Monday, 6 January 2014

Match 4: Parma

Living in Genoa can be a bit of a pain in the posterior for getting to cities that aren’t Milan, Turin, Pisa or Rome.  Sadly, Parma falls into the category of being ‘not one of those cities’, so it took me a while to get there. You may have noticed above that the distance between Genova and Parma is a not inconsiderable 470 kilometres, but that’s as the train trundles, not as the crow flies (this is a paltry 118 kilometres). My enthusiasm for getting back on the road quickly fell out of the window and tumbled along the side of the track like a discarded cigarette, as despite this marking only the 20% point of teams visited, my desire to spend time and money on Trenitalia’s ‘services’ was already almost exhausted.  Still, I could be spending my time and money on more trivial matters. What’s that you say, a book about Italian football isn’t going to add to the cultural canon of our times? 

Oh. Well, yes, you’re probably right. Keep it to yourself though.

But anyway, following the tension of Bologna, I was quite happy to go to Parma, as the fans there have a reputation of being less intense in their supporting than most other teams, so the visit of Milan would hopefully offer the chance to watch a good game without any concerns over my personal safety. 

If you’re nodding your head at the mention of Parma, there’s a chance you’ve heard of it because of its reputation for food, and not so much for its football (although I’ll get to that soon enough). It is of course where some of the finest prosciutto and parmesan cheese comes from, and the locals are referred to as ‘parmigiani' (parmesan is parmigiano in Italian), but don’t worry, I won’t be making any hammy jokes about the cheese.

Much like the rest of Italy, the city of Parma has had more owners down through the years than a £5 note. It, like Bologna from last time, is in Emilia-Romagna, so while the local political sentiment is nominally left-leaning, I saw a lot of well-heeled folk out and about in their early-Saturday evening best. I may be gravely wrong-headed in my thinking, but I always associate lefties as being a bit frugal and drab when it comes to their clothing. Not that those who lean more to the right are paragons of style, mind. This may be based on my experience of university lecturers who are of course all raging socialists by default, though that isn’t necessarily such a bad thing in my eyes. But anyway, I had thought about having a nice wee aperitivo in a piazza, but felt like a bit of a scruff. Instead, I strolled round the very picturesque centre of town, which is full of cultural stuff to do if that’s your bag. In terms of local famous faces, the most notable is Giuseppe Verdi for all you classical music buffs.

Annoyingly, some teams put tickets on sale online for the cheaper seats, while others don’t. Parma don’t, so in the days running up to the match I was faced with the no-brainer of either spending €120 for a ticket in the nicer stands and rolling up on the day, or going to Parma on the Saturday, buying a cheap ticket and staying in a hotel. The latter was the only real choice on a matter of principle and also finance. There’s no way in hell that I’m going to spend more than a hundred euros on a ticket for a team I don’t support. Scratch that in fact: there’s no way I’m going to spend more than a hundred euros on any team. Football’s great, but there is a line that I will not cross, a line which is demarcated with images of me being kicked out of my flat for non-payment of rent. 

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