pietro lonoce 

Italy

« I thought I was going to die before seeing some red and white shirts on the Iacovone field again ».

Mr Enzo, 78 years old, Borgo-Città Vecchia district.

 

Taranto and Bari are separated by eighty physical kilometres and an endless highway of human, social, economic distance.

Taranto-Bari was for years the undisputed derby of Puglia. A rivalry that transcended sport and led to political and cultural disputes. 

Then the two cities, and their respective sports clubs, took completely different paths. 

Bari has become a southern metropolis.

It’s a functional city with top universities, infrastructure, where you can even do business, major companies set up new branches, there is a high quality of life.

Taranto is Taranto. 

A strange city. Rancorous, decaying, fascinating and frightening. The city of steel and also of cinematic sunsets. Proletariat and street nobility.

Bari has played in the best seasons of Serie A, won a Mitropa cup. Taranto has not seen the cadetteria (italian term for serie B) since the penultimate derby against Bari, back in the 1993.

The very last derby was played this year. After two years of pandemic and a promotion from Serie D that Taranto gained on the last possible day, against Lavello, winning in a comeback clash, scoring the third and final goal in the last minute available.

The Iacovone stadium, for the Taranto vs Bari, was full as never before, even though the home team had won only one match out of eleven played in the second half. 

There were faces on the terraces that you had not seen in years. That too is a difference from Bari: in Taranto we all know each other, we point towards the one who’s sitting there who went to study in Bologna and found a temporary job at Sasso Marconi, we then whisper towards the other one there who left her ex who was a boring copper and immediately beat up a quality fella from the suburb...

We were all there.

With no hope of victory, because Bari were too strong for Taranto; orphaned of the presence of the Bari fans due to a denied away trip and therefore unable to vent that parochialism nerve through insults, shouts, and bad manners in the direction of the away sector.

At the end of the day, the result is collateral.

We knew it, each of us was aware of it. We didn't pay the ticket because there was some purely sporting significance to it. 

Taranto - Bari that occurred on Holy Saturday, 16 April 2022, was a reappropriation of collective memory for the entire Ionian city.

For those who saw Iacovone score in a lob back in the 70s, for those who heard the story of the Tarantines' procession through the streets of Bari's capital city when it was still unborn: Taranto-Bari was a statement of faith.

At the end of the match, the 0-0 scoreline read that it was the 14th draw in 46 matches played between the two teams. A beautiful sunset glides over the Iacovone stadium. Purple, orange, yellow. 

They look like the colours of a minor god who brushes a large virgin canvas at will, just to entertain the guests. 

Text by : @lorenzomondredi

Photo by : @pietrolonoce