Before arriving in Florence, I crafted a bucket list of things that I absolutely had to do during my time studying abroad. While this list is quite lengthy, one of my most valued items was going to a football game. And I’m not talking about touchdowns and the Super Bowl and Travis Kelce. I mean the original game of football—what we Americans call “soccer.” I’ve never been a huge sports fan, but growing up playing soccer gave me a love and appreciation for the sport. Even though I left my cleats and shin guards in the past, the entertainment that I get from watching soccer has remained. 

One of my best friends from home – a soccer player himself and the most enthusiastic fan I have ever met – emphasized how important it was for me to attend a real Italian soccer game during my time abroad. Hearing him explain how energetic and hyped-up these games get only made me more determined to witness it for myself. 

Luckily, some of my friends here in Florence share this same bucket-list item. Junior Sam Ponessa, who plays goalkeeper for Fairfield Men’s Club Soccer, says that he has “been a huge soccer fan for so long and couldn’t wait to watch a game in Italy.” In celebration of Sam’s birthday on Feb. 11, we got tickets to see Fiorentina play. Joined by another friend, Vinny DiNapoli ‘25, we hailed a taxi and were on our way to Artemio Franchi Stadium!

Due to the limited wardrobe I packed to study abroad, I did not have any festive Fiorentina purple to wear to the game. Unlike me, Sam and Vinny came prepared, donning their purple Fiorentina jerseys and scarves and looking like true fans. Right when we got to the game, the boys fit in with the crowd perfectly. 

Immediately upon entering, we were greeted by a sea of purple as spectators waved huge team flags and were dressed in their best Fiorentina gear. Even just from walking through the crowd, I could feel the energy and passion that the Italian fans emanated. 

We grabbed some hot dogs, found our seats and the crowd went wild as the players came out. 

Even right from the start, there was not a quiet second throughout the entire game. Fans were singing and chanting in Italian while screaming and waving their flags in the air. Although I had no idea what any of the chants meant, the energy was palpable and infectious. My friends and I were hollering alongside the Italian fans and cheering on Fiorentina. 

I will never forget the moment that Fiorentina scored the first goal of the game. Seated on the goal side, my friends and I had a perfect view of the ball hitting the back of the net and the crowd immediately exploded. In a blur of purple, fans rushed from their seats and ran towards the field, climbing and banging their hands against the tall plexiglass barricades (which I quickly learned are there for a good reason). The players rushed behind the goal to their fans at the barricade, jumping and screaming in celebration.

My friends and I were in awe. I had heard about how passionate these games were but had no idea what I was in for until this moment. It was without a doubt one of the coolest moments I have experienced while being abroad thus far. The support and energy from all of the fans in the crowd showed how deeply soccer is a part of Italian culture. As the most popular sport in the country, soccer represents tradition, unity and pride for the Italian people. This sport is more than just a game for them, it is a lifestyle, and the spirit within the stadium was undeniable of this. 

Throughout the game, my friends and I cheered, chatted, laughed and sang (to the best of our ability) along with the rest of the fans. We watched Fiorentina score five goals, ending the game in a Fiorentina win with a score of 5-1. 

On the walk home, my friends and I could not shut up about how much fun we had. In addition to the “great hot dogs,” DiNapoli commented that “the fans were so passionate; it was an absolutely great experience and I would definitely go again.” We were all in agreement, and already have plans to attend another game on Feb. 26th! 

I am already counting down the days until the next game, but until then you can catch me buying some Fiorentina gear and memorizing all of the chants! 

About The Author

-- Junior I Assistant Vine I English Creative Writing --

Jacqui is an English: Creative Writing major in Fairfield University's class of 2025

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