Sonics in Seattle on a regular basis (until the evil folks from Oklahoma stole the team), and got to see the Storm on their championship run this year. Since being here in Italy, I’ve gotten swept up in the pre-tirement life of pasta and pizza and la dolce vita, and have lost touch and track with the sport. What’s this all getting at? That I was stoked to find out that Umbertide, the small city about 15 minutes from us, has a basketball team. They’re called Liomatic Umbertide (though I believe the organization is Pallacanestro Femminile Umbertide), and play in the ladies B league, and Nat and I went to our first game last Sunday.
First, we had to find the “arena.” Which was in a very un-assuming concrete building, with lots of graffiti on it, and looking more like a deserted pipe factory when driving past without knowing what it was. Since we thought we’d need tickets, we got there early; however, there was no ticket window, and no-one to be seen. There were signs on the door, so we knew we had the right day and right place. We spent some time walking the Tiber, then came back at 5:45 pm (the game started at 6). Now, the building was starting to rock a little more. Of course, it was still a small space (not enough time passed for another wing to be built), a bandbox gym about half the size of my high school gym in Lindsborg, KS (bleachers just on one side, no merch table, one small food stand above the bleachers). We picked up tickets at the top of the stairs (10 euro a piece), and then found a seat (no seat numbers or assigned spaces, just concrete rows we packed in to), and soon the rows were filled along the side of the court. On the court ends, one side filled with regular fans, and the other with the Fratta, the more fanatical supporters, who were wearing matching jackets and shirts and who started waving fans about 10 minutes before the game even started: