Thursday, December 15, 2005


"Freezing Fingers & Calcio Fever"

There are seem to be two ever present subjects in my Ligurian Life at the moment (besides the subject of food which never goes away in this country) – THE WEATHER and SOCCER, otherwise known as Calcio in Italian.

The Weather first...
I returned from a family visit to California about 3 weeks ago. I knew I’d be returning to winter weather, but was not prepared for the blistering, tundra like wind that wraps around our little borgo making noises that I can only describe as “pis%ed off” ghosts. The howling, the shutters banging and the occasional piece of furniture that lands on our small terrace makes me want to hide under the covers all day. We’ve also had an unusual amount of rain for this time of year. The other day I was typing away on my computer when I looked out the window to nearly pure darkness. I could make out what I thought was snow (but was actually hail). But beyond that completely “buio”. It was 2:30 in the afternoon!!!

But on the flipside, there are days like today: sunny and bright, crisp and clear as can be – perfect for a good “power passagiata with Lucy along the beach promenade. And the sunsets can’t be beat, they are just spectacular as you can see by the photo attached. That’s when the southern California girl in me loosens up and realizes, “Would you really want to live anywhere else?”


On to Calcio…
There is a saying here that “Calcio comes only second to religion”, but in this day and age I am beginning to wonder if at least in Italy, soccer has overtaken Catholicism??? I am a sports fan, so I can appreciate it and enjoy it fairly well (and civilly I might add). I grew up in a family where UCLA football and basketball was considered sacred and where my father might possible be in a bad mood for a few days after the USC/UCLA game – But my soon to be “suocero” (father in law), Francesco, is another case all together.

Our team is Juventus from Torino who happened to be the #1 team in Italy at the moment and is very entertaining to watch. But days before a game begins, the “preparation ritual” comes into place. It usually starts with the 6-7 calls a day (for 2-3 days beforehand mind you) asking whether or not Luigi and I will be there. Then what time and what we will be eating: no less than an hour before the game starts and never anything that might upset Francesco’s stomach. And during the entire meal, Francesco has to get up and walk around several times and in between bites in order to calm his nerves, all while muttering some “bestemia” (bad words/curses) about the other team. Once the game starts, all hell breaks loose. Francesco is a ball of fire, screaming into the TV demanding what is happening, jumping up and down if a call is made that he knows is wrong. “Ti lo dico io!” (what did I tell you) over and over again. Poor Lucy, a fairly sensitive dog who loves to sleep at Francesco’s feet while he watches normal TV, shivers away trying to find peace and comfort for her 65 lbs. body in the lap of her Nonna or me. And by the way, I should mention this is usually a fairly mild mannered man with a heart of gold who would harm no one – unless maybe you are a player for Milan or Inter.

What I have come to learn is Francesco is not alone. The majority of men here in Italy have this insatiable need for calico and all its aftermath of replays, gossip and feuds. I have seen grown men some to blows over a bad call, seen them crying like a blubbering child when their beloved team has lost and I even know one man who closed his butcher shop for a week in mourning after his team failed to qualify for the Italia’s Cup. Best of all (or should I say worst of all?) every Monday night there’s “Il Processo di Biscardi” (which I lovingly refer to as “Bastardi”). A 3-4 hour program dedicated to dissecting each pivotal moment of each soccer game played over the weekend with a minimum of 10 replays, then a few computer generations of the play from several angles, all followed by a congregation of grown men who protest, pontificate, scream, cry and often walk off stage in disgust. It’s like those FOX and CBS pre and post football shows with a bit of Jerry Springer and Court TV throw in the mix for a little drama. And I do believe it is the number one rated show in Italy…

I can deal with this phenomena of Calcio most of the time, but some weeks it just gets to be a little overwhelming, suffocating and above all, plain stupid. This week was just that. Monday morning Luigi took me to the doctor’s office for a check up on some allergy problems. We waited (as is the case in most socialist medicine) nearly an hour and a half before getting in to see our doctor, Massimo – and no sooner had he taken out my CAT scan results, he takes a long hard look at me and then Luigi, lets out a sigh and whispers, “Che grande Juventus, avete visto la partita?” (How great is Juventus. Did you see the game yesterday?) Luigi responds with, “Turn on the radio so the other people who have been waiting over an hour don’t hear and kill you.” Massimo does as told and then goes into a monolog about the how he has been following this team for 40 years and never have they been as strong and dominating as they are now. Twenty minutes later, he suddenly slips out the phrase, “Megan , your medicine won’t do you crap. You need an operation to clear your deviated septum. We’ll have it done in the fall when the weather is better and you aren’t likely to catch a cold”. Then he returns to his one-way conversation with Luigi about the grandeur that is Juventus. 45 minutes later we walk out completely drained of all energy and a 9 Euros prescription for Zyrtec (which does beats the $75 I paid in the states) and more knowledge about Juventus and the Italian Soccer League than I care to know…

It’s mid-week now, so all is calm in terms of Calcio Fever. It had also warmed up a bit, so I have the windows open a bit and can smell the fresh Mediterranean air and olive trees. Lucy is sleeping on my feet and I am about to start my work for the day. And so is the life in Liguria…

6 comments:

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