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    Our Paesani

    "Our Paesani" is a column written by Francesca Di Meglio. Its purpose is to help bridge the gap between Italians in Italy and Italians throughout the world.

    4 Reasons Italy is Still on Top of the World
    Italians are shuddering this week after an article in Newsweek's international edition exposes the reality that Spain, formerly Italy's poor cousin, is beating the Homeland at everything from business to soccer. The article reports that Italians now have an inferiority complex in Europe. Not to take the wind out of Spain's sails, but here are four reasons Italians should keep their chins up.

    10 Funny Reasons a Conspiracy Against Italian Soccer is Credible
    I for one am sick and tired of shedding tears for Italy's national soccer team. I thought we could all use a good laugh instead. So, without further a do, here are the 10 reasons why a conspiracy against our boys is credible.

    AC Milan Restore Hope
    As the punishments rolled in and people got back to playing soccer - real, pure soccer - a beautiful thing happened. Italy rediscovered the beautiful game - and its teams started to shine, culminating with AC Milan capturing the Champions League title, the most prestigious club honor, on May 23. Sometimes, cleaning up your act is all it takes to get back to good.

    Azzurri Veterans Fight for WC Spot
    You can always go home again. Just ask Alessandro Del Piero. The Juventus striker returned to the Italian national team for the first time in almost a year at the Aug. 17 friendly match against Ireland. After making a superb cross to Alberto Gilardino who went on to score a beautiful goal, Del Piero left a lasting impression.

    Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Should We Give Up on the Italian National Soccer Team?
    While Italian Americans celebrated Columbus Day weekend, I was tuning in to Italian soccer as the national team continues its qualifying matches for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. I should have known better than to waste my time watching our beloved soccer team screw up once again. This time the Italians conceded a goal to Slovenia in the 81st minute and lost the game - and the top spot in their group - one to nil. That's why I must write a Dear John letter to Gli Azzurri, my first love.

    Claudio Ranieri is Making Soccer History in the British Premier League
    At the start of the season, bookmakers ranked Leicester with 5,000 to 1 odds to win the championship. If the team wins it all, as is expected, bookies say it will be the longest odds win that has ever been gambled on in the history of gambling, according to the Daily Mail. They have their Italian coach Claudio Ranieri to thank for making this fairy tale come true.

    Did Juventus Cheat?
    Italy will be watching soccer with a keen eye today to see if the storied club Juventus wins its twenty-ninth league title. But they will also be watching to see if the referee on the field gives special treatment to the team after accusations that Juventus General Director Luciano Moggi arranged to have certain refs assigned to his teams' games last season. UEFA and the Italian federation will investigate these allegations.

    Did Italy Really Win the World Cup?
    Even when the Italians win, they somehow end up losing. Here's one fan's opinion of the decision to punish Italy's Marco Materazzi after France's Zinedine Zidane head butted him in the chest during the world's most viewed sporting event.

    Giro D'Italia Comes to My Door
    Fifty-four years later the Giro d'Italia returned to Ischia on May 5, 2013. Having married a native Ischitano myself, I am here with my 19-month-old son. That whizzing sound, which I heard as the cyclists pushed the pavement outside our doorway on their way to the starting line, was just as I had imagined it, just as papa' had described it.

    Francesco Totti: Smarter Than We Think?
    Italians were excitedly buying copies of a little joke book put out by one of soccer's elite, Francesco Totti. Just what message is this ragazzo trying to tell us? Find out here.

    How Can Impotent Inter Become a Champion Again?
    Soccer is one of my greatest sources of passion. There is something so seductive about footwork that looks like dance, the sound a cleat makes as it smacks the ball and that rush of energy that sweeps your entire body when your team scores that elusive goal. But players that can make you reach unimaginable heights of pleasure can just as easily consume you with the deepest of sorrow.

    How Can the European Cup Save Italian Soccer?
    Disillusioned Italian soccer fans are anticipating - and hoping for a victory - at the upcoming European Cup in Portugal. After an awesomely poor performance on the part of players and referees at the 2002 World Cup and a season plagued by fan violence and now a match-fixing scandal, bringing home the championship is more than a wish. It's a necessity.

    How Italy Can Win the World Cup
    Until Italy – as a nation – starts to change its attitude and to some extent its culture, the country won't have a shot in the World Cup or anywhere else.

