World cup time. Being there on the night the moon turned red

This just in from the Wiley Traveler “our man” on the ground in Italy for complete World Cup reporting. It is like being there in person on the fun historic night. When the game started at 9:30 or so it was still more or less totally light out. Just like it was when the partying slowed and almost stopped when the sun came up over Umbria this morning! Yes, the photo below shows even the poor shlubs in Maine get the news.

la dolce vita and Wiley was there and got to share. Here’s her report:

Celebrating the World Cup in a small town in Italy, some well honed slightly controlled chaos We have a video link, JUST CLICK ON IT AND LET IT HAVE A MINUTE OR SO TO DOWNLOAD.

Or, worst case, last resort, you can see it by selecting and pasting this link into your web address line should get you the movie:


I can’t believe Italy won, they won— and I just happened to be in Italy to see it— lo shock!
Heading down to the barretto to watch the game, aruging with my friend about who is going to hold the camera, it is big and slightly obtrusive and my argument is — she should hold it cause she’s from Panicale. Her argument is — I should hold it cause I’m not. But once down at the barretto the camera sharing begins as it is just after half time and the crowd is alternating between silence, boos, foosball, drink orders and raucous cheering. You can not hear much and can hardly see the TV so the crowds general vibe is the only way to glean what’s happening- AND THEN THEY WON- 5-3 in penalty shots! Tense, lovely jaw clenching penalty shots- AND ITALY WINS THE WORLD CUP 2006! All hell breaks loose – and my camera dies. My freshly charged, raring to go camera dies just as the first guy jumps in the small pool under the barretto followed by hoots and hollers and now six more people are in the water along with a few chairs. And everyone is laughing and hugging and taking their shirts off and waving the shirts and the flags and chanting. Some of the crowd running around with their heads cut off, others standing silently in a corner kissing a rolled up flag again and again.

Then I head off to charge my battery- I don’t want to miss much more of this- my father will kill me if I don’t have something to show for the win, so I run down the street waving to all the honking cars, the lights flashing. Children, arms, feet, flags and horns hanging out the windows. And then it turns 11 and the church bells begin to chime. It is loud, chaotic, bright and perfect.

I run into the house and try to call my family. They don’t know the score yet so they won’t answer the phone. (yes, that is them, celebrating back in Maine in the photo here on the left – the happy morning after) The entire, dark expanse of hills and streets from Panicale to Cortona is lit with cars flashing their lights. The view reverberating with a general rumble of celebration, punctuated with eruptions down the hill one minute, from the piazza the next, kids screaming – let loose and running through the streets. I can already see police lights flashing down below, but I honestly can’t tell if they’re celebrating or starting the heavy task of keeping this night in order.

Then back to the barretto to find my friends and on to Castiglione Del Lago and a concert on the lake. The concert is packed, with armchairs and coffee tables on the uneven, tree-filled patio. Frozen drinks and foccacia being sold, streams of people milling about on the sidewalk and of course a cars blazing by still honking and screaming every few minutes. The band is sort of reggae big band and it has everyone from babies on their parent’s shoulders to big white dogs on the dance floor. Fairy lights and big ’we are the champions’ smiles everywhere you turn.

At 4, when the concert ends, we drive back to Panicale- the moon is just this side of full, and it is red— not orange or reddish, but low in the sky and a deep, deep red. Two of the guys have been singing Ramones and The Clash and French cheers turned into Italian insults, then they start singing red army songs about the red moon and finish up with a few sleepy cheers. We have a nightcap of pasta with garlic and hot peppers and then at 5, we notice the red moon has gone and the sun is starting to draw the black from the sky. So we climb up the hill a little woozy and still a little in shock. And Italy won! ITALY WON! Buona notte, buon giorno, no lo so, ma — FORZA AZZURI! FORZA ITALIA! FORZA AZZURI! FORZA ITALIA! ITALIA E PRIMA IN MONDO! CIAMPIONI !!!!!!!!

continuing World Cup follow up

emails coming in from Italy today we thought you might like for the spirit and the feel of the occasion. Being in the World Cup only happens once every four years. Winning it, hardly ever, unless you are Italy and then this is still a rare treat but number FOUR!
Grande Italia sono contento soprattutto per “CUGINI” francesi.

Ciao e a presto

do you see our fabolous “partita” yesterday?
Oh, we are all in the road today, nobody works, we are all in


Later that same night . . . .

Its 2:30 in the morning (Italian time) when we finally got through to Wiley’s telefonino, a great clamour of noise in the background (and we were wondering out loud: Is it too late to call? Will we wake the poor baby up?) and sure enough she answered on the first ring saying Oh, babbo can’t talk now, the party is just getting going good, we’re down at the lake, (Trasimeno, assume she means Castiglione del Lago) its a great bar right on the water, people are getting thrown in, all crazy, tell you everything tomorrow! OKgottago.




DATELINE: ALL OF ITALY— NEWS FLASH! ITALY WINS! THEY ARE IN THE WORLD CUP SOCCER FINALS. OPPONENT TO BE DECIDED TONIGHT. EITHER FRANCE OR PORTUGAL. Forza Azzuri! Yay Italian Blue. Did you see the match yesterday? Nice of them to have it on the Fourth of July. Wow. What a match. Beating unbeaten Germany in Germany. OMG. There must be much dancing in the streets in “football” crazed Italy today. FINAL MATCH ON FRIDAY, JULY 9TH.

We return you now to our regularily scheduled blog:



PANICALE, Umbria— There is a Roman family who live on the street below us. And some other Romans who live beside us. Now we have another new neighbor from Rome: Amselmo. He’s not new. Just new to us. Like many a Roman in Panicale, they are more often than not actually originally from Panicale, but they live and work in Rome. And come home to Panicale on the weekends. It’s a couple hours and couldn’t be easier for them. He and his wife have a building down the street from us. They live on the top two or three floors and for the last year or so have been renovating the ground floors of his building into a stylish weekend home for his adult kids. We’ve been watching the progress every time we go by and if Amselmo’s there he invites us in. Very much a constant twinkle in the eye kind of guy. He did the place for his kids to lure them to Panicale but no dice, they didn’t come as often as he had hoped, so he’s selling it.


ROME, Italy— They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. But we saw the heck out of it in a day. Did not know you could do that. So, I had to be coaxed and cajoled into spending a day in Rome. Well, I got my just deserts there. What a fine and fun day in the sun that turned out to be. Like all recent converts, I’m all fired up and ready to go again at the drop of a hat. Mood swings? Yike. Here’s the no-stress way we spent the day. Got up at seven. See that wasn’t so hard, now was it Stew? Had a leisurely coffee with Aldo, caught the 8:59 Chiusi to Rome Termini. Trenitalia (trains of italy) by the way, is pretty much bulletproof train schedule site. With brother Roger and his wife Donna in hand we pulled into the Rome station at 10:46. I defy any one to pilot a car to central Rome in an hour and three quarters from Panicale in the middle of Umbria. Usually it takes us three solid hours to get to Romes’s airport. I’m guessing the trip to the center of town would be a comparable driving nightmare.

The train pulled in right on time, ten euros later, by cab (yes, yes we could have walked but we didn’t know that now did we?) we were at Hotel Giuliana on Via Agostino Dpretis. Antonio greeted us happily as Roger’s reservation filled his last room. Hey, Antonio, save us a room. We will be back!


We found the hotel in DK Eyewitness Travel under “Rome” under “Termini”. This book proved bulletproof too. So helpful for scooting around town. Ok, one drawback. The book is not only heavy with detail, it is just plain heavy. Another time I might just read, review and leave at home. But as a security blanket, it was worth its weight in gold. A slightly braver Roman Traveler might find true happiness with just one Dam map. We used our really tough, light, durable Van Dam “Street Smart Rome” folding map a hundred times in the one day. Unlike a lot of embarrassingly large, bed sheet sized maps, this one is discrete and folds out more like a brochure. Colorful, simple, helpful, laminated. Would not go without it.


So, what did those resources help us see in one easy day? Lets start at the Terminal:

Hotel. Got in, chatted up the nice staff, got settled, oriented.
Coliseum. This was no drive by. We did the complete guided tour. See below.
Roman Forum
Hadrian’s Column
Victor Emanuel Monument. Also see below.
Bernini’s Elephant based obelisk
The Pantheon!
Trevi Fountain

All on foot and all casual. This was absolutely not one of those forced marches tourists sometimes inflict on themselves. We’re way to lazy for that. We stopped, we gawked, we took each other’s pictures in front of every piece of carved marble in town, we sat in the sun, we ate paninnis, we licked gelatis. And then, Midge and I caught the 5:14 back to Chiusi after making sure Roger and Donna were all organized, finding them tickets for their next day’s trip to the airport. We showed them the trick to catching that train. (The trick: that train comes in off to the side of the major tracks. To your right as you are looking at the trains going to every corner of Italy. To the side and waaay down the corridor. That’s right, just keep going. Airport train is a bit different as it is sort of inter-city, special deal) The train station in Rome has become very uptown and cool. Like a trendy mall versus the greasy gritty third world dump I remember it being. I was, and remain, impressed. With train, station and Rome.


What a lovely way to spend a sunny Sunday. To think that two days ago my sister in law was wearing my parka! If I had had a wool scarf in Montepulciano even the day before, I would have worn it too. Today Rome was blessed with Tshirt weather and we were reveling in it. And loving the fact that a lot of the city was closed to cars and major streets around the forum were reserved for pedestrians and bicycles. Not sure what the occasion was, but regardless, let us just wave goodbye out our train window and say Viva Roma!

I hope to be writing up some Helpful Italian Train Riding Hints shortly. Fun for all ages.

Until then,

See you in Italy,