Eugene, Ore. - The Oregon women’s basketball team will travel to Italy this summer for a 10-day, four-game excursion to “Il bel paese” (the beautiful country).

The Ducks will begin training for the tour at Mac Court starting on Thursday, Aug. 21, and will leave for Italy on Sunday, Aug. 31. The team will touch down in Milano on Sept. 1, where the 10-day, four-game, several-city tour of the boot will begin.

Stops on the tour will include scenic and beautiful Lake Como (home of George Clooney), Verona (home of Romeo and Juliet), Treviso (home of Mary Sbrissa), Venice (home of the gondola), Florence (home of Michelangelo), and finally Rome.

The Ducks will play against various Italian club teams which will be in the initial stages of their preseason training as they prepare for the always competitive Italian League Championship.

Head Coach Bev Smith played and coached in Northern Italy from 1983 until 2000, and will have the opportunity to return to the gymnasiums and trattoria’s that she frequented during the Italian experience.

“First of all, Italy has a very competitive women’s basketball league and we will have the opportunity to play against challenging and competitive ball clubs,” Smith explained. “Italian Club teams are made up of both Italian born players and those considered “foreigners”; professional players that come from the U.S., Australia, and other parts of the world. We will play against older, stronger, more experienced teams and this will be excellent preparation for our young team as we get ready for our 2008-09 season.

“Secondly, Italy is an incredible country to visit and it will be a great education for our team in terms of learning about the history, the beauty of architecture and art, the unique sights of a city such as Venice, the natural and panoramic beauty of the Italian countryside, and then sitting down to do what Italians do best; eating some of the best food in the world!

“Our team is both excited and grateful for this opportunity and we would like to thank the athletic department for giving us this opportunity to not only prepare optimally for our upcoming season, but as well, to see an incredible country.”

The Ducks are currently just finishing up their last week of school before summer break.