    Italian Cycling Comes to New York
    In May, Italians and Italian Americans celebrate lots with May Day, the Italian day of the worker, Memorial Day, and, most of all, better weather. It's the unofficial start of summer for both countries. As the weather warms, outdoor sports get more attention, which is why May is also Bike Month. And cycling has long been a rich part of Italy's sports history.

    Italian Soccer Fans Go too Far
    Find out how fanatics are making the beautiful game pretty ugly – and have been doing so for quite some time.

    Italy at the 2012 Olympics
    The 2012 Summer Olympics in London officially kicked off on July 27, and Italy started on the right foot. In just two days the country has already won the gold in a couple of competitions and there is talk of continued success at future Olympics. For starters, Michele Frangilli, Marco Galiazzo and Mauro Nespoli took top honors against the U.S. team in team archery.

    Italy in World Cup 2010
    In less than a month, the Italian national soccer team will defend its World Cup title in South Africa. Italy is almost always considered a contender for the World Cup title. But the Italians haven't won consecutive World Cups since their first two in 1934 and 1938. Do the reigning champions have the skills, talent, and fresh legs to win again in South Africa?

    Italy Seeks Another World Cup
    The Italian national soccer team is never at a loss for the dramatic - and last week's World Cup qualifying matches were no different. With two games left in October, the Azzurri are still one or two points away from securing a spot at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. Last weekend's 1-1 tie with Scotland was a missed opportunity. The team made up for it by crushing Belarus with a 4-1 victory on Wednesday.

    Italy's World Cup Dreams
    The Italian national soccer team seeks the championship amid scandal - and their fans support them with all their heart.

    Joy to the World: Cannavaro Wins Balon D'Or
    Italian national soccer team Captain Fabio Cannavaro says he had a "golden year," which is appropriate for this year's Balon d'Or or Golden Ball winner. One of soccer's highest honors, the Balon d'Or is determined by a poll of national team coaches and captains conducted by the French media. Some say that Cannavaro, who is having a bumpy transition from relegated Juventus to Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid in Spain, did not deserve the honor. Others say that an Italian should not have won this year in light of the betting and game fixing scandal that rocked the country's Serie A league in late spring.

    A Letter from a True Soccer Fan
    As Italy marches to the World Cup amid the shame of one of the biggest sports scandals in history, this fan writes to Goalkeeper Gigi Buffon begging him to take action.

    Mourning Soccer's Greatest Loss: Roberto Baggio to Retire
    Recently, soccer star Roberto Baggio announced that he plans to retire at the end of the 2003-04 Serie A season in May, a decision that should have all of Italy crying. Italians had to give up, once and for all, on the one dream that united the nation: seeing the 36-year-old striker sport the national team blue for a final chance at redemption.

    My 2006 World Cup Diary
    To see the Azzurri finally win the 2006 World Cup after 24 long, hard years is more than a dream come true. It is like I've been floating in Heaven for the last day. I would like nothing more than to relive these precious moments over and over again. I didn't miss a minute of the World Cup action while vacationing and working in Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples and near Capri. The least I can do is share a bit of this joy with all of you. Read on to experience the joy and pride for yourself.

    Paolo Maldini: The Heart and Soul of Italian Soccer
    Today is a special day for Italy - and soccer fans everywhere. Today Italian defender Paolo Maldini celebrates his 20th anniversary with the football club A.C. Milan. What's most surprising about Maldini's longevity isn't the numerous accolades or championships. It's the fact that a professional athlete in this day and age has chosen to stay with one team for his entire career. But that's only the first of many reasons we should thank Maldini. Here are the others.

    The Replacements Give Italian Soccer a Rebirth
    Italy gave second string players a tryout on the national soccer team during a two-game North American exhibition tour. The team, helmed by former Juventus of Turin coach Marcello Lippi, tied both Serbia-Montenegro in Toronto and Ecuador in New Jersey one to one on June 8 and 11 respectively. Without Italy's highly paid superstars, like Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti, for once, Italian soccer was really about the game.

    Say a Little Prayer for Italian Soccer
    For soccer fans this time of year usually means a return of the beautiful game - and peace to their lives. Those of us who are followers of the Italian religion that is Serie A, however, will have to wait once again for salvation. The season hasn't even started and already there's a breach of faith. Genoa, a team that last season climbed its way back into Serie A after 10 years out of the top division, was dropped to Serie C and docked three points by the highest soccer tribunal for match fixing. But the team's administration and its fans are appealing the decision in the courts and on the streets.

