Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Molto Monday: Bologna - A Beautiful City, Not A Lunch Meat

Guru's Note: First, Here's Your Weekly AP Voters Peformance Link.

Secondly, what follows is Acacia's debut as our first foreign correspondent, where she'll be reporting live from Italy.

While the title of the weekly Monday report is what it is at the moment, per her idea, she's willing to change if someone has some other "corny, cutesy" suggestion relating to Italy.

Furthermore, although in a bit Acacia will speak at the top of her story about the nuance of some reports not being directly related to basketball, the Guru points out that since Acacia is a women's basketball player as a member of Vassar's team, that alone is enough to make everything she writes from here on out relative to the Guru' s domain in the cyber world.

-- Mel

By Acacia O’Connor

BOLOGNA, Italy -- I have been living in Italy for about two weeks now, two wonderful weeks – where can I begin?

Let me say, first off, that it seemed strange to me to write what is basically a travel journal piece to add to the blog.

Mel assured me that, as part of the blog’s staff, it is all relevant and to some degree I agree – the beauty of weblogs is that it is as much about the people as the story.

Stories are told by people, and while journalists try to write around this fact by being (hopefully) as impartial as possible, its always an issue. If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in the points of view as much as the stories.

That said, I will be attending some actual basketball games and covering them as well, very happily.

In fact, Bologna has a lively men’s program, with semi-pro teams as well as amateur leagues and what they call “mini-basket” (Basketball is called simply “basket” here) for young people.

The premier team is called Virtus; it plays in Italy’s Serie A and is somewhat successful from what I can tell. NBA vet Travis Best is on the Bologna squad, and they play teams with scores of American players.

On the women’s side, there are three or four teams within an hour from the city here including one in Parma. The star of the Parma team is the WNBA Connecticut Sun's Megan Mahoney, who also starred at Kansas State.

Parma is a short train ride from Bologna, very accessible and home of the most delicious pasta I have ever tasted in my life – tortelli filled with zucche (pumpkin) courtesy of the Trattoria dei Corrieri restaurant.

Back to Bologna. (By the way, it is pronounced boh-loh-nya not—for the love of Italy—baloney.)

I’m living in a suite in a University studentato (dormitory) with three Italian roommates. While this does present a challenge from the get-go, it is in my opinion one of the best things the Eastern College Consortium Program, run by Vassar, Wellesley and Weslyan, has to offer.

If I were on any other program here I’d be living with American students, speaking English the majority of the time and learning half as much.

For another two weeks I’ll be taking an intensive language course with my program peers that serves as a sort of refresher or grammar band-aid. Once this ends, I’ll begin courses either with the ECCo Program or at the actual University.

Many many people have said that the pace of life in Italy is very different than that from the States. I am here to tell you that truer words have never been said.

I’ve found myself getting up earlier and going to bed earlier, eating at odd hours and having large chunks of free time.

In the states, our work is our lives (*cough*Mel?); here you work to live, but the pressure isn’t nearly as strong. That is not to say either is right or wrong or preferable, just that they are entirely different.

There are definite drawbacks to the Italian pace—if you need something done (say, a wireless connection added in your dorm room…), it will get done, but how long it will take before it gets done is a big question mark.

And you have to accept it, as much as you may be used to instant accountability and gratification.

I find it agrees with me though—it’s certainly a nice break from last semester’s pressurized life of deadlines, dates and little sleep.

I could go on for probably about 10,000 words—food, the city itself, my excursions so far, the University—but I’ll take a few days pause for now.

From here on out I plan to drop a feature weekly, with Mel’s help and approval.

So until next week, pace, amore e tortellini dalla bella Bologna.

-- Acacia


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