The Italians may be a fun-loving people but there are two things that they do take very seriously indeed, and one of them is sport.
The is no greater sporting event than the Football World Cup, and the Italian nation has won it on no fewer than four occasions – 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 – more than any other country apart from the legendary Brazil. Names such as Baggio, Baresi, Maldini, Cannavaro, Totti, Zoff, Rossi and Zola are familiar to anyone anywhere in the world who follows the Beautiful Game.
But Italian sporting achievement does not begin and end with soccer. Italy is famed for its cycling prowess and has won more World Cycling Championships than any nation other than Belgium. The Giro d’Italia is a world famous event well known to all cycling enthusiasts.
Italy’s basketball league is one of the very strongest in Europe, and the national team was triumphant in the prestigious Eurobasket competition in both 1983 and 1989. The country holds a similarly respected position in the world of volleyball.
It was not terribly long ago that the Italian Rugby Union side was regarded as, well, one of the softer touches in the sport, but since joining the Five Nations (thereby transforming it by definition into the Six Nations) the team has learned and grown, and each year that passes sees it present a more potent challenge than the last. In this year’s competition Italy defeated France, once the world champions and still a respected force in world rugby.
It may come as a surprise to some to learn that the Italian cricket team is ranked 25th in the world. It may only be a matter of time before the men in white are doing battle on the world stage with the likes of India, Australia and the West Indies.
But the “local” sport beloved on so many Italians of a certain age is bocce, a variant of the French pastime of boules and widely enjoyed by retired men in the parks of the big cities.
The reader will recall there were two things that Italians were said to take seriously. The other, of course, is food, and wherever in the world Italian people go, and settle, the cuisine travels with them and is received with gratitude by the incumbent population.
Here in London we are no exception, and we are proud to play host to such wonderful and enticing culinary venues as Eco Restaurant Clapham.
Eco provides the finest gastric experience imaginable for the connoisseur of Italian cuisine. When it comes to cooking, the people at Eco are mindful of the fact that it really isn’t a game.