One of the downsides of studying abroad is the disconnect from your interests and activities at home wherever that may be– like sports, for instance. Checking ESPN.com and your favorite teams’ site on a daily basis as well as streaming live matches can only provide so much satisfaction. These are suitable alternatives, but any avid sports fan knows nothing compares to being inside a packed and rocking stadium. As most people know, soccer is the most popular sport in Europe and in the world. Believe it or not, there are more countries in the FIFA organization than there are in the United Nations. That being said, the people of Florence absolutely love their football and are always behind their squad: Fiorentina.
I would put a European football match on the same level as an NFL game, depending on the match. Tailgating is not very common but there is buildup to match kickoff. May sound a bit tedious, but check it out. If you have ever seen ‘Green Street Hooligans,’ (mainly the scenes of Petey, Matt, and the gang walking to he West Ham match), it is the best way to get an idea of the city on match day. You start walking with your friends to head to the game. Then block after block, your entourage will begin to grow in number. Florentines start pouring out from everywhere; and before you know it, you have your own posse. The streets just outside the arena are my favorite part. They’re all blocked off and filled with Italians screaming and shouting fight songs in support of La Viola. There are also an infinite number of food & street vendors filled with folks before they head to the match. It is a cultural experience I would not miss.
Inside the stadium is typical of an NFL game: stands are entirely purple and filled with waving flags, banners, and scarves. Curva Fiesole is an absolute frenzy; this is where the diehard Fiorentina faithful sit each and every match and it is quite the sight to see. Even more so after La Viola bag a goal. All the fans go insane and start dancing to the music that’s played over the loud speakers almost like a mini Space Saturday. It might not seem like much, but European football is something many of us have only seen on TV. To experience it live, however, is goose bump worthy.