Italy is in love with the New York Yankees

Italy is in love with the New York Yankees

ROME, Italy — I didn’t expect to get into a baseball discussion in the shadow of the Vatican, but Paolo wouldn’t let me leave his restaurant without a few questions about the upcoming season and showing me his New York Yankees hat.

Wearing his Yankees cap inside a restaurant aptly named Spaghetti (a good one, by the way, if you’re ever in need of food while waiting to tour the Vatican Museums like my wife and I were), Paolo took advantage of my American heritage to talk about passing America with me.

“I love the Yankees,” he said with an excitement that felt like Opening Day was just around the corner. “Rome and New York are very similar. That’s why I’ve always been a Yankees fan.”

In a land dominated by Serie A, the New York Yankees continue to make their mark in Italy

Walk around the Eternal City (or Florence … or Verona … or even the Amalfi Coast) and you’ll see a Yankees hat in the crowd. Italians (and many tourists for that matter) seem to love having the NY logo on their hat, whether it’s a baseball cap or stocking cap (perfect for this time of year).

The love affair between Italy and New York is apparently mutual as the Yankees recently bought a stake in AC Milan. There’s also an interesting collaboration in the works where Yankees gear will soon be sold at AC Milan games, so if you thought there were plenty of New York logos already floating around Italy, just wait.

Of course, the Yankees have a history of players with Italian heritage, including current member Anthony Rizzo, who has flown the Italian flag in his honor at Yankees games in the past. It’s just one of the many threads that seem to connect New York to this part of Europe.

“My dad was always talking about Yogi Berra, so I followed the Yankees after that,” Massi told me inside a wine bar in Como, where his Yankees hat hung behind the register. “I check their results as much as I check the results of our home team.”

We talked a little more about Aaron Judge and my grandfather’s love for the Yankees before he got quiet and looked at me and asked a question.

“Why do you really think they brought Aaron Boone back as manager this year?”

Ah, some things cross language boundaries, even almost 4,000 miles apart.

During my three weeks traveling around Italy over the holidays, I saw a Boston Red Sox hat here and a Los Angeles Dodgers hat there, but nothing was more prevalent in terms of MLB gear than the Yankees. And, sorry Steve Cohen, not a single Mets logo was seen the entire trip.

Back at Spaghetti, after chatting for a few minutes, I asked Paolo for his prediction for the Yankees for the upcoming season.

“Aaron Judge leads them to win the World Series. Easy.”

In January, it’s good to see optimism about the Yankees’ season flowing as freely as water from the Trevi Fountain.

“Come back in November and we’ll celebrate together,” he says as I head for the door. With visions of carbonara dancing in my head, if the Yankees can actually win the World Series for the 28th time in franchise history, I can do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *