Italy finds serenity in seclusion at World Cup
MANGARATIBA, Brazil (AP) After struggling through the traffic-clogged streets of Rio de Janeiro a year ago, Italy couldn't be happier with its secluded luxury World Cup base far away from Brazil's urban chaos.
The Italian team is staying in the sleepy coastal town of Mangaratiba a couple of hours drive south of Rio de Janeiro, at the Portobello Resort & Safari. It's an all-inclusive arrangement featuring a luxury hotel and training ground on the premises.
''We have all the comforts we need to prepare this tournament as best we can,'' defender Giorgio Chiellini said Saturday, exactly a week before Italy open against England.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli chose the location based on the experience gained in last year's Confederations Cup, when the Azzurri stayed in Rio and spent nearly two hours each day traveling by bus to their training ground in the traffic-clogged city.
In Mangaratiba, there is no traffic to be seen, and Italy does not really need to venture off its premises.
Making matters even more comfortable is the decision by Prandelli to open the training camp to players' wives, families and girlfriends.
The significant others stay in another area of the resort but they offer a sense of home during the off hours.
Each player has their own room and the Azzurri have taken over the entire resort, meaning no other guests were allowed in besides those invited by the Italian football federation.
Every detail has been examined and even horses were removed from their stalls near the training pitch.
Brazil coach Felipe Scolari recommended the Portobello base to Prandelli. Located on the coast and near a few canals, it provides the perfect humidity level to prepare for Italy's Group D matches in the jungle city of Manaus plus the northeastern cities of Recife and Natal.
''It's already humid enough here,'' Chiellini said. ''We're all concerned about the heat in Manaus.''
While teams like the Netherlands and England are based in Rio - and the Dutch have already attracted fans by strolling along Ipanema beach and holding an open training session - Italy is not so accessible.
Italy will be facing Fluminense in nearby Volta Redonda on Sunday in its final warmup match.
''These training bases are always placed behind closed doors,'' Chiellini said. ''But I hear the stadium will be full tomorrow so I don't see a problem.''
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