Last wednesday I was in Bologna watching the last thirty minutes of the half finale of the world football championship between Germany and Italy on a big square (not surprisingly the Italian name for the square therefore was "big square") in the center of the city. The crowd existed of Italians from all walks of life: members of all age groups were present (although the famous Bolognese Centennials With Heart Conditions group wisely remained at home) to enjoy what could be Italy's way into the final.
And I was there too. Being Dutch and not a big football fan at first I felt like I was present at a birthday party where I knew only the birthee (it's a word, trust me) and was present while a lot of urgent family matters were discussed. There wasn't just tension in the air, the entire match was loudly commented on by everybody present. Every move the Italians or Germans or the referee made was either applauded (Si! Vai! Bene!) or condemned (No! Sei Pazzo! Bastardo!). This in itself is not unique: my father (a big football fan) tends to talk to the referee and the man doing the commentary - despite me explaining time after time that TV is not a two-way medium. These Italians however, were far more enthusiastic.
Before the game I had been in doubt who I wanted to win. The Dutch by definition dislike the Germans (nothing personal, the Belgiums hate us) and they tend to win in the last minute which the rest of the world finds terribly unfair unless their team does it. On the other hand, Italians (despite the fact that I love them to death) get terribly annoying when their team wins something.
I still wasn't sure while standing in that crowd. It was still 0-0 when we arrived and, although I was hanging towards supporting Italy, I couldn't help but shake off this mean idea in the back of my mind:
It would be so much fun to see this crowd in pain.
I know it's childish, and I'm not proud, but I couldn't help it. It just would have been so interesting to feel the dissapointment, to hear to shouting and the screaming. Also, it would have enabled me to pick up quite a few Italian cursewords that might come in hand later.
Thankfully my Italian loving side took over quickly (leaving my dark side in the back of my skull hoping for a car crash to happen) and soon I "Vaaaaaai!"-ed along as Italian as I could. Which - granted - isn't very Italian but darn it I tried. In between I videotaped the crowds reactions, but sadly I forgot to turn the camera on when the two goals were made at the end of the extra time but the total joy that everybody (including me) felt when the Italians finally scored was unforgettable.
As was the honking, screaming and shouting that continued until 4 in the morning. God knows how long they'll party after tonight. Eitherhoo: Congrats Italy!