The tricolor flag shows up on the balconies, the televised debates are all focused on a single subject, appointments are taken according to the match schedule, the adversaries become enemies and the temperature rises. What matters is to bring home the World Cup (Leggi in Italiano)
The day begins with an African wind that awakens everyone from their evening slumber. My city isn’t saved from this breeze that comes from the hills making palm trees wave, moving fishing boats anchored at the pier, kicking up sand and waving thousands of Italian flags, visible on balconies and rooftops, in schools and along the shore, at beach clubs and markets. Wherever you look, the Italian flag is displayed like a clear and unequivocal notice to skippers: 2014 is a World Cup year.
Bright and early Italians sway between coffee and newspapers to discuss the only possible topic during this magical time: Which players will Prandelli deploy against the hated English? Indeed, during the World Cup this strip called Italy isn’t part of Europe—this is shown by the televised sports debates that will substitute the regular news that this country could easily go without for the entire month. This is confirmed by the inhabitants of cities, towns, villages, from the shore to the hills —the subject is always the same: the World Cup. Throughout this month, the absurd circumnavigation of globalization is freed by the spirit of soccer that fills us all, like Christmas spirit in summer, but instead of making us feel better persons, it joins us together in an ideal Crusade that beckons and ignites our soul. For it is NOT enough to just participate in the World Cup (to hell with whoever said such nonsense!). What counts in the World Cup is winning. Adversaries become enemies, fair play is replaced by moves and countermoves, stratagems and maneuvers, with one final goal: to bring home the World Cup.
Everything begins with a slight increase in temperature. Italians discover they have a touch of fever when they notice at the local market that signora Maria skillfully lays her fruits and vegetables on the counter in the shape of the Italian flag, with tomatoes and seasonal vegetables to the sides of the counter and the whitest mozzarella di bufala in the center. Appointments are made according to when the National team plays. Those made prior to game schedule will be conveniently rescheduled. A prime example is that of a father who must attend the recital of his daughter. He purchased his airline tickets for the 20th of June, only to be told by the airport agent, “Sorry, but are you sure you would like to travel on June 20? That’s the day Italy plays…” The reply that, in any case, the plane would have in fact departed, had the agent retort “Well the pilots are Irish… what do they know about the World Cup!”
Fever rises. And continues to rise—nothing can be done to stop it. Offices gear up, the piazza s emptie. It’s the first game. It's Brazil vs. Croatia and everyone in Italy covertly cheers for the European nation that’s right across our Adriatic shore so that they will hinder the most dreaded Brazilians. Yeah, Brazil. They have one more World Cup than we do; our four Golden Stars above our badge. We’re even going to face them at home–their home, in Brazil. So far yet so close to our way of life and to our live for the day attitude.
But we are Italy, we’ve always left for the World Cup to win it, and this year is no different. On the eve of the departure of the national team a newspaper delivered a story. The headline read “We’re going to get it” …the Cup obviously. As I write, even I get shivers, a sign that my fever continues to rise.
Btw, the daughter’s recital was then rescheduled to June 19.
To be continued..
Translated from Italian by Enza Antenos