I was lucky enough to be in Italy at the weekend, at Ospedaletti on the mediterranean coast, near the French border. I’m not a football fan, but the males in my family are, and I always get caught up in the excitement of big occasions like the European Championships.
When Italy hosted the World Cup in 1990 I was backpacking there with my Italian boyfriend, now my husband, and loved the atmosphere of it all. We’d always find somewhere packed with Italian fans to watch the matches, and I remember it as vibrant and exciting, with car horns blasting all night when Italy won. So I was pleased to find that I’d be there for Sunday’s Spain v Italy final, and was looking forward to getting some photos of Italians in a frenzy of excitement watching the game.
My friends were less keen, but we found a bar where they’d be showing the match and headed down there in time to eat before kick off. The waitress kindly reserved us seats where we could see the TV: comfortable sofas on a terrace overlooking the sea. It was a very different experience to Italia 90 with my husband. We couldn’t really see the screen through the crowded tables of Italians, were chatting more than watching, and the locals were very calm, even clapping politely at the end of the match, which Italy lost to Spain 4-0. There were no car horns that night, but everyone we saw at the bar was very relaxed and seemed to have enjoyed their evening anyway.
I wonder what the atmosphere in bars in England would have been like if we’d been in Italy’s position in the final?