Senior guard Melissa Lechlitner and her Irish teammates enjoyed a fascinating trip back in time on Sunday when they visited the landmarks of ancient Rome, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain.

Melissa Lechlitner Diary Entry From Europe - Day 9

May 18, 2009

Editor’s note: During the Notre Dame women’s basketball team’s 10-day foreign tour of Europe, senior guard Melissa Lechlitner will file a daily diary after talking by phone with the South Bend Tribune’s Curt Rallo. Following are Lechlitner’s thoughts on the trip.

Ciao! This morning for breakfast, we had eggs. Wooooo! We were all so excited. Every day, we’ve had bread, cheese and some random meat.

It was funny. When we were in France, a lot of us thought we’d get French toast a lot. Nope. Bread and cheese. Breakfast has been small for us, needless to say. But today, we had eggs. They were scrambled. No salt, no pepper, no cheese, but there was ketchup, which made Becca (Bruszewski) happy. Becca puts ketchup on her eggs.

The first thing we did, we went straight to the Colosseum. It was awesome. We had a great tour guide, Giancarlo. He showed us the ins and outs of the Colosseum. First, we saw the outside. Every arch was numbered. One section was where the lower-class citizens entered, and one was where the middle-class entered and one was for the upper-class citizens.

The Colosseum was not like the Hollywood movies portray it. In the movies, tons of people are dying. But the gladiators were heroes in ancient Rome. They would fight and do shows. It was like a performance.

Giancarlo showed us where the gladiators lived. He told us that the actual sign for life was thumbs down, and if the emperor wanted them to die, he would put his thumb to his neck as if he were going to start to make a slice the neck gesture. We discussed putting that in as a play, the death sign. Maybe you’ll see it next season.

We got to see the underground area where slaves got ready for the shows. The shows were extravagant. There were trap doors for dramatic entrances. They really made it exciting. It was cool to see where they hid and prepared for fights and shows. I would love to do that for our introductions at the Joyce Center, appear through trap doors. Maybe with the new reconstruction, we can add that in. I don’t know if it’s in the budget, but it would be cool.

Right after the Colosseum, we went to the Forum. The original architecture is 20 feet underneath modern Rome. It was one of my favorite parts. We heard the story of Julius Caesar and Brutus, and we got to see the Senate. We heard about how Brutus, Cassius and Mark Antony gave speeches after Caesar was murdered, and then how Caesar really loved the people, and that when Mark Antony read Caesar’s will, he gave his possessions to poor people.

Today was such an awesome day in terms of history. I read Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare in high school, and to actually be here, it’s awesome.

In the (Roman) Forum, it was crazy. There are random pieces of columns, marble statues, rubbish from ancient buildings destroyed by earthquakes … it was incredible to see. Some of the ancient buildings are still intact.

After the Forum, we walked to the Trevi Fountain, one of the most well-known fountains in the world. We ate lunch there. We ate gelato, and then hopped from shop to shop, and picked up a few souvenirs. (Former Notre Dame women’s basketball player) Megan Duffy used to play in Italy, and she suggested a place called Blue Ice. It was definitely the best spot we have been to for gelato. I had black cherry and coconut. It was so good. Natalie (Novosel) had orange and pineapple.

We finished up the day going to the Pantheon. It’s an ancient Roman temple, but it’s been a church since the seventh century.

Right now, I’m sitting outside at a fountain. There are fountains everywhere in Rome. The fountain is lit up, and there are a bunch of statues around it. It’s nice to spend a relaxing night.

It was really hot today, 84 degrees. It was nice, but the sun was scorching us. It was so hot, we stuck our feet in a fountain to cool off, but a cop yelled at us.

OK, that’s it for now. Arrivederci!

Melissa Lechlitner

P.S. — Hi Emily (Tsipis, the daughter of Irish assistant Jonathan Tsipis)! We’re having a great time, and I’m keeping an eye on your mom and dad for you. I’ll see you when I get back!