I landed and Roma won, I woke up and history was made
A chronicle of an american student and journalist about her first night in Rome and how memorable it was thanks to Giallorossi's victory in the Conference League final
I landed on the runway of the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino airport in Rome, Italy at 9:30 AM. Twelve hours later, the beginning of AS Roma's victory in the Conference League cup would be in motion. Although the match between Roma and the Dutch's club, Feyenoord, was happening in Tirana, Albania, about 14 hours from the heart of Rome, the passion and energy of the Roma fans rippled all throughout the city, making for an interesting welcome to Italy in the best way possible.
The first warning of what the night would look like, keeping the game in mind, came from one of my professors in the program I am studying with in Italy. She said, "Do you all know what is going to happen tonight…You know Roma plays in the cup tonight, right?" Wrong. After a six-hour flight, or even more, from New York, Chicago, Indianapolis, Newark and more cities in America, my fellow students and I didn't know this historical event was taking place the night that we arrived. Immediately after hearing the news that Roma was competing in the Conference League for the first time in history, giving them a chance to win a European trophy for the first time in 61 years, buzz amongst the students began to circulate regarding where to watch the game and where to join "romanisti" in cheering on their team.
As a student studying sports journalism at Indiana University, I was the most excited to experience this event amongst my friends. I nagged them to help me find a place to watch the game, to cheer on AS Roma with me, to truly see how Roma fans watch a soccer game and to get my first real "Giallorossa" experience since arriving that morning. My best friend and I, after walking around all evening on the wobbly cobblestone roads, eventually found a small bar cart to watch the game on a projector screen that the bar owner had set up for fans to enjoy the game together. He, of course, knew a crowd would show up, and show up they did. With Castel Saint' Angelo as the backdrop of the watch party, Roma fans waved flags, enjoyed drinks, and formed a passionate choir of singing voices chanting fight songs even before kickoff. None of those activities stopped once the game began; they just got louder and more frequent.
The whole match was one big celebration, with pods of fans watching here, there, on every corner, in every restaurant and down every street in the city of Rome. I had two total hours of sleep on the plane here, so I watched the game on a stone bench fighting to keep my eyes open, despite the thrill on the screen. Figuring I needed some good rest before a long school orientation that was planned for the morning after the match, my friend and I headed home. On the walk back, distant screams from fans bounced off the concrete city walls and buildings, keeping us informed about the intensity of the game even without physically watching it. I didn't need to actually watch the match; the city and the noises told me everything I needed to know. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I crashed and when I woke up, pictures of parades, colorful smoke bombs, crowds of thousands of fans dressed in red and gold had popped up on my phone. I woke up and history was made.
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