Tufano-Isola Liri: the local team challenges the fallen nobleman

Tufano-Isola Liri: the local team challenges the fallen nobleman

The last weekend of May reserved a satisfying hat-trick for me: Tufano – Isola Liri on Saturday, Alto Casertano – Modica and Benevento – Carrarese the following day.

The first of the matches listed took place at the “Del Bianco” stadium in Anagni, in the heart of the province of Frosinone, and was the second leg semi-final of the Provincial Cup of the Ciociaria group of the Third Category. Tufano, a team from a hamlet of the municipality of Anagni, and the renowned Isola Liri took to the field, club of the Lazio side of the ancient Terra di Lavoro, a partnership that in its history has played four C2 and twenty-one Interregional tournamentse. The two teams had already competed in the championship, having both participated in group A of the Third Category of Frosinone, won by Isola Liri, who thus took a small step forward in their footballing ascent, landing in the penultimate step of football amateur.

Before going to the Anagni plant I decided to visit the hamlet of Tufano, one of the rural districts of the city linked to Boniface VIII. This small agglomeration can be reached from Casilina, the important road artery that crosses the Sacco Valley and which overlapped the ancient consular roads Labicana e Latinawhich connected Rome with Casilinum, today’s Capua. During the journey I made several stops to photograph the bucolic hilly landscape at the edge of the road, covered by a waving sheet of wheat waiting for the harvest. It was a real pleasure, for the eyes and the spirit, to admire the pleasant and almost archaic agricultural scenery of the Anagni countryside, so different from that of the nearby factories. The Sacco Valley represents, in fact, one of the largest Italian industrial hubs, whose expansion began in the early twentieth century, but experienced rapid acceleration starting from the end of the 1950s, thanks above all to the contributions of the Fund for the Development of the South. The rural picture just described made me think of that branch of iconography linked to field work, from the mosaics of ancient Roman rustic villas to medieval frescoes. A very famous example of this artistic theme is the Cycle of Months of the Buonconsiglio Castle of Trento, a true encyclopedia of images of the world of agriculture, created at the end of the Middle Ages, which illustrates the agricultural activities that take place in every season of the year.

Around 3.30pm I arrived in Tufano. I was welcomed by a few houses, silent streets, a few residents busy taking care of the vegetable garden and the barking of a little dog. Observing the road signs I perceived the importance of this area of ​​central Italy as a transit corridor: today the Valle Latina is crossed byHighway of the Sun and from the railway line Rome-Napleswhile in ancient times Roman legionaries and merchants traversed it, but also pilgrims and believers who, in the Middle Ages and in the Modern Age, burdened by cloak, stick and pouch, went to the ports of northern Puglia along the Southern Francigenaanimated by the desire to land on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and kneel before the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

The first stop on my tour of Tufano was the church of Santa Maria Imperatrice, recently built but flanked by an older place of worship, then I turned my attention to an old watchtower, whose face has now been completely obliterated by vegetation. Shortly before reaching the stadium I obviously also took a look at the sports field where Tufano plays its home matches, with its natural grass pitch surrounded by the Ciociaria countryside and embraced by the first undulations of the Ernici Mountains. It is dedicated to the Virgin “Empress of heaven and earth”, just like the nearby church, but it was not deemed suitable to host this important competition.

This is where my brief exploration of Tufano ended. Getting back in the car, I reached the municipal capital and the “Del Bianco” in a few minutes, the home of Anagni, a luxury stadium for the category, having hosted many major league matches. It is located at the foot of the hill occupied by the Papal historical centre, in an area intended for sports, given that a sports hall and a swimming pool have also been built nearby.

After parking, in a very short time I set foot on the synthetic grass surface, taking the first photos of the two beautiful covered stands, one of which was intended for the Tufano fans, the other for the islanders. During the pre-match the green and white steps were already occupied by many spectators, with a more compact block, made up of younger boys, placed to my right. On the fence there were some handcrafted sheets, including one with the writing “Rascal Ultras”. Already at this stage the grandstand was quite hot, with the choir throwers inviting those present to follow their directions in view of the choreography and also trying to get the sector to create the first choruses and handclaps. Having not followed the events of this team during the season, I am not able to write whether it is an impromptu reality, created for the occasion, or whether it has already accompanied Tufano during the championship. In any case, in the lower part I could see some guys with stadium attire and posture.

