Day 1 - early flight out from Gatport Airwick, taxi to the hotel, bus into the centre of Bologna for a full day's site seeing via some of the 20+ miles of porticos. Lunch stop at a family run osteria in Via Vitale 'La Rustica'. Bologna's Zuculini's shirt adorned the wall of this compact restaurant. We were told that the Argentinian defensive midfielder was a friend of the family and a regular customer.
Day 2 - train up the line to Modena for another full day's site seeing, including a climb up the bell tower adjacent to the cathedral, ahead of the evening's game between struggling Carpi and rampant Roma. Come the evening the rain had arrived and despite emerging from the pizzeria only yards from the entrance to the stadium we had to walk the long way round as directed by the stewards as the road had been closed off to traffic, including the human kind! After a dull first-half the game came to life when French left-back Digne unleashed a rocket of a shot from outside the box (1-0 to the Romans). Carpi capitalised after an error from German defender Rudiger who was out muscled by the home side's centre forward who squared the ball for Kevin Lasagna (mmmmm, lasagne) to slot in. This spurred Roma on and inspired by Salah's wing play scored two close range goals (Dzeko, assist by Salah, and Salah himself) to win 3-1 on a rain-soaked pitch.
Day 3- train further up the line past Modena to Reggio. A quick visit to the old stadium near the station before promenading to the centre of the town. Decided to take a taxi up to the stadium (Mapei) and find a lunch spot there before the afternoon kick-off with Mantova. Visited the supporters bar on arrival at the ground after securing tickets in the stand (14 Euros). Nipped into what we thought would be the club shop under the stand only to emerge (Tardis like) into a full-scale shopping mall on a number of levels complete with food hall. From outside the stadium, which Reggio share with Serie A's Sassualo, there was no sign of this amazing facility. Once we'd recovered our composure we took our seats and witnessed a 1-1 draw with the visitors doggedly holding on for the point having taken an early lead. Met a couple of Dutch ground-hoppers whilst waiting for the bus back to town.
Day 4 - train down the line to the coast and Rimini. Lots of Roman architecture to view whilst strolling in the drizzle. After a spot of lunch in a family run joint, whilst watching AC Milan beat Genoa the sun shone for us as we made our way to the Mussolini-esque architecture of the stadium. We were greeted with the news that the club were only charging one Euro for entry to the open terrace opposite the main stand - splendido! Although the same level as the Reggio game the football served on the plastic pitch was of a lesser standard (good value for one spud though!) as the home side ran out 2-0 winners over high riding Sienna. We had our last supper at La Rustica in Bologna where we were greeted as long lost friends by our jovial host. Signor Zuculini sat quietly eating his meal on his own - we didn't twig until after he'd left that it was him (apparently he prefers it that way). Hey-ho.
We are now looking to the next trip in May when the Famous Five (Colin back in the squad) are likely to be heading for Germany.