Thursday, June 19, 2014


The world's heaviest Ferrero Rocher
Usually, I don't watch soccer. The reason being that 1) I never really cared and 2) I was scarred forever when in 2004 the general manager of my local team, Venezia, was caught by the police with a bag with €250,000 IN CASH received for intentionally losing a match. Venezia was then punished by having to play forever somewhere completely inoffensive like the Baby&Tots Itsy-Bitsy Soccer League for Fun, Fun, Fun. Or something like that.

However, every 4 years my soccer soul awakens and stirs like that of a moulting cicada in DC. I resurrect from my soccer slumber and for a month straight I live and breathe World Cup. This frenzy is shared by all my fellow Italians, of course, which brings me to the third rule of the Drive Your Italian Hosts Crazy series.

Rule #3: When the Italian National Team is playing, praise or just shut up. 

I'm sure you're thinking Rule #3 applies to most countries, and of course you are right. However, the degree with which Italians love their national team is rather unique. In fact, I will state that the national team is the only thing that brings Italians together and makes them feel like a true nation. If this comes as a surprise, please remember that Italy is a relatively young country: We became unified only in 1861, which is 85 years AFTER the birth of the United States. Before that year, Italy was a sorry mess of a geopolitical puzzle of hate-filled mini-states and kingdoms, who only came together as one country because it looked so damned cute on the map.

The result is that today Italians still hate Italians from any other area, region, province, city, town, neighborhood, street, floor, etc. Except... when the Italian National Team is playing. Then we're all together, waving the tricolor flag you will never see us waving at any other occasion. We're finally patriotic, just like you Americans, or, what the heck, even the French!

For an Italian, the national pride is surprising and intoxicating, like discovering your family loves you and will also leave you a fortune in inheritance one day. Now that I think about it, it does really feel like family... A family where Italians are all proud parents of 23 wholesome athletes who can do no wrong... Well, except losing a game, of course. Then united Italy and its flag can go fuck themselves.

Look at our boys, all grown up!



From keeping your fingers crossed to actually praying, from holding tight on your genitals at any mention of possible negative outcome to replicating ad infinitum whatever you were doing when Italy scored, Italians believe (truly) that Lady Luck is looking at each and every one of us to decide if the Italian team is going to win. As an American, you're allowed to roll your eyes, because everybody is looking at the screen anyway. But no sighing, unless Italy scores while you're doing it. Then sigh again, now!

"Tifo Contro" 

Americans, you will despise us for this, but we do rejoice when our adversaries lose, are expelled, and yep, fall. And yes, I know, this is the little, seemingly innocent bud of stadium violence in Europe. (I promise I'll try to keep to a fun, not-too-mean level in front of my children and others'.) Our "countra-cheer" is directed at the team we are playing against and at the French team, our arch-enemies.

No Food: We're Busy

American might prepare immense, decadent food spreads or organize a full BBQ to watch your sports. In Italy we don't really eat during games, except for a bowl of chips and a few cans of beer (cheap, crappy, often room temperature). We try to schedule our meals before or after the game, since for 90 minutes our eyes will be glued to the TV screen. Also, you don't want to be holding a hot bowl of penne when Italy gets close to the box. There's a lot of sudden jumping from the couch when Italy plays. The only recipe that Italians might associate with the National Team is frittata di cipolle, or onion frittata, popularized in a 1976 classic Italian comedy (the recipe will soon be on this blog).


  1. Cara, dov'รจ #1 e #2? Ho cercato il tuo blog ma non riesco a trovare!

    1. Ciao! Ecco il link. Sono sotto la label, "Drive Your Italian Hosts Crazy". Baci.