A Beggar For Good Soccer: Italy

Jessica’s journey through Europe continues

Editor’s note: Welcome back to A Beggar For Good Soccer, our summer travelogue miniseries from Jessica Malone. The journey continues in Italy.

When I first started watching this sport in the late 1990’s, Italy’s Serie A was generally considered the best league in the world. This was pre-Galacticos, when Zinedine Zidane was still at Juventus, and before the Calciopoli scandal of the mid-2000’s which resulted in several teams being relegated or receiving points deductions. Though Serie A is still rebuilding, I wanted to get to the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan and Stadio Olympic in Rome during my sabbatical.

I started in Milan, where my first stop was the Duomo. Italy’s Paralympic Sports Federation had set up a mini pitch in front of the cathedral. A 3-a-side match between A.C. Crema 1908 and Quartotempo Firenze had just ended, and blindfolded tourists were taking penalties.

That evening, I went to the San Siro for AC Milan vs Bologna FC. AC Milan were trying to secure a Champion’s League spot, while Bologna were hoping to secure safety. AC Milan won 2-1.

Before I left Milan, I went to see The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci’s mural at Santa Maria della Grazie Church. As I waited for my assigned entry time, groups of kids were playing football in the square in front of the church, with the famous mural on the other side of these walls.

My next stop was Florence, for ACF Fiorentina vs AC Milan. I arrived early but still had to wait in line to get my ID checked against the name on my ticket. This happened at all three matches I attended in Italy. AC Milan won 1-0.

I ended my time in Italy in the capital, Rome. I bought my ticket for AS Roma – Juventus eight days before I handed in my two weeks notice, as a sort of down payment on quitting my job. I knew that I needed to quit, but was not yet entirely convinced I would actually go through with it. Making it to this match was perfect motivation. The approach to Stadio Olimpico is the most beautiful I have seen, crossing the Tiber River and heading toward Monte Mario.

Juventus had clinched their eighth straight Scudetto three weeks prior. AS Roma were fighting for a top-six finish to secure a spot in Europe. Roma won 2-0.


Follow Jessica’s journey in real time at @jessicamalone85.