Soccer Sunday in Siena

18 05 2010

This was the day on my trip to Italy that I truly looked forward to: a viewing of the David statue in Florence.

Well, not really! The David was impressive, but this was about the Serie A soccer match between Siena and Palermo, hello! I had made up my mind that I couldn’t leave Italy without seeing a big-league soccer match. On May 2, after we saw the David, we blew off a tour of Florence’s Uffizi gallery and headed off in a downpour to the bus station to catch a bus to Siena for the game.

Inter Milan, AC Milan, even Roma or Juventus this was not. Siena was facing relegation to the second division (it happened eventually) and Palermo was contending for a spot in the Europa League tournament next season (it earned that).

The bus stopped mere steps away from the stadium. The ticket-buying experience was nuts. You go down into what looks like a subway station, and there’s a ticket window. No one was waiting in line, so you have to kind of force yourself to the front. The process for this American took a good 25 minutes, and the game had started by the time I got mine.

To buy a ticket, you must show your passport or some kind of Italian ID card. Then they ask you what team you’re rooting for so they can seat you with the right fans. I said it didn’t matter- they put us with Palermo fans who weren’t the rowdy type. Stadio Artemio Franchi, which holds about 15,000 and is situated among medieval-era buildings, was half filled with Siena fans, and half pink-clad Palermo backers. The Palermo crowd was by far more vocal. They were CRAZY. Here they are celebrating a goal.

Siena’s hardcore supporters (there were but a handful) are called the “Robur.” Not a factor. The quality of play was pretty good, but Siena was like a middle-of-the-road MLS team while Palermo was a quality European side.

You can’t get into the stadium unless your ticket, which has your name on it, gets the green light at a scanner, so you have to go to the right entry gate. That delayed us more, and once we got there, there was no cover from the rain, no concession stands, no souvenir stands and no way to move to another section of the stadium without getting past security. There was a wall with barbed wire separating fans from the pitch, too.

No matter. It was Serie A. Palermo won 2-1. It poured like winter rain in Seattle, maybe worse, but we had made it, seen a match, absorbed the atmosphere, and represented. I had to wear a jersey, so I wore a Seattle Sounders rave green.

The other strange thing was hearing a tone from the scoreboard, and techno music in the stadium bouncing off some 400-year-old buildings. Ooka-ooka-ooka (bass).

When the game was over we were outta there quickly and on the soonest bus we could get to ride back to Florence. The conditions weren’t ideal and the teams weren’t the very best, but I can say that I saw Serie A football live in person for 25 euros.




2 responses

18 05 2010
The Wife

What an experience! It was worth it… rain and all! XOXO

21 05 2010
A Timbers Supporter

Well done. My wife and I are taking this exact same trip in September. I’m hoping to catch a Fiorentina match while we’re there.

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