Monday, December 04, 2006

October 2006 - Rome, Italy - "CALCIO!"

CALCIO . . . it's not just a game . . . it's a way of life!

We finally made it to the Stadio Olimpico - home field of calcio teams AS Roma and Lazio.

Sharing a stadium creates a bitter rivalry between these 2 teams. All Romans root for one or the other but never both. You must be able to state your preference without hesitation. AS Roma is supported by most of the city-dwellers while Lazio is supported by the residents from the suburbs and country-side surrounding Rome.

As city-dwellers, we decided to root for AS Roma, so we attended this partita (game) against Ascoli, a team from the Le Marche region of Italy, in the middle on the east (Adriatic) coast.

Little did we know, all the action is in the stands particularly in the Curva Sud (south curve of the stadium behind the goal posts). This is where the real fans sit except they don't sit. And you can't buy tickets for this section. The only way to watch a game from here is to buy tickets for another section and climb over the 8 ft. plexi-glass dividers that enclose this rowdy section. Despite the physical rigor required to get in, this section is jam packed, standing room only with 3 times as many people as seats. This is the real excitement of italian soccer. So, of course, we bought tickets in the section next to Curva Sud (and there was no way Casandra was making it over an 8 ft wall).

No we're not at war, we just scored a goal so Roman fans need to set something on fire. This is why the calcio games are monitored by about 100 firemen. Did I mention that these people are hopped up on cold shots of espresso sold outside the stadium (in plastic shotgun shell containers) immediately before the game.

If you can't read it through the smoke, the score is 2-2. As most of you know, soccer can be slow for us Americans. We like scoreboards that read 42-35. A fast-paced soccer game usually ends at 2-2 (yes it's ok to tie). But Roman fans keep the game exciting in the stands no matter the score. They sing, throw flares, fire cannons, cheer into bullhorns, curse into bullhorns, light smoke bombs and wave ENORMOUS flags.

The not-so-fun part of calcio games - waiting for a bus to take us home together with the hords of crazed fans. The game ended in a tie and the Romans still sang on the bus all the way home.

We had a day off from school (November 1st - Day of the Dead) so we hiked out to the edge of the city to eat Mexican food. Above is Casandra waiting for the subway at the Spanish Steps metro stop. After the Mexican dinner, we went to see Babel. This was our 1st "English" language film since arriving in Rome. No one told us that English is only 1 of the 5 languages spoken in this film and the subtitles, of course, were in Italian. Kenny broke into a fit of laughter (despite the tragic topics) when 20 minutes into the film the actors broke into sign language (Japanese style) and we still had not heard any English.

This week we also got our first multa (fine) for riding the bus without a ticket. So after a trip to Testaccio, a calcio game, a movie with italian subtitles, and a multa, we're feeling just like locals.

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