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Rakewell

Michelangelo in the Curva Nord

31 January 2020

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

The ultras of S.S. Lazio are not renowned for their artistic leanings. When they make the news, it is almost always for the wrong reasons. Supporters of the club racially abused the Brescia striker Mario Balotelli earlier this month, resulting in a €20,000 fine; in 2005 they cheered one of their own forwards (and a Lazio supporter), Paolo di Canio, as he faced them with a straight-arm salute – a gesture reprised by Lazio fans as they marched through Glasgow ahead of a Europa League game last autumn.

In the Derby della Capitale, played against Lazio’s rivals A.S. Roma at the Stadio Olimpico last weekend, however, it was Michelangelo not Mussolini who inspired the pre-match braggadocio. Before the game, the Curva Nord went all-out Sistine Chapel, as Lazio supporters reprised the Creation of Adam – only with the hands of God and his creation swathed in the azzurro that is the club colour. (The team is known as the biancocelesti: its founders in 1900 chose the sky blue in homage, so they say, to ancient Greece.)

The message, Rakewell imagines, is that God created Lazio. But as il Romanista (the daily publication dedicated to A.S. Roma) points out, it was the rival team that first brought Michelangelo to the Stadio Olimpico – with a vast banner carrying a line from the Rime that was brandished in the Tribuna Tevere back in 1993. ‘Questo sol m’arde e questo m’innamora’ (this alone consumes me, and makes me fall in love) – a line also engraved on the building of the Galleria nazionale d’arte moderna, north of the Villa Borghese gardens.

Perhaps those calcio lovers are a cultured lot after all.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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