Monday, July 10, 2006

THAT was interesting.

Well, we were in Italy the night they won the World Cup. You just can't plan these things, as a tourist. They are serendipitous occurences that you will remember for a lifetime.

Not only that, but our hotel was at the absolute epicenter of the after game festivities. Who knew? By day, normal intersection, by night, 35,000 of your best pals all hollering, screaming, setting off firecrackers, revving their motorcycle engines and waving Italian flags ranging in size from small to bigger than a house. We could not have picked a better location had we tried......right out the window, three floors down, all Bergamo partied like it was 1999......

We'd had a long day of walking and were tired and full from an excellent dinner. We went back to the hotel to chill and watch the game. We watched the game (interminable, sorry to say) and right as it finished...we heard a scooter came whizzing into the intersection, the two occupants screaming, honking and waving a flag. They were first on scene at what was to become Bergamo Party Central. We ran to the window to watch what was going on. Two minutes later, there were 50 people. Then 100. Then rapidly it became 1000, with some guy revving his motorcycle and doing smoky tire burning wheelies everywhere (I could have done without that.) Everyone was either waving or wearing an Italian flag. We were watching it all from our hotel was like the best view of Mardi Gras, New Year's Eve and Fourth of July combined.

The crowd grew and grew and grew. It was massive. I estimate 35,000 people....up and down and all around the street (there were wide squares on both sides of the street as well.)

We had to be up at 7 the next day to catch our flight, and were dead tired from two days of intensive walking (and, ahem, wine drinking and pasta eating). But the party was infectious and we watched it for about two hours.

Mayhem doesn't even begin to describe it. Really. Fireworks shooting off in the middle of the crowd. Soccer balls being kicked around everywhere, usually landing on some unsuspecting person's head. The person would laugh and kick it on, to land on another person's head. People standing on fountains, statues, and cars. One enterprising (and very strong) young guy climbed a light pole and tied the flag to the top, then shimmied back down into the arms of his compadres. I later spied him on top of a traffic light. He was a climber extraordinaire.

The cops (I only saw a few) just stood aside and let it all happen. The crowd was so HAPPY, you could feel the vibe. No one did anything mean or destructive, at least, from what I could see. (I wonder if a crowd like this would be allowed to spontaneously occur in the US anymore?)

The partying went on until the wee hours of the night. I give the hotel major cred for the fact that, even though we were overlooking it all so closely, once the sound-deadening windows were closed, the noise level went down 80%. was still loud, but with ear plugs you could almost pretend that the whole population of Bergamo was NOT outside the window screaming, shouting, drinking and blowing air horns. I would have to recomend the Capello da Oro hotel in Bergamo highly.

Yes we took pictures, but I need to get them off Rich's camera....then I'll post them.

In other news....on the flight TO Italy, a guy got sick and had to be taken off the plane in an ambulance on arrival (scary, it really was worrisome, but there was a doctor on board and the crew were great) and the plane landed so rough that many of the people on the plane screamed. So it was one of the best (capable crew) and worst (learner pilot?) flights I've ever had. The flight sort of set the tone for our weekend...expect the unexpected.....

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