At 4am this morning, Alessandro and I were driving along the deserted lungarno (street alongside the Arno river) to meet up with our friend Filippo and another couple. I wasn't fully awake, but extremely excited to go on my first trasferta (away game) to watch the Fiorentina play against Liverpool in the Champions League. After Fiorentina won the home game against Liverpool, we couldn't wait for today's partita (soccer match).
We arrived at the Bologna airport an hour later and were met by other tifosi (fans) who couldn't be missed: they were wearing sciarpe (scarves), capelli (hats), and other Fiorentina paraphernalia. Our entire plane, along with six others that followed ours, was filled with tifosi on their way to Liverpool. I knew that there were a lot of us going to the partita, but I didn't calculate how many airplanes we'd need.
After arriving in Liverpool, we were escorted to a double-decker bus that took us toward the docks. We were allowed free time to tour the city for about 7 hours. We walked past the Hilton hotel where the calciatori (soccer players) were staying. We saw a few of them in a room and when we called out to them, they waved at us.
We had no luggage with us, but each one of us did bring at least one zaino (backpack) because we knew that we'd be going shopping. We went to the Liverpool soccer team store and found many other Fiorentina tifosi there. I bought some cookies at Marks and Spencer along with a book from a large libreria (bookstore).
We had lunch in a pub that we found on a side street. I had been looking forward to eating fish and chips, but ended up ordering barbecue ribs when I saw them listed on the menu. Everyone enjoyed their meals especially the garlic bread and onion rings. Unfortunately we didn't have room for dessert. I saw a few things that looked interesting.
We walked around some more after lunch and did want to check out a couple of museums, but we were just too tired to appreciate visiting one. It's unfortunate because I would've liked to see the Tate and the Beatles museum.
Before going back to the bus to go to the stadio (stadium), we went to Starbucks where I enjoyed an egg nog latte. When we did arrive on the bus, the level of excitement was very high. Many of the tifosi were already singing. I'm sure most of them had been to the pub for a few drinks, but they weren't drunk, just cheery.
Instead of entering the stadio immediately, we walked around to see both of the buses arrive before the game. Because we had numbered seats, we assumed that we would be able to sit in our assigned seats. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. By the time we arrived, our seats were already taken. Fortunately when I went to where our seats were supposed to be, I found five seats for us in a row even closer to the campo (field). We ended up in the third row near the calcio d'angolo (corner shot area).
When I looked around the stadio, I noticed that the English tifosi hadn't yet arrived even though our entire area was already full. We watched the calciatori warm up in front of us while we too tried to keep warm. In the ten minutes before the partita started, the entire stadio filled up. It was quite impressive to watch.
Even before the game started, all the tifosi in our area were standing and cheering. I don't know who led us, but we all sang along. Before the game started, we sang two Liverpool songs and chanted one extra one, "Amo Liverpool (I love Liverpool)." I was happy that the Fiorentina tifosi have such great respect and appreciation for the Liverpool squadra (team).
When Liverpool scored their first goal, everyone in the entire stadium except us jumped to their feet. I could feel the disappointment hang in the air, but within a few seconds we began cheering our squadra. When the primo tempo (first half) ended, we were losing. We sat down during the intervallo (break) and stood up immediately when the squadre came back out onto the campo.
When the Fiorentina scored their first goal, our entire section jumped up and screamed for joy. We all hugged each other and were happy to have our team right under us as they too celebrated. In the final minute of the partita, Gilardino scored the second and most important goal, which allowed our team to be first in our Champions League group. When the ball entered the goal, all the tifosi jumped and cheered together. We were catapulted toward the front by all the excitement.
The most joyous moment of the partita was when the arbitro (referee) blew his whistle to signal the end of the partita. We hugged each other and anyone who was near us. I was over the moon, but almost couldn't believe that we won twice against Liverpool.
Before leaving the campo our giocatori ran in a line, as shown in the picture, and slid toward the goal in front of us. A few of them threw their shirts toward the stands, but because the first three rows weren't occupied and the stewards kept them far from us, only people in the first row could even get to them.
For my first trasferta, it was both exciting and exhausting. We didn't arrive back to Florence until 6am. We plan on going on at least one more trasferta next year to follow our team in the Champions League. Even though I was in another country, I felt as if I hadn't even left Florence because there were so many fiorentini (Florentines) all around me all day long. It was as if I had taken Florence with me to Liverpool.
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