by Paul Keyes, Gabby Dyer and Evan Charles, CSL Graduate Students
An 8-hour flight is the only thing standing in between the CSL Class 0f ’17 and 10 days of our European escapade. We will be arriving in Milan, Italy at roughly 8:30am, where we will then travel to our hotel before taking a walking tour of the city. After the tour we head to the world famous San Sierro Stadium for a Serie A matchup between AC Milan and Empoli.
As anticipation builds we find ourselves reflecting back on the past year and the transformations we have made while beginning our careers in the sports industry. After a quick bite to eat at the airport bdubs (while watching an unfortunate Tottenham Hotspur FA Cup Semi-Final loss to Chelsea) we began our short layover while waiting to board. Most of us are catching up on some much needed sleep, while others continue to work on SEED analysis papers after a successful and productive event schedule this spring. But most importantly we are together sharing a few laughs and memories while we learn the ins and outs of European sports.
Our first full day in Europe started off strong! We landed in Milan around 8:30am, met up with our guide Sjoerd from LanCon, and headed off to enjoy breakfast in a snazzy hotel lounge that reminded several of us of the eccentric Quirk Hotel back home in Richmond. After fueling up and quickly changing for the day, we drove to the Centro Storico to meet our tour guide, a local woman named Michaela. We not only toured the ancient Castello Sforzesco, but went on to see the famous Duomo di Milano, walk down the picturesque Via Monte Napoleone, and gawked at the upscale shops in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The highlight of the day had to be taking a turn at spinning on the tile bull featured on the Turin Coat of Arms. Michaela went on to fill us in on the historical significance of this strange tradition. The Galleria was built 1877 by Giuseppe Mengoni. Sadly, Mengoni plummeted to his death from the scaffolding just weeks before the 14-year project was completed. So, to ward off evil spirits and similar bad luck, passerby’s are instructed to put their right heel on the bull’s testicular region and spin counterclockwise three times, which is said to bring good luck. There was actually a deep hole from where so many visitors and even locals have participated in this silly tradition. If this luck follows us, hopefully we’ll be able to hang onto the beautiful 70-degree weather for the rest of the trip!
In the afternoon, we attended a soccer game between AC Milan and Empoli at San Siro Stadium. This was a truly memorable experience as San Siro Stadium is the largest stadium in Italy and provided an awesome match day atmosphere. San Siro stadium seats just over 80,000 fans and has hosted both World Cup and European Cup games. Although Milan ended up losing 2-1, the game was as dramatic and exciting as they come and we enjoyed soaking in the atmosphere with the local fans. Almost half of our students left decked out in customized AC Milan gear!
One main takeaways was developing an understanding about both the history and social activities of the Milanese people. The Milanese are very proud of their heritage and they have a unique culture including aperitivo time and the love of soccer. Aperitivo time is an extended happy hour from about 7-9 p.m. featuring drinks and cocktails at a reduced price and free small appetizer platters. In Milan, meals are a social aspect which often includes less attention from the waiter and a longer meal time.