The old joke goes that the Scot loves two teams, Scotland and whoever plays England. But I’d add to that Euro the best Italia.
The European Championships kick off tonight in Rome with Italy and Turkey facing off.
And whereas my world used to be small now I can count friends from all over the globe (including a wife from England)!
Mussolini’s boy scout
The delayed Euros will be spread across Europe but today the Olimpico Stadio in Rome holds centre stage.
As it did for the octogenarian Italian whom I met at breakfast in my hotel at Trastevere with his American wife.
Over pastries and espresso Lorenzo shared his memories of parading with his boy scout group in front of Il Duce, Benito Mussolini.
I had mentioned that I had passed the Stadio Olimpico on my march into Rome.
I’d actually intended to enter Rome via one of the Seven Hills, where I’d been told that I would get the best view of La Citta Eterna.
Mussolini had better smarts so didn’t need a guide pack for his March on Rome!
Il Duce loved his calcio and oversaw (interfered with) the victory of the Azzurri at the 1934 and 1938 World Cups.
And calcio still runs through the family with Romano Mussolini Jnr signing recently for Lazio.
The Mussolinis have, you’d be unsurprised to hear, an interesting history.
Benito’s youngest son Romano, a pianist, is Junior’s grandson.
And Junior’s Momma wouldn’t be your traditional image of Italian matriarchy.
Alessandra is a former actress (Sophia Loren’s niece you see), Playboy cover girl and politician.
La Donna Alessandra’s party? Forza Italia.
Which is the clarion call of the Tifosi who follow the Azzurri.
Of course, patriotic expressions, symbols, games and flags have since the days of the Caesars been the playthings of dictators.
So whether you’re Italiano or an Italianophile then rasp your Forza Italia with pride.
And a small aside here. I love Turkey too and will be rooting for them as well.
So that’s us off and running and I’ll be marking my connections with other countries too.
That way I figure I can’t lose.
Euro the best Italia
And the rest!