TURIN, ITALY, JULY 4 -- The best thing I never did during this World Cup was rent a car. No way could a visitor do battle with the red-light runners, the frightful speeders, the triple-wide parkers and the one-way streets that have cars going two ways.
As my new friend, Keyvan, said to me, "Having a car in Rome would be like owning a Stinger missle. What would you do with one?" June 24, Turin
You never know who you're going to bump into at the World Cup. I'm sitting in the airport talking about Brazil's demise against Argentina with this pleasant gentleman. We're chatting like old friends about the number of Brazil's shots that hit the post, and the Brazil coach's disappointment. He's doing a little translating for me from Italian TV. Finally, the man looks at my badge and asks me what newspaper I write for. I tell him and he's very happy. "I want to thank your newspaper for its support of my programs when I was president of Costa Rica," he says. It's Oscar Arias, the Nobel Peace Prize winner. He's a great soccer fan, but disappointed that Costa Rica was bounced by Czechoslovakia in the second round. "The U.S. didn't even make the second round," I say. "And Czechoslovakia did the same thing to the Americans, so you shouldn't feel badly." Costa Rica is a small country, he says, but it can do better in soccer. He's inconsolable. June 27, Bologna
It's 1 a.m. England has beaten Belgium and I'm at the train station looking for train No. 911 to Rome. "There's no 911 tonight," a woman says. "Maybe No. 913." That's due in a half hour, but I don't like the way she says "maybe." "Roma?" a conductor on the platform says. "Track 6. Here, take the tunnel." Sure enough, there's a train on Track 6 and everybody on it says it's going to Rome, although no one knows where it came from or which direction Rome is. I'm sitting with a man named Adam from London who says we're on train No. 0044. He says it's not on any schedule he knows of. We sit a long time, long enough for No. 913's scheduled arrival -- but like No. 911, it doesn't come, at least by the time 0044 lurches forward (in the right direction). It's past 2. We figure if it keeps moving, we'll be in Rome by 6. As I drift to sleep, I remember Adam saying, "I guess this is part of the tapestry of life." June 30, Rome
Now this is a party. The Italians have just beaten the Irish, 1-0, but the Irish have joined the Italians in a city-wide celebration. Whole sections of the city are blocked off to cars. Everyone is dancing in the streets. In places where you can drive, Italian and Irish fans are speeding around in cars waving flags out their windows. The weary just sit on steps -- there's always steps in Rome to sit on -- and watch.