Daily Report: May 22, 2002

Basketball teams often have to deal with difficult situations, but the Notre Dame women’s basketball team may have conquered its biggest challenge in a while by simply arriving in Rome this morning for its 12-day tour through Italy and France. The Irish, who departed Chicago’s O’Hare Airport at 2:30 p.m. (CDT), flew more than eight hours to Frankfurt, Germany, before fighting through an hour-long wait at the customs transfer station and hurrying to catch their 90-minute flight to Rome.

Arriving in the Italian capital around 9 a.m. local time (2 a.m. in South Bend), the Notre Dame travel party then headed straight for a local outdoor cafe for some early morning pastries and, in true Italian style, cups of cappuccino and espresso. For many of those in the group, it was a welcome wake-up call after an all-night airline voyage.

The Irish then headed for downtown Rome, passing through the modern business district and the seat of government for the city of Rome and its surrounding region. The bus carried the team into the old city, arriving at the world-famous Colosseum, site of so many gladitorial battles almost 2,000 years ago. Notre Dame players and staff also saw the Constantine Gate, built in honor of the Roman emperor Constantine, who protected the Christians during his reign in the first century, A.D.

Finally, the Irish were able to check into their hotel for a few hours of rest and relaxation. They headed back out this evening to attend a reception at John Cabot University, a small four-year college in Rome which houses, among many others, several Notre Dame students who spent a semester abroad. The Notre Dame crew rounded out its first day in Italy with a traditional Italian feast at a local restaurant, enjoying a five-course meal that lasted well over two hours.

Notre Dame is scheduled to visit The Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday (May 23) before playing the first of four games on its European swing at 8 p.m. local time (1 p.m. in South Bend) against Acquario Palestrina, a Italian Division 2 team, at the Palestrina Sports Centre, located about 25 miles outside Rome.