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And it has all come as an amazing stroke of luck for one of the club’s newest supporters clubs, the Penya Blaugrana Napoli, which had yet to even be officially recognised when the draw was made in December. It means that their launch party is now a double reason for celebration ... Leo Messi and co are actually coming to town!
“Barça being drawn to play Napoli was pure coincidence” says the club’s president, Giusi Zaffiro. “It’s by total chance that we are able to begin our adventure in the penya world with a ‘home’ game.”
There's no doubt about it. This is a VERY exciting time to be a Barça supporter in Naples.
Break from Rome
The club is new, but it is the culmination of several years of effort on the part of the dedicated community of Barça supporters in Italy’s third largest city.
“It all started years ago with the Penya Blaugrana Roma run by Massimiliano Morgante, who I wish to thank because he has helped us all the way. There was a very large section of fans from Campania [the region where Naples is located] and we all shared the common goal of forming our own penya in our city, which also happens to be the only city where Real Madrid has a supporters club. It was impossible for a city that lives football 24 hours a day, and with so many culés, not to have a penya and the dream has finally come true.”
The club has about 80 members, almost all Italians. Zaffiro describes the experience so far as “exciting but a bit chaotic at times.” The unexpected news that Barça are actually coming to the city means there is now a LOT more organising to do.
Plans for the big day
The Penya Blaugrana Napoli hasn’t even held its opening night yet. They are saving that for a dinner on February 24, the day before the game. It starts at 9.00pm in the ‘Trattoria del Golfo’ restaurant (Via Santa Brigida, 56).
There’s another gathering on the day of the game from 2.00pm at ‘Alexander Burger Grill’ (Via Santa Maria Della Libera, 14). Any Barça fans travelling to the game are welcome to go along and join them.
“These Champions League games are going to be very exciting” says Zaffiro. “They are between the team we love and the team from our city, so it won’t be easy on an emotional level. Obviously all our friends and relatives are Napoli fans. And as football is life in our city, there’s going to be a lot of tension.”
Quick guide to Naples
So, what is Naples like? “It’s pretty chaotic” Zaffiro tells us. “There’s a lot of traffic but the Neapolitans are very warm, welcoming people. We have a charming city, very old with lots of history, museums and churches in a wide variety of styles, and natural landscapes too. There’s something for everyone.”
If you are going to the game and have time, she especially recommends the following sights:
- Spaccanapoli (the city’s most famous street, from which most of the main sights can be accessed)
- The Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarter, a hub of old, narrow streets and ancient monuments)
- The Basilica di Santa Chiara
- Naples Cathedral
- The Church of Gesù Nuovo
- Piazza del Plebiscito
- Cappella Sansevero (where you will find Giuseppe Sanmartino’s famous Veiled Christ sculpture)
- San Carlo Theatre (one of the oldest theatres in the world)
- Castel dell'Ovo (a seaside castle)
- Napoli Sotterranea (an underground network of tunnels and catacombs)
Oh, and pizza lovers will be in their element. Naples is the home of the world famous dish, although of you want to eat like the locals, a true Pizza Margherita is the one to go for.
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