by Melinda Gallo

A chat with Felipe

Life is full of wonderful surprises. One thing I love about living in Florence is that I see people I know and we stop to chat. There is a shop that sells all the Fiorentina paraphenalia in via del Corso where I go once in a while. Over the past few years, I’ve bought gifts for others and myself. In that time, I’ve come to know the two guys who run the shop, Simone and Claudio. We talk about the partite (games) and the calciatori (soccer players) when we meet up. Today while I was talking to Claudio, Simone ran in and said, “Felipe sta arrivando. Prepara una maglia da firmare. (Felipe is coming. Get a jersey ready for him to sign.)”

Claudio quickly went downstairs and I ran to the door of the negozio (shop) with Simone who said, “Guarda c’é Felipe! Look there’s Felipe!” I saw a tall young man standing behind a passeggino (stroller) dressed in sweats and a t-shirt on via Calzaiuoli. While we were talking outside Felipe started walking toward us. Simone left me to go downstairs to talk to Claudio, so I was left in the negozio alone. When Felipe arrived, I put out my hand, “Ciao! Benvenuto alla nostra squadra! (Hi! Welcome to our team!)” He smiled, shook my hand, and said, “Grazie!

I started talking to him about how well he has integrated into the squadra (team) and that he’s such a great addition. He said that he enjoys the team and that he was so happy to have seen so many people come out for a partita amichevole (friendly match). The first one the Fiorentina had at the stadio (stadium) a few weeks ago drew almost 10,000 tifosi (fans). “Quando sono uscito e ho guardato a destra, ero molto sorpreso di vedere tutti questi tifosi. Mi sono emozionato. When I walked out and looked right, I was so surprised to see all those fans. I was thrilled,” he said.

I asked him what it’s like in front of the Curva Fiesole, which is the area where the tifosi stand up and sing throughout the entire partita. He said that it is impressive. I asked him if the tifosi at other stadi (stadiums) in Italy were like that, and he said that they weren’t. I’ve never been to another stadio in Italy, so I don’t know what the other tifosi are like.

I wanted to ask him more about Florence and how he likes it here since he’s originally from Brazil. I already knew that he had lived in other parts of Italy for many years, so I wondered what he thought of Florence. Simone popped back upstairs right before I could ask my questions, and started talking to Felipe about a few other calciatori in our squadra. I was hoping to have an opportunity to lead the conversation in another direction, but didn’t get a chance.

Claudio came back up with a maglia, “Sedici, vero? Sixteen, right?” Claudio asked me and Simone earlier which number Felipe was, but I couldn’t remember. I can recognize the players by the way they move on the campo (field), so I rarely look at their numbers. “ Yes,” Felipe said. They handed him a pen and he signed his name on the new maglia.

Togliamo quell’altra maglia di Melo e mettiamo la tua We’re going to take off Melo’s shirt and put yours up,” Claudio said. He seemed pleased to know that his shirt was going to be place in the middle of the wall.

Before he left, he shook our hands and I said, “In bocca al lupo! (Good luck!)” He smiled and walked back toward via Calzaiuoli. I was happy to have chatted with him a little bit, but I had so many questions I wanted to ask him. As I was leaving the store I realized that I completely forgot to ask him for an autografo (autograph). Hopefully I’ll bump into him again and I’ll ask him then. In Florence, you truly never know who you’ll see.

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