thanks to the tip about three years ago from Judy Warner.

Books like this one help me pass the time on train trips. 

Did I Get in any Mileage Today?
Why yes, YES I DID!

This will be a busy week, at home mostly I suspect, as we open our 2018 Italian Division II Varese Skorpions American football season at the home of our cross-town rivals, the Varese Gorillas, at 8:30 p.m. this coming Saturday.

Stay tuned . . .