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, February 19, 2007

Molto Monday: Cleaning Up at Carnivale

Guru's Note: Because Acacia's weekly column is now on top of the blog pile, your attention is also directed to two items directly underneath -- one is Jonathan's blog commercial taking you to his podcast at Philly.com that featured yours truly. And directly below that you'll find the AP voting link line on top of the Guru's NCAA tournament outlook.

We now return you to Italy.

Acacia will also make Guru site history later this week with the first direct international transmission directly into the blog before her trip to Rome. Part of the reason is we need a direct sign-in after the recent blogspot adjustments.


By Acacia O'Connor

BOLOGNA, Italy -- As this past weekend approached, friends asked me if I had anything planned.

“Not, really,” I told them. “Just going to stick around Bologna.”

Though I didn’t end up traveling very far—there were no trips to Venice or Florence or Milan—I found I had one of the most exciting and satisfying weekends yet.

I have Fridays completely free of classes and waking up, I discovered it was a beautiful day.

I decided, all’improvviso, to spend the day at San Luca—a church that sits atop one of Bologna’s hills and requires a mildly strenuous hike of two kilometers or so to get to.

It was certainly worth the trip and made for a well-spent free day.

Now, Italy is a romantic place and I try to keep up with that image.

You always hear about the Venetian gondola rides, the fine wines, the savory foods, la bella vita.
I’m about to give you a quick insight into a component of typical daily life that you don’t hear about: cleaning.

Contrary to the stereotype that Americans uphold about Europeans, Italians are in a lot of ways more hygienic than a lot of Americans I know.

At least American College students, anyway.

Italians, in fact, are very particular about keeping themselves and their living spaces clean.

My suite is cleaned three times a week and we all take turns. Friday, it was my turn.

I cannot tell you how much anxiety and self-consciousness it brings me to clean our apartment while my suitemates are around to look on.

You want to talk about American pride?

As I scrubbed the kitchen floor—something I have done rarely in my 20 years of life (I am somewhat ashamed to admit..)—I felt I was cleaning for all of us.

All 50 states, apple pie, Benjamin Franklin.


Now that my schedule has settled down into a more academic routine, I found myself trying to remember what it felt like to be a student. It’s difficult with so many distractions: gelato, crepes, tortellini…

Saturday morning, I decided I would go to a bar, get a caffè and read one of the many books I need to complete.

I went to La Linea in Piazza Maggiore, one of my favorite locales in the center of town and did just that.

Ten minutes later, I decided it was too nice to stay inside and read—I went out and went shopping instead.

Manzoni (author of The Betrothed) can always wait.

Saturday night, a friend and I went to one of the coolest concerts I have ever been to for an American band that is semi-well known in the college circuit—The Decemberists.

They were playing their only Italian tour date in a smallish venue outside of the city walls in Bologna.

The venue, called Estragon, was a sort of warehouse in the middle of a fairground right next to an Italian circus.

The concert was only 15 euro and we got to stand right in front of the stage.

It was one of those coincidental events that turns out to be amazing.

Returning to more Italian activities—Sunday was indeed Carnivale, as the Christian celebration of the Lenten Season begins on Wednesday.

While my friends spent time in a ridiculously packed, drunken and insane Venice, I opted to celebrate at a more family-friendly and G-rated event: La Parata dei Fantaviecoli.

“A Fantasy Vehicles Parade” in Imola, about a half-hour train ride away.

Carnivale is very similar to Halloween for kids in Italy. Kids dress up and march in parades, throw confetti and spray silly string.

The Imola parade, the only entirely ecologically sound Fantaviecoli parade (begging the question—how many Fantasy Vehicles Parades are there?) was celebrating its 10th anniversary.

I was definitely wowed by the variety, ingenuity and intricacy of the creations.

There were bikes of differing sizes, bikes with many wheels, floats that looked like meat-processors, catapults, airplanes, pianos. Some made entirely out of wood or flanked by empty liter water bottles.

The music of the band, a group of little old men in bright blue blazers and wing-tipped shoes, completed the festive atmosphere.

After a donut, a glass of spiced wine and the parade, I was wishing America could pick up on Carnivale.

This weekend, I will be filing after a trip to Rome, The Eternal City (it had to be said).

I’m meeting my high school soccer coach, who is leading a tour group, there.

So, I suppose—ci sentiamo un po’ dopo, per la prossima Molto Monday.


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