Journal—Notes From Abroad
By Hannah Cohen ’09
Since September, living in Florence has been more of a self-discovery
project than study abroad. And so, I am prepared to make
a personal confession that I never foresaw: I, Hannah Cohen,
am addicted to the Fiorentina, the professional soccer team
here in Firenze.
Monday through Thursday, my academic schedule requires me
to drag myself out of the house to be at the sede by
9:15 a.m. But come Friday morning, I rush to the bus before
9 a.m. You see, the Fiorentina plays Thursday nights, and
I have to get the free newspapers in the morning, before
they disappear, to see how they did.
Then I walk to the sede to
have a long discourse with our assistant director about
the previous night’s
game. My daily routine includes checking email, the weather,
the exchange rate—and the official Fiorentina Web site.
I have never before been a sports team fanatic, even when
the Boston Red Sox were advancing in the playoffs. In the
beginning, I went to a game because I felt I should. But
from the first game, I started supporting the Viola, as the
team is also known. The Fiorentina spirit slowly engulfed
One day, when the Fiorentina
coach’s wife died, I
jogged near the stadium and watched as fans continued to
place flowers and notes of condolence next to the entrance.
I admire [Cesare] Prandelli as a coach, as well as the attitude
of the players. I and many other soccer critics see the Fiorentina
is the highest upholder of fair play in their league in Italia.
Recently, an opponent in the European league was shocked
at the good rapport the Fiorentina expressed at the end of
The Fiorentina recently played a crucial playoff game for
the UEFA Cup. Once the game started on TV, I could not remove
my eyes or shed the nervous butterflies in my stomach in
order to continue eating the prosciutto or insalata that
my signora had made.
The Fiorentina won with two incredible goals! You can imagine
the ecstasy the entire city was feeling the next morning
and the team was greeted by their fans, many of whom most
likely skipped work to await their arrival at the airport.
Sundays are game days. On those days, I start at 11 a.m.
with a long run around the stadium, where I observe all the
vendors setting up their Viola merchandise and the food stands
preparing hot dogs and panini. There are not many
things I expect to be on time, like the buses in Florence
and trains in general. However, soccer games always start
promptly and the fans arrive more than two hours early.
On games days, after my run and breakfast, I walk to the
stadium. At 2 p.m., I am in line to enter. Official attire
includes my Viola scarf and garnet earrings that I wear for
good luck. They are, coincidently, purple, the team color.
At lo Stadio ArtemIo Franchi, there are a few guidelines
for soccer. Yelling and singing are required. Purple only,
preferably in the form of a scarf. Arrive at least one hour
ahead of the game, two if you are sitting in the curva.
No leaving before the game is finished. They whistle instead
of boo and any swear word/phrase is allowed within the stadium
walls. All of this makes us sound like hooligans, but it
is really just positive energy and supporting the team.
Before coming to Florence,
I referred to soccer as “sucker” when
my brothers talked about their games. I, after all, was a
Life has changed.
I fell head over heals and became a devoted soccer fan,
a tifosa. For some games, I am the only Smithie
in the parterre maratona section. These soccer games
are the only thing that make me feel part of Italian society—the
energy, passion and dedication that Italians share, so now
Now, I am somewhat of an official tifosa. I have
memorized the Inno della Curva Fiesole and all the
players’ last names and their positions, and I can
tell from afar who is who. I have yet to memorize first names
and all their numbers, and I am still learning all the chants.
And though I’ll
be going through Viola withdrawal, I have all of next year
back at Smith to continue my study of the team.