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How We Experienced The Passions of Roman Life.

By Les Sheppard

We haven't met... yet, and until now you wouldn't know that I make part of my living by writing about the city of Rome, its people, passions, food, sport, history and culture. I visited this great city with my Wife - one anniversary,some time ago.

If you've ever had the opportunity to travel to Rome, you'll probably already know about the fervour and passion of its people, who can get themselves into a convincing frenzy over virtually anything that happens in daily life.

I had the chance to be in the city during the 2004 European Football Championships, at a time when the national team were heavily dependant on the form and talent of one Francesco Totti, Rome's favorite footballing son, whose image cannot be avoided wherever you look!

Here is a God-Like figure, who Romans pin their hearts and hopes upon, every time he appears for the "Azzuri" (the national squad) or their beloved Roma (the capitals leading team for many years). It's almost impossible to purchase a Roma team shirt without the "Totti" name emblazoned on its back, and his power over advertising media can clearly be appreciated by the range of products he is able to endorse succesfully around the cities poster sites.

You can probably imagine the atmosphere found in the streets during these crucial championship matches. The whole place draped with flags and banners, windows thrown open, filling the roads with the sounds of urgent cheering and disappointed groans.

Suddenly, we were taken by surprise, and Italy had scored a goal! A massive uprising was taking place all around us, and the waiter at our streetside cafe was off... running in triumphant circles around the middle of the road. Cars were hooting, people were leaning out of their windows to cheer and share in the chaos, and normal life was suspended for several minutes whilst the Romans celebrated their modern day gladiators success.

About half an hour later we became aware of an eary silence, and the unthinkable had happened without our realisation. The opposing team had scored an equalising goal, putting Italy out of the final stages of the competition, and a grave period of mourning was about to begin. Our waiter leaned listlessly against the side wall of our cafe, all interest in activity drained from his body... best get the bill and get out of here, we thought.

The next days papers carried furious reviews of the nights failings, and we couldn't find anyone who wanted to discuss their dashed pride with mere tourists like us. Mr Totti still smiled down on us, as we continued to stroll around the deflated city, but we suspected his "pulling power" was sharply dimished that day.

But, this was Rome, and before our break was spent, the old passions were rising to the surface once more. Roma were to open the new season with a derby match against the Old Enemy, Lazio, and the rivalry between the two sets of fans is intense. The two teams share the Stadio Olimpico, which has a capacity of 100,000 screaming fans... the modern version of The Coloseum, or The Circus Maximus, we thought!

That's all for now. In my next article, I'll explain more of my travel tips for your time in Rome

Best wishes for a great vacation,

Les Sheppard

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