1 Italy-New Zealand 1
For Sunday morning, I'm a TTC pig: Bathurst streetcar, Bathurst bus, St Clair streetcar to Dufferin to check out the Corso for 10am versus New Zealand.
St Clair has a more mature crowd than College; fewer Gina Ciccolinas bouncing around enflaming the Cazzi Ragazzi. As a casual fan I take my time to stroll and consider the best spot for a patio Peroni, or maybe sausage on a bun from an unpermitted sidewalk BBQ. The St Clair Right of Way has narrowed the artery enough to limit the throughput of mutant Honda Civics, making conversation audible and the streetscape a delight in spite of unrelenting sun and 35C humidex.
The Azzurri are sloppy on defense and allow a quick New Zealand marker, but they make one up via officiating caprice when a New Zealand defender draws a penalty in his goal zone. Iaquinta buries the freebie and Italy are back from brink of elimination to typical teeth-grinding stalemate. By now the fans are queasy, contemplating Italy's possible early death with a second draw–we're beyond the excuses of 'they're just slow starters' to the doomsaying death spiral of 'blame the coach.'
At halftime I leave the Big Slice pizza to wander–past the bars, which are less youthful, more serious than College St yuppieterias; past chiesa St. Nicola di Bari and its thrice-daily Italian mass. I step into air-conditioned comfort at Tre Mari bakery, a Corso Italia mainstay that's landmark enough to rival Nino D'Aversa in North York. I try to order chocolate cannoli but the old man in front of me negotiates a drawn-out volume purchase of tiramisu and zeppoli from a bakery girl who insists on re-confirming his order status after loading each successive unit into the box. I give up and silently slide further west.
I stop past Lansdowne at La Paloma and enter for a gelato, cappuccino and empty chair. The capp is serviceable but the morning is much too hot. My gelato is mint chocolate plus a new fluorescent blue flavour, 'Forza Azzurri', that looks like Smurfette and tastes like blue freezee. The screen is small and the game tedious so I mow on ice cream and tweet.
It ends a draw. I keep heading west. Past Caledonia, beyond a community-decorated underpass, a dangerously loud Italy fan inside an unfortunate pub can be heard screaming for blocks away. The Jamaican vendor of flags near Old Weston Rd sees me approach in my Italy cap, shakes his head and looks away.