Common denominators

When rugby came to Torino...

Huw Williams | 21:00, Saturday 23rd November 2013 | Turin, Italy

A couple of Saturdays ago, I got to watch a real, live rugby match. The mighty Australians were coming to Italy, and the match was held here in Torino. It's been a few years since I've been to a game and so it was a real treat to be able to go and watch an International here in the city.

I learned that rugby fans are much the same in Italy, if not around the around. 

It was interesting to compare the match day experience here with those I used to have in Cardiff and elsewhere. For example, I am used to any pre-game food on match-day as involving a crush in a plastic burger place with a long wait for an over-priced and underwhelming culinary experience. This is not the Italian way, you won't be surprised to hear. "I'm taking you to my favourite place to eat in Torino!" explained Marco, one of my companions for the afternoon. On arrival, Marco was greeted like a long-lost friend by the restaurant manager, as were we friends of Marco, by association. We were ushered to a table, and one exquisite plate of tagliatelle ai porcini later, it was time to join the crowds winding their way to the stadium. One-up for the Italian experience.

I learned that rugby fans are much the same in Italy, if not around the around. The comfortable intermingling of the fans, the friendly banter (as funny in Italian as any other language), the passionate singing of the anthems, were all wonderfully familiar. Bizarrely, I found myself sat next to a generously-proportioned gentleman who spoke perfect Italian, not a word of English, who sang the anthem like a demi-Pavarotti, and who - for unexplained reasons - was kitted out in full Australia colours and cheered their every try (of which there were many as it turned out) as though it were winning the World Cup. Somehow it just added to the colour of the afternoon. As the game progressed, Italy were valiant in defeat, and most of us had to admire the quality of the opposition.

These common denominators are strange. We've been here over two years now and yet we still feel like we're new to the city. And just a few little familiar routines, these touch-points in a culture where I still like a foreigner can be strangely comforting.

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