Last night I completed yet another item on my Life List - I attended an A.S. Roma soccer game ("calcio")! I consider myself lucky to have been able to go, because the ticket was a gift from the family I work for. They were even nice enough to drive me to and from the stadium, since the regional trains stop running early on Saturdays.
Now, the stadium in Verona, Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, is nothing special, however, there is a slight upside: the prices of snacks were quite reasonable compared to sports stadiums in America. That being said, security there is no joke. When the family bought the ticket for me, they needed my passport AND my permesso di soggiorno because each attendee must have their name on the ticket. From what I gather, this is a measure to help cut down on violence in the stadium, as it used to be a big problem at soccer games. I'm pretty sure you're less likely to do anything stupid if the stadium and police have a way of tracking you down. You also have to show that same ID to actually enter the stadium.
My seat for the game was wonderful! All of the seats in the stadium are raised, the closest to the ground being club seating. I was in the next highest seating area, midfield, five rows back. My view was perfect! I could actually SEE Francesco Totti and he is just as beautiful in person. He was so close that at one point I totally heard him whistle at a teammate. And if you know anything about Italian sports fans then you know just how loud a place like that can get. Honestly, I was probably more excited about hearing his whistle than I should have been, but I have no shame. I'm sure that my seat there was the best seat I will ever have for a professional sports game.
Where I was seated was perfect, but who was seated around me made me a little nervous. I was surrounded on all sides by true Chievo fans, and I'm pretty sure they were all season ticket holders because they all knew each other. Luckily for me, most of them were older men so I didn't really feel too threatened, older Italians have MUCH more respect for women - they are true gentlemen. The man sitting next to me even shook my hand at the end of the game, saying "Complimenti". Still, though, it was the quietest I've ever been at a sporting event. I was not in the mood to tempt fate by cheering for the visiting team. There was no need for me to potentially risk my life so that I could lose my voice. It didn't really matter though, because what I lacked, the visiting Roma fan section more than made up for it. They basically had a cheering battle with the die-hard Chievo fans the entire game. It was VERY entertaining to watch. As was listening to the comments made by the men around me.
The game itself was great! Although I'm still bitter that my favorite player wasn't in the game. Seeing Roma play in person, was something else. Almost magical. I mean, of course there were some mistakes, but they truly worked as a team and made some impressive passes. Both Gervinho and Mattia Destro scored in the first half! The real hero of the game was Morgan De Sanctis, the goalie. If not for him then Chievo would have had five goal as opposed to none. A. S. Roma won 2-0!
The Roma fan section
It was an amazing experience and I'm so thankful to my employers for it! Also, has someone ever done an anthropological study on Italian soccer fans? If not, then someone really should.