Last week Italy played England in the UEFA EURO 2020 match. Until last week, I didn’t know there was a UEFA or that it stood for the Union of European Football Associations. I also didn’t understand why this was the 2020 match – duhhhhh – the pandemic squashed last year’s. As our entire village started preparing for this event, I realized I better do some research or would be a really stupid Italian – American.
AHEM, said the professoressa with rich but boring academic tones, Italy has been in 10 major tournament finals – 6 world cup, 4 EURO. Among the European nations, only Germany has played in more. The not so staid English have never been in the finals of a European Championship. This was their first try at a major tournament since winning the 1966 World cup. Sadly, for them, but not for us THEY LOST!
The night of Italy’s win, I finally began to understand calico. Don’t be silly, I still don’t understand the rules or why a sport that is supposed to take 90 minutes takes a lot more than 90 minutes. What I finally began to understand was that the game wasn’t as important as the opportunity for neighbors, friends, soon to be friends and outright enemies to have a communal focus. Joining the majority of the village in the Piazza that night, I saw everyone from infants to people older than Jack staring at movie screens and holding their collective breaths at the same time. Cries of alarm went up when goals were missed. Chairs were knocked over as the crowd leapt to its feet when a goal was made. In-between these specific moments people were talking to not only those at their table but those around them.
All the bars in town, who had starved during lockdown, had prepared for the onslaught of customers – who were more than customers. Surrounding each bar, staring at television and movie style screens, were people who had been trapped in their homes for over a year and were now not only supporting their country’s team but supporting each other. Babies were passed from person to person, drinks and food were bought and sent to different tables, bar owners were assisted by family and friends who are like family, strangers and “the local Americans” were embraced. (There was no embracing but lots of elbow touching.)
For one night, no one was worrying about the latest designer version of Covid or what would happen when the region moved from Covid White status to yellow or worse. The angst of the past year was lost as a team of Italian men chased a ball across the pitch. (That is what they call the playing field – don’t ask me why I haven’t a clue.)
At the beginning of the match, as fireworks filed the air, all stood and sang the Italian national anthem. Italians were coming together with one focus – winning. We won the match and we in Italy will beat this pandemic.
Here is a quick peak at what I enjoyed:
Join us in Pontelandolfo in 2022! Check out Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo.
13 thoughts on “Calcio and Me”
Benevento, very near you, played in Serie A this past year but was relegated for next next year. Probably a fun team to watch and follow. You should go and watch!!
Jeff, I have seen the banners fly on Benevento for your team. I will start to follow them.
So exciting to be part of a national, community and personal event. What a terrific experience. There’s nothing like it in the us. We just don’t have public living rooms! What a shame for us. Thanks , Camille
Come join us in our public living room!
I get the rooting for the home country team. But do you have any insight into why European soccer is so closely associated with violent riots?
Valerie, Ask the Brits that question. Liverpool and Chelsea would be a good place to start.
Your video was fabuloso! Thanks for doing this and making us all feel a little closer together in these difficult times. Wish we could get to see you next summer. Maybe one day . . . Love to you and Jack.
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Thank you Pam. One day we must get together. I want to hear of all your adventures. Hugs to you and Malcolm.
Football fever here too! After the lockdowns, the final was a wonderful local community and national event. You’re looking well. Great blog and video! X
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How wonderful, Midge, to read your post and watch your video–brava!
My Italian cousins and I had such anxiety and fun during this match madly texting each other on WhatsApp–there weren’t enough emoticons to describe our emotions zooming back and forth across the pond in cyberspace during that final, nail-biting phase of penalty-kicks and even more so when Italia won!
Wanna know how else soccer is used to convey feelings of pride of place?? Here’s an online blurb from Dr. Rocky Ruggiero (Syracuse University at Florence) that says it all:
“The Battle of Montaperti, M-O-N-T-A-P-E-R-T-I, the battle of Montaperti which took place in the year 1260. The year 1260 is for Sienese history what 1776 would be for American history. The extraordinary thing about this is that if you in fact visit Siena today, they get very excited about it. In fact, oftentimes say the Sienese soccer team is beating Florence, Sienese fans will chant out from the stands, “Remember Montaperti. We beat you once and we’re beating you again.””
What a great addition to my post! I’ve seen the passion of the Sienese during the Palio, I can imagine what is like when the soccer team beats Florence.
Hi Midge, Loved your post and video! I am a huge tennis fan and was so excited that Matteo Berretini played in the Wimbeldon finals. Big day for Italy! Have a great summer.
Luci, It was wild to see men at a bar in the piazza sitting around the TV urging Berretini on. It was a big day to Italy.