Italy

In Russia, Even Putin’s Critics Are OK With His Syria Policy
July 23, 2012

On Monday afternoon, Italian premier Mario Monti and Russian president Vladimir Putin convened a small press conference in the slanting, gold light coming off the Black Sea. They had just met to discuss the European economic crisis as well as energy (Italy is Russia’s second biggest gas client), but they also touched on the deepening conflict in Syria. “We do not want the situation to develop along the lines of a bloody civil war and for it to continue for who knows how many years, like in Afghanistan,” Putin said, standing with his perfect posture in a slate-gray summer suit.

In Praise of Ruins: What the Fallen Grandeur of Ancient Rome Teaches Us
July 03, 2012

“Isn't it cool to be that much closer to the viewers of the first and second century?” This, I learned as I read the New York Times the other morning, is how Steven Fine, director of the Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project and professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University in New York, expressed his enthusiasm for the recent finding that the famous menorah in the bas-relief of the spoils of Jerusalem was originally painted a rich yellow ocher that would have looked like gold.

Now to the Fiesta
July 02, 2012

It’s over, and very fine it was, not to say awe-inspiring. I doubt whether Vicente del Bosque quite felt like like Sir Alex Ferguson after Manchester United annihilated Arsenal 8-2 the start of last season, “You don’t want to score any more,” but neither he or any of us can have guessed how one-sided the final would be. So formidable against Germany, Italy crumpled in the face of—what?

Now to the Fiesta
July 02, 2012

It’s over, and very fine it was, not to say awe-inspiring. I doubt whether Vicente del Bosque quite felt like like Sir Alex Ferguson after Manchester United annihilated Arsenal 8-2 the start of last season, “You don’t want to score any more,” but neither he or any of us can have guessed how one-sided the final would be. So formidable against Germany, Italy crumpled in the face of—what?

Euroredemption
June 30, 2012

  Has this been the tournament of Euroredemption? It has been impossible to follow Euro 2012 unaware of political frissons, and the echoes of the other Euro, as the European Union undergoes its gravest crisis since Treaty of Rome in 1957. “Greece Leaves the Euro” was one cheeky London tabloid headline after the Greeks were beaten 4-2 (it had to be Germany who beat them).

The Neutral’s Final
June 26, 2012

Could there be a better final for this year’s Euro than Spain vs. Germany? One of the great joys of watching the Euro as an American is the ability to be unapologetically mercenary in my fandom. Germany vs. Portugal? I pick Germany because I can’t stand the smugness of Cristiano Ronaldo’s smile, and those young Germans seem like such good, wholesome guys. Germany vs. Greece? Can’t resist the geo-political underdog narrative, so Greece all the way. Ultimately, this approach is about rooting for one of two things: Either the most compelling story or the most entertaining match.

The Sadness of it All
June 25, 2012

I am still reeling from the awfulness of England in the game against Italy. The greatness of Pirlo notwithstanding, Italy was/is not that good. Consider what the Italian team would have been like without his constant orchestration; consider how bad Balotelli was/is, ever eager to show the extent to which he is overrated. But Italy, such as it was, was all over England and the lads could not string two passes together for two hours or so.

The Final Frontier of Tedium
June 24, 2012

If you have a headache, which is somehow related to a sense of utter meaninglessness; If baseball looks like fun; If you start craving food like French fries and bacon frappé; If you catch yourself reading the NYT Magazine while watching the game, until you realize that might be an even greater waste of time; If you start wondering if all the hours, days, and years you have spent watching soccer may have been misspent; If you start devising insults as answers for questions you anticipate coming from friends and family (”How was the game?”); If you start considering that all the American sports

Spanish Wealth
June 11, 2012

Before the Spain-Italy match, I had this idea of writing about Spain’s midfield; I thought it would be amusing to bring up third-world countries where heedless millionaires shamelessly flaunt their diamonds and BMWs before their poor brethren—like in the United States, for example. With Xavi, Alonso, Busquets, Fabregas, Silva, Iniesta, I would have made jokes about increasing taxes, give the Italians Fabregas. Hell, Mata, who might not break into the lineup, could be the best midfielder on a number of other teams. Tax the rich. Socialism. It might have been funny; it might not.

Spain’s Lost Generation: What Do You Do When Half Your Country’s Youth is Unemployed?
May 30, 2012

“They say we’re a lost generation. But it’s more like we’re a paralyzed generation,” Mario tells me over a beer on a sweltering Monday afternoon in Toledo. He is a twenty-five year-old Spaniard, and already his future prospects look unsalvageable. He holds a degree in visual communications, but irregular work and a negligible income have forced him to move back in with his parents. At the moment, he scrapes by working as a temp at regional post-offices, hoping each day that some employee might call in sick. “I’m basically tied to my cell phone,” he starts to say.

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