Women's Hoops: Italy Trip Extravaganza

Just before the semester began,the women's basketball team returned from a 10-day trip to Italy. Last week junior forwards Jenni Benningfield and Venessa Ferragamo shared some of their photographs with VandyMania. Here's what they had to say.

This was right after we got off the bus. We'd been traveling for a long time, probably close to 8 hours from Newark. It was definitely a funny feeling -- like, are we really here? But they say you need to do that so you don't have really bad jet lag. We were kind of struggling, but when we realized where we were, we just kind of forgot about it.

The Coliseum was awesome. When you see pictures of it, you think it's neat, but you don't actually experience it until you're actually there and understand all the history and everything that went into that place.

They're renovating it now; they're cleaning it to try to show its original color and everything. They show you the mazes where they kept the animals underneath. They have one part where they covered it how it actually it was, and then they put the sand on top so that was like the arena floor. If you've seen the Gladiator, then you can kind of put the two together and you're like . . . omigosh! Everything is so amazing!

When we were in Rome, there was a dance competition. All these people came out with numbers, and everyone was cheering. There was a minute or two of music, and they would dance as a couple. They were awesome! There were people everywhere lined up on the ramps and on the steps watching. When we were standing there watching, all these Italian men kept trying to come up and dance with all of us, the American girls. It was really funny.

Pompei was diffferent -- different than any other place just because it's a whole city of old torn down ruins. It's where that volcano erupted and covered the city. It's dormant now. You can see it in the background in the group picture.

We stayed in Sorrento for a couple of days. We had just gotten there, so we were like, let's go swimming. We were all going to get in the pool. We wanted to jump off the diving board, but to get to the diving board, you had to get in the water. So Abi got in the water, climbed up the diving board and jumped in. Well, she jumped in, then she gets up and -- it's not fresh water! It was salt water. It was a saltwater pool. And it was really really deep. We did a lot of fun things like jumping off the diving board, but it was really different swimming in salt water in a pool.

It was definitely a resort area. It was as pretty as it looks, and there were all these trees and little beautiful walkways, and then you have this awesome view of the ocean when you look the other way. This was a part of the trail we were walking on, with the bridges and stuff like that. It was really pretty.

This is overlooking the cliff, with the pool behind us. You had to pay $20 for the day to sit out there. They had different games and stuff set up out in the ocean a little bit. Down the beach people were just laying on these hard rocks, just laying out and swimming. The water was real clear, too. You could see these people swimming, and when they were in the water, but you could see their whole body, it was so clear. The whole scenery from there was awesome. Just awesome.

We can tell this is Sorrento by looking at the bags. Yep. We went shopping a lot. It was cool with the different booths they had on the streets. It was fun because you'd try to talk them down on price. They were just trying to talk to you and get you to look at what they had. There were definitely some good prices, too -- like a pair of pants for ten dollars, or outfits for $15. You'd have to find the deals, but if you got them, you could get a good deal. We had a whole day to shop in Florence It seemed like it had a couple of streets of the stuff that just kept going and going, and a lot of people got leather stuff there.

This is Venice. They have like over 400 bridges that connect the islands. They were really low, and they were really beautiful. You just had to kind of watch where your head was. Our gonodola man had to duck when we went underneath the bridge. He was standing on the back, and he'd have had to step down.

The gondolas are to get around in the midst of the inner city. There's like a main street, and a gondola would be used on a side street to get into people's homes and little businesses. Tourists use them and will pay to have a gondolieri sing and do the traditional kind of thing, but to get right into the middle of the city, you have to use the smaller gondolas.

That just shows how wide it was-- not very wide, enough for two gondolas to get side by side, not very wide at all. The gondolas were actually really comfortable. They had some good seats in them. The gondolieri always were talking to each other. Every time they passed somebody, they'd say something in Italian. Who knows what they were saying!

Our game wasn't in Venice. It took us about 15 minutes to get from our hotel to the actual mainland. We took the taxi boats, which are kind of like speedboats, to the game. There were about 3 of them, and we were just racing to get to the mainland. It was fun This picture is the inside of one the taxi boats.. We're on our way back from practice or on our way to practice.

Como was awesome. It was beautiful. We walked to the lake that day, just 3 or 4 of us. We had a game, so most people were going to take a nap. We walked down about a mile, maybe, it was so pretty. It made you want to get in a boat and go skiing. The interesting thing was we were five miles from Switzerland. If we could have driven the five miles, we could have said we set foot in Switzerland.

Halfway through the trip, we all were talking, and we just realized that we had never separated. It was never like any cliques or anything. We made sure all of us were together all the time. It wasn't like we had to --it was fun, we all wanted it to be like that. It was like a whole team thing which made it that much better just because of our bonding and the chemistry. Ever since we've been back, we all do stuff with each other all the time. It's like so exciting and for having that many girls, we never really fought. We really didn't. Ten days and we were tired and around a new environment -- it was interesting, but we never really separated from each other. That says a lot about our team -- and it makes things a lot easier, especially on the court.

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