Day 2: We woke up at 8:15 am excited for our first venture over to the competition rink. We had a delicious breakfast, full of croissants and Nutella among other delicious Italian delicacies and then got ready to head to the rink. Claudio (our bus driver) drove us to the rink, which was only a short five minute ride. We warmed up outside in the beautiful 60 degree sunshine that we thoroughly enjoyed, considering the temperatures at home in Minnesota vary between 10 degrees and 10 degrees below zero! To us, this felt like summer! After stretching and walking through our programs off-ice, we went to the locker room, laced up our skates, and stepped onto the ice. We had a good practice, still a little jet-lagged, but it felt good to get out onto the ice. We all enjoyed feeling the competition ice, and skating on this rink only got us more excited for our competition in the coming days. It was amazing to think that we were finally here in Italy, representing the U.S.
Following our practice, we got lunch at a quaint little Italian restaurant called Bella Napoli. The pizza was amazing with some girls commenting that it was, “The best pizza they had ever had!” After an exquisite lunch, we headed back to the hotel for a two hour homework period, which was followed by a one hour off-ice practice with our wonderful coaches. After study tables and our off-ice practice, we ventured a couple blocks down the street for dinner. We arrived at a very authentic looking Italian restaurant where we were treated to a variety of traditional Italian cuisine. We tried potato stuffed with onions, bruschetta, baked vegetables and eggplant, sausage and cabbage, and two different kinds of pasta including carbanara and marinara. After dinner, it was off to bed in preparation for 5:15 am wakeup call!
Day 3: We had an early wakeup call at 5:15 am in order for us to get to the rink by 6:45! We had a great 2 hour practice from 7:30 – 9:30 am. We did a couple run-throughs of each program, all of which felt strong! After our practice, we went back to the hotel for a little lunch before we were off to Milan for all-day touring! We hopped on the bus at 12:45 and headed to see Leonardo DiVinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. We had a wonderful guide who explained the painting in its entirety with every detail having a purpose. Going to see The Last Supper was an unforgettable experience! Afterwards, we got back on the bus and got ready for our two hour bus/walking tour! We welcomed our tour guide, Lorenza, onto the bus and we were off to see the sites! Lorenza explained everything in such great detail, and not only did she take us to the big touristy sites, but she also took us to the smaller, more secretive sites that “Milano” has to offer.
We started our tour by going to see the Sforza Castle. Not only did we get to see the outside, but we actually got to go inside! It was a big, beautiful, perfectly square castle that was exactly 500m in length on each side. Our tour then took us around the city of Milan as Lorenza pointed out the newly constructed buildings that were built for the World Fair coming up in 2015. Lorenza filled us in on the history of Milan and how the grand city came to be.
We exited the bus and went for a stroll inside the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Galleria was filled with exclusive hotels, shops, cafes and restaurants of all kinds. Stores such as Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton held a place in the Galleria. In the middle of the Galleria floor, there was a historical emblem shaped like a bull with a metal divot in the center. We were told by the locals that if you place your left heel within the metal divot and spin around three times, you will be awarded with good luck. All 18 skaters and our coaches partook in this tradition! After visiting the Galleria, we walked over to Duomo and were able to explore the wonders inside.
The Duomo is a huge, grand cathedral that is completely made out of marble. It was built in 1446 and was completely handmade. When it was built, a statue of the Virgin Mother Mary was placed on the highest peak of the Church, and it was forbidden to build a building that stood taller than the statue. Following our tour, we said “Arrivederci!” to Lorenza, and headed over to our new favorite little restaurant that we had been to for lunch the previous day in the heart of Milan. The waiter we had met before was glad to see us again. We had some delicious pasta that made us all more than sleepy! After dinner, we boarded the Metro Transit and went back to the hotel. When we got back, we had a one hour floor practice with our coaches, and then it was off to bed! We are all so excited for the upcoming days, and we are feeling ready for this weekend!
Jillian Christie & Sage Kelner