We won't tempt fate, say Italy's rugby fans
SMALL pockets of the country have briefly transformed themselves into little Italys ahead of today's Six Nations encounter.
While only about 1,000 away fans are expected to travel for the game, there is no shortage of support in Dublin.
Small Italian restaurants and bistros will be brimming with some rather superstitious fans this afternoon.
The Italians have a word for it, 'scaramantizia', and it means, don't tempt fate.
Any Italian you ask will tell you they can't win. But none of them actually mean it.
"We are just saying we won't win because if we say we will, we won't," said Giuseppe Crupi (36) in a roundabout explanation of Italian sporting culture.
So far so bad, though; they have already lost to England and France, and today the Irish team will hope to see them off.
The term 'scaramantzia' also refers to a host of superstitions traditionally adhered to by the Italians.
"You will see it the most in the stadium. You will see people holding chilli peppers or horns; everyone has a different amulet or symbol on them to take away the bad luck," said Mr Crupi, quickly noting that Giovanni Trappatoni is a "master at this".
Italy may be the requisite underdog and is often seen as a mere formality to overcome in rugby terms, but the sport is quickly gaining ground there.
"My problem is that we have conquered the world with cooking but we haven't done it yet in rugby," said Luca Mazza (49), chef at the Pinocchio restaurant in Dublin's Ranelagh.
"My prediction is that Ireland will win but the dream is that Italy will do it," said Mr Mazza, himself a former player for Mediolanum Rugby Club in Milan.