Wheaton Men’s Soccer spends 9 days traveling Italy

The trip began with a luxurious flight from New York to Milan on Emirates. Then the Wheaton Men’s Soccer team traveled by bus to Cinque Terre, a beautiful area consisting of five villages on the coastline surrounded by luscious hills. The boys swam in the Mediterranean, ate Gelato, and drank espresso.  Although jetlagged, the refreshing water, strong coffee, and excitement of being in Italy kept the team running.

On the second day, the team got their first taste of Italian soccer as they trained with an Italian professional coach at the Official Italian National Soccer Federation center. After a difficult training session in the hot Mediterranean sun, the team took a tour of the training grounds. Although they were tired, there was no time to rest! The team quickly travelled to Florence, where they explored the city, ate pasta, and sipped fine wine.

The team’s next destination was Rome. After a long bus ride from the Tuscany region to Rome, the team went on a brief guided tour where they admired the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, sacred grounds for tourists from around the world. Hundreds of photos later, and perhaps a cup of tea or two, the team concluded the day with a training session with the Wheaton coaching staff.

On day four the team stayed in Rome for one last morning as they took a guided tour of the city, admiring the Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon, and St. Peter’s Basilica. After some free time, the team traveled to the small, fairytale-like nation of the Republic of San Marino, a microstate surrounded by Italy. That night they had their first preseason friendly game against AC Bellaria. The Lyons came out strong, showing the Italians what Wheaton soccer is all about: they won the contest 3-1.

The fifth day was spent again in San Marino, located on top of Mount Titano. San Marino is the oldest existing republic in the world and one of the world’s smallest nations. The guided tour was followed by a night game against ASD Verucchio that ended in a 1-1 draw.

The following day was a day of relaxation and recovery after the night game and morning training session. The day was well spent at a local beach near Riccione, filled with gelato shops and incredible restaurants, right next to the Mediterranean water.

The next morning was spent on one of the final bus rides. This time it was to Como, stopping along the way in Maranello. The team took time to visit the Ferrari Museum and admire years of technological advancements in the racecar industry provided by the Italian luxury sports car manufacturer. The team then went to the Hotel Leonardo da Vinci for a pregame meal before the third friendly competition against Mariano Calcio, which also ended in a 1-1 draw.

The penultimate day was spent visiting one of the most historic soccer stadiums in all of Europe, the San Siro Stadium. Two renowned clubs of the city, Inter Milan and AC Milan, currently share the stadium. The Wheaton players walked through the stadium and appreciated the sanctuary that has hosted many of the world’s greatest soccer players: Ricardo Kaká, Paulo Maldini, and Filippo Inzaghi. No more inspiration was needed for the Lyons as they finished in second place in the Summer Friendship Cup of Como-Italy, losing only in penalty kicks later that night.

The Lyons spent their trip admiring Italy’s beautiful architecture, widely commended history, and rich soccer, remaining undefeated in regular time for all competitive matches on the preseason tour. The final hours in Italy were spent in the center of Milan, visiting the Milan Cathedral, the worlds third largest church.

The trip was concluded at the Milan Malpensa Airport where the team would fly to New York City, and then straight to Norton, Massachusetts. A full season of  soccer awaited the team.  The team now stands at 4-0 in regular season competition, with a successful and ambitious preseason tour under their belts that has led to a promising season.