I Mondiali di Rugby – terza parte

Saturday morning we made our regular pilgrimage to the Siena to watch the All Blacks play.  As we approached La Birreria, Jean commented “here we go again” referring to the ritual process of getting the television tuned to the right channel.

The perfect RWC breakfast - cappuccino, wine, beer and chips

But clearly we are having an influence on the bar.  When we arrived the TV was tuned in and already playing the warm up.  Chairs and tables had been arranged ready for us which meant we got to see the warmup, anthems and haka.  All things we wanted to see but usually missed.

We also had some fellow spectators join us.  A young couple from Hamilton who are in Europe for 5 weeks holiday walked in as we were getting settled.  They said they had driven an hour and 20 minutes from just south of Florence to find this particular bar in Siena. A blog they had read, written by Kiwis living in Tuscany, had mentioned it had live television coverage of the Rugby World Cup.  It took a moment for us to realise they were talking about Toscanakiwi.  Clearly our little blog has a wider readership than we thought – by at least 2 people.

So dear readers for the next big game  – the quarter final –  the drinks at La Birreria are on me.  See you all there.

I Mondiali di Rugby – seconda parte

We were back in Siena for the second All Black game.  Once again the staff at La Birreria performed their magic and found the game buried in the Sky TV menu – as always after the usual fussing and discussions – and we settled in for the duration.

Kiwi's make their presence felt for the RWC in Siena

We were joined by a young Dutch couple who were on holiday in Siena and who were also following the RWC.  Given that the total number of rugby players in Holland is around 5,000 (including men, women and juniors they said) their rugby knowledge was very good.  They were, however, a little surprised when we had the inevitable 10am beer and wine and beer and wine and …

But clearly we weren’t the only Kiwis in Siena watching the game as the photo shows.  The flag was hanging outside the bar we had originally earmarked to watch the games at but which didn’t open early enough for us to able to watch them live.

Apparently the Kiwis had started knocking on the bar door at 10:30am and convinced the staff to open early so they could watch the remainder of the match.  I wonder if a similar approach would have worked anywhere else in the world?

I Mondiali di Rugby

As with many things before, we thought we had a plan for the RWC opening. We had located a Heineken RWC bar in Siena. Through the usual mix of English, Italian and sign language we gleened that it had Sky TV and would be playing the matches.

Given the time difference, the opening ceremony was due to start at 9:30am local time with the first match at 10:30am. That meant heading to Siena at 9am – and being up around 7:30am.

Now this, in itself, was a major challenge as our place doesn’t really stir until around 10am on any given day. (Correction, I don’t stir until around 10am. Jean is up and active much, much earlier.)

We arrived at the bar promptly at 9:30am (wearing our RWC/NZ t-shirts) to find it shut, closed, the exact opposite of open. This was, to say the least, a disappointment. Our plan was in tatters.

We retired to one of the bars that ring the Campo in Siena to regroup and replan. We noticed as we sat down outside the bar – on a beautiful Siena morning – that they had a TV playing behind the counter. It was tuned to an Italian news channel – but it was a Sky TV channel. Could they change it to the right sport channel? Would they?

As with many situations in Italy, our simple request was taken very seriously. A newspaper was obtained and the TV listings checked to find the right channel – 204. The very helpful waitress then disappeared for a few minutes. We waited. The TV channel didn’t change. We waited.

When she returned, she explained that they had opened the other half of the bar and tuned the TV’s in there to the right channel. She showed us to a table, made sure everything was ok and checked if we wanted anything to drink.

She was thinking Cappuccino and was a little surpised when we ordered beer and wine (nothing like that first Heineken at 9:35 in the morning).

It was quite surreal to see New Zealand and the opening ceremony on TV when the view out through the door of the bar was Siena’s Campo. The Sienese opinion of the opening ceremony – very cool.

The game? Not a bad start, but there’s still work to do. Go the ABs!