ITALY, LUCIANO

Luciano

Italy. Luciano. Behind the counter. Porto Alegre. 2014

Why Italy? I asked.

“I’m from Italy. Actually not from Italy, I’m from Brazil. But my ancestors are from Italy”

At Tutty’s, sovereign behind a cashier he operates, Luciano smiles. Italy just won against England in an unexpectedly entertaining match and Andrea Pirlo, a football genius in the body of priest, or vice versa, is on TV. The largely empty restaurant in a small street behind the church in Porto Alegre is, apart from a dodgy night club offering pleasures of unknown sex, the only facility opened at this time of night. Two fat waiters with enormous quantity of gel in hair dance between empty tables serving unhealthy food to few customers. Naturally, football is on all of many screens mounted on Tutty’s walls.

To make almost poetic picture perfect, Luciano wears a Pirlo shirt. I immediately walk to him and, in a short conversation full of understanding using a meta-Latin language, we agree on number of things. Above all is our love for football with less running and more improvisation. And sometimes painful love for countries of our forefathers (my Bosnia played day after in its virgin World Cup match and I was already very nervous). Luciano’s, just like of many great Brazilians (Luis Felipe Scolari, Felipe Massa, Falcao…) came from Italy. Centuries later, that duality proved to be a win-win situation – no other combination in football offers more pleasure and trophies.

Andrea Pirlo fits perfectly in that picture. To re-phrase a friend – if the God played football he would be just like him. He doesn’t run, he sees it all and he can alone win a big match without even touching the ball, as he did against England. I’m not religious and nothing can be done about that but if Pirlo brings Italy to the throne this time I may consider starting at least a sect. I’m sure it would not be hard to find followers.

A Brazilian man of Italian origin wears a jersey of Andrea Pirlo as Andrea Pirlo appears on TV screen in a restaurant in Porto Alegre following Italy's win over England in a 2014 World Cup Group D match

At Tutty’s, two times Pirlo.

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Italy, Ameer

Italy. Ameer. De Maisonneuve/Guy, Montreal, 2013

Why Italia? I asked.

“I love the country and their soccer team.”

Ameer is the first person I met wearing Italian national team jersey. He comes from Saudi Arabia but is in love with all things Italian. He is in love with its history, people, soccer, culture and architecture. I thought he’s been to Italy many times but it turned out he’s never been. It is his dream to visit the Apennine Peninsula and he thinks it might happen next year. Ameer – who change the spelling of his name not to be confused with the popular fast food chain – currently studies science at McGill University and wants to become an M.D. Based on his enthusiasm for everything we talked about (soccer, photography, science and Italy) I’m sure he will.