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A Season With Verona: Travels Around Italy In Search Of Illusion, National Character And Goals!

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,004 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Is Italy a united country, or a loose affiliation of warring states? Is Italian football a sport, or an ill-disguised protraction of ancient enmities?





Tim Parks goes on the road to follow the fortunes of Hellas Verona football club, to pay a different kind of visit to some of the world's most beautiful cities. This is a highly personal account of one man's relationship with
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Published by Secker & Warburg (first published 2002)
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Merritt Corrigan
On principle, I have to give five stars to any book that could inspire in me, of all people, an interest in sports. In this highly engaging and endlessly fascinating memoir, British expatriate Tim Parks chronicles his experiences attending every Hellas Verona game throughout the course of one season, in 2001. Honestly I can't say enough good things about this book: it was a dramatic and profound experience; I was so invested in the outcome of each game (despite how long ago it was--despite being ...more
Andrew
May 01, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books about football's deeper appeal; Verona,a city often forgotten about in the classical litany of great Italian cities,has some of the most intense footballing rivalries -- with minnows like Chievo Verona, the 'Flying Donkeys',but also with the near neighbours,Brescia,Padova & my Italian team,Vicenza.(I followed the 'biancorossi' for the 1985-86 season which ended in the 'calcionero' fall-out & a punishment for corruption;Vicenza's promotion from 'B' to 'A' was overtur ...more
Mel Siew
Dec 25, 2014 Mel Siew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had read Tim Parks' other books, Italian Education and Italian Neighbours, so I was already familiar with his writing style, which I find is quite easy to read.

The book follows a season - home and away - with his adopted local club, Hellas Verona. Each chapter more or less gives an account of one game (some have more than one, but they are the exception). If the team is away, there is usually an account of the journey, whether by coach or train with the gialloblu brigate, or occasionally with
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Richard
Dec 15, 2011 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the best soccer memoir ever written. Vastly superior to the earlier Castel de Sangro book. Excellent tale of Italian football through Verona’s struggle with possible relegation. Good look at Italy in the eyes of fans, and what makes the rivalries. Cheating, Divining, possible match fixing, its all there and fun.

I reread this following my trip to Italy and it is even better when read as a travelogue.
Donald
Mar 26, 2009 Donald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only a handful of books have ever brought me to tears from laughter, yet Park's account of "da bomb" had me rolling. Overall a very well written account, featuring future stars like Mutu and Laursen. And what a deal, "Honey, I have to attend every road game for the whole season. It's for work, really."
Brian
Sep 13, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are not in love with Italy already, you will be after reading this British expat's experience of living in Verona with his Italian wife and children. This book, in particular, touches on the universal experience of world soccer fanaticism.
David
Jul 31, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite sports book and believe me I've read a few. It has the real authenticity of a fan going to every game. It helps that he chose a nail biting season for Hellas Verona too.
Adrian Fingleton
One of the best sports books I have ever read. Plus an insight into the Italian psyche. What's not to like?
Eric Barber
This is, bar none, the best football book I have ever had the pleasure to read.



An expatriate Englishman, living two decades in Italy, narrates the tale of following Hellas Verona for a season in the Serie A, travelling to all the away matches and sharing the journey of the season as his club fights a relegation battle to stay in the top flight. The book is full of insights into the blurred lines of regional rivalries, political conspiracies influencing the game and the unique idiosynchrocies of
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Donald
Mar 26, 2010 Donald rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had high expectations for this book, having thoroughly enjoyed Parks' Italian memoirs, Italian Neighbors, and An Italian Education. The book is the story of the Hellas Verona football (soccer) team as Parks follows them through an entire 30+ game season. You meet the players, coaches, owners, and fans, and get to know more than soccer; you learn about the place that the game holds in modern Italian society. I say "modern," but the game truly has a historical reference. Parks writes that "there ...more
Tim Roast
Nov 17, 2015 Tim Roast rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book starts off brilliantly with the tale of a boozy, drug-fuelled organised coach journey for Verona fans to a far-flung away match. The chapter blew me away and I thought I was in for a real treat as I continued through the book. Unfortunately though that chapter was the book's highlight and the other chapters couldn't compare with some proving to be a lot poorer. For example chapters where the author went on a tangent and talked about something completely unrelated to football but tried ...more
Keith Salmon
Jul 31, 2012 Keith Salmon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a few years since I read this classic football book and reading the posted reviews brought it all back to me. Some times books stick with you and you quote them at everyone to read 'A season with Verona' is one such book.

