25C ( 77F ) today without a cloud in the sky. But lest some of you get jealous let me just add that the reason Italians talk about the weather as much if not more than the Brits is because it changes at the drop of an hat. Tomorrow we have rain and on Thursday gales from the North West with a windchill temperature of 5 C ( 40F ) .
It is no wonder that most people we meet in Martina at the moment are like us sneezing and coughing. They have un Comune Raffreddore or common cold. That is except me , of course, who has the very serious man flu that means I feel very sorry for myself all the time even today as the sun beat down.
I thought last night maybe a beer or two might help keep me from death’s door by keeping up the liquid intake so essential in treating flu. I have to say this was met with some scepticism by my wife who I am beginning to think might be a little dubious as to the extent of my illness.
Rather than go to the usual bar I opted for a quieter place in Villa Castelli that unlike bars in Benevento ( see earlier post) serves olives, nuts and my favourite taralli at no extra charge. Indeed as a bowl is emptied the owner refills it almost at once.
These are taralli
It is normally a very quiet bar with a few card players and has bar stools at the bar as well which I enjoy.
However we got there last night and the place was packed. I had forgotten that Juventus were playing Livorno . Many families from Villa Castelli moved north in the 50’s and 60’s to find work and most ended up in Torino ( Turin) home of Juventus affectionately known as the “old lady” . So support for the club in Villa Castelli is huge.
It always amazes me in italian bars that the owner lays on a large TV and half the town troop in to watch. Almost no one orders as much as a coffee and they all watch the first half then troop out to pop home for a snack and a drink then return for the second half.
We were lucky last night that Juve scored two goals at the end of the first half and the spectators in the bar certain almost to a man ( no women in this bar except the owner and my wife ) that the game was won didn’t return.
The owner was therefore able to give my bowl of tarelli her undivided attention and I could munch away to my hearts content.
Juve are top of Serie A this season and with six games left look like wining it from arch rivals Roma.
Puglia used to boast two teams in Serie A, A.S. Bari and U.S. Lecce both founded in 1908 Bari by a group of foreigners who wanted to play soccer and found eager teams to play against in the foreign ships of various navies that called at the port of Bari. Lecce was more a sporting club that had a small soccer wing that gradually took over the club.
Bari are known as I Galletti ( the cockerels) and play in the cavernous San Nicola stadium which is easily seen from the autostrada as you head south past Bari. It always reminds me of a grounded spaceship
It was built for the 1990 World Cup that was held in Italy and seats 58,000 people so even a good 18,000 crowd to watch A.S. Bari looks like almost no one has turned up.
The only game of note that was played in it in 1990 was the third place game between Italy and England.
Not so long ago I met the guy that does the catering for the stadium and so I asked him if he could get me a couple of tickets ( hey if you don’t ask …) Yes he said no worries but please don’t bother, the crowd are very violent and you as a foreigner and clearly not a Bari supporter would be picked on and probably beaten up.
People often ask me in the UK why is it that apart from the top three teams every stadium in Serie A games look half empty . There is the answer, football violence still is very prevalent in Italy and little has been done to change that in the last 20 years.
It is only this year when Italy had no teams in the last 16 of the Champions League the most amazingly lucrative competition in the world that the big teams are looking at the issue and heading to the UK to look at how English teams tackled the problem and got families back into their grounds. Serie A teams need new revenue streams to buy players and much bigger crowds buying loads of merchandise ( especially the kids) is one big way of increasing it.
Maybe one year soon I can take the guy up on his offer of a free ticket.
I can’t find the Bari song but here is Juve oh and if you are interest Italy beat England 2-1