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A Season with Verona: Travels Around Italy in Search of Illusion, National Character . . . and Goals!

(Italy and Italians)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,479 ratings  ·  79 reviews
After 20 years of living in Italy, Tim parks, whom Joseph Brodsky has called the best British author working today, spent a full year following the fortunes--and misfortunes--of the Verona football--oops! soccer--club. Here is his rollicking report.
Paperback, 464 pages
Published September 8th 2003 by Arcade Publishing (first published January 1st 2002)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  1,479 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Merritt Corrigan
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
May 01, 2013 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
Adam Edwards
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant - from start to finish this is as gripping as any fictional thriller, hilarious in parts and an absolute must if you’re a football fan (as opposed to just a [team name] fan). Don’t look up any results from the season in the book, part of the fantastically unbearable tension is not knowing what’s going to happen next. Superb.
Nov 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
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."
Sep 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the best sports books I have ever read. Plus an insight into the Italian psyche. What's not to like?
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The opening chapter is possibly the best, most erudite text you'll read on any sport ever. It's worth the admission price alone. The chapter, almost the whole book, is like an anthropologist's journey into the world of an unknown tribe: the brigate, the Hellas Verona ultras. But more than that it's a gripping tale of one provincial team's season in Serie A. The final outcome is desperately important only to this small group of people, but in travelling with them we learn why this team, this seas ...more
Paul Haspel
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: italy, verona
A season in European football – alright, “soccer” – lasts about eight and a half months, going from fall through winter into spring and early summer; but that time can seem more like an eternity to the sport’s countless fans across the continent. The fervid fan culture surrounding European football can be an astonishing thing to the (usually) more sedate followers of North America’s major professional sports; and author Tim Parks, an Englishman and avid football fan who lives and works in Italy, ...more
Tim Roast
Mar 06, 2012 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
Mel Siew
Dec 24, 2014 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
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent narrative of Hellas Verona's travails home and away in Serie A, season 2000/01. Tim Parks is an Englishman that emigrated to Verona some years before and had been a fan of his adopted home town club for several years before deciding to embark on this journey. A dramatic year ensued, of ups and downs, of violence and swearing, of near misses and glorious victories, Parks captures the fan experience like no one else. The bond built between hard core fans following their club up and down ...more
Keith Salmon
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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 un
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a pure delight. I was in a sort of agony as a multitude of obligations made me read it slowly, a chapter at a time, for a couple weeks. It's perfectly written and exquisitely paced. I didn't just *learn* what it was like to be with the die-hard Verona fans, I *felt* like them. While not a soccer fan, I could understand and relate to their suffering, their elation and their subconscious desire for just one thing in a week that would let them forget who they were, what they did for a ...more
May 01, 2013 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 racis
Michael Jennings
Aug 29, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Feb 10, 2010 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
Andy Regan
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book - Parks' account of following Verona around during the 2000-01 season, attending every league match home and away. Great descriptions of the regional and local tensions between various parts of Italy with all the major vested interests in football - including supporters, players, managers, owners, referees, the media, the game's governing authorities and (as it was election time) politicians - having their voices heard or at least their motives explored.

Steve Fox
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I might have given this book five stars had the dramatic finish - saving Verona's place in Serie A - not coincided with the disappointing finish to the season of Swansea City dropping out of the EPL. I hoped that Swansea could find a miracle finish - really needing less than Verona over the final weeks - and land itself back in the English Premier League for another season. Instead, my Swans take the emotional plunge that Parks follows and writes about in Italy in the early 2000s. It is the focu ...more
Bob Conklin
Dec 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2014 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
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: british-authors
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
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 27, 2012 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
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An immersive account

A wonderful read! For a person reasonably familiar with Italian football but not familiar with the Italian people,this was an eye opener. Parks travels for an entire season with the Brigate ( the Hellas Verona fans) and lives to tell the tale! Read it for a rowdy rousing tale of male bawdiness, football as a reflection of the nation conscience & above all the relationship between an English man and his affection for a provincial Italian club.
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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, raising a family of three children. He has written fourteen novels including Europa (shortlisted for the Booker prize), Destiny, Cleaver, and most recently In Extremis.
During the nineties he wrote two, personal and highly popular accounts of his life in northern Italy, Italian

Other books in the series

Italy and Italians (5 books)
  • An Italian Education
  • Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence
  • Italian Neighbors
  • Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo