So just let me get this clear- this was one of the best afternoons of my year.

There are two soccer clubs in Rome. One called SS Lazio and one called Associazione Sportiva (A.S.) Roma. I like AS Roma. A derby match is when two teams own the same field and they play each other on it. So it is also a rival match. These two teams are very good. And it is a big deal when they play each other. Everyone in Rome is a fan of one of these teams or the other and soccer is really important here.

Mosaics at the Olympic Stadium

Roma is the team representing the city and Lazio is the team representing the region, and the rivalry is intense! Whenever I wear my Roma jersey people always come up to me to either cheer for Roma or to tell me that Lazio is better. Kids at school are also really into one of the two teams. When you meet someone new you can ask which team they prefer: “laziale o romanista?”

The Roma colors are yellow, orange, and red and their symbol is the she-wolf that raised Romulus and Remus. The Lazio colors are light blue and white and their symbol is the eagle. Lazio is older but Roma has more supporters. The Roma team’s captain is Francesco Totti, whose kids also go to my school. Lazio is supposed to be more upper-class so we call them the facist team. Roma is the more popular team of the city people.

Just before the game starts

The derby is one of the biggest events of the year, when the two teams fight it out at the Olympic Stadium. It is fun because team spirit is really strong here- it is a lot like Packers fans in Madison.

Some how, some way, my mom got us tickets to the game. She went to the AS Roma Store at Piazza Colonna where they sell tickets. But after she waited on line for a long time, she got to the window and found out that she needed IDs for each of us to buy the tickets. So she had to run home and get all of our passports and then go back. But they still had tickets and she got us good seats. Our names were printed on each ticket and we were not allowed to give them to anyone else (not that I ever would).

FOUR DAYS LATER: we have just finished lunch and I am getting dressed for the real game. I already have my Roma pants and jersey and jacket. Nell already has her Roma jersey and I let her wear my hat and other Roma jacket. Even Mom and Dad bought the right shirts to wear. ONE HOUR LATER: we are at the stadium.

Nell and Mom at the Derby

Roma and Lazio play at the Olympic Stadium. To get into the game we had to go through three different security checks. At the first one, they checked our passports and we walked past lines of policemen wearing their riot gear. They have to be ready because sometimes the fans get crazy. Winston Churchill said that Italians treat wars like soccer matches and soccer matches like wars.

As we were walking into the Olympic Stadium we saw that the ground was covered with mosaics. I thought they looked very cool. They showed ancient Greek Olympic events. A friend of Hitler’s, Mussolini, had his name carved into a lot of the mosaics.

NOW: we are in our seats and everyone is screaming like crazy and singing. There are a lot of fan songs that the crowd knows. So they all sing together and the Roma side is trying to sing louder than the Lazio side. The stadium was filled with team colors, giant flags, banners, and smoke candles. Even if you weren’t really interested in soccer, this is an interesting experience. But if you do like soccer, like me and Nell, it is awesome.

Curva Sud

The one problem was that everyone around us was smoking. Everyone. Nell and I pulled our shirts over our nose and mouths. Then the teams started coming out. We saw them practice heading, shooting, and passing. Soon it was time for the game to start.

There is a section where the really intense fans sit. The intense Roma fans sit in the “Curva Sud,” and the intense Lazio fans sit in the “Curva Nord”. You wouldn’t believe how loud and crazy these sections were. We sat in special seats in the middle of the stadium that are better for kids. They started throwing firecrackers onto the field. During the entire game, they had firemen on the field wearing protective clothing who picked up the lit firecrackers and dropped them in a water bucket.

The game started by having a sing-off between the fans on either side of the stadium. Everyone either held up their scarves or bought big flags to wave with their team colors. Below we have posted a link to a video my mom took of the singing. At the start of the video you can hear the Lazio fans singing. Then the Roma song starts up. You can hear the Lazio fans booing in the background during the Roma song.

Also in the intense fan section people released red smoke bombs, the color of Roma. It was louder than anything you have ever heard before- not only the yelling, and the cannons exploding though the game, but all the songs that fans kept singing together during the game.

smoke bombs from Curva Sud

Then the game started. It got off to a pretty tense start for the Roma fans because right away our goalie got red-carded and Lazio scored on a penalty shot. But soon enough we came back and scored. Then at minute 60 they scored again and that is how it went until the end of the match.

The other side's fans on Curva Nord

As we were leaving, we passed all the army guards and police that we passed walking in.

I loved it because I got to do something that most fans dream of doing.  And it was just fun altogether.

— Eli