Totti Tuesday: ‘Roma, Roma, Roma’

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 22: Erik Lamela #8 of A.C. Roma is greeted by Michael Bradley #4 after scoring a goal against Zaglebie Lubin during the first half of a international friendly match on July 22, 2012 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Once upon a time, there was a young boy who bled yellow and red, giallo e rosso. He was, quite simply put, a Giallorosso, a Romanista. A special bond with a city more than 1500 kilometres from his house. When he searched for the holy temple of La Magica on Wikipedia, all he found was this name: Stadio Olimpico. Back then, he knew: one day I will see it in real life. One day…

Fast forward to July 18, 2012: a Wednesday. Our young boy grown up, rollercoaster seasons, joy and sorrow, Coppe Italia but also too early European eliminations, players left and came (but then quickly left too), he has seen it all. Except one thing: that bloody Stadio Olimpico. Thursday 19 became that one day…

A thousand roads lead men forever to Rome

As you may know, I was in Rome from the 16th till the 20th. My hotel was at Piazza Monte Citorio, near the Italian Parlement and Pantheon. I practically visited everything you find in official brochures of Roma: Colosseo, Trevi, Vatican, Piazza Venezia, Piazza del Popolo, Villa Medici and so on. And of course, the Stadio Olimpico.

Coincidentally, Thursday 19th was also ‘Open Day’ at Olimpico with a training session and squad presentation. Unfortunately it only started at 4PM while I was there in the morning to avoid the crowd. I didn’t know of any Open Day before I read it in the Gazzetta dello Sport (reading a big pink paper out on the streets between girls is not good for your manliness but as a student of Sport Journalism, I was obliged to buy it anyhow).

Waiting three + hours in the sun could have proven fatal for a paleface like me while I was also with a slightly less older company, so staying there wasn’t an option. For the curious ones: I was standing at the Tevere/Curva Sud entrance, next to the water. I used tram 2 at Piazza del Popolo and got off at stop Mancini.

Seeing the Olimpico in real life was good enough for me… for now. Even though I didn’t throw a coin in the Trevi fountain, I’m bound to return to Rome, preferably in the near future. And then my mission is to come as close to the holy grass of Olimpico as possible. Arrivederci Roma!

Born in the USA

Since my arrival back in Belgium, I rarely had any time to take a closer look to all the news and titbits of what happened in Romaland when I was gone. Seems like I missed a friendly, the transfer of Copy/Paste, Greco and Simplicio leaving and a Destro drama among other things. I’ll try to more up to date next week. Bradley is a solid addition though and apparently Tachtsidis has already impressed during the Lubin friendly, just like Lamela during training. With Destro and Piris in the bag, a proven CB and fullback who can play both sides (hello Santon) is all we need right now.

The team’s currently in the US as a part of their preseason, they’ll face Liverpool soon. Under Zeman, Roma has won all its friendlies and you know what that means right? Roma will get relegated in 2013… For those who don’t understand: under Spalletti it was normal to have a bad (not to say horrible) preseason before opening all cylinders and coming close to the Scudetto the very same year. Losses to Juve, Hamburg, West Ham and Valencia spring to my mind.

In all seriousness, I like how Zeman is shaping up this Roma. The opposition may be a little light up until now but we’re only getting started. The team is showing progression and the more they’ll play together, the more things will gel and Zeman can adjust.

Can’t buy me love

All in all, I’m glad to be back in my hometown but boy, Rome was (is!) a gem. I’d say five days is perfect to visit/discover/breathe the city and its hidden treasures. Specially the food and women but we all knew that right?

I highly recommend it to anyone although you need to be financially prepared. It’s a rather costly city at times (five Euro for a small pint etc). However, you can find cheaper places if you wander around the streets and different piazze.

Ow yes, I also bought a Roma cap and shirt in an official AS Roma Store near the Piazza Monte Citorio and Via del Corso. Who says money can’t buy you love? Ciao!

Ps: At first, I thought homemade chocolate cake from my mother was the most beautiful thing in the world. After July 18, I know better: Italian chicks dressed in a full AS Roma outfit drinking Bacardi.

“I know smoking is banned in American stadiums, but I’ll have to find some way around that.” – Zdenek Zeman, 2012

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