Posted: 8/14/2011


    It had been a very long day. Rise and shine by the Gran Canal in Venezia, walk 200 meters to Stazione Venezia Santa Lucia, climb 10 steps and jump on the Milano Express.

    20 minutes to change for the fast express to Zurich and the first stop at Como San Giovanni. Waiting for us in the harbour was a huge modern lake ferry and a relaxing 2 hour cruise with about 20 stops, zig zagging across the lake until Bellagio, the resort town that inspired the Las Vegas hotel.

    Great weather, a picnic lunch brought aboard. Lots of fast boats, yachts, jet skis, even sea planes on this very busy lake. In 1990 just prior to FIFA ITALIA '90 my team had driven over the Alps from Switzerland and had a match with a team in Como. When we arrived we were taken straight to City Hall for a reception, drinks and snacks with the Mayor and city council. I was presented with a replica of a Roman cargo galleon that traded on the lake 2,000 years ago. The match finished 1-1.

     I made a short speech in my best Italian, praising the city and the country and wishing them well in the Cup. Of course, they got knocked out by Argentina and Maradona, who went on to lose a very boring final in Stadio Olimpico to West Germany, on a very dubious penalty. I was there that day in  a magnificent setting under the seven hills of Roma, for a very forgetable World Cup final.

     It is only 5 minutes by train from Como to the Swiss border with Chiasso, in Italian speaking Ticino. That evening we walked a few hundred meters to Stadio Comunale for the Swiss Challenge League match between FC CHIASSO and the visitors  SC BRUEHL from way up next to the German border in NE Switzerland in the city of St. Gallen.  It was the home team in 7th v the visitors in 15th place in the 16 team second division. One main stand seating about 2,000 and the rest standing around the fences. Maybe 1,500 in attendence. Only about 15 visiting fans in their green and yellow scarves in a very laid back atmosphere. The teams were announced to the chimes of Big Ben. and

    It was a great relaxing occasion. To the left of the main stand was a huge balcony with comfortable plastic arm chairs, a bar and a table piled with free food, dainty sandwiches, pizza bits and fruit salad. I bought a beer and a small pennant and key chain in the red and blue of FC Chiasso and relaxed. Half way through the first half and GASPAR scored twice in 5 minutes and the 3 points seemed to be in the bag. Gaspar, 30 years old from Itatiba, Brazil was on loan from FC Lugano and was Leichtenstein player of the year in season 2007-08. Five minutes from time it was 3-0 as we left for the express to Milano Centrale and the home team was into 3rd place.  There was a full moon to light our way to Chiasso station.