Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Beautiful, Crisp Spring Day in Varese and a Train Strike

Wednesday, 21 March, 2018

It was officially the first day of Spring and we were blessed with the perfect weather in northern Italy to celebrate the new season's arrival.

I had two possible options on my agenda, both depending on what time I got to the Venegono Inferiore train station.

I had been up early but I still had to hustle if I wanted to make the 8:23 train north to Varese. If I just missed it, I would have time to make the 8:35 train south to Milano.

When I looked at the arrivals board at the train station, I noticed that the 8:23 was the only train arriving going in either direction for a couple of hours. 

That seemed strange, maybe some Spring cleaning of the railroad lines?

As the 8:23 train was five minutes late, which is about normal, I hopped aboard for the 20 minute ride to Varese. Once there I went to the station's ticket booth to buy a ticket from Varese to Lugano, Switzerland. I've been told by many of the Skorpions' family that Lugano was a must see destination for me.

Today was the day.

Or so I thought.

In the way back of my mind, I noted that there were more people than usual at the station but thought nothing of it. I asked to purchase a Lugano train ticket from the lady at the train station's ticket booth. After making my request in my improving and apparently passable Italian, the lady responded with a long, long paragraph that ended with the word no.

I did not understand much of what she said but concluded that I must have been misinformed as to there having even been a train from Varese to Lugano.

Not to worry, I could still take another walking tour of lovely Varese and then board a train to Milano for an afternoon of exploration.

As for my Varese morning . . .  

I think this is building is of
the Liberty architectural style

Not all of the murals in Varese
are ancient ones

A walk in the Parco Mirabello
was in order

The Giardini Estensi

In 1760, this old home, the gardens
and the park all belonged to 
il Duca Francesco d'Este

The buildings now house several government agencies and the grounds are an idyllic public park.

Lots of bicyclists in Varese

With seven lakes in the Varese area
rowing is big in the Spring and Summer too

Handsome Ducal building

Inside the hallways of the Ducal building I found several tributes to well known Italian heroes.

The main street in Venegono Superiore
is named Via Cesare Battisti

Well trimmed beard

Stern looking fellow

Crespi is not just a Catholic
high school in Encino, California


Another great beard

The murder of these two judges
led to a huge backlash to the Mafia
from both the courts and ordinary
Italian citizens

One last look at the
Giardini Estensi

It turns out that I like turrets

Rust never rests in Varese

One of many splendid arcades
in Varese's historic center

An abbot walking his pet pig

Nothing unusual about this I presume.

Meet me at the Big Yellow House
in Varese


This is all ONE tree

What time is it?

I still wanted to catch a train for the 70 minute ride south to Milano.

"Montalbano sono."

I love both the books and the TV
series about this fictional
Sicilian policeman

Andrea Camilleri's stories about wily Commissario Montalbano are a delight.

I liked this butcher shop's sign

Some of the meat looked a bit questionable though.

Decaying Fresco

A tribute to Varese's
WWI and WWII war dead

When I got to the Varese train station, every train in every direction was suspended.

I, by chance, followed two station workers arriving to start their shift and heard them ask a fellow worker what was going on with the trains.

The answer . . .

A Rail Strike!

In terms of labor relations history it would be a somewhat insignificant strike lasting only from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. today.

But for me, it was a disaster.

Now I understood why so many people were in the train station this morning and even more were crowding about now. We all had no place to go because of this strike for about another five hours.

I had my walking shoes, a good book to read and Varese, a beautiful city, to explore in more depth now that the strike was in full effect.

Colorful buildings . . .

. . . are all over Varese

The Varese church's bell
tower in sunshine for once

Now THAT'S a window frame!

A B&B behind the gate

A random fresco or . . .

. . . two on the B&B's driveway wall

Construction materials
vary over the centuries

We've seen this archer in front of
the Varese Court Building before

I had just never noticed
the woman behind our archer

Looks like a
pilgrimage trail to me

And I have my Timberland walking shoes at the Villa Skorpion.

Further research will be required.

It was now after 2:00 p.m. and
most shops are closed for lunch

Remember that lunch is the big meal of the day in Italy and a chance for families to reunite and bond over rich, aromatic food.

HUGE door knocker

Varese's historic center's
main but small piazza

For Laurie, Debi and Koreen . . .

It was about 3:00 p.m. and I was a bit tired so I opted to head back to the train station to just sit and read until the trains ran again at 5:00 p.m.

To my and everyone else's surprise, one, and only one, train was leaving the station before 5:00 p.m.

I was in luck!

The 3:20 p.m. to Milano, which stops in Venegono Inferiore where my car was parked, was going to make its appointed run.

I was home before 4:00 p.m. and ready to finally start breaking down our video from last Saturday's game.

Still no Skorpions-Blue Storms video on HUDL.

Hopefully the video will be up by Thursday morning so that I can break it down and finally put that loss in rear view mirror.

In the meantime . . .

Action from last Saturday
continues to spurmy desire to . . .


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Quiet Day at the Villa Skorpion and a Good Practice

Tuesday, 20 March, 2018

Do you realize that there are only . . .

. . . more days until the
Contreras Reunification?

I, for one, am quite aware of this tidbit of information.

It was a quiet day at home waiting for our Blue Storms game to be uploaded to HUDL and resting after yesterday's forced field march through Milano.

Unfortunately, our game tape has still not been uploaded but I was told tonight at practice that it should be up sometime tomorrow.

We'll see.

At our 6:30 p.m. U15 flag team practice it was freezing due to a strong wind causing the infamous wind-chill factor to rear its extremely ugly head.

 The U15s persevered

U15 scrimmage

By 8:30 p.m., when our Senior practice started, the wind had mercifully died down.

Skorpions Field was drying
out but was still a mess


 Omar at QB surveying the defense

Our RG may be losing his block

OL Coach Leo Pozzato helping
a brand new lineman in our huddle

Wedge Blocking a QB Sneak

Despite our loss last Saturday, I felt that our energy and spirits were both high tonight.

The squad came to learn, work and improve.

What more could a coach ask for?