Italy Trip Countdown -- August 4th -- Asst. SID Tammy DeGroff

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Good afternoon, or evening by the time I get this posted. As you may know, the team has started practice in preparation for the 10-day trip to Italy. The Tigers can have 10 days of practice, so they went Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and had today (Thursday) off. We are back at it again tomorrow with a two-a-day on Saturday (unlike the NFL, we didn't drop ours  ) and an off-day again on Sunday. I know folks are curious about the trip and the itinerary, so I just opted to do a little more informal blog entry on it rather than write a story for the website.

The trip is Aug. 15-25th and we will make stops in four cities and will play four games (more on those later).

We will depart Memphis on Monday, Aug. 15th and basically spend that whole day travelling. We change planes in Atlanta and then have a 9 hour and 55 minute flight to Rome. With the seven hour time difference between the east coast and Rome, we will be landing at 8:25 in the morning on Tuesday, the 16th, in Rome. Then, jetlagged or not, we immediately become tourists, going to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, then lunch and check in at our hotel.

Wednesday we leave the country again - but just to Vatican City (which is its own city-state). We will go to the Vatican and go through the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's and see the Sistine Chapel. There is a lot of time built in to the itinerary to do some shopping and exploring, and that will pretty much be the plan for Wednesday.

Thursday will be our first game. It's a little unusual for us right now because we have no idea who we will be playing in Italy. Apparently a lot of the teams there are also just starting practice and might be working on their rosters, so I don't know when (or if) we'll find out who we are playing until we roll up to the gym.

The rest of the day will be a chance to do more sightseeing (and eating) in Rome since that will be our final day there. Friday morning we are up early for a bus ride to Florence. We'll roll in to Florence in time for an appointment at the Accademia Gallery, which is where Michelangelo's David is housed.

Saturday will be our second game, again, against whom, I have no idea, but I think we're playing a game after we visit Pisa, home of the famous leaning tower. Apparently you can only have 30 people at a time go up in the tower and have to have an appointment (or at least, we do). I think I sense a set-up though, because I think I read somewhere that the steps to get to the top of the tower number around 300 - maybe they're just trying to get to our legs beforehand (kidding!).

Sunday we will leave Florence and bus to Mestre (which is just outside Venice). We play our third game on Sunday, that much I know, but there's still no indication on my itinerary if that's in Florence or if we'll play someone in Mestre...guess we'll find out when we get there.

Monday we visit Venice. We'll bus to Tronchetto and then will visit Venice by boat and will see the Piazza San Marco. I don't know if we'll be able to visit the glass makers in Murano, our itinerary is very open, which is totally different than how we travel during the season!

Tuesday it's another bus trip and another game. This should be our final game of the trip and we will have bussed to Como in the Alps area of Italy. Wednesday is a tourist day in Como with a scheduled boat tour, then Thursday morning, it's up and out of the hotel at 8 a.m. to travel to the Milan airport for a flight back to Atlanta. Like the flight to Italy, we spend pretty much all day Thursday (25th) travelling and will land back in Memphis at about 7:30 that night (our flight home is about 10.5 hours).

So, there you go, now you know what I know. If you want to follow us on our trip, I'm going to try to keep our social media stuff updated. So if you're on Twitter, follow the women's basketball account @MemphisWBKB (you may want to follow @tdegroff as well as we get closer because my phone may default to my personal account, I'm not too positive how much technology I'll have when we first arrive) or on Facebook, you can find us I'm still not positive what our internet situation will be in each city. I anticipate lots of internet available, but am just not sure how much of it I'll have to buy, but I'll try to update there, assuming I'm not too jet-lagged, I'll at least try to remember to let you all know when we arrive. I'm taking a couple of flip cams, so hopefully I can video up then too. I'll have some of the players do a video blog rather than make them type something out, so let's hope I find some inexpensive internet that will handle a video upload without eating up all my euros!

I think everyone is starting to get excited about the trip now. It's funny, I didn't hear much from them about it all summer, but as we got closer to camp, it's starting to come up more and more often and they are getting excited now.

As always, keep checking our Facebook page and for more updates. I'm using Facebook more during our trip because will be redesigned while we are in Italy, so I know you check that a lot, but just in case it's being uploaded while I am online from Italy, I'm going to lean on Facebook a bit more for this trip than what I normally would.

Hope to see you all at Memphis Madness on Friday, October 14th at FedExForum. I'm hoping to do some video Meet & Greets with our three new freshmen next week before we head out, look for that soon (I opted not to interview them the first week of practice because I'm pretty positive they've got enough on their minds right now!).

Go Tigers!

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