ROME (AP) - After a week of touring Rome, shooting each other with paintballs, hanging out at the beach, snapping photos inside the Colosseum and seeing the pope, Michigan got back to work Thursday.
A chance to burn off all that pasta, pizza and gelato.
Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines held the first of three practices in Italy at Olympic Center Giulio Onesti, working for just under two hours in helmets and shorts, easing their way back into football after a week of sightseeing and fun.
“It was good to get back in a football mentality, get in a really good workout out here and we went into a speed and tempo that got these guys back into (that mode),” Harbaugh said. “We brought the tempo down to about 85 percent, just because all the walking around and traveling they’ve been doing - some of the guys had just gotten off planes a few hours ago. This was our third helmet practice, we had to have three in the spring.”
Some players, including safety Josh Metellus and linebacker Devin Bush Jr., didn’t arrive in Italy until Wednesday evening after remain on campus for final exams.
Metellus, Bush and a handful of other players did have a seven-hour layover in Paris, allowing them to see the Eiffel Tower, the Arc di Triomphe and various other sites.
“Paris was amazing,” Metellus said. “I was up for about 40 hours straight through last night. But I got to sleep around 10 p.m., got up at 7 and got right to it. I’m feeling good.”
Michigan held its workout in front of several fans - including several military members who are stationed in Italy. Some were Michigan fans, others were just fans of American football. One foursome from Ohio came wearing their Ohio State shirts. Rivalries aside, Harbaugh interacted with all of them briefly before practice and even posed for a photo.
“We miss (American) football. We’ve lived in Naples for a year, we were stationed in Turkey for five years before that,” said Alicia Saxton, one of the Buckeye fans in Rome. “When we found out Michigan would be here, we wanted to come over for it. We love the Big Ten. And we’re really appreciative of Jim Harbaugh. We love that the rivalry is back.”
Michigan’s fifth day in Rome was capped by a trip to an Italian opera performance at St. Paul’s within the Walls, an Episcopal Church in Rome.
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