Benvenuto in Italia! Welcome to Italy!

A group of boys and girls from two Wilton soccer organizations are traveling to Italy for the San Marino Cup, Italy’s largest youth soccer tournament. Representing the United States, local athletes will leave on July 6, to compete in the five-day soccer tourney, matching up against teams from all over the world.

Wilton Soccer coaching director John-Christopher Salvatore selected players from both Wilton Youth Scocer’s Travel program and the CT Rush club. In all, there are 36 players and 45 supporters attending the annual event, including coaches and families.

Currently seven boys and seven girls, all from Wilton, will be participating in the San Marino Cup tournament. The current Among the Wilton players on the boys’ roster are Zachary Abud, Kyle Aleksiejczyk, Connor Allen, Arman Peters, Karl Pfeiffer, John Oliver Sharpe, and Michael Zizzadoro. The girls’ team includes Wilton athletes Ellen Chiappetta, Kiana Gow, Mairhead Kehoe, Riley Milhoua, Samantha Nichols, Akria Nobumoto, and Madeline Wecker.

“This is the 14th year we have attended the San Marino Cup and the second time with Wilton’s greater soccer community. We love to go and play soccer but also enjoy the culture, history and delicious food that Italy has to offer,” Salvatore says.

Wilton High School’s varsity Boys’ and Girls’ coaches, Jim Lewicki and Renato Topalli, will accompany Salvatore and the athletes to Italy. Training for the tournament began in earnest in June, and will continue once the teams arrive in Italy.  “

This is such a great opportunity for our players, and I am looking forward to seeing how well they can play against some of Europe’s top teams,” Lewicki says.

The kids are enormously excited about the opportunity, both to participate in the tournament, and to be immersed in the travel experience.

“This tournament is an amazing way to make new friends, and to play with and against kids of all nationalities,” says Kyle Aleksiejczyk. His teammate Oliver Sharpe agrees. “I’ve always wanted to play soccer in Italy. This is an awesome opportunity and I cannot wait.”

Zach Abud says he’s excited about his first trip overseas. “I’ve never traveled internationally and I love soccer. Combining both is a great opportunity.” Similarly, Arman Peters has his priorities in the right place too:  “I like traveling, I like soccer and I love food!! This trip would combine all three,” he says.

Salvatore, who has deep ties to the top events and clubs in Europe, organized the trip knowing he’d be exposing the kids a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s something he’s done for the past 25, organizing trips for more than 200 teams to travel and compete in Europe.

The players were responsible for a portion of the financial requirements. For fundraising, the athletes organized several bake sales and raffled a five-day trip for two to Lake Como, Italy. The team is grateful to the Wilton community for supporting their bake sales, and purchasing raffle tickets.

This exciting 10-night, 12-day soccer tournament and tour will take the teams to cities such as Milan, Florence, Lake Como, Siena, Tuscany, Venice, Rimini and San Marino. This tour will be a wonderful balance fulfilling their passion for soccer and experiencing many guided tours while soaking up the culture and history.

What They’ll See and Do

The tour will take the teams to several cities–Milan, Florence, Lake Como, Siena, Tuscany, Venice, Rimini and San Marino.  The players will train for a few days in the scenic towns of Lake Como and Venice before heading to San Marino to play in the tournament. Post-tournament visits to the Tuscan cities of Florence and Siena will follow. In addition to training and playing matches in these scenic locales, the athletes and their families will have plenty of opportunities to sample the local culture. Highlights include:

  • Scenic boat tour in Lake Como
  • Local wine and cheese tasting at  Fattoria il Poggio, an authentic Tuscan farm
  • Historic sites such as the Statue of David, the Piazza della Signoria, and the famous Ponte Vecchio in Florence
  • Strolling through the botanical gardens and Piazza del Campo in Siena
  • Exploring the maze of bridges in Venice
  • Watching the football games in San Marino and cheering our teams: “Vai a USA, Vai!” (“Go USA, Go”)