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Südtirol-Venice: the reflection of a strip of disputed land

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Südtirol-Venice: the reflection of a strip of disputed land

Sudtirol – Venice 10-02-2024 Serie B

It’s eight o’clock when my bus arrives in Bolzano, it’s early but already late for my habits: when I arrive in a new city or in a new stadium, there are always many things to do and see. In Bolzano, however, there are already been a couple of times. Once passing through to go to Merano for the first leg of the Eccellenza national play-offs between Obermais and Legnano. Another I went specifically to see the stadium Drusus, even open for the occasion: Sudtirol was then playing in the old and dear C2 but the first renovations were already starting. But for a self-respecting “partigliator” the empty stadium means nothing, you have to experience it live, while a match is being played and the community of fans pours in, indirectly telling a lot about that place.

After having consumed every square centimeter of the particular train station, one of my insane passions, I head towards the stadium under a light rain, still better than the cold which at these latitudes, in this period of the year, one would imagine to be more aggressive. The southern area has the appearance of an industrial centre, it doesn’t even feel like being in Bolzano, but as you approach the stadium the view changes, with the Adige river cutting the city in two. I can see the various bridges that are used to cross to the opposite side, starting from the Roma Bridge, but to get as close as possible to the stadium, I opt for the Langer Bridge, practically the one that the visiting fans cross to reach their sector. The excellent organization must be recognized because, attached to the bridge, there is a large gate that divides the road in two, also crossed by a long and well-built cycle path which confirms the title of Bicycle City.

It is precisely the river, the wooden bridges, the finely crafted structures, the names reported in double language that remind me of being in Trentino Alto Adige. I therefore arrive at the “Druso” and after the away sector, continuing along the aforementioned road, I reach the large grandstand where there is the entrance to the North Stand, theoretically reserved for the hosts, even if the fans access it from the opposite grandstand, which can be reached via an internal path.

Outside the grandstand you can also admire the monumental entrance made up of four large columns with the coat of arms of Bolzano in the center and, below, the large writing “Campo Sportivo Druso Sportplatz”. After allowing myself the luxury of other tours, first in the central station where a small exhibition, “The era of the train in Bolzano”, tells the entire history of the local railway, an inevitable stop in the historic center and return to the stadium area when there is just less about forty minutes until kick-off, just in time to enjoy the mini procession of the boys from the NORTH BOLZANO STAIRCASE who sing chants for the ultras, for Südtirol and against the Venetians.

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The first part of the day can only be said to be satisfactory, all I have to do is enter this new “temple” and enjoy the spectacle of the two sets of fans. In front of me I have the large grandstand made up, as the regulation requires, of many seats: on the left side there are the hosts behind their three banners, while on the opposite side there is the guest sector with a divider to separate the two sets of fans; many ultras from Venezia take their seats, where the enthusiasm that made the orange-green fans famous seems to have been reborn, after all, with the team in fourth place there is no shortage of motivation.

With the twenty-two entering the field, the sectors become colourful: the locals wave two flags, raise a banner and light a couple of smoke bombs, while on the opposite side the Venetians show off various flags, flags and banners which really give a nice Glance. If these are the premises, the show in the first half is confirmed thanks to both sets of fans who sing continuously. Incredibly present among the ranks of the lagoon players are the Bolzano Hockey ultras but despite this, during the match, the hosts will chant chants against the Venetian ultras on more than one occasion.

After just eleven minutes, Venezia took the lead thanks to its striker Pohjanpalo who made the away section rejoice but did not give up on the hosts’ side, who did their utmost by performing discreet clapping and keeping the color alive. At the twentieth la NORTH STAIRCASE he displays a banner to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the death of Stefano Furlan from Trieste, victim of those who should have protected him, the same thing that the Venetians also do ten minutes later.

Mention also goes to the boys located in the South steps who, although smaller in number, try to support the team by relying exclusively on choirs in German which, for obvious reasons, I cannot understand the meaning of. They also get busy with a couple of flags and above all making themselves heard by the beating of the large drum which gives time to some clapping. I find this bilingualism particularly interesting even though I still regret its divisive nature.

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In the second half, although the first pauses appear on the local front, flags and clapping continue to predominate in both sectors. A torch creates some discontent among the stewards while the guests continue to color the sector thanks to the numerous flags and banners. On the green rectangle the match is nevertheless exciting but changes face after half an hour with the expulsion of Masiello so, ten minutes from the ninetieth minute, Venezia predictably doubles their lead with Zampano and in injury time Pohjanpalo scores his personal brace.

The sector went into raptures and became even more colorful thanks to the lighting of a couple of smoke bombs. Shortly before the final goal, the lagoon ultras performed a beautiful and prolonged sweep, the icing on the cake of an amazing performance with which they celebrated the victory that had been missing on the road since November 25th. On the opposite side, disappointment among players and ultras for this second consecutive stop for which the players say goodbye with a fleeting greeting, the ultras instead with another couple of chants against the Venetians. At the end of the match all the fans still meet at the bar in front of the South stand to drink, eat and dance with live music, certainly a different approach compared to the stadiums in the rest of the peninsula.

The singular final appendix allows me to ascertain my curiosities on the double linguistic front also at the stadium, as can be guessed connected to the long dispute in Alto Adige between Italy and Austria. Years later, Bolzano preserves and presents neighborhoods with an Italian majority and others with a German majority, so the dual-language choirs are merely the reflection of what can be seen on street billboards as well as in every aspect of daily life. With darkness looming, I give up the idea of ​​visiting the Virtus Bolzano stadium, currently playing in Serie D, whose alternative is in the “Palamazzali”, close to the “Druso”, where the A2 women’s basketball match between Bolzano against Basket Girls Ancona keeps me company while waiting for the bus to take me home. I had already seen the Sudtirol ultras this year in Terni and it was instructive to satisfy my desire to see them within friendly walls. The stadium, just like the cities, tells a lot and explains even more that mosaic of diversity and beauty that is our Bel Paese.

Marco Gasparri

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