by Melinda Gallo

A full day at the stadio

After yesterday's chilly weather, I was thrilled this morning when I saw the clear blue sky from our apartment windows. One of Alessandro's friends, Gianluca, had asked me if I wanted to go to the stadio (stadium) to watch the Fiorentina play for free if I would volunteer for the Fondazione Tomasello (Tomasello Foundation) to distribute uova di Pasqua (Easter eggs). The money received will be spent on research for genetic diseases for the young boy after whom the fondazione is named as well as other children who are afflicted with Mitochondrial diseases.

Living in Florence :: A full day at the stadio

A little before 10am, I hopped on my bicicletta (bicycle) to Alessandro's friend's house so that we could walk over to the stadio together. We arrived outside the stadio at 11 am to sign forms, receive our badges, and be put into groups. There were about 40 of us in all, and not everyone knew each other. I was assigned to the same area as Gianluca, which was planned out beforehand so that I wouldn't be volunteering all by myself.

We carried cardboard boxes of 25 uova di Pasqua from one section to our section, the maratona. The stadio was completely empty and looked so tiny without people sitting in the seats. There were teams of people working at the stadio to prepare for the partita di calcio (soccer match) like the security guys who checked all the seats with a wooden baton and the people tending the campo (field).

I had wanted to be in Curva Fiesole, which is shown in the picture, because it is the heart of the stadio where some of the biggest tifosi (fans) watch the partita. I even have friends who came to the partita, but were in that section. Because Gianluca has an abbonamento (season ticket) for the maratona, he wanted to be in that section instead.

By around noon, we had finished setting up our area and had made a plan to create two groups to sell the uova di Pasqua at the inside of the entrances. Because the sun was shining brightly, we took off our giubotti (jackets) and chatted among ourselves while eating snacks before beginning.

At 1pm, people started entering the stadio. At first a few trickled in and then large crowds formed on the other side of the barrier. Some of the people I worked with, like Gianluca, were more aggressive in their approach while I stood back, smiled, and said, "Fondazione Tomasello" while holding up about three or four uova di Pasqua. Some people walked by and avoided eye contact with us. I wished them all a buona giornata (nice day) regardless even though a few of my colleghi (colleagues) weren't happy about being ignored. One of my colleghi said to me, "Te sorridi sempre. (You always smile.)" We didn't have much time to talk, but I told him just that I was happy to be volunteering at the stadio.

I enjoyed watching the people enter the stadio and had a lot of fun talking to so many people. Almost everyone I spoke to was friendly. I was surprised that so many people bought uova di Pasqua from us because they'd have to hold onto them during the partita. One man asked me what was inside the uova di Pasqua, and I said, "Tre punti. Three points." The man laughed and ended up purchasing one from me. He came back at the end of the partita to tell me that two must have fallen out.

It was the first time that I was able to greet so many people as they entered the stadio. Many of them had on team magliette (t-shirts), sciarpe (scarves), and even bandiere (flags). I was impressed with the tifosi who came with viola (purple, which is the team color) nail polish, borse (handbags), and portafogli (wallets). One blonde woman had a ciuffo (tuft) of viola hair.

I was surprised how many people purchased uova di Pasqua for 5 Euros each without asking about the fondazione. It seemed as if people just wanted to donate money to the causes that the Fiorentina had chosen for the day at the stadio.

Most people's spirits were very high: a home game, sunny weather, and hope for a win. At 3pm, Gianluca, a few of his friends, and I rushed up to the maratona to watch the game together. We sat down right in front of the walkway because it was too late to walk up the stairs. Our seats ended up being quite good because no one walks around during the partita.

I enjoyed the game even though it was quite stressful at times. When Mutu scored the winning goal, I jumped up with all the guys around me and cheered loudly. I missed watching the game on TV because I wasn't able to see the replay of the goal. The man next to me missed it and asked me, "Chi ha marcato? (Who scored?)".

As soon as the game ended, we had to go back out to where we were to sell some more uova di Pasqua. Some people gave us money before the partita and wanted to pick them up afterwards. We thought it'd be easier to sell after the partita, but it wasn't because people were in a hurry to leave the stadio.

After boxing up the remaining uova di Pasqua and meeting up again, we found out that our group ended up selling the most uova di Pasqua. I didn't get back home until about 6:30pm and was exhausted from being on my feet for so much of the day, talking to so many people, and riding my bicicletta to the stadio and back. I also didn't have any lunch and ate only a yogurt and a mela (apple).

It was a full day for me, but if they asked me to volunteer again, I'd jump at the opportunity. I, of course, enjoyed watching the partita, but I really loved meeting new people, helping out an important cause, and talking to so many estranei (strangers) who were all friendly with me.

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