But then it started to rain. And rain. And rain. My whole top half is a mess of hair and cotton, stuck, like cling film, to each shivering part.
I spent the afternoon in Vercelli. A small town between Milan and Turin; surrounded by a sea of risotto rice fields. As you catch the train, the submerged fields are all you can see for miles around.
I was there to meet two lads, leaders of the Ghigni Bianchi – a supporters club of Pro Vercelli. We’d caught up earlier in the season through Facebook. I told them I was coming over and they extended an invite for me to join them.
Luca and Francesco could not have been better hosts. From refusing to let me put my hand in my pocket, to warmly introducing me to everyone of their friends. Each introduction was followed by the same puzzled question: “Why are you here to watch our team?”
I explained that I had picked a team to follow to improve my Italian. That the Italian development was non-existent, but the interest in their club was growing. I knew the history, the current players – they warmed to this even more.
So much so that when Pro Vercelli scored their winner deep in injury time, I found myself screaming and jumping with a man who couldn’t understand a word I was saying. For a moment at least, our passions, if not our words, were the same.
In my head I’m already planning next season’s trip. Obviously I’ll be bringing the family with me next time around, but until then, I really have to work on my Italian.
If only to scream the same words of celebration, the next time I see Pro Vercelli win