6 Nations, Italy v England

Rugby match at Stadio Olimpico

Tikets have been booked and plans to travel to Rome for the weekend have been made! Bag packed, funky hat included and off we go!
It’s so easy and economical to travel to Rome from Cortona by train from our local train station in Terontola-Cortona, with fast intercity trains travelling every two hours and also the ‘FrecciaRossa’ being an option and also having a large car park that for now is free!
Friday: As we wait in the sunshine, having a cappuccino, for the train, we see the first England supporters with their hats and we have a few words about their thoughts for the game and also what their plans are to see while in Rome….many suggestions were made with the usual highlights being mentioned, Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps and Trevi fountain, but also less visited places like the Orange Garden…..the train arrived early and off we went!
Within 2 hours, we were in central Rome, the weather was unseasonably warm and we realised that the thermal clothing may have been a mistake! A quick hop on the metro, 1.50€ for 100 minutes, accommodation reached and then it was out for a walk around Testaccio and Travestere in the glorious late afternoon sun.
Travestere is a picturesque neighbourhood of Rome with its name originating from the Latin, tiberium, which means ‘beyond the Tiber’ with narrow alleyways and medieval houses, it offers something for everyone, from culture to historic buildings (one having been built by Julius Caesar), churches (Basilica of Santa Cecilia, to beautiful squares, Piazzi Santa Mariato the many cafes, bars and restaurant. It really gives one a sense of authenticity in what can be a bustling and touristic city. 
Friends were met and a few aperitivo’s were enjoyed followed by a fantastic dinner in one of the many restaurants and as we were in Rome, a pasta was had with a ‘cacio e pepe’ sauce. Thoughts drift to the game tomorrow with plans being made to meet at a metro station and then walk the final metres to the Stadio Olimpico.
Saturday/Game Day
Kick off is at 15.15 so that gave us the morning to enjoy the city of Rome and take in a few sights and of course shops… we had into the heart of the city making a beeline to the Trevi fountain, Spanish Steps and some trendy shops!
Rome is always slightly chaotic and with the rugby game bringing in many tourists, it was definitely bustling and the atmosphere was electric. As we came close to game time, the Italian fans were in full voice and were not outdone by the English, enjoying pre-match banter with a few beers under the warm winter sun!
So, we started to flock to the stadium, unfortunately the metro does not take you all the way, but buses and trams can be used to get you closer but due to the lovely weather, a stroll did not seem like a hardship.
We reached the ground and immediately felt the electricity in the air, queues to enter and security checks were very quick and then we were in!
With the popularity of ‘Gli Azzurri’ increasing ever year, pre match entertainment has improved vastly, with games, bars and food stalls. It certainly gets people in the mood for the game! Seats were located and we waited for the game!
It was glorious conditions and the anthems were sung at full voice….then it was the rugby!
Italy were firing after the whistle and with England making some early mistakes, gave the incentive to Gli Azzurri….First points ITALY!! 3-0 then came a stunning try through a gap in the English defence for the scrum half, Garbisi… 10-0. The stadium knew we were in for a good game!
England came back with a try…10-7 but that was answered quickly by the Italians and the score was 17-7.
Half time was looming and penalties were converted making the score before the break 17-14 to the Italians!
Italian supporters were apprehensive about the second half as prior history shows a lack of discipline and fatigue….but this was not the case! Even though England had control of the game with scores being made, Italy kept making good decisions and kept their heads! Penalties were missed by Italy, made by England and in the closing minutes of the game, Italy finished on a high, creating another superb try and closing the score.
Final score…..England 27 Italy 24 with many proud Italians!
Sunday: Again we awoke to glorious sunshine and we took the tip from the people we had met at the station, to go to the Orange Garden before heading back to Termini and catching the train home!
The Orange Garden (“Il Giardino degli Aranci”) is one of the beautiful and probably the most romantic parks in Rome. Located on the Aventine Hill, this public garden with of course it’s orange trees offers a beautiful view over Rome and St. Peter’s
Then it was with sadness we said our goodbyes to friends, took one last look at the ‘eternal city’ and then it was back to Termini, Terontola and home!
Bianca Clark, 10/02/2024 16:04:29

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