The Harvard men's soccer team is heading to Italy for an unforgetable experience traveling and playing Italian club teams. GoCrimson.com will feature a running blog from student-athletes throughout their time there.
June 3 | Rome | by Michael Klain
Buon giorno from beautiful Italy!
So far the Harvard men's soccer team's trip to Europe has consisted of great weather, great food, and great soccer.
We arrived in Rome early on Sunday morning and went straight to the Coliseum. After touring the interior of the Coliseum, we traveled to the nearby Forum, which served as the center of ancient Rome. Within the forum we saw the inside of the old Senate building, the House of the Vestal Virgins, and even Julius Caesar's burial site. We finished off the night with a terrific pizza dinner before attending an AS Roma match against Palermo. Although AS Roma lost the match 2-1 after giving up a 90th-minute goal, the experience was unforgettable, as we were surrounded by raucous fans unlike anything seen at American sports games.
Day 2 was another incredible day of sight-seeing. We started the day by travelling to Vatican City, where we toured the Vatican museum. One of the most memorable highlights of this tour was the Sistine Chapel, where we were able to look up at Michelangelo's timeless masterpiece. After exiting the Sistine Chapel, we made the short walk to St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world. Visiting this globally renowned work of Renaissance architecture was another unique experience that we will never forget.
We finished the day with our first match of the trip against Lupa Roma, a local Roman club. Although we were able to control much of the play, our tired legs caught up to us late, as we conceded a penalty in the 88th minute en route to a 1-0 loss. After the match we were able to chat with members of the other team and learn more about the lifestyle of an Italian soccer player, which is drastically different from our own. We ate dinner at the club before heading back to the hotel for the night.
We continued our action packed Roman sight-seeing on the third day, when we were able to further explore Rome's streets. It was particularly fun to be in Rome during Republic Day, a national holiday in Italy that commemorates the date that the Italian people voted for their country to end the monarchy and become a republic. We also saw the Trevi Fountain, which was unfortunately under construction, and the exterior of the Pantheon, which was closed due to the national holiday. After another long day of touring, we took the pitch for our second match against AS Roma Primavera, Roma's reserve team. Roma was a quality side that gave our team a strong test and a true look at how a top quality professional European youth team prepares for and plays a match. At the end of the day, we were beaten but we gained an incredible experience that we will never forget.
We are now off to Naples where we will get a chance to explore the city, visit the ancient city of Pompeii, and play our third match. We will check back in soon!
June 5 | Naples | by Michael Klain
We woke up yesterday morning in Naples after arriving late the night before. We spent the first half of the day touring the ancient city of Pompeii near Mount Vesuvius. Because the city was so well preserved, we were able to get a vivid picture of what life was like in Pompeii. Among the coolest aspects of the tour were the perfectly preserved moldings of people, pottery, and animals, as well as largely intact homes, shops, squares, and spas. It was smaller details, however, that gave us the best look at how advanced the people of Pompeii truly were. They utilized elevated sidewalks and crosswalks to prevent people from dirtying their feet in the streets, small marble stones in the streets to act as reflectors at night, tilted streets to ensure rain would clean the streets and drain properly, and intricate street signs so that foreign merchants could easily find their way around.
After our tour of Pompeii, we played our third match of the trip against a youth Naples select team. Following a hard fought first half in which both teams traded chances, we were able to pull away in the second half to secure our first victory here in Italy. Tim Schmoll, Ryan Davey, Eric Gylling, Ibukun Omatowa, Mike Klain, Sam Brown and Tyler Savitsky all scored in a great team effort.
Later yesterday evening we were treated to an amazing dinner on the coast, with a terrific view of Mount Vesuvius in the background. After dinner we walked around Naples, and even found room for another cup of gelato.
We woke up early this morning and drove back to Rome for a day of sight seeing and much-needed relaxation. The team spent the afternoon exploring the area surrounding Piazza Navona, checking out the Pantheon, which contains the tomb of Raphael, and Campo de Fiori, two of the most famous sights in Rome.
Tomorrow we travel to Barcelona for our last game in Europe. Follow us on Facebook (Harvard Men's Soccer), and instagram (harvardsoccer) for more updates and images from the trip!