Went to Rome Easter 2018 with Sean. We’d visited 12 years earlier when he was only 8 so while I remembered all the sights he couldn’t. We had a great 2 days exploring, walked 26,000 steps each day.
Sunday was the big day though. Napoli v Chievo. Naples: city with crazy fans, Maradona and Vesuvius in the distance. Volatile all three of them. See Naples and die, eh.
We caught the high speed train from Roma and arrived at Piazza Garibaldi. Just over an hour to cover 180 km. Could see snow covered peaks inland on the journey but in Naples it was scorching, 27 degrees and we started walking. Corso Umberto was amazing, an assault to the senses. The noise, the heat, the smells – looking down wee side streets was tempting, tiny restaurants with Neapolitan pizzas and seafood dishes. But we were on a mission: find the Sao Paulo stadium and get tickets. A tall order as we were about to find out.
I had my Argentina top on which attracted many comments. Hey Marayona! Taxis tooting and waving. One guy came up, points at me- Aryentina? Naw, Scozia! His face fell.
Maradona is still a legend here. They would have named the stadium after him but hes no deid yet. Under Italian law, you need to be deid for at least 20 years before you can have a stadium named after you. True story, possibly.
We got to the stadium eventually after getting a bit lost. Everyone was saying no tickets. 30 minutes to kick off, no luck. Huge roars from the stadium made us more desperate to get in. Eventually we were directed to a ticket tout outside a wee shop.
A ticket tout in Naples. And we speak no Italian. What could possibly go wrong?
Passaporto and euros he was saying. Ok, we handed him our passports, he passed them to an old guy who jumped on a moped and fucked off. Sean reacted but I said it’s fine, no problem although I was worried we were being stung. It didn’t help that two young guys came and started arguing with the tout.
A very long ten minutes later, old guy on moped returns with two tickets with our names printed on them. Slick operation. We paid way over the odds but what the fuck eh.
Into the stadium, a massive crumbling bowl of noise and light blue flags and banners and general madness. We were in the enclosure behind the goal but dozens of fans were being helped up into the tier above. They stood on each others shoulders as the fans above grabbed them and hauled them up. It was crazy. A guy was leaning backwards at the front of the top tier, orchestrating the fans singing. His mate was holding his belt to stop him plunging 20m to his death. Fuckin crazy !
Game starts, typical cautious Italian football. The crowd roar Napoli on but no goals. Still no goals. 15 minutes to go the unthinkable happens. Chievo score a stunning strike at our end of the stadium. I actually hear the ball hit the roof of the net such is the silence. The tiny band of Chievo fans go mental, partially hidden under heavy duty netting to protect them from missiles flung from above.
Napoli come to life but miss chance after chance. The crowd turn on them, deafening whistles and jeers. In the 90th minute a header loops in to the net, the place erupts. And erupts. Unlike say a Rangers goal where the fans cheer then sit back down, here they remain standing and roar Napoli on. 4 minutes injury time and the crowd roar intensifies. You can feel it coming. Corner not cleared, Napoli centre half traps it and curls it into the far corner. Well the place went mental, fuckin mental. Fans running up n down the aisles. I was waiting on someone falling from the top tier!
We never heard the final whistle but the Napoli players came over to celebrate. 5 minutes after full time they’re still doing a lap of honour and no-ones leaving. I shout in Sean’s ear and motion we should go. Its incredible,we are both buzzing to have been part of that.
Back near the train station we get a seafood pizza and a beer, sit outside. Its lovely and warm, the suns going down.The city is vibrant though edgy, so we’re getting the Rome train before dark. Seems wise but…I want to return one day.