You dont have to like all the people who travel the length and breadth of Italy with but you actually do, whilst you dont agree with their views there is something admirable in following your team the length of Italy to be met with hostility, see them get beat and travel a
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C M
Jan 07, 2014 C M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, football
Intellectuals and football are seldom a good combination and intellectuals and football fans, let alone 'ultras,' seem an impossible combination. Tim Parks does a pretty good job at describing his trips with the Hellas Verona fans and does not use too bad stereotypes (like Bill Bufford). His descriptions of the little things in his trips are the most enjoyable. His forced attempts to integrate everything into a broader narrative about Berlusconi's Italy the most annoying. Overall, one of the mor ...more
Justin Barney
The author, Tim Parks, goes to every game of Hellas Verona for a full season, and documents his experience in this book. It is a little under 500 pages, which is a little long to devote to this subject (I did so only unwittingly). The narrative is casual—frustratingly so at times—so he often delves into discussions of local customs and Italian culture. Parks is an American, who has lived in Verona, Italy for a few decades, and so his take on Italian culture resonates with me. He follows the team ...more
Dave
Apr 22, 2014 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: itchy-feet, football
A fantastic account of a journey through Italy following Hellas Verona.

Starting with the first game of the season, the book opens up with an explosive encounter with the passionate Gialloblu fans onboard a "busy" bus to the first game of the season, away to Bari; a mere 530 miles away - a midnight departure for a 3pm game! A stark contrast to some transport in England I expect! The pace somewhat decreases after the first chapter but still fascinating nonetheless.

The racism involved is shocking b
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Michael Jennings
Sep 06, 2007 Michael Jennings rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Italophile soccer fans
This book sits rather uneasily between categories. It is in some sense the third volume of Parks's trilogy on Italian society from the perspective of a permanent resident (it follows Italian Neighbors and Itialian Education). And it is clearly a contribution to the long series of studies of the cultural importance of soccer. Like Italian Education, it is sprinkled with fine insights into Italy, and the portraits of the soccer fans are colorfully drawn. But the perspective of the somewhat skeptic ...more
Düsty
Apr 01, 2016 Düsty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great great book about Italian football and I have read it a few times. It is my surefire feel good read. With that being said Fuck Hellas. And Fuck Inter too. As long as I am alive I will never set foot into the Bentegodi.
Dennis
Feb 24, 2010 Dennis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is NOT a book strictly about football sop if that puts you off, you're better off not reading it. This is a book about Italy and football serves as a focal point around which the author's observations revolve. Nonetheless, this was one of those books that I enjoyed more than I expected, for a lot of reasons. I'm also an expatriate, whose had to deal with two strange sets of bureaucracy and thinking which made perfect sense to the people who lived there and none top anyone thinking "logicall ...more
Alison
Aug 16, 2015 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-and-5-stars
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Neil Leckie
Nov 17, 2011 Neil Leckie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Along with Fever Pitch this offers a fantastic insight into why, as legendary manager Bill Shankly once said "football isn't a matter of life and death, its much more important than that". As someone who has loved the game since I was 10 years old he does an excellent job of showing how the sport is more than just a game. It also acts as an interesting study of male group psychology and provides a wonderful look at life in Italy. It may be a something that mostly appeals to football fans but I w ...more
Bob Conklin
Dec 21, 2008 Bob Conklin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Parks is an Englishman who has lived and taught for many years in Verona. He has written several books about Italian life (Italian Neighbors, An Italian Education), all worth reading. This is probably the most amusing. He attaches himself to an unruly band of tifosi (soccer fans) who call themselves the Brigate Gialloblu (yellow-blue brigade). They attend all the games, following their team to the far corners of Italy, often on drunken overnight bus trips. Very funny in parts, the book also ...more
Sandi
Mar 29, 2009 Sandi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, read-2008
Tim Parks, an English author who has lived in Verona for twenty years, decided to chronicle the 2000-01 Serie A season by following Hellas Verona to all their home and away games. Hellas has been his team even though their fans are reviled throughout the rest of the league because of their perceived racism and other bad behavior (though it really seemed like they were not much worse than any other team‘s supporters). A look at Italian character, culture, and politics viewed through the lens of t ...more
Stuart
Aug 15, 2012 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engliah bloke gets Hellas Verona season ticket, goes to games, travelling away with the ultras from their curva Sud. Then he tries to summarise Italian life through various football metaphors.