A few minutes after the opening whistle, the atmosphere was heated up by the arrival of the islanders, who after having crossed the entrance door, went down the steps waving their flags and displaying their banners; at the same time, whistles came from the home stand aimed at the red and whites. Even during the race the locals directed several choruses of teasing at the guests, who never responded directly, but simply reiterated that they did not feel like Ciociaria.

To understand the reasons for this response, a brief summary may be useful excursus historical-geographical. As I wrote in the initial part of this text, that rib of the current province of Frosinone which from Sora, passing through Isola Liri, ends in Cassino, was part of the Terra di Lavoro in past centuries. In 1927, therefore, the newly formed province incorporated cities and towns that in the Middle Ages and Modern Age had been part of the Kingdom of Naples, while the lands west of Ceprano, including today’s provincial capital, had been administered by the Church. Even today the ancient border between the two pre-unification Kingdoms represents a linguistic caesura that cuts the province in two, so one part of it falls within the area of ​​the southern dialects, the other, the Ciociaria proper, belongs to the nucleus of the spoken medians, which includes all of central-northern Lazio, Umbria and the Marche, up to Senigallia.

Returning to the news of match, after settling in the sector, the islanders, accompanied by the people of Vasto, hung all their drapes on the fence. After a few years of self-suspension, the Ultras Isola Liri 1975 last March, they announced their intention to return to supporting their team, also called “Lisera” in their dialect, in every stadium.

With the stadium now full, in conjunction with kick-off the Tufano boys turned on several white and green smoke bombs, while the islanders waved all their flags, also lighting various torches at the same time. The locals, after an initial phase characterized by a somewhat fragmented support, with less than optimal coordination between the voices, during the match, minute after minute, then managed to find their feet, uniting better and better and perfecting their support, to the point of producing good cheering in the second half, with moments marked by adequate vocal intensity and appreciable compactness in handclapping.

An incentive for their determination is to be seen, I believe, not only in the importance of what is at stake, but also in that desire to show off which is inevitably ignited by the vocal confrontation with a fan base, like the island one, with its own history behind it , who during the years of professionalism and the D traveled to important stadiums in our peninsula. Coming right to them, the red and whites colored the sector with their well-curated material and produced a cheer with a prevalence of long chants, always accompanied by banners and peppered with the switching on of other lights. The islanders appeared motivated and eager to push their team to victory, with the hope, I imagine, of soon leaving the slums of regional football and returning to play, as soon as possible, those historic derbies with their rivals from Lower Lazio and the exciting ones challenges that have not been seen at “Nazareth” for some time.

In short, the “Del Bianco” challenge saw two completely different realities at work: one, very new – that of Tufa, in fact – with an aesthetic that is still imperfect, but with a reservoir of young or very young boys who seemed very willing to me . I wonder, reviewing the photos, if any of them frequent the Frosinone “North” or the two Capitoline curves, with the intention, who knows, of importing into their own community that approach to the stadium that is absorbed in these larger contexts, which inevitably they are a model for the surrounding realities. On the other hand, the season just ended has brought back to the Lazio movement a consolidated fan base, which for internal reasons, as communicated by itself, has been away from the spotlight for several years, but which has returned to sing alongside the red and white shirts with renewed vigor.

For the record: personal commitments forced me to leave the “Del Bianco” in the 90th minute, with the two teams tied at 0-0, but the match was resolved in extra time with the victory of Isola Liri with a two-goal difference . The red and whites then challenged Folgore Maiano in the final in Boville Ernica, which ultimately won the trophy. This defeat, however, did not affect Isola Liri’s season in the slightest: as written at the beginning, the islanders had already obtained promotion to the Second Category by winning their group.

Text and photos by Andrea Calabrese

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2024-06-17 08:34:01
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