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A side of Italy the tourists don't see,
This review is from: A Season With Verona (Paperback)
I'd not read anything by Tim Parks before, and quite frankly the appeal in this book was that it promised to show a side of Italian life that the tourists never see - and quite frankly would be shocked if they did. This is an introduction to football fandom, Italian-style, which begins with an epic description of a return journey from Verona to Bari in the company of some decidedly eccentric individuals who live for the team that is Hellas Verona. At 54 pages, it's the longest chapter in the book and there are times when the rest of it fails to live up to such a lively introduction. That said, this is no Italian take on Fever Pitch as Parks even gets to explore things from the club's perspective when he is invited to fly with the team to a couple of the games - a writer's perk, it seems. Given that he was doing this during a season in which Hellas Verona were involved in a relegation dogfight, there's an element of suspense that will keep you guessing to the final few pages whether the team will manage to avoid the drop if you don't know what happened already (I would guess that most readers will not). This isn't a conventional travel book as there is no almost no tourist stuff here - football fans don't go to Rome for the sights, they go for the match and are expected to leave as soon as the game is over. However, it does present a view of Italy and the Italians that is a few steps removed from the guide books, and as such it's something I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in that country.