What a great EuroCIty train journey on Monday morning from Rosenheim in Bavaria, via Innsbruck, The Brenner Pass, the small towns of the Sud Tirol to Verona and then a change of train to Milano Centrale.
To my right was the spectacular Europabrucke and the autostrada in the sky, the hillsides with vineyards, and a look out for the brown bears that roam. Unfortunately I didn't see any this time. Time to check into my Hotel Amadeus round the corner from Centrale and then Metro Line 2 change to Metro Line 1 to Lotto, for San Siro, or Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. Founded by Herbert Kilpin, a lace manufacturer, and another Englishman Alfred Edwards, in 1899, they keep the English spelling of Milan. I was able to collect my VIP pass, show my passport 3 times, walk past the immaculately dressed Carabinieri officers in hats and capes with swords and high polished boots.
A room overlooking the pitch with tables full of buffet items, glorious desserts and wines. Four red wines and I was ready for the Serie A classic between AC Milan and Napoli. First v third. Last time I was here 3 years ago David Beckham scored a goal, but he is now back in Orange County. Gennaro Gattuso, Alexandre Pato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Robinho, Thiago Silva, Mark Van Bommel, Alessandro Nesta -what a line up.
A full house almost of 78,000 and a newly laid pitch for the battle. Very competitive in the first half, before more food athe interval and then it was all Rossoneri for a 3-0 victory. Pato was outstanding and Internazionale, champions the last five seasons,are in grave danger of losing their Scudeto. AC MIlan are 5 points clear.
It was raining cats and dogs outside and a mad dash for a tram to the Lotto Metro Station. Next evening I take a one hour Trenitalia to the small town of Varese then bus number P to the Velodrome.It still has a cycle track, and is named Stadio Franco Ossola. He was an American-Italian, transferred from Varese to Torino and perished in the Supergo air disaster of 1949. I am given a press pass for the Serie B Varese(biancorossi) v Crotone. Plenty of time before 8.45 pm kick-off, so across the road for a magnificent pizza at Pizzeria La Baita Stadio.
Capacity is just over 8,200 and was about half full. There is one main stand where I am seated, which is full, and so is one curved end and across from me plenty of space. At the North curve maybe 35 Crotone fans, and 9 stewards.-the team is from Calabria the heel of Italy on the Ionian Sea, a long way away. One fan is waving a British Union Jack, I am not sure why. Plenty of home banners including one VARESI MAGIC. Well after 4 minutes they take the lead from a defender in a face protecting mask, Emanuele Pesoli. Just on half time the visitors in blue with one red stripe, equalise.
The second half is rubbish. I catch the last train out of town at 11.15 pm and I am in bed an hour and a quarter later. Not much sleep. Up at 3.45 am for the 4.00 am airport bus to Bergamo and a cheap 4 Euro early flight back to UK.