    Soccer: Ugly Things Tarnish Italy's Beautiful Game
    This week some European soccer teams traveled to far away lands (like the United States and Canada) to play friendly matches and also promote the sport of soccer. But nowadays outsiders are not the only ones who need convincing that soccer should be the world's sport. A slew of controversies and disappointments have disillusioned fans in Italy, who are starting to give up on the country's number one pastime.

    Sogni D'Oro: Italy's Olympic Dreams Come True
    As of August, 29, 2004, Italy is ranked among the top 10 countries based on its nine gold, 10 silver and 11 bronze medals in the 2004 Olympic summer games in Athens, Greece. What a trip it has been for the red, white and green! Here are the highlights.

    Top 10 Reasons to Watch Italian Soccer This Season
    Italian soccer always features at least a dash of drama. But the upcoming season, which only began this weekend, is already turning into a soap opera. That is the small price you pay for the passion of a soccer-mad country. Here, 10 subplots you can look forward to as the Italian soccer season kicks off.

    Top 10 Reasons to Watch Italy in Euro 2008
    Italian soccer has bummed me out for the last few years. In fact, I've been reluctant to talk about it. Yes, as a longtime fan of Italy, I was overjoyed when the squad won the 2006 World Cup in Germany. I was in Italy at the time of the victory and took to the streets to celebrate with the people. But there was still some resentment about the fact about a cheating and gambling scandal that implicated some big name Italian soccer insiders. Still, now that Euro 2008, a tournament for Europe's finest, is around the corner I find myself drawn to the sport once again.

    Torino: Italy's Hot Spot in the Cold
    From Feb. 10 to 26, the 2006 Olympics will take place in Torino, Italy. Aside from the sport and pageantry, this is an opportunity for Italians to show the world that Torino is more than an industrial city but is rather a rival to Venice, Florence and Rome for its art and culture. So, should you book your flight now before the trendy and the famous catch wind of the news?

    The Truth about Italy's Speedster Valentino Rossi
    The MotoGP world championship is a series of 16 motorcycle races that are the pinnacle of the sport. And all of the MotoGP riders have been eating Italian Valentino Rossi's dust lately. Last Sunday he came back from behind with seven laps to go to win the Le Mans Grand Prix Alice De France. Born in Urbino, Italy on February 15, 1979, Rossi has a long future ahead of him in the sport. Here are some fun facts about Italy's fastest friend.

    Trying to Relate to an Italian Star
    Why would someone young, rich and talented want to end it all and jump 15 meters out of a building? That's what everyone in Italy wants to know after Juventus manager and former soccer player Gianluca Pessotto attempted suicide Wednesday by throwing himself out of a small window at Juventus headquarters in Torino.

    Watch Italian Soccer Now
    One week into the 2007-08 Serie A club season, Italian soccer is reborn. This latest incarnation is unfamiliar and honest and that's just one of the reasons why you shouldn't miss it.

    Welcome Back Serie A Soccer
    The soccer season opened last weekend in Italy, which means war has broken out in my husband's home. His family, including his mom and his three brothers-in-law and sisters and their children, live in the same house on the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples in Italy. We've been staying in the house with his family for the past couple of months. Antonio is a fan of Juventus (which at last count was the most popular club in Italy), while one of his brothers-in-law is a fan of A.C. Milan (which is owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi).

    Who's to Blame for Cyclist Marco Pantani's Death? Mea Culpa
    Marco Pantani, the cyclist, died alone on Saint Valentine's Day in a hotel room in the Adriatic resort town Rimini. But we killed Marco Pantani, the man, years ago. And we are in danger of murdering other beloved, but flawed, professional athletes - unless we heed the warning Pantani is sending us from beyond the grave.

    World Cup 2006
    Italians have many things to look forward to in 2006 - from the elections to the 20th anniversary of Dolce and Gabbana's partnership. But probably nothing will be more anticipated than the World Cup in Germany, set to begin in June. As Italy pursues the World Cup, ItaliansRus will document its journey. Consider this the introduction in a series of stories that will occasionally run from now until the World Cup final on July 9, 2006. Think of it as my Christmas gift to you.


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