Rome Travel Guide

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Where Francesco Totti learned his Trade

Legend has it that Francesco Totti, for almost two decades the star of A.S. Roma, one of two premier-level soccer teams in the city (and the one preferred by a more working-class fan base), learned to play on a field in the quartiere of San Giovanni, where he grew up in a large public housing project.  We learned about the field a couple of years ago, when there was concern that the hallowed pitch, sandwiched somewhere between via Sannio and via Amba Aradam, and behind the basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, would be sacrificed to a new Metro line.  Oh, no!

Market carts, all with the same rubber-trimmed iron
wheels.  Behind, the wall Bill considered scaling.
Our search for the field began just outside the city wall, in the large and active market that runs down via Sannio (and one characterized, we think, by especially aggressive merchants - tho' the prices are right, if you bargain, adds Dianne).

We thought we had found the field around the back of the market, in the alley called via Locri, where the old market carts are stored.  Bill imagined scaling the wall in back for a peak at the historic site, but he would have been not only foolhardy but wrong.  At the next turn in, we asked a gatekeeper for permission to have look at Totti's "stadium," which we assumed was right there, within his purview to show us.  Wrong again, but he sent us on our way with directions, while noting that what we were looking for hardly qualified as a "stadium."  "Campo", or "field," he corrected us.

Clubhouse bar
A few meters further on, as via Sannio became via Farsalo, there it was, and guarded--if, indeed, he was a guard--only by one man reading a book in front of a closed clubhouse bar. 

The field.  In the distance, the statues on the facade
of San Giovanni in Laterano

The playing surface is now artificial turf--not what Totti would have learned on, 25 years ago, but evidence, we think, that the field will be spared, saved from the Metro. 

The "stadium," such as it is.

And from the other side
And yes, there is no "stadium," but the small building that shelters the field and houses seats for spectators is a special one, designed and built in the Fascist era. Signs point to a $500,000 upgrade in process. (The paint squares on the side of the stands apparently are samples from which the final color will be selected.)

Nearby, a sidewalk traffic barrier, painted in Roma's colors, marks Totti's presence in the neighborhood. 


(For more neighborhood decoration for A.S. Roma and Totti, see this earlier post.)

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