Rapallo, and all of Italy for that matter, is draped in crepe after Italy’s upset loss to Slovakia in yesterday’s World Cup game. Well actually, Rapallo is draped in sun and beach towels, but there is an air of resigned sadness amongst soccer fans of all stripes.
Here’s what’s really good about an Italy World Cup game – you can drive through Rapallo and the streets are eerily deserted and navigation is a snap. We visited a car mechanic’s shop and had to tear him away from his buzzing, humming radio – the radio was fine, it was those plastic horns the fans blow, the vuvuzelas. Then I stopped with the Captain at his golf course, also deserted. Inside the club house, though, we saw no fewer than 4 big-screen TV’s, each with a crowd of men (only men!) watching and offering unsolicited and unheard advice to the players and coaches. Then I went to the local AgriTech to buy some plant food – the radio was on very, very loudly – more swarms of bees.
It seemed there would be no one at exercise class, either – I arrived about 10 minutes before it was due to start. 2 minutes later the game ended and 5 minutes after that about 15 other exercisers streamed in.
Following football is a national pastime in both the U.S. and Italy, though the games followed are completely different. Here’s another difference between the two countries. We were in Arizona when the Phoenix Cardinals won a berth in the Super Bowl XLIII (2009). It was absolutely quiet all around the town immediately after the game. Here, if Italy so much as scores a goal in a world cup match the town erupts in noise – shouts, car horns, cheers. The enthusiasm is infectious and very, very loud. Kind of like vuvuzelas but without the plastic.
So now we will all be sad for a few days because we’re out of the Cup race; then we can begin watching and waiting for 2014, when surely Italy will once again be a contender.