Sunday was one of those days you often hope for and don’t always get. Steve has been trying since before we left the U.S. to get tickets to a professional European football match. From the day we arrived here in Florence, he has been trying in earnest, going online, making phone calls, asking random shopkeepers… He couldn’t buy them online, because they will not sell them to someone with a U.S. telephone number. The local team, Fiorentina, was scheduled to play Sunday at 12:30 p.m., so we decided to take a chance, walk the two miles to the stadium and see if we could get last-minute tickets.

We absolutely lucked out. It was a beautiful, sunny day, a lovely walk and we got seats! They were in an upper deck, on the equivalent of the 40 yard line and the price was very reasonable. I doubt we could buy a single ticket in the worst section of the Washington National’s Field or Texas Stadium for double what we paid for both tickets at ACF Fiorentina.

The game was a blast, and the home team won. We got a huge kick out of the fans, who were passionate and emotional and had perfected a number of hand gestures to insult the referees, the other team and especially the other team’s coach, who got thrown out of the game. The Fiorentina fans went wild and serenaded him off the field for the entirety of his long walk of shame. It was brutal, and I don’t even know what they were saying.

One endzone was filled with superfans, mostly men, many shirtless, who stood up the whole time, waving banners and flags, singing songs, playing instruments and generally carrying on. Everyone wore the team color, a beautiful purple. And yes, I realize I sound just as dopey as Olympia Dukakis in “Steel Magnolias,” when she wonders aloud during a radio broadcast of a high school football game whether the home team’s uniforms are violet or aubergine.

The other thing that made the day special is that we made a new friend. While we were standing in the ticket line, we struck up a conversation with an Italian guy named Mario. We met him after the game for drinks and a snack. He is about our age, a former lawyer and has a son close in age to The Weez. He doesn’t live in Florence, but in an area we were already hoping to visit, so there is a good chance we will see him again. Hanging out with Mario, and having him speak or translate for us when we didn’t understand something, was a completely unexpected bonus. I hope we will meet more Marios (and Marias)!