There was a time back in Italy when summer was a real vacation time and not just the impossible wish it is today, now that I am living in the United States.
Summer used to start right after the end of school on June 15th. Then, for us students, there were at least three months of undisturbed leisure and pleasure, mainly by the sea. Long days of vacations, millions of ice creams, eternal sunbathing, friends and parties around the beach bonfires. A long, long time that lasted even longer in Sicily where schools used to start at the end of September due to the very hot weather.
Now, that I live in the US, summer is just a season suggested by shop owners. Summers are chilly in Berkeley and days of vacation for those who work can be counted on the fingers of one hand. How sad that my kids will never experience “la lunga estate italiana,” the long Italian summer: everything used to close early or even stay closed for days due to the holidays and life almost stopped to let us fully enjoy it.
A few days ago, inside the International House Front Desk, the space that I “safeguard” daily from 10.30 am to 7 pm, I was pondering this kind of thoughts when I suddenly heard a noise from my past.
Goaaaaallllll! It was coming from the television in the Great Hall, right behind my fishbowl office. Oh yes, this is a Soccer World Cup year, and here was my bridge to the far away Italian summers.
Now, being Italian and not liking soccer it’s almost a contradiction, but here I am. As snobbish as it may sound, I’m not interested and I’d rather read a book. However there is a “curse” few Italians can escape: the love for gatherings and social meetings of any kind.
So, no, I am not a soccer fan, but the World Cup is peculiar and has always been. It’s a social event, it’s a festa and this year at International House there is no difference. Students have been gathering in the Great Hall (or in the secret quarters of the Gamble Lounge) every day to watch the games. They root for their countries often sitting aside the “enemies” and enjoying the game together. Languages mix again because to cheer your team in English would simply be “unnatural.” Some people even bring flags and paint their cheeks with their country’s colors.
Back in Italy, during those special summers, the country used to stop when the Azzurri (the blues, from our national team color) were playing. You could follow the game just walking in the street as from every window (open because of the hot weather) there was only live broadcast of the game coming out. The entire nation was holding its breath for 90 minutes.
At I-House the atmosphere is more joyful, less intense. But, stay tuned as we are now in the best games of the Championship. Now that the game is getting tough, the tough supporters come to the Great Hall to party. And frankly, from my fishbowl corner, I can’t wait to see some more festa!