He does a really good job of capturing how football works for a fan. You only remember snapshots of games usually, and so he focusses on those snapshots. Helps that Verona had a very dramatic end to the season he was writing about (00-01), wouldn't have been quite the same had it petered out to a midtable f
...more
Martha
Aug 29, 2008 Martha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as thrilling and wonderful a read as it was the first time. Engagingly written, Parks' book is not only an irresistible story for fans of Italian soccer, but also anyone interested in how culture and sport overlap. It's also a fascinating sort of frozen moment in the early careers of players, coaches, and officials who are now big names -- Adriano Mutu, Massimo Oddo, Mauro Camoranesi and Alberto Gilardino are just kids when it takes place, and Cesare Prandelli and Rino Foschi were rising to ...more
Alan
Jul 02, 2013 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
British expatriot author Tim Parks has lived in Verona, Italy for 20 years. He has become a rabid fan of the Verona team and writes a very good and funny book about following the team to all games, home and away, in their fight to remain in Seria A Italian Soccer. This is about what it means to be a fan. Learning the chants and songs and how to berate the opposing team and its fans. If you like soccer and have always wondered about crazy fans and hooligans, this is a good read.
Iain McNab
Very good book about Italy, football and Italian football. The Manchester-born author is a long-time resident of Verona and tortures himself by following Hellas Verona (back when they were in Serie A around 200-1). Well above the level of your run of the mill, boring book about football; in fact the football is only really there to support an exploration of wider themes.
Judy
Dec 27, 2013 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy, non-fiction
The most amazing thing to me about this book was the eventual integration of Tim Parks into the culture of the football club. He manages to illuminate humanity vis a vis his experiences and creates likable characters from people I would find hard to like.
Bullpost
Feb 02, 2016 Bullpost rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
really enjoyed it. Academic writer turns into a football hooligan - well almost.
Noreen
Nov 01, 2007 Noreen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kevin
Shelves:
Very funny and somewhat philosphical view of the Italian football fanatic's life. Written by a longtime resident of Verona, this follows his journey through one of their awful seasons, from the terraces, with the most hated fans in Italy. A truly nail-biting finish too - will they stay in Serie A or go down to Serie B?????
Sarrah
Mar 31, 2013 Sarrah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As if it wasn't already known, Italian football is a mad place, the people who get involved in Serie A football are even madder. This is my second read of this book. It is still, in my opinion the best football book out there. Hellas Verona's season of uncertainty and disgrace makes for amazing reading.
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Born in Manchester in 1954, Tim Parks grew up in London and studied at Cambridge and Harvard. In 1981 he moved to Italy where he has lived ever since. He has written eleven novels including Europa, Destiny, Cleaver and, most recently, Dreams of Rivers and Seas, as well as three non-fiction accounts of life in northern Italy (most recently A Season with Verona), a collection of 'narrative' essays, ...more
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