Scrimmage in Italy

Trip Start Feb 04, 2007
Trip End Aug 2007

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Flag of Italy  ,
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My first trip out of exciting Hohenems, Austria was our Scrimmage game in Bolzano, Italy.  Bolzano is located in the North Western part of Italy about a 3 hour drive from Hohenems.  That's 3 hours if you don't get lost.  We got lost.  The coaches left the night before so we could get things set up for practice the following day.  The drive started out great, not much traffic, everyone driving crazy and no snow.  We got to Italy no problem, found the city and started looking for our hotel.  The German to English translation on the directions was not the greatest.   We spent a good 1 1/2 hours looking for our hotel in a pretty shady neighbor.  The first thing we saw when we got to the city was hookers and strip clubs, not a bad start.  Then somehow we came across the Stadium where we were playing, also not bad. Now we are in an all black Mercedes with no rims and tinted windows driving slowly up and down the streets of Bolzano looking for our hotel.  We drive be the stadium at least 2x and on the second pass a car makes a U-turn about 50yards in front of us and stops in the middle of the road, a little strange.  As we get closer another car pulls along side of us.  Then another car pulls in behind us and some cat on a moped pulls up on the sidewalk with another car behind him on the sidewalk.  They all jump out of their cars yelling something in Italian and waving some kind of paddle.  They run to the doors and try to pull Francisco, the driver, out of the car.   We were all thinking the same thing, we are going to get car jacked on our first night in Italy, wonderful.  All the guys are in regular street clothes.  I have my hands up with my wallet in my hand because i was looking for a number and I accidentally dropped it.  I move to pick it up, bad move and they try to pull me out of the car.  They were undercover cops and they thought we were mafia.  They couldn't see inside of our car so they had no idea who was in there.  Once we explained that we were Americans coaching football they through my wallet down, closed our doors and took off as fast as they got there.  We tried to ask them for directions but they said they couldn't help us. 

So now we are checking to make sure everything is still clean and our hearts are still beating.  We were right by the stadium so we pull into the stadium to try and figure out what the hell is going on.  There were some guys who play soccer who were out in the parking lot drinking some beers so we asked them for directions.  Getting directions from drunk Italians who speak very little english is not the best route to take.  They did explain to us that the Mafia is very big in that area and our car fit the description.  So the drunk Italian soccer players kind of got us going in the right direction.  The got us to the downtown area.  After asking a lot of different people for directions we found a police station and they got us going to the right spot.  The crappy thing was, there was no parking place for the hotel so we had to park about 10 blocks from the hotel on the street. 

The hotel was pretty dulce too.  It was right above a strip club in the heart of downtown.  Now if you were making arangements for a football team to stay at a hotel, would you book a hotel that is right above a strip club.  It was a good thing we were only there for 3 days.  After all the crap we went through though and driving around for about 6 hours, we finally settled in to our rooms and checked out the city a little bit.  Beautiful city.  No pictures though because I didn't have my digital camera yet but once i get the film developed I can put the pictures up.  I just wish we had more time to spend there.  Everyone was nice and there were plenty of sights to see and the pizza was damn good.

We thought that there would be no more problems the rest of the trip but of course we were wrong.  Nothing as bad a being pulled over but bad enough.  The players all carpooled down and were following each other.  When some of them got to the Austria/Italy border, there were a couple of problems.  One of the players on our team is Iranian/American and they pulled that car over at the border to check his passport.  They were pretty worried because the border agents have machine guns around there shoulder and they might have been pointing them at the car.  Once everything checked out, about a 30 minute wait, they were on there way.  Some people got lost, another car got stopped for speeding, another for not having an autobahn sticker and some other stuff.  We finally got everyone there, had practice then checked into the hotel.  Well most of us.  some of the guys got lost on the way to the hotel so they just went back to the stadium and waited for us. 

Next day was the scrimmage.  That went pretty well.  We did lose one player for the season with a knee injury but we won the scrimmage played pretty well and headed home.  On the way home, one of the guys got a flat tire and the spare was low so they had to find a way to pump it up.  There were about 10 cars in our group and all but 2 of them got a speeding ticket on the way home.  We didn't get a ticket but we missed our turnoff and lost about an hour.  I know this is a long one.  Hope you enjoyed it.  If you are ever in Italy, don't drive there.  They are the craziest drivers by far.  Visit Bolzano, it's beautiful and scenic and a fun place to go.  We had a great time despite all the other BS.  Take care everyone.
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