Tour of Italy Day 5: Giving to Merchants of Venice
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  08/08/2014

Italy Day 5

VENICE, Italy – Just when the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team thought the scenery couldn’t get any better, it woke up in Venice.

Day 5 of the Lobos’ Tour of Italy featured another walking tour of the city in the morning and a gondola ride in the evening.

The local guide gave the team a quick rundown of the history of Venice, talking about architecture that dated back to the 1000s A.D., listed two of the most popular Venice natives – traveler Marco Polo and the father or romance, Casanova.

Masks also are popular in this Italian town, and the guide explained that citizens used masks primarily as a means of privacy because people were bunched so close together in the city that they often were able to look into neighbors’ homes without much effort.

The guide also told the team about the value of everyday spices – such as sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper – in ancient Venice because people thought they were medicinal.

Following the long night Thursday that included UNM’s 74-37 win over AS Vicenza, the team had its most free time of the trip.

But the other “requirement” in which the team participated was a gondola ride through the Venice canals. The sensation of getting into the boat was a unique experience because of how the boat swayed as each person climbed about.

Happily, the team reported no capsizes, albeit with a few scares. The guide told the team that gondolas are the only asymmetrical boats in the world because they are designed for one man to steer the boat with a single oar on the back of the boat.

One group received an extra treat when one of the riders had a collection of Frank Sinatra songs on her smartphone that she played for the group.

With the greater amount of free time, the shopping reportedly was the most abundant on the trip. One purse vendor was especially happy to run into the Lobo traveling party.

The team had an early night and will depart Venice early Saturday for a three-hour bus ride to Pesaro, where the Lobos will play their second game on the tour against the Adriatic Sea Sirens. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. (10 a.m. Mountain Time), and head coach Yvonne Sanchez said she expects a tougher game than the first exhibition.

But she also hopes the Lobos also will play better with one game under their collective belts.