A Season with Verona
Is Italy a united country, or a loose affiliation of warring states? Is Italian football a sport, or an ill-disguised protraction of ancient enmities? After twenty years in the bel paese, Tim Parks goes on the road to follow the fortunes of Hellas Verona football club, to pay a different kind of visit to some of the world's most beautiful cities, and to get a fresh take on the conundrum that is national character.From Udine to Catania, from the San Siro to the Olimpico, travelling with the fans and the players, this is a highly personal account of one man's relationship with a country, its people and its national sport. The clubs are struggling, as always, to keep their heads above water in Serie A. The fans, as always, are accused of vulgarity, racism and violence. It's an election year and politics encroaches. The police are ambiguous, the journeys exhausting, the referees unforgivable, the anecdotes hilarious. And behind it all is the growing intuition that in a world stripped of idealism and bereft of religion, football offers a new and fiercely ironic way of forming community and engaging with the sacred.A book that combines the tension of cliff-hanging narrative with the pleasures of travel writing, and the stimulation of a profound analysis of one country's mad, mad way of keeping itself entertained. At the end of it all the reader will be convinced that there is no boundary between ordinary life and sport. In Italy everything can be seen as a function of football and football is present everywhere and at every moment.
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