Softball, Firenze, & Pisa

May 25-27: Last weekend we packed up the car and took a five hour road trip to Camp Darby in Pisa for a softball tournament. Ten men’s teams and five women’s teams from all over Europe came to play. Thomas is on the Naples team, so it was really fun to go watch him play and get in some travelling between games. Plus, it was a gorgeous weekend–75 and up all three days.

It was kinda nice to hang out at Camp Darby. It was like a little slice of America. Here, let me show you:

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This artery-clogging goodness was our lunch on Saturday. Mmmmmmm…

The first day were practice games, and we won both. That night a group of us drove about an hour to Florence to check out Italy’s newest Hard Rock Cafe. I’d never been to one before, so I was super excited. Alas, I wasn’t all that impressed. The atmosphere is awesome–I loved all the rock memorabilia and the big screens with music videos, and the drinks were tasty. But the music they played kind of pissed me off. I’m sorry but Sheryl Crow and Flock of Seagulls aren’t hard rock. I heard like one Black Sabbath song, some Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and some others, but no Led Zeppelin, no Clapton, no AC/DC, no Doors, and on and on. I was very disappointed. The food was decent, but way overpriced for what it was. I got a chicken club, but the bread was so hard it cut the roof of my mouth. And the service was incredibly slow. They were really busy though, I’ll give them that. I was sad. I really wanted to love this place. I’d give them another chance though, just not in Florence.

Image(Thomas and I at the Hard Rock)

After dinner we walked around town for a little bit. Florence is gorgeous; I only wish we’d been there during the day. I also wish I’d brought my camera. I took some pictures with my iPod but they’re sub-par at best. I made them smaller, so maybe they’ll look somewhat decent haha.

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I’m always blown away by the architecture over here. There’s absolutely nothing in America that compares. The first pictures are of Campanile di Giotto (Giotto’s Bell Tower), and it’s one of many buildings that make up the Florence Cathedral.

The statues are in the Piazza della Signoria, and they’re huge! The copy of Michaelangelo’s David is 17 feet tall. The original used to sit in the same spot, but now it’s in the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts). The statue next to him is Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus. David is a symbol of spiritual strength, while Hercules represents physical strength. The fountain with the big dude in the middle is the Fountain of Neptune, and the last picture is Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace), the Town Hall of Florence.

Saturday, Day 2 of the tournament, we lost our first game (it was double elimination). It was a close one, but had two of our big-hitters not been absent, the team could have easily taken the game. Between games we checked out the beach and played some volleyball. It was a blast, and I got a sweet farmer’s tan. Thanks Thomas, by the way, for saying I didn’t need to bring a swimsuit 😛 That night we just hung out at our campsite and bonded through some beer pong.

The next day started off well, but unfortunately we lost our second game to some little mistakes and a bad call. On the bright side, it was still early in the day so we took a little detour on our way back to Naples to check out a little something called the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I was surprised how tall it was–186 feet on the high side! The structure is actually the bell tower for the Pisa cathedral, which you can see in some of the pictures. The design of the tower was a mega-fail from the beginning because it only had a ten-foot foundation on top of weak soil. It first began to sink at the construction of the second story in 1178. Construction stopped for almost a century because the Republic of Pisa was involved in battles with Genoa, Lucca, and Florence, but this allowed the soil to settle a bit. Construction continued in 1272, and to compensate for the tilt the upper floors have one side taller than the other, so the tower is actually curved. It was finally finished in 1372. An interesting fact: there are seven bells in the bell tower–one for each note on the musical major scale. I thought is was interesting anyway 🙂 We could have payed extra to climb the tower, but we passed since we wanted to get back to Naples before it got too late. And between you and me, all those stairs were a bit daunting. Maybe another time. Here’s some pictures. Yeah yeah, I did the lame holding-the-tower-up picture. But I also tried to hug the tower. You can see how badly it turned out…

Thomas also has tournaments in London and Germany, but unfortunately I head home on Wednesday, and I’ll miss the rest 😦 We’ll just have to make special trips when I come back!

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