With the world opening upon again, the social event that all of my friends were looking forward to attending once more was a ‘Homefans trip’! And the first post-Covid game for us would be the Derby Della Capitale, between Roma and Lazio.
Why this derby? A friend has attended nearly every derby you can possibly think of, and described it as one of his favourites – so we wanted to see if he was right!
Upon landing in the Eternal City, we made our way straight to the Stadio Olympico for the tour of the stadium, which was absolutely superb. Far less restricted and ‘managed’ than many tours I’ve attended, we were free to make our way into the dugouts, stands, dressing rooms and player’s tunnel – whilst the stadium manager informed us of numerous facts about both clubs (she supported Roma).
The Homefans Whatsapp Group was now pinging on a regular basis, as we traded photos and our hosts Niccolo and Simone gave tips to others who had just landed. We then hit the bohemian Monti district for eats and drinks, at the hip ‘Blackmarket Hall’ and later ‘Mun rooftop bar’, which were as you’d expect from a city like Rome. With the night still young, finished up by taking in a late night tour of Rome’s sights on the electric scooters that are available for hire – a cheap and really fun way to get around the city.
Thankfully, we somehow avoided hangovers! And on Saturday morning were ready to meet up with our Homefans hosts, embarking on a walk through the city and gaining insight into life there as a local.
“How was it decided who populated the Nord or Sud Curva given both club’s share a stadium?”
“Is it true that Roma are from the heart of the city and Lazio the outskirts?”
And many more detailed talks of how Rome changed during the Pandemic, but was now returning to it’s usual vibrant self.
With the walking over, it was time to refresh with beers at the legendary ‘Drunken Ship’ – a pub that’s well known among football supporters across Europe whenever they visit. As for my fellow ‘Homefans’, they gave their insights as to what was good, bad or indifferent about the clubs they supported throughout the continent. This isn’t my first Homefans trip, but it was definitely the first to meet someone who’d had their wedding at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light!
Our third day in Rome was naturally the one we’d all been waiting for – but not before eating some fabulous local food at the ‘Core Di Roma’ restaurant. Run by hardcore Roma fans and covered in old scarves and ultra photos, it was a shrine to all things AS Roma. We then set off to the big game, taking our perfect seats in the ‘Tribuna Monte Marip Top Sud’, which were positioned right by the side of the legendary Curva Sud.
As kick off approached, a superb tifo of an eagle was unfurled by the 13,000 ‘visiting’ Lazio supporters, and the entire Roma congregation belted out their anthem “Roma Roma Roma” – which was deafening and only amplified by the stadium’s superb acoustics.
The crowd went into a further frenzy as Roma scored within the first minute, before making it 3-0 before half time. The second half obviously didn’t live up to the first on the pitch, but the volume and flag waving never stopped throughout – not just by the hardcore on the Curva, but by the entire crowd, young and old alike. Better still was the translation of the chants and slogans on the flags from our hosts, who really gave us that local insight.
Simply attending the match independently cannot provide these touches. And as the referee blew his whistle, we headed off to enjoy the perfect Roman evening, knowing that next season we’ll be Homefans again. Greece beckons!
Written by Duncan Quinton