Rivalry in Rome ahead of derby day football clash

They share the same city, the same pizzas and the same football stadium but that's where the similarities end for the fans of Lazio and Roma.

Rivalry in Rome ahead of derby day football clash
Roma's forward Francesco Totti. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The 'Derby della Capitale' is the most intense in Italy and while Sunday's clash at the Stadio Olimpico could have a direct impact on the sides' title hopes, for most it's a question of local pride.

“It's a rivalry that can give you pride for the whole year, keep the smile on your face and give you a chance to mock your rivals,” Giulio Lucarelli told AFP.

As the owner of the Core de Roma restaurant, situated opposite the building where Roma icon Francesco Totti grew up, Lucarelli should know what he's talking about.

But while he has “respect for the fans of Lazio”, you won't see any sky blue – the colours of the team nicknamed the 'biancocelesti' – in his establishment.

Instead, burgundy-coloured football shirts bearing the names of Totti, (Daniele) De Rossi and (Alessandro) Florenzi deck the walls in a permanent tribute to the side which, for the past 25 years, has been carried along by the goalscoring exploits of one-club man Totti.

Totti, in his 25th and likely final season with Roma, is not even sure to start on Sunday when both sides will be looking to maintain their early season challenge to five-time consecutive champions Juventus.

Between them, Roma (2) and Lazio's (2) respective title hauls fade in comparison to northern giants Juventus (32), AC Milan (18) and Inter Milan (18).

But in terms of same-city rivalry, Lazio-Roma is hard to beat.

“I was born anti-Roma,” insists Patrizio Lillocci, who runs the family's official Lazio store selling the club's merchandise.

“I would say I'm even more anti-Roma than pro-Lazio. If Roma lose and Lazio lose, that's fine by me.

“My hatred for Roma is limitless. For me, it's the derby every day, every minute, every second.”

'I watched them suffer'

For Patrizio, “May 26” immediately springs to mind when asked to recall his best footballing memory.

When Lazio beat Roma in the Italian Cup final on May 26, 2013, the joy for Patrizio was seeing Roma fans suffer.

“Their fans were devastated, and I watched them suffer,” added Patrizio. “I wasn't happy we'd won, but because we made them suffer.”

A thaw in relations between fans this past year was only because both were united against a rash of unpopular security measures introduced at the Stadio Olimpico.

Otherwise, it's business as usual.

The Lazio-Roma derby has been savoured by hundreds of players over the years, and former France midfielder Vincent Candela remembers only too well.

He experienced the joy of a crushing 5-1 win over Lazio in his time at the club, although it was followed by four consecutive derby defeats.

“For a player, it doesn't get any better,” Candela told AFP. “Playing in front of 80,000 fans where, at one side of the stadium they whistle at you for the whole match while the other side adore you … it's extraordinary.”

At the Olimpico, Lazio's hardline fans occupy the Curva Nord (North End) while Roma's hardline 'tifosi' are in the Curva Sud (South End).

Tragically, that rivalry has spilled over: in 1979, Lazio supporter Vincenzo Paparelli was killed by a distress flare launched from Roma's Curva Sud.

Totti, and only Totti

When it comes to territory in the Italian capital, Roma have the edge. The 'Giallorossi' (Yellow and Reds) are more widely supported, but Lazio is the capital's original club having been founded in 1900, 27 years before four local clubs came together to form Roma under the aegis of the ruling fascist party.

“We were founded first and that pisses them off,” said Guido, a Lazio supporter, after buying his ticket for Sunday's game.

In what was effectively a snub to former dictator Benito Mussolini, Lazio resisted the fascist party's attempts to fuse them with the other clubs in the capital.

But although Lazio have historical longevity, Roma have Totti. The club's reputation has been boosted immeasurably over the years by the 40-year-old icon known affectionately known as the 'King of Rome'.

The moniker is not exaggerated. From the auto garages of Monte Testaccio to the ice cream shops and bars around Trastevere, photos and murals of Totti are everywhere.

Totti has racked up an unrivalled tally of 41 derbies, won 14, lost 15 and scored an as-yet unbeaten 11 derby goals in the process.

In some of those, Totti provoked fans of Lazio most: notably lifting his shirt to reveal a message that said, 'I've purged you again', after scoring in a 3-1 Lazio win in 1999.

For Giulio Lucarelli, Totti's “special celebrations” mean only one thing: “For me, Totti is the derby.”

But as derby fever intensifies, the Roma legend didn't miss a chance to add fuel to the fire.

Totti said: “Everyone is free to choose the team they want. Some are just luckier than others, that's all.”

By Stanislas Touchot

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PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

The Tokyo Olympics were Italy's best Games yet, with Italian athletes taking home more medals than ever before. Here are the highlights.

PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs and Gianmarco Tamberi celebrate after winning golds in the 100m sprint and high jump. Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

With ten golds, ten silvers and 20 bronzes, the Azzurri representing Italy in Tokyo were tenth on the medal table overall and top in Italian sporting history.

Previously the most medals Italy had ever won at a single Olympics was 36, which the country hadn’t equalled since the Rome Games in 1960.

READ ALSO: ‘Do Italy just win everything now?’: Celebrations after Italian athletes take Olympic gold

As well as a ceremony at the presidential palace in September, Italy’s Olympic champions will be welcomed back with prize money from the Italian National Olympic Committee: gold medalists are awarded €180,000 each, while silver medallists get €90,000 and bronze medallists get €60,000.

And then there’s the glory: after an exceptionally successful summer of Italian sport and music, Italy’s Olympic team dubbed their athletes “stupor mundi” – Latin for ‘the wonder of the world’. 

Italy’s gold medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Men’s high jump: Gianmarco Tamberi

Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi couldn’t have been happier to share the gold with his fellow competitor Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, in what was hailed as one of the most touching moments of the Games. 

  • Men’s 100m: Lamont Marcell Jacobs

Relatively unknown long jumper-turned-sprinter Lamont Marcell Jacobs was in the form of his life when he outran the favourites and hurtled to first place in the biggest race in men’s athletics. He’s the first Italian ever to qualify for the Olympic final of the event, let alone win it.

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 4 x 100m relay 

Lorenzo Patta, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Eseosa Desalu and Filippo Tortu pulled off an astonishing victory by the smallest of margins, with Tortu flinging himself over the finish line to snatch gold from the favourites, Great Britain, by just a hundredth of a second. It was another historic first for Italy: the country has never before won the event, and the last time an Italian team got onto the podium was at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (silver). 

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 20km race walk: Massimo Stano
  • Women’s 20km race walk: Antonella Palmisano

Antonella Palmisano cemented Italy’s domination of the walking competition when she followed up her teammate Massimo Stano’s gold with her own victory a day later. She actually performed slightly faster at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but that time only earned her fourth last time round.

Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
  • Track cycling, men’s team pursuit

Italy’s four-man team set a new track cycling world record by completing 16 laps (4km) in just 3:42.032. While Great Britain had long dominated the event and Denmark were reigning World Champions, no Italian team had won it since the Rome Olympics of 1960.

Photo by Greg Baker / AFP
  • Karate, men’s kumite -75kg: Luigi Busa
  • Rowing, lightweight women’s double sculls 
Valentina Rodini (L) and Federica Cesarini (R) celebrate their win in the lightweight women’s double sculls final. Photo by Luis ACOSTA / AFP
  • Sailing, mixed multihull – Nacra 17 foiling
  • Taekwondo, Men’s -58kg: Vito Dell’Aquila

Vito Dell’Aquila won Italy its first gold of the Games, at the age of just 20. It was his first Olympics but at this rate, it won’t be his last.

Photo by Javier SORIANO / AFP

Italy’s silver medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Artistic gymnastics, women’s floor exercise: Vanessa Ferrari

Arguably Italy’s greatest competing gymnast, 30-year-old Vanessa Ferrari proved the value of experience when she became the first Italian to win an individual Olympic medal for women’s artistic gymnastics.

Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP
  • Men’s individual archery: Mauro Nespoli
  • Men’s kayak single 200m: Manfredi Rizza
  • Fencing, men’s foil individual: Daniele Garrozo
  • Fencing, men’s sabre individual: Luigi Samele
  • Fencing, men’s sabre team

Fencing has long been one of Italy’s strongest sports, and these Games were no exception. Altogether Italian fencers took three silvers and two bronzes in both team and individual events. 

Italy’s Luca Curatoli (L) competes against South Korea’s Gu Bongil in the men’s sabre team gold medal bout. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
  • Women’s skeet shooting: Diana Bacosi
  • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay
  • Swimming, men’s 800m freestyle: Gregorio Paltrinieri 
  • Weightlifting, women’s 64kg: Giorgia Bordignon
    Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

    Italy’s bronze medals at the 2020 Olympics

    • Women’s individual archery: Lucilla Boari
    • Women’s featherweight boxing: Irma Testa

    Irma “Butterfly” Testa made history as the first Italian woman to win an Olympic medal for boxing, a victory she dedicated to all of Italy’s female boxers.

    Photo by Luis ROBAYO / POOL / AFP
    • Women’s cycling road race: Elisa Longo Borghini 
    • Track cycling, men’s omnium: Elia Viviani 
    • Men’s 10km marathon swimming: Gregorio Paltrinieri 

    Gregorio Paltrinieri is one of the best long-distance swimmers there is, holding the men’s world record for the 1500m freestyle. He comes home from Tokyo with two medals: silver in the 800m freestyle, and bronze in the gruelling 10km swim.

    Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP
    • Swimming, men’s 100m breaststroke: Nicolo Martinenghi
    • Swimming, men’s 100m butterfly: Federico Burdisso
    • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m medley relay
    • Swimming, women’s 800m freestyle: Simona Quadarella 
    • Judo, women’s -52kg: Odette Giuffrida
    Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP
    • Judo, women’s -63kg: Maria Centracchio
    • Fencing, women’s épée team
    • Fencing, women’s foil team 
    • Karate, women’s kata: Viviana Bottaro

    Accomplished karateka Viviana Bottaro won Italy its first Olympic medal in karate, which made its debut at the Tokyo Games. 

    Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP
    • Rowing, lightweight men’s double sculls
    • Rowing, men’s four
    • Rhythmic gymnastics, group all-around

    Nicknamed le Farfalle (‘the Butterflies’), Italy’s five-woman rhythmic gymnastic team provided one of Italy’s last medal-winning performances on the final day of the Games, and one of the most spectacular.

    Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
    • Weightlifting, men’s 67kg: Mirko Zanni 
    • Weightlifting, men’s 81kg: Antonino Pizzolato
    • Wrestling, men’s freestyle 97kg: Abraham de Jesus Conyedo